Last night I asked my sister to call me. We don’t talk on the phone all that much, just text about projects or trivial nonsense. So I’m not surprised that she called about forty seconds after I texted her. If I ask her to call, she’s going to assume something is wrong.
“I’m dating someone,” Even over the phone I have my eyes closed, braced for yelling. It’s hard to know what to expect. She’s a lesbian, so it may be easier for her to understand alternate sexuality. On the other hand, she’s a registered republican, very conservative. This could go badly.
“What the hell?” Okay, at least she’s calm.
She has questions. Does Spouse know? (Of course, I’m not a monster.) Are you getting a divorce? (No, we’re doing fine.) Does the Techie know you’re married? (Of course. He and Spouse are friends, actually.) Is Spouse dating someone else too? (It’s complicated. I guess not really right now. He sometimes does.)
She says she doesn’t understand. That if her girlfriend were to go out with someone else and still want to be with her, she’d like to punch her in the throat.
“That’s not a good spot for punching.”
“That’s kind of the point. I couldn’t–I mean Jesus, Nic, there’s no way I could live like that.”
“No one’s asking you to.”
“Have you told dad?”
“I don’t think the afterlife has cell phone reception this good.”
“Fair point. What about mom?”
“Not yet. I wanted to ask you about that.”
It’s what I expected to hear. Expected can still be upsetting. I ask why. Clearly mom’s calmed down to some degree. When I told her I had a girlfriend in high school she cried for days, called a gay uncle and blamed him, shouted and denied and cried some more. Now she facebook chats with my sister’s girlfriend, and talks about her like she’s family.
“Why do you want to tell her? I mean, this is hard for me. Her generation, and the way she is about marriage. She won’t get it. I’m glad you’re happy, if everyone’s happy that’s fine. Mom will just hear that you’re cheating on Spouse, and Spouse is cheating on you, and it’s just going to make her miserable. It’s not like you live near home [over 800 miles] so you don’t have to sneak around and hope she never sees you in a restaurant or anything.”
She’s right. The problem is, my mother gets upset when she thinks I’m hiding things from her. I usually am hiding things. We had so many fights when I was a teenager, most of them because I was too blunt about things she didn’t want to hear (and also because I was a snotty monster of a teen). She’s been asking me to call more often, tell her about life and not just grad school. She met the Techie briefly in July, and has asked a few questions about him since.
The Techie won’t say either that he’d rather I keep quiet or that he wants to be a part of my life that the family knows about. I suspect that he has an actual preference one way or the other, but is trying not to influence my decision on the matter. Of course, I could be projecting what I would do and he may actually not care either way.
We talked a bit more, about her remodeling project and upcoming move. My hands were shaking when I hung up, so I IMed a very old friend to help process the conversation. One of the first questions he had was “why did you tell your sister?”
I’m not completely sure. A few reasons, maybe. I don’t know. I’ve been seeing him about six months. I think I’m trying to have enough faith that this is actually a relationship and not a fling, that he is going to be a part of my life for a while yet. It’s hard–not long ago I might have said impossible–for me to build real trust anymore but I trust the Techie. He says he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The people I’ve known longest and care about most deserve to know about him.
I guess I’m still processing. I know not many people read this, but if anyone is, input on this one would be especially appreciated.