“So tell me about the boy.”
The words hit her even before she’d had a chance to shut the car door. She took a breath, fastened the seatbelt, and adjusted the seat to accommodate her longer frame than her mother. “You’re supposed to start with something a little less confrontational, like ‘how was your flight’ instead of jumping right in like that.”
“Sorry, how’s the flight?”
“Fine. The flight was fine. Any landing, and all that.”
“So, tell me about him.”
Another breath. How to explain something she wasn’t even sure she understood herself? Say it’s complicated? All relationships are complicated. Besides, when would her parents start treating her like she’s an adult. She’s almost done with college, for crying out loud. “Coming home doesn’t feel like home any more.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s complicated. I’m not in high school. You and mom can’t tell me what to do any more, who I can go out with.” The words tasted bitter in her mouth and she regretted them.
“I know that. I wasn’t judging you.”
The drove on in silence, exiting the airport and easing onto the freeway. She looked at her dad, tried to understand what he might be thinking. When did he get so old? He’d always been strong. She couldn’t find the right word to describe him. Maybe: alone.
“He’s a she,” she said. Oh, crap. The words had come out on their own. She hadn’t wanted to say it like that. Her well rehearsed speech, about times changing, about knowing yourself, about the nature of love, about how wonderful her partner was, all that just went out the window with three quick words.
Her dad swallowed, nodded. “What’ll we tell your mom?”
This was going to be a long Thanksgiving weekend.