Steady As She Goes

I haven’t seen my family in four years. Things are hectic. Things are busy. Or, so I say. Every year I promise to make time, to book a flight down to SoCal, or even fly them up to Seattle. Work got in the way, or things just weren’t right financially. I suppose they’re all excuses.

Since coming out to my mom, she’s been set on coming to visit and having this elusive “talk” about things. I suppose a part of me just wanted to tear off this bandaid, but another part of me thought it best for her to visit me in Seattle than for me to visit her in SoCal.

You see, no matter how much I told her that I was okay, that I was happy in Seattle, she’d never see it. She would never be convinced of it or about how much I love living in Washington.

Mom: So, did you want me to tell your brother? I mean, is he coming with us on the trip?

Me: Of course he is, I didn’t intend for you to leave him in SoCal.

Mom: Well, no but he doesn’t know about you–

Me: The only one making a big deal out of this is you–

Mom: It’s not a big deal. I’ve told you; whatever will be, will be. It’s none of my business or anyone else’s how you live your life. We all have our vices.

I didn’t take the bait. One could easily go down this rabbit hole. It’s clear she disapproves on some level but won’t admit it. Perhaps it’s her way of phrasing, perhaps it’s unintentional, but I know she’s still struggling with the idea of having a gay son.

And really the trip had nothing to do with me wanting to tell my brother in person, or some closure to this whole ordeal. It’s just been four years since I’ve seen them. We were overdue for family time.

They spent three days in Seattle. We visited a lot of museums the first day. We did Pike Place, a cruise around Puget Sound, the Seattle center with the Space Needle, the monorail to and from the Westlake Mall. It was a fun first day.

Both my mom and brother enjoyed the sights, charmed by the diverse Seattle life. My mom kept nudging my brother, “Wouldn’t it be nice to live here?”

I’ve often told my mother that she needn’t worry about her future, that when the time comes I’d take care of her. Of course, I wouldn’t be moving down to SoCal, but I’d be moving her to Washington. This is why she asks my brother all the time what he thinks about Washington. Sadly, he’s set on living in SoCal, no intentions of leaving the sunny state. In fact, he doesn’t like the “dreary” cold climate of Washington.

Me: Oh, mom. I’m sure he’ll likely move and live where he likes it. We’ll be the children spread throughout the globe.

Mom: That’s what I’m afraid of.

My mom did ask me to talk to my brother, about his somewhat “brooding” behavior. According to her he’s too quiet, anti-social, and doesn’t like talking to her about his feelings. I laugh, unintentionally, because I realize he’s just like I was at this age.

Mom: You’re all different. Your sister was different. You were different. And your brother is different.

Me: That’s true, I’m not debating that, but what you described is pretty much me at his age. You won’t get him to talk if he doesn’t want to talk. Asking him the same question, badgering him to answer you isn’t going to get him to tell you.

Mom: But I’m his mother, and I have a right to know.

Me: I’m not debating that either mom, but you have to give him time and give him his space. Honestly it’s that sort of attitude that made me shut you out so quickly. I know that’s not what you want to know, but that’s why I’ve kept so many things from you.

Not what she wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. If anything I want to spare both of them the horrible relationship during the teenage years.

Me: You two are both very active at church. Let him seek out a mentor, an older figure, maybe one of the elders. Honestly, that probably helped me a lot while growing up.

Of course i also messed me up in other ways because of my sexuality, but that’s another blog entry. The point being, it helped in many ways.

I know mom was trying to get me to “have a talk” with my brother about his behavior and so I did. Out one evening over a grill…

Me: You know, mom is only trying to help when she’s asking you what’s wrong, right?

Brother: Yeah, I know, but she’s always asking. Constantly. Sometimes I just want to be left alone. Like when she wants me to go out with family, or a group thing with her friends and I just… want to be left alone.

Me: Yeah. I hated that. Crowds. The small talk. The awkward moments when you don’t know what to say to strangers. Sometimes it’s a lot of work and you’re just exhausted from the people interaction.

Brother: YES! That! I hate that.

Me: Holy crap you’re probably an introvert, too!

We reminisce about growing up, swapping stories about our sister, dad, and mom. The funniest recollection was when he was five, and on a road trip to Idaho, the car broke down about 100 miles outside of Boise. His explanation was that I put too much petrol in the car–deduced from all the frequent stops I made and having to refuel.

Brother: Well, that’s what mom made me think. I mean, I’m sure that was just something she said so I wouldn’t ask questions. It made sense to me, too much of anything can be bad.

I could not stop laughing.

And I would miss that little kid. The tiny hands, the tiny arms that could barely wrap themselves around me when I picked him up. I’d miss all those little things. Now, he’s a full blown teenager, with a man-ish voice. Where did my little kid go?!

Me: I’ll never forget when we had to take you to the hospital when you were 3. I was still in high school. You were severely dehydrated from being sick all night. They had to hook up IV’s and as they did I remember that look you gave me. It was this look of “why are you letting them do this to me?” It was the worst because you were so little and I had no way of explaining how this was to help you. I just about lost it. I was like, yup, never having kids. My heart can’t take it.

On our final day, I took them to Whidbey Island. Both were amazed by the concept of Ferry’s.

Mom: What… don’t tell me we’re getting on that boat. What? Is that UPS truck coming too?

It was entertaining.

As the day winds down and I’m taking them to the airport to catch their flight back home, my mom turns to me.

Mom: I know now why you love it here and why you’ll never come back.

Me: That’s why I had to bring you here. I needed you to see that I was okay, and why I love it here.

Mom: Yes. I understand now.

Me: I will live the rest of my days here.

There’s a tearful goodbye on mom’s part. I swear she cried like someone was dying. I hug the not-so-little brother and ask him to take care of Mom and my sister.

Brother: Don’t you worry. I’ll take care of them.

It was a good visit. And although I neglected to tell my brother anything about being gay, it just didn’t matter. We were just too busy living.


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