A Ford Escort parked outside. My father and two other men got out and came in the front door. We’d found out a few months ago that Dad was gay, but this was our first time meeting his new friends. Dad introduced everyone to Kory and David, both wearing tight, short corduroy shorts. I cringed when they talked and gestured because to me it was obvious they were gay. I shifted from foot to foot, examining some crumbs on the grey slate floor. After saying a polite hello, I escaped outside with friends (who didn’t know my secret).
During the parade I tried to relax, but couldn’t help watching my dad and his friends in the crowd. As the mob pushed forward for every float’s approach, we covered our heads to protect ourselves from the flying cabbages. I cowered and peeked around to make sure there wasn’t any PDA going on. I wasn’t prepared for that, let alone ready for my friends to find out that way.
I stopped paying attention and started getting stepped on. I lost my balance and pitched forward, bumping into another woman. She glared at me while one of my friends grabbed me.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “You seem…wierd.”
“I’m fine!” I snapped. Only I wasn’t: I was 16, my dad was gay and I wondered what he did with other men. Sure, all parents have sex, but it was embarrassing to think of my dad having homosexual sex. I squeezed my eyes shut against my imagination. Then came the thought of Mom with her boyfriend, who often slept over. I’d go downstairs for breakfast to find him sitting at our kitchen table. Heat rose to my cheeks because, well, what else do grownups do when they shack up? He lived right around the block. I was very much a virgin then, but I felt surrounded by my parents’ sex.
Looking back, I see they were happy. Divorced, Dad fresh out of the closet, they could’ve been ruined. Instead, we continued to gather as a family, including my dad’s domestic partner in parties and celebrations, as well as my mom’s boyfriend. We lived life. We made it work. It didn’t mean I was okay with everything, but I had a family that loved me. An unusual family, but a family nonetheless.
Today’s prompt: Think back to your own adolescence. With the perspective of time, try to find the beauty or grace in an awkward adolescent situation, even if there is only a sliver to find. Word limit is 400.
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