Chapter 16:

sceNe 16 - ᴀNᴛiᴄiᴘaᴛiNɢ quesᴛioNs

ᴋraCᴋeᴅ ᴍooN / Kracked Moon

Making plans with my parents was always difficult, but the looming subject for their visit definitely made it heavier. They set a day two weeks out from the phone call, mostly because they struggled to find a time that worked with their schedules. We agreed to meet at my apartment. This was good for me because, if things got out of hand, I could kick them out instead of being trapped in their home. Even if I could leave, there is a sort of emotional energy in their house that makes it difficult to escape without their permission.

Psyching myself up to talk to them wasn’t very difficult. Cryztal and Sandra were both very supportive and encouraging, but the more I unpacked my history to myself as practice, the more awkward it became. Aside from not fully realizing I had a crush on Cryztal until after I was sent away, I didn’t really have any romantic experience before high school. My boarding school was too miserable during 7th and 8th grade to even make friends, let alone think I could date. I had a lot on my mind at the time.

By high school things were better, and I joined the school’s GSA. Ours was a Gay-Straight Alliance, but pretty much was just an LGBT+ club. Apparently the group had a long history and didn’t want to change the name, despite pretty easy alternative options. I originally joined as an ally, having been bullied in middle school and wanting to help others how I could. You’d imagine there would be a social justice group or even something for my fellow HSC, but neither group was very active and mostly functioned like a phone list or group chat. This meant I would become a loyal member of the GSA, not expecting where it would take me.

I did try to date guys, but it never lasted long. Since the GSA helped with every school dance, we attended and would normally have dates. At least half of my dates were set up by members of the GSA, and even when they thought we would be a good match, nothing ever clicked. Maybe I was being prudish at times or overthinking their intentions. Like I could just tell some guys just wanted to date me because of my ears and tail, but even when I thought they might be attractive, I couldn’t really get enthusiastic about them.

It didn’t hit me until my sophomore year that I might be interested in girls. There was a senior who I definitely could not take my eyes off of. She was so pretty! And when I discreetly asked my friends for help, they encouraged me without knowing who I was talking about. It turned out she had a girlfriend who had graduated the year before, which I didn’t learn until after confessing my feelings. Despite being turned down, the silver lining was that I was open about being interested in women, and the rest of the GSA quickly learned about that. From there, high school would feature plenty of short relationships with the longest being only a few months, but I ultimately never had a high school sweetheart.

College was more of the same but using dating apps on campus. Any clubs or associations I could have joined lined up poorly with my classes. The dates would go fine, but balancing dates, classes, and work wasn’t always easy, and dropping dates always seemed like the smartest choice. Less than a year into my college career, I started regularly seeing a woman named Sara. She was nice, and said she didn’t mind me working so much. We kept it going for a little more than a year until she transferred to a different campus, then shortly after figuring out how to best stay in touch, she dumped me. It turned out she had been cheating on me a lot, and I only found out well after she was gone from my life.

While I planned to stay single for some time, I found myself in a relationship again pretty quickly. But I definitely can’t talk about that one with my folks, because that one didn’t go so well. Sandra still won’t talk about it without immediately highlighting how horrible it was for me. Definitely need to make it clear to my parents that I’m safe. And I am now! Because I have people who support me! They understand who I am, and my parents should be able to as well!

With the day growing closer, Sandra was trying to insert herself into the plan.

“I know you’re hoping for the best, but I’m kinda excited to kick them out of the apartment.” Sandra said, smiling wide.

“That’s why you’ll be at work! I need to handle them myself!” I also didn’t want my parents to have actual ammunition against Sandra.

“I did want to ask, why now? Why not sooner?” I hadn’t told Sandra about Cryztal encouraging me.

“It just happened in the moment, and they made it something bigger.” I said, then looked away from Sandra. “And maybe I have a favorite now.”

“A favorite? Playing favorites is pretty harsh, Nai-bu.”

“No! I mean Cryztal! It’s a thing from when we were kids! She’s my favorite now!”

“You can just say you like her. Like a normal person.”

“She’s my favorite. She’ll understand.” I was just thinking about Cryztal at that point.

I needed to talk to my parents for obvious reasons, but Cryztal really was motivating me. Maybe my parents would be more open to me coming back home if they knew I was interested in Cryztal. Maybe they would be happy to see how much she and Jason have grown up. I really would love to pretend I was never sent away, but my wishful thinking distracted me from the real reasons my parents sent me away.