My daughter came out to me when she was nineteen.
It would not have been my first choice for her life.
If she had said, “I think I’m gay,” or even “I’m gay, Mom,” I might have been able to convince myself that she was mistaken, lured from her moorings by an older girl.
But, looking directly at me, with eyes so like my own, she said, “I dig on chicks.”
No matter how many different ways I turned that phrase, trying to twist it into something else, it stayed what it was.
Years later, I found myself sitting poolside with an old friend, drinking beer from aluminum cans that started sweating the minute we pulled them from the cooler. I was nursing my first, she was on her third. The air reeked of chlorine and pulsed with the squealing and splashing of our grandchildren.
Squinting at me in the sunlight, she said, “What do you really think about Annie being gay?" She leaned toward me. "You can’t like her being, you know, a lesbian.”
I thought about her daughter, living with a guy who "has a temper" that regularly gets them evicted. The last time I saw her, she'd gained 50 pounds and her right eye had traces of greenish-yellow beneath it. Her children, a girl and a boy who have their father's sandy hair, clung to her, peeking at me from behind Mom's thick calves. She didn't plan the second child, and worries about getting pregnant again.
Then I thought about my daughter, now settled with a partner in a nice neighborhood. They’ve each given birth to a child by an anonymous donor. One boy and one girl, who look startlingly like their mothers. Their never-to-be-known father was a physician, six-foot tall, with dark hair and eyes. I can see no trace of him in my grandchildren, though perhaps I just don’t know what to look for. The girls spent thousands of dollars conceiving these much-desired children and, with no effort whatsoever, they will bear no more.
The scent of hops hung in the air as my friend's eyes challenged me with the values we were raised by.
“Who our children become may not be what we would have chosen for them,” I said, “but that doesn’t change how much we love them.”
She started to nod, but stopped herself. “But she’s gay,” she said insistently.
I shrugged, stared at my beer can. "It wouldn't have been my first choice.”
Nodding, she settled back in her chair.
Nearby, a little boy with his mother's eyes leapt into the water, slim as a fish, crying, "Grandma! Watch me!"
I set down my can, looked directly at my friend.
"But I was wrong."