6:49 p.m. Tuesday, May 14
Waiting on that phone call.
Sitting at our red kitchen table, Rachel Maddow talking to me through the hallway from the living room. Soft golden breeze of sunset through the hills, swimming in from the open window. The breeze of children running and skipping and napping by my cheeks and making the hearts jingle against the windows. Our delicate doggy sleeping in a violet bandana on the rug by the sink. Life is changing. It has been autumn. It has been winter. It will be spring. All of the moments from my childhood, the smell of the grass in my backyard, the smell of the trampoline and the black soles of my feet…ache in my soul as hard as the diamond on my ring. My beautiful ring that my beautiful lover made for me. For a beautiful life. I feel as if I am lying next to my boom box in my backyard. Dreaming of everything ahead…feeling the sun and the water from the hose.
Waiting. Any minute now my mother will call from the sleepy living room on Johnson Street in North Carolina. Shortly after the walls hear the familiar sound of footsteps on the wood floor, wine-soaked chatter will become silent and then, here in California, my phone will ring.
The microwave in that kitchen. Why am I thinking of the microwave? The safe box that heats up my mother’s Lean Cuisines, where she sits in her bathrobe, allowing herself to not feel guilty while she eats that meal. I feel my ribs hardening with sadness. I miss it all. Things are black, things are sleeping, things are awaiting rebirth. As I look out my window, I see leaves enflamed, I hear dogs barking, I hear dinners being made. I was once at that table. The creak of the wooden chairs, the clink of my dad’s fork on the plate. The safety. The rich, blanket of safety. The warm bath I don’t want to get out of because the reassuring towel is never close enough.
Engagement. The part where you are out of the warm bath, naked, freezing, and it’s too late to get back in. You learn to dry yourself. You learn to make your own.
Waiting for my mother’s phone call so that I can tell her that her only daughter is marrying a woman. My mother, who is not ready for this news. My mother, who never learned to love herself and who uses me for validation—or for proof of her failure. My mother, who has never truly understood me. My mother, who for some reason I still feel a painful need to please.
I see these things pass, these memories, the front porch swing, my dad and I singing together and scratching mosquito bites. Growing is painful. Becoming my own, and learning and accepting that that is not who my mother wants is painful. But without darkness there is no dawn, and without death there can be no rebirth.
Waiting, on the edge of my seat and with steel lungs and a strong heart, to tell my mother that I am getting married. That I have found the person I will grow old with, have a family with, and make my dinners with. And in this moment I make the promise to myself to always love my future children for exactly who they are, and to let them know that they are enough and they are worthy.
Photo: Gabriel Harber