Saturday, November 28, 2009


I’ve been incredibly intimidated to write this post. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of love, disappointment, fear, comfort and insanity.


First things first: I met a girl. She is beautiful, and awe inspiring… and when I hold her my heart feels like it’s jumping on a trampoline. When I lay my head against her chest, I’m assured that she feels the same way. We’ve spent the last month doing a passive aggressive love dance… making out, pretending like it doesn’t mean anything, making out again, kissing with intensity and then laughing it off later.


And then there was last week. Last week she introduced me to her friends. I was so nervous, and as we sat there on the couch together she brushed my arm with her fingers and slipped her hand into mine. My stomach somersaulted because I realized that for the first time, I CARE about someone I’m involved with. I genuinely care what her friends think of me, I care about her feelings and if she feels good when I’m holding her. I hold her. I’m letting my emotions creep into this and its SCARY, and different, and new. It’s wonderful.


We’re both insomniacs and we’ve been spending every other night together pulling all nighters… watching infomercials, driving around, buying candy at the 24 hr Walgreens, etc etc. Over the past couple weeks my mom has been expressing concern that I’ve been spending so many nights away from home with someone she hasn’t met, so she took the liberty of facebook stalking my girl (she learned her stalking skills from me, so it’s my own fault). She saw that my girl is gay and asked me on Saturday if I’ve been questioning my own sexuality. I was stunned and speechless. I had not planned on coming out and I wasn’t prepared to do so… but I also wasn’t prepared to lie about it.


“I’m not questioning it Mom... I’m gay.”


She looked at me and after a long pause, sighed and said “Oh…. Okay. This is going to be hard, and it’s going to be a challenge, but we can do this. I still love you baby.”  By this time I was sobbing and hugging my mom like I was a 5 year old with a skinned knee. I begged and pleaded with her not to tell my dad, who walked downstairs in the middle of all this and saw my slight mental breakdown. He mentioned something about car payments and awkwardly shuffled away. My mom asked that I tell him but told me she would respect my wishes if I chose to wait. I couldn’t ask her to keep a secret that big, so I told her I would tell him myself. My parents left to go out to dinner and I wrote my dad a letter, packed a bag and left.

The letter went something like this, only about 3000 words longer:



 I love you, I trust you, and I’m about to hand you my heart. Please be careful with it. I’m gay. I know this is not what you want for me and this is not how you pictured my life. I know you support homosexual reparative therapy, but I ask that you please respect me as a person and as your daughter when I tell you that this is not something that can be changed. I wouldn’t change it even if I could. This is who I am. I’ve known this for years but I’ve been terrified to tell you because I’ve been afraid of your reaction, of the backlash my telling you this would bring. Please know that this does not change who I am. This has always been a part of me, it’s just a part I have been hiding from you. I know that our relationship is about to change, but I’m ready for that. I love you and I hope that someday, with a little bit of that liberal perseverance (haha) and a lot of faith, you’ll still walk me down the aisle. I won’t be coming home tonight. I want to give you time to think about and process this. I love you so much and that will never change, no matter what.

Love, Emily


I left around 6pm and picked up my girl. I didn’t hear much from my parents that night, and I slept at my girl’s best friend’s house. The next morning I got a text from my dad asking me to come home and talk, but I was too scared to face him. I went to work and somehow made it through my shift without messing up TOO many times, and came home around 10pm that night. I walked in the door and my mom looked at me and simply said, “He’s upstairs.”


I walked up the stairs, knocked on the door to his room, and went inside. He stood up from his bed and hugged me, and started sobbing. I cried too and we just stood there for a minute or two, holding each other and crying. We sat down on his bed and although he said he still loved me and wouldn’t kick me out or pull my funding for school, he told me he believed my gayness was just cultural influence. He said that men aren’t indispensable, that maybe I don’t like ALL men, but…. Worst of all, he said that if I prayed enough and read the bible, I could be “changed”. The God that my dad seems to know is SO different from the God that I know.


I left again that night and stayed on my best friend’s couch. Her parents were incredibly supportive and let me know that whenever things are hard at home, I always have a second home with them.


And so that leads me to what I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving: I am thankful for love. The love of my girl, of my friends, of my surrogate families, of my siblings, of my mom, and of my dad (despite our differences and the endless fights that are sure to fill the coming months). I’m thankful for everyone who came out before me, who paved the way for me. I’m thankful that I was able to come home for Thanksgiving. And I’m thankful for YOU.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

If this is what I call home, why does it feel so alone?

This post is going to be  a little different than usual. I need to talk about something that’s been weighing on my heart for awhile. I think I’ve mentioned before that I work as a nursing assistant in a residential hospice, meaning that a great deal of my time is spent interacting with terminally ill cancer patients. I’m supposed to tell them that everything is going to be okay, I’m supposed to comfort them when they cry, give out hugs like candy and react to grieving families with the ease of a skilled counselor.


Here’s the deal: I’m 19. I DON’T believe that everything is going to be okay, every time I see them cry I want to lie down next to them and cry too, and most of the time I just don’t know what to say when a family member comes to me with tears in their eyes, looking for some kind of faith or reassurance.


I don’t have that. I don’t have the answers. And sometimes, at the end of my shift, I have NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE. I’m completely and utterly emotionally drained and I have nothing left for my family or friends. I feel like a robot.


Last week I took care of my classmate’s dad. His DAD. His dad was younger than mine. His brain tumor showed up suddenly 2 years ago and just like that… 24 months to fight. 24 months to live. And then it’s over. Even though my dad and I have our differences I love him more than life itself, and I would be completely lost if he were taken from me. I can’t even imagine losing him.


This work is hard but it lends a valuable lesson with a teaching style most don’t have the opportunity to encounter: Life is precious. Life is short.  So eat your dessert first, count your blessings, love without fear, take risks, and roam if you must… but come home when you’ve seen enough. I’ve asked every one of my well traveled patients what their favorite place is and I always get the exact same answer: home.


But where is home?  WHAT is it??


I love traveling, I love roadtripping. It’s not unusual for me to pack a bag, jump in the car and drive. I wrote this a couple weeks ago when I was doing just that:


Home is not a place.

It has no spot on the map, no address where birthday cards can be sent.

Home is a time.

A time when things were safe,

A time when if I scraped my knee, it only hurt until it was kissed.

A time when every rainbow was a miracle, and a time out was the worst of my fears.

Home is a feeling.

It’s the feeling I get when I drive on open roads,

The windows down and my cell phone turned off.

Home is in the vast green prairies,

The abandoned K-Marts and empty parking lots.

I’m obsessed with empty parking lots,

As if they are tangible proof that I’m not the only one afraid to stop.

Afraid to slow down, because maybe I’ll miss something or someone.

I’m not running away from anything.

I’m running towards something.

I’m running home.


I’m looking for home. Let me know if you find it. ;)