I’m inside a refrigerator.
Caricatured milk bottles and eggs and heads of lettuce stare me in the face. The plastic smell is inescapable.
This is my first memory.
I’m dressed in a blue sequin two-piece, and watch enviously as Saved By the Bell’s Zack Morris marries some random woman in the ocean. But everything about this moment bleeds into the background, and all I see is Zack’s chiseled form.
This is my first dream journal entry.
Laura and I are walking our dog past our old middle school when she stops me.
“Well, I have plenty of straight friends and plenty of gay friends. But I don’t have any bisexual friends.”
“Well, I am.”
“Hmm. Well, whatever. Alright by me.”
This is my turning point.
I’m two meters underground — skimming layers of soil with disturbing precision. Amanda is shoveling behind me. We’re talking about guys. I say one is hot. She stops and turns. I stop and stare.
“I like men.”
A snake burrows through the wall and falls into the unit. We scream and jump out.
“I. Am. Gay.”
Three words strung together. Superficially, that’s all they are. And yet, they’ve reached into my gut, my heart, my mind and pressed puree. With my mental blender whirring loudly, I watch my mouth sync these words to my reflection.
I’ve known this phrase, but never sculpted it through audible language. Though whispered at first, the words seem to melt into the darkness of my apartment, permeating every atom with the spoken truth.
“Gay,” I murmur louder, my lips contorting a little less than before. The whirring stops.
I look back into the mirror and see myself for the first time.
This is my freedom.
He looks like a Russian poet. That’s what I tell him. He finds it endearing. We drink a bottle of wine. He makes lasagna. And the next morning, the sun fills the room, and glances off his torso. I turn over and smile into the sheets.
This is my first time.
I stare hard into the antique dining table’s surface, so much so that my vision blurs. Then I look up, right across to Laura. And there she sits: solid, unmoving, protective.
A few tense seconds of silence pass; they seem like months. Mom’s voice shatters them to pieces.
“Well, I hope you know this doesn’t change how much we love you.”
This is acceptance.
The air conditioner sputters uselessly. His leg rests on mine. We’re hot and tired and bored. We’re together. He looks up from his book and smiles.
This is love.
He’d always been there of course – a passenger of sorts, riding along but never engaging. But he had to be given a voice. My voice.
This is me.