I wandered back to the snickersnack tray for another slice of sharp cheddar. The living room had devolved into a ruckus of voices critiquing a croquet game from a family reunion over ten years ago on the TV.
This was a decent moment in the evening.
It was after my grandpa received his Trump/Pence “Make America Great Again” pin, which caused bile to rise in my throat as he proudly wore it all night long.
It was after I was given a bottle of men’s Bay Rum cologne with a quaint, product origin story about it being used in old west saloons before visiting prostitutes.
It was before a mind-numbing game of Things, where new family rules destroyed all the fun, and I discovered that my cousin has been cutting herself.
It was before a round table of self-congratulatory religious masturbation, where my dad’s self-righteous story was told about how Christ-like he was to invite a disabled church member over to his home for dinner and beamed as he passed around a photo of the disabled twenty-something standing by the fireplace with his daughter.
Perhaps my realization while watching the old family rerun caused me to see these events in a sour light.
Because, I honestly don’t know how a well-informed, intelligent, and empathetic person can support the angry bigot about to be in charge of the White House. I’m honestly embarrassed to be an American, and we have done a lot of shitty things as a country to be embarrassed about, but this is one giant leap backwards.
Because, I honestly don’t think glamorizing the old west and saloon-culture is a good thing.
Because, I honestly hope my uncle and aunt are getting my cousin real help and not just praying about it.
Because, I honestly don’t know the point of my dad’s story. Was it to say, “look at what a good person I am for allowing a crippled person to dine at my table? I am telling this story because I don’t let disabled people into my home usually, so this is an event, and shows what a great Christian I am. God, bless conservative Christian America.” What message was his story trying to evoke? As the picture, or souvenir of good Christian behavior, was passed around the room, I couldn’t figure it out. I still can’t figure out his purpose, but it sure did help to solidify for me what they think “real” Christianity is.
The video played.
The screen shifted from the family reunion to Wii bowling and my embarrassing attempt at a beard. A shift again, and the focus of the video remained around my two younger cousins and younger sister. As their little faces jumped in the Chicago snows and slid down a suburban slip’n’slide.
An alternative life flashed before me.
I saw myself coming out years before, followed by conversion therapy, sports, depression, anger, resentment, suicide attempts, years trying to find a therapist that told them what they wanted to hear, and being forced into the military. Everything good and every joy that I had ever had would have been destroyed. And deep down, I must have known that, too.
My mom’s voice saying, “just because you don’t trust your family” buzzed about in my brain, the gnat-like phrase had grown the past two days to hang around my neck like an albatross.
But, she’s right. And, I guess in a way, I have never trusted my family. I must have known and because of that, buried who I was as deep as I could until the roots of life began to crack my facade. And, it was then, with much guilt and anxiety, that on the choice between evolve or die. I chose evolve.
The video ended, and it was another reminder of where I am now, of who I am, and of who I was.
I miss who I thought they were, who I hoped they were.
I know too much now.
I showed my true colors.
They showed theirs.