We see Grandma and Grandpa Colorado only a few times each year, which would be totally fine if I didn’t like them so much. How I managed to luck out in the in-law department is beyond me. It’s not that we have so much in common: My mother-in-law is a total tomboy. She was a professional athlete, she hates to shop and she couldn’t care less about celebrity gossip—mostly because she is unfamiliar with most celebrities. (She recently went three years without a television.) I told her that Michael Jackson had died six months after his death and she was shocked, though not sad. She doesn’t know her way around a computer or the mall. She doesn’t care about things like matching her clothes, climbing the corporate ladder or preventative maintenance. I love her.
My father-in-law might have been my soulmate had I been born 30 years earlier. He’s a dichotomy—a man’s man with a Master’s degree in English and a hankering for the liquor. He knows every pre-Y2K song that comes on the radio and will dance to it with a grace not known to many men over six feet. He collects quotes and knives. He has an artist’s spirit with a blue-collar sensibility. He understands women, fish and woodworking more than any person I’ve ever met. He calls me and my friends sexist nicknames like Baby Doll, Baby Girl and Filly. Not only are we not bothered by it, we kind of like it.
Grandma and Grandpa Colorado are children of the Sixties. They met in Redondo Beach, got married months later and joined the Peace Corps, but they’re not the hippies you might imagine them to be. They are old-fashioned in many, many ways.
They’ve always welcomed my gay brother into their lives and home with big, burly arms. But he’s not their son, so it’s a little easier to be accepting and loving and then send him back home on the evening train to WeHo.
C.J. is different; he’s their flesh and blood. And, I can’t help but feel that him being gender creative and possibly gay is my fault. As far as we know, they’ve never had a homosexual in their bloodline. I can’t help but wonder if they blame me?
Oh, and one other little, teeny, tiny thing: They don’t know about this blog. Whoopsie. I feel like I’m in the closet with them—and I don’t like it. It’s just how it is telling people my brother’s gay: if I don’t come out with it early, at a certain point it gets awkward to come out with it at all. People feel like you haven’t been real with them, like you were trying to deceive them. Or when you do tell them, they feel like you’ve altered their sense of reality. Never a good feeling, I realize.
It’s the end of our first full day in Colorado. The daily thunderstorm is rolling in the sky and The Rolling Stones are playing on high. C.J. is in his black-and-white polka-dot apron and pink headband. Papa Colorado is dancing with him, spinning him round and round as C.J. giggles with delight. I know that they are going to love C.J. no matter what. This is a new journey for them, and they deserve to be as big a part of it as they choose to be, not as I choose for them to be. I’m gonna tell them real soon….I promise.