Seven Hills

Did you know I have a brother? Well, I do have a brother, and he's moving to Seattle. He flew my mother and me up there last week. It was a small family reunion. The first night, we had the freshest nectarines and a white wine that pretended to be champagne. My brother and mother salivate for the sweeter stuff. We sat on beds and uncovered the rocks in our family history, the ones we'd been stepping on for years. Good and bad but all ours. Under some of them, snakes. Under others, diamonds. We posed for a picture in the airport. Now I know we're all related. We share a nose.

A brief word on the men in Seattle. My eyes never went hungry. Let's just say. My brother took me to a gay bar. (Did you know my brother is also gay? He is.) I sometimes forget how handsy gay guys can be en masse. At this bar I was touched and groped and caressed and hugged. All in passing. Only once did I see the face of the guy grabbing my waist. I approved. Smiled. Drank something that was intended to taste like Froot Loops. It did taste like Froot Loops.

I recognized one of the go-go boys from "the Internet." He's in pictures, you see. A stranger pressured me to tip this go-go boy. The stranger said, "This is his job. Give him some money." I'd tried to pay my bus fare earlier, but my brother told me to save my money for souvenirs. I was trying to decide whether or not tipping a go-go boy counted as a souvenir. Yes, I decided, but the go-go boy was gone. Soon after, so were we.

We walked back to our hotel in the rain and talked about our different coming out experiences. I learned what happened when I didn't come out to my brother. Other people told him. One youth minister sat him down to tell him how hellish and wrong I was for being gay. If I'm getting the timeline right, that was probably the same year I met Josh, the man I've been with for over nine years now. Not a competition, but that's longer than some of the marriages in my family.

Another night in Seattle I ran around with Molly Laich. You know her. She's responsible for the second half of this VIDEO. We've only been in the same physical space twice. Whiskey is our mutual friend. We sat in the bendable accordion section of a bus and hugged each other over Roger Ebert. Maybe cried. I slept on her couch. Watched her backyard chickens peck the ground in the morning. Avoided goodbye by leaving quietly and Googling my way to the bus.

And my mother. I hadn't seen her in over a year. Since the funeral of her mother. We were crossing the street on the way back from Pike Place, and a homeless man asked us for money. My mother stopped in the middle of the crosswalk as the light was about to change, touched the man's arm and said, "What do you need, sweetie?" My mother gave the man some money. The kindness in my mother's voice undid me. No annoyance. No patronizing. Simple compassion.

Later, my mother and I misunderstood each other and had words. We sat in silence by the water. I looked at my mother and saw myself. Except for the kindness. It's there for her as a force. A constant consideration. A choice she made somewhere along the line to balance out the darkness inherent in our family. If it's there for me, I don't know what it looks like.

Probably it looks like pie.