The rest of the night was quiet, but Adam stayed by my side until I fell asleep. He doesn’t have to do this. He doesn’t have to sit with me and feel my pain. He’s already conquered his demons. Yet he’s with me anyway. Rising to the challenge of what a parent should be.
The next morning I took my time waking up. Sure, I feel better than last night, but I still need a few more hours to piece everything together. I still have so many questions that are unanswered.
As I started to descend the stairs and heard the living room T.V. on I couldn’t help but sigh. Is he here again already? I like him, but is he really pushing this hard this fast? I mean breaking into my house again?
Yet as the staircase opened up to the rest of the living room I had to do a double take. “Adam?” I asked, reaching the last few steps.
“Look who’s finally up.” He teased, glancing back to me. “How are you feeling?”
“Better.” I replied, cautiously watching him. “Everything okay?”
“Just fine.” He answered as our eyes met. “I figured I’d take the day off so we can do something together.”
“And Lindsay’s just okay with that?” I pressured, trying to get a better idea of his work life.
“Okay is a stretch.” Adam swayed his head. “But she understands you’re important.”
“Oh.” I exhaled, starting to think it over. “Did you, uhm, did you tell her?”
“About our conversation last night?” He asked drawing a nod from me. “Nope, it’s not my place. I want you to tell her the next time you see her.”
“Adam,” I hesitated. “I don’t know if I can do that.”
“I know it’s hard.” He began in a serious voice. “But it gets easier as you do it. Plus we already know she doesn’t care, so it’ll be good practice.”
“Okay.” I agreed, but as I looked away I knew he could tell how much it was weighing on me.
“Go get changed.” He instructed, slowly rising to his feet. “I want to take you somewhere for lunch.”
I nodded but stayed quiet before running upstairs and getting dressed. When I came back down Adam kept our destination a secret but told me we wouldn’t be going far. He was trying his hardest to hide his anxious eye twitch, but just like with my Mom, it always found its way to show.
Like every other trip he led me from one bus to another, until finally we found ourselves at the corner of a busy intersection. Without saying a word he turned me towards the direction we were headed and pointed to the opposite side of the street. I gulped hard as I saw countless rainbow flags decorating a few of the buildings and street lamps.
“You don’t have to be ashamed Artie.” He suddenly began as my eye’s locked onto a giant colorful flag. “We’re free to be who we are here.”
“Alright.” I forced out as he started to lead me down the street.
“This is it.” He explained as he reached a big tan building on the street corner. “This is the Twin Peaks Tavern. It was one of the first official gay bars to open here in San Francisco.” He proudly lectured. “The owners left the windows uncovered at a time when people could’ve lost their jobs, houses or families for their sexuality.”
“Why?” I asked, finally looking up at him.
“Because at some point you can’t hide anymore.” He shook his head. “At some point you just say fuck it, and show the world who you are. At some point you realize there’s not a problem with you, but with everyone who judges you for something so small.”
I nodded and followed him inside the small restaurant. It took a little bit to get us a table, but when we finally sat down Adam looked completely at home.
“You doing okay?” He asked, glancing up at me.
“I think so.” I nodded, still looking at everything going on around me. “So everyone here is like, gay.”
“Not everyone.” Adam laughed. “Straight people come here too. It’s open to any person who wants to come in, no matter what they identify as.”
“Oh.” I exhaled, finally looking back down at my menu.
“You can ask questions if you want.” Adam encouraged, seeing the curiosity in my eyes.
“Do you come here a lot?” I asked, catching him off-guard.
“I didn’t mean questions like that.” He nervously laughed once more. “But yes, I used to when I was younger. Then the business took off and I just haven’t had the time or energy.”
I nodded before glancing up at him then right back down. “When did you come out to your parents?”
“There it is.” He exhaled. “I came out when I was a little younger than you, literally the day I got kicked out.”
“Why?” I forced myself to ask, too curious to hold off.
He took a deep breath and put his menu down. “Like I said, at some point you can’t hold it in anymore.” He answered, trying to force eye contact. “I couldn’t live a lie just to satisfy my parents. I saved up enough in case they kicked me out, and then just told them.”
“My Mom shouldn’t’ve let you go.” I shook my head.
“It’s not her fault.” He quickly clarified. “She was pregnant and scared about her own situation, and my parents, they were so angry with me.”
“Did you know that’s how they would react?” I asked, finally looking into his eyes.
“I expected it.” He confessed. “But no matter what there’s still a part of you hoping for something different. A part of you that just wants their parent’s acceptance. I thought that maybe, maybe their love for their kids would outweigh everything else. That maybe we could all move away together.”
“You wanted that?” I pressured, shocked by his answer.
“Yeah.” He slowly nodded. “I wanted a fresh start with all of them. Sarah could’ve had you without everyone’s judgment. My parents could’ve pursued whatever dreams they still had.I could’ve been free to date who I wanted, but I guess life doesn’t always work like that.”
“No?” I led.
“After that night they changed Artie.” He shook his head. “They were always bible thumpers, but hearing that their son was gay, it changed them. They grew angrier, and I’m still not sure at who.”
“I don’t know.” I forced out. “But if I had to guess, it’s everyone around them. They, they hate everyone different from them.”
“Yeah, they do.” Adam nodded his head.
“Did, did my Mom say anything when you were getting thrown out?” I asked in a shaky voice.
He took a second to prepare his answer as he braced for the emotions rising in his body. “She told me she loved me,” He began, trying to gather as much strength as he could. “that nothing would ever change that but she was hurt. She didn’t know when she’d be able to talk to me again, but she said I’d always be in her prayers.”
“She didn’t hate you like everyone else?” I questioned.
“No,” He quickly rejected. “because that wasn’t your mom. She could never hate anybody. I-I know she would’ve eventually come back into my life, we just ran out of time.”
“I wish she did.” I confessed starting to back off. “I wish we could’ve had a movie night, just the three of us.”
“One day we will.” He forced a smile and nodded. “So now it’s your turn,” He exhaled, relieved to finally have all his answers out there. “you’re really dating Dizzy?”
“I guess so.” I shrugged as a blush filled my face.
“You guess so?” He teased with a smile.
“I don’t know, I.” I paused as I remembered his words from outside of the tavern. Fuck it! “Yes. We’re dating.”
“When did that start?” He asked as his smile turned proud.
“It’s hard to say.” I swayed my head. “I guess like, that day when you and Lindsay were teasing me about having a girlfriend.”
“Woh, woh,” Adam let out as everything started to connect in his head. “so those girls,”
“Yeah.” I nodded, saving him the words.
“So you had two guys chasing you before you even came out!”Adam yelped, louder than intended. “Sorry.” He giggled as a few people glanced over to us.
“I did.” I nodded, trying my hardest to fend off the red on my cheeks. “It was between Dizzy and Ky.”
“Like the kid you went surfing with?” Adam interrupted in excitement. “Wait! Is that the kid I met when I dropped you off on your first day?”
“That’s not important.” I sheepishly dismissed.
“It’s so important.” He insisted. “Lindsay was right, you are a little heartbreaker.”
“So back to Dizzy.” I warned in a serious voice.
“Yeah, Dizzy.” Adam shook his head. “Why’d you pick him?”
“I don’t know.” I lied, looking back down at the menu in my hands.
“Come on, I shared with you.” He provoked, giving me a light nudge with his foot.
“He just always makes me laugh.” I shrugged, trying my hardest not to smile too wide. “It’s like every trip we go on is this new adventure. It’s like to him the world is a big open road to explore, and I don’t know, I think I’ve had enough of sitting on the sidelines.”
“So I should be worried is what you’re telling me.” Adam teased in a laugh.
“No, we, we’re always safe.” I dismissed, remembering who I was talking to. “It’s just that everything is exciting with him, that makes sense right?”
“Completely.” He proudly nodded. “So then do you think you’re totally gay, or do you like girls too?”
I started to tap my fingers against the table as I thought it over. “I don’t think I like girls.” I confessed. “Even in Texas, I don’t know, I just never had much interest in a girlfriend.”
“Then you move here and get a boyfriend within the first two weeks.” Adam smiled.
“Yeah.” I nodded my head. “Life’s weird like that I guess.”
“I don’t think so.” Adam dismissed. “I think you’ve always wanted a boyfriend, you’ve just been keeping it from yourself. Then I think you got to move somewhere free and you let it out, even if you didn’t realize it.”
“Is that what happened to you?” I asked with a raised eyebrow. “Did you get a boyfriend right away?”
“Yup.” He nodded his head. “But that’s a story for another day. It’s time for you to share right now.”
“Well I don’t know what else to say.” I shook my head. “I guess I-I’m,gay.” I forced out in a strong voice. “I’m gay.”
“That’s all you needed to say.” He laughed as pride coated his face.
The rest of the lunch was a lot easier from there. I thought we were close before, but nothing compared to opening up completely to one another. When my Mom passed I didn’t know if I would ever form a connection as strong as the one I had with her. Yet I can feel one starting with her brother. I can feel myself growing closer to him. I can feel him becoming more than just an Uncle.
“So,” Adam began in a serious voice as lunch wrapped up. “does Dizzy know why you moved out here?”
I hesitated for a second before looking back up at him. “No.” I shook my head.
“Do any of your friends?” He prodded, asking more out of concern than curiosity.
“My friend Charlotte.” I answered in a sigh.
“Well I think you should tell Dizzy.”He advised, reaching over and gently grabbing my hand before letting it go. “I want you to have support, and well, he’s a crazy kid, but he’ll be some of the best support I can think of.”
“What if he looks at me differently?” I asked as my eyes fell to the table in front of us.
“Does Charlotte look at you differently?” He pressured as I shook my head. “Then why would the guy you’re dating.”
I nodded as his advice began to connect in my head. “I’ll tell him.” I decided in a powerful breath. “He’s probably on his way to our house right now.”
“You invited him over?” Adam asked.
“No.” I felt a smile begin on my face as I shook my head once more. “But it’s almost three, and he probably think you’re getting home from work soon and that you might be bringing donuts with you.”
“You know him that well?” Adam watched me closely as he asked that question, interested to see how I would respond.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with him these past two weeks.” I bashfully admitted.
“It’s all good.” He laughed as he saw the look on my face. “Maybe one of these days I will bring donuts home for you guys.”
I nodded and watched as Adam paid the bill before leading us out. Before we started the journey home Adam made sure to buy a pride flag and stand for the front of our house. I know he’s proud of his sexuality, but he’s doing everything to make sure I’m proud of my own. He’s been exactly where I am right now. He knows what it’s like, and he’s making sure I’m not alone in it.
When we got home I was surprised not to find Dizzy waiting on our steps. Yet after we set up the flag and headed inside I heard a familiar knock beginning on our door.
“Guess you do know him.” Adam sighed as I quickly rose to my feet.
With a nervous hand I pulled the door open to find the teen I had been trying to describe all day. “One date and you’re already flying the rainbow flag? Boy, you really do move fast.” He teased with a smirk.
“That’s not why we put it there.” I rolled my eyes.
“And I didn’t bring home any donuts!” Adam shouted from the couch.
“I didn’t think you would.” Dizzy lied as his smile grew. “So uh,” Dizzy began but paused as he gestured back towards where the flag was.
“Adam knows I’m gay.” I proudly nodded, walking back towards the couch and taking a seat.
“That you’re gay?” Dizzy repeated, shocked I had said it out loud.
“Yup.” Adam confirmed. “It was a little gross at first, but I’m gay too, so I got over it pretty fast.”
“You’re gay too?” Dizzy asked as the surprises began to mount. “I’m being pranked aren’t I?”
“Nope.” I shook my head, lightly patting the empty seat next to me as he finally began to walk.
“I just saw you like, twelve hours ago.” Dizzy shook his head as he sat down. “What the hell happened?”
“A lot.” I shrugged, avoiding all the details.
“So then he probably knows.” Dizzy exhaled, discreetly gesturing towards Adam once more.
“That you’re dating my nephew?” Adam said, overhearing his words. “Yup, I know that.”
“I treat him right.” Dizzy forced out, not knowing what else to say.
“I would hope so.” Adam laughed, looking over to him. “I’m not worried about you.”
“Thank you?” Dizzy exhaled. Acting the most uncomfortable I’d ever seen him.
“Yeah, we’re Texans after all.” I nodded my head.
“That’s right.” Adam supported. “I used to slaughter the livestock on one of the farms back home.”
“You’re lying.” Dizzy said but as their eyes connected he froze. “This isn’t fun anymore.”
“You’re chasing a country boy,” I shrugged with a smile. “you should’ve known what that meant.”
“Well I didn’t know your uncle was going to be leatherface!”He yelped, starting to let his goofy energy take over. “I’m totally out of here.”
“Ah, it’s too late for that.” I teased, letting myself fall against him. “Unless you want to become victim number…”
“Thirty five.” Adam played along.
“Thirty five. “I confidentially nodded.
“You’re such a weirdo.” Dizzy began to laugh. He leaned in to land a kiss on my lips but backed off when he remembered Adam was next to us. “Hey,” Dizzy forced out, looking over to Adam. “does this mean we get to play more video games together?”
“I thought it meant less.” Adam shook his head.
“It means more.” Dizzy decided. “We’re a good team.”
“You’re like half my age.” Adam dismissed, but it was clear to me they’d be playing more.
“Who cares?” Dizzy shrugged. “I’ll be here hanging out all the time anyway.” He teased drawing a giggle from me.
Adam let out a sigh and glanced across the kitchen to the empty room on the other side. “I’m going to turn that into a second living room so you’ll leave me alone.”
“Really?” I excitedly asked, unsure if he was kidding or not.
“Would you use it?” He provoked, starting to turn serious.
“It’d be cool to have a space for my friends without disturbing you.” I said, trying to make it sound like a win for the both of us.
“I’ll see what I can do.” He shrugged before hitting a button on his controller and turning off his Xbox. “But for now I think you two have something to talk about.”
“Yeah?” Dizzy exhaled, shooting him a confused look.
“Yup.” Adam pressured, forcing eye contact as he walked up the stairs. “And Artie,” He froze halfway up the stairs. “you’re a good Christian boy. Make some room for Jesus.” He warned causing me to get off of Dizzy. Yet the second he climbed the rest of the stairs Dizzy pulled me right back down.
“So what did you have to tell me?” Dizzy asked with a growing smile. “Are we going somewhere?”
“No.” I shook my head, shooting him a serious look.
“Is everything okay?” Dizzy began as the smile slowly fell from his face. “Does Adam know I sneaked in at night?” He whispered as quietly as possible.
“No.” I repeated. “I just, I need to tell you something important.”
“Alright.” Dizzy exhaled, holding me tightly.
“You know I moved here without Adam.” I stalled, trying my hardest to build my courage. “He’s actually been here a while.”
“I figured that part out yesterday.” Dizzy nodded his head as I shot him a confused look. “You know, when we went to his store that my Mom’s gone to since I was a kid.”
“Oh, yeah.” I exhaled, realizing that it hadn’t even crossed my mind.
“You don’t have to tell me if you’re not ready.” Dizzy interrupted once more. “Whatever it is, I’ll still be here after you tell me.”
“I want to tell you.” I took in a deep breath but this time when our eyes met Dizzy figured out that something was wrong. “I um, I lost my Mom two weeks ago.”
“What?” Dizzy let out as shock filled his eyes.
“She passed away after we got into a car accident.” I answered. As my head began to fall Dizzy reached out and pulled me even closer.
“Artie, I, I’m so sorry.” He shook his head.
“She was my best friend.” I began to explain. “I-it’s been really hard.” I confessed as water began to well in my eyes.
“So you were like me?” He asked, trying his hardest to wrap his head around it.
“Yeah.” I replied in a broken breath. “It was just me and my Mom back in Texas.”
“Oh my god.” The more it seemed to hit Dizzy the tighter he held me. “How the hell do you do it? How are you coming to school every day smiling and laughing?”
“It’s what she would’ve wanted me to do.” I shrugged as the first tear fell. “So here I am.”
“You’re my hero.” Dizzy said as he rested his head against me. “I mean that. I could never survive that, but here you are.” He began to gently rub my arm as a few more tears fell from my eyes. “I’m here for you no matter what. If you’re having a tough night, just text me and I’ll be here with ice cream, or chocolate or whatever you need. I’ll always be here for you.”
“I know.” I nodded as my tears began to slow. “That’s why I chose you. You’ll always be here when I need you.”
“Even when you don’t need.” Dizzy teased, drawing a smile from my face. “Does anyone else know?”
“Charlotte.” I shrugged. “But that’s it.”
“No wonder you two are so close.” He shook his head.
“Yeah, she’s the best.” I said, looking up at him.
“I’ll try my hardest not to take that personally.” He joked once more, causing my smile to grow. “Wherever your Mom is, I know she’s proud of you. You, you’re amazing, smart, cute, witty, kind, loyal,”
“Alright.” I interrupted, knowing he would go on all day if I let him. “I like you too.”
“No really.” He insisted. “I mean, I-I’m so proud of you. You let me in, and then, then you come out to Adam. I just, what’s gotten into you lately?”
“I’m gay.” I shrugged with a smile.
“Yeah, is that the reason?” Dizzy giggled as I nodded my head. “Alright prove it.” He teased leaning forward and locking lips with me.
In that moment it no longer mattered if I thought or not. I feel free from everything I used to think, from everything I used to worry about. I thought I had already started my adventure, but now I see it hasn’t even begun yet. It’s time for me to push my limits and learn who I am.