The Consequences of Dissonance - Chapter Fourteen
My computer had been packed into a Corona box given to me by Thomas — all except the monitor — and my clothes were packed back into my laundry basket with my trumpet laying packed within the clothing, still inside its case. All of this had been lugged outside to the picnic table near the road at the first call from my mom and I waited with it as she tried to find her way through campus back to my dorm.
Kris and I had dressed bashfully that morning, doing most of it under the covers still as we giggled childishly to each other. Despite the both of us being beet red, there were no feelings of guilt I had come to expect from the First Time. Instead we had gone back to our normal selves, sharing a breakfast in the dining hall and talking as we always had, except perhaps with more smiling.
We had an extended goodbye in the lobby of my hall, promising to call or talk online whenever we could during the break. I felt as though the forced absence meant a bit more too me than it did to Kris, who seemed to just take it in stride, but I kept that to myself. I figured it was an artifact from my previous relationships where time together meant much more.
I saw my mom’s blue hatchback turn the corner toward me and slid myself off the picnic table to motion her towards the driveway that ran up to the south doors of my dorm. It was a twenty minute loading zone, but I had my stuff packed into her car in less than twenty seconds, piling into the passenger seat and leaning over to give my mom a hug.
“Hey!” She hugged back fiercely, “Good to see you again!”
I settled back into my seat as she backed out of the short lane. “Good to see you too. How’re things going?” I asked.
She shrugged, “Oh, you know, good now that I got my son back.”
“Yeah, gonna be a good break.”
“Mm. Want to stop for lunch on our way out of town?”
I nodded, giving her directions to get off campus and head toward the noodle restaurant Kris, Erin, Eric and I had gone to on that first double date. My mind raced in the meantime, coming up with possible scenarios, ways to tell my mom about Kris, and discarding them each as quickly as they arose.
We pulled up beside the restaurant just as someone else was pulling away, parking feet from the door. I levered myself from the car and moved to hold the door to the restaurant for my mom, following her in.
We spent a few moments in line, catching up on this and that — the weather differences between here and home, how the dogs were doing, the break ahead. It wasn’t until we’d placed our order and found a booth that we started talking about anything of import.
Of course, my mom jumped in right away, “So, tell me about this guy you mentioned.”
I hesitated for a moment brushed my hair from my forehead. Thoughts such as getting a haircut seemed to be trying to push themselves into line for me to say, but I managed to jump ahead of them with, “Well… um, actually, it’s a girl.”
My mom’s eyes went wide and she sat up straighter in the booth, smiling at me. “Really! Well, now you really have to tell me about hi– her.”
Sinking down into the booth a little, I shrugged, “I dunno, it just kind of happened, I guess. I met her in my composition class. Her name’s Kris.”
A flicker of recognition crossed my mom’s face before transforming into a furrow of her brow. “Kris? Like short for Christina? Or Kristen?”
I smiled faintly, “Kristal, though I’m not supposed to ever call her that.”
“Well,” my mom laughed. “You certainly do keep us on our toes. This is a bit of a surprise, for just a few months away from home.”
I nodded. “Is it… I mean, are you okay with this?”
My mom’s expression softened. “Of course I am, Cory. Hell, I bet most parents of gay kids would be just thrilled to find out that their child was suddenly in a heterosexual relationship.”
We sat back a bit to make room for the server as she set our plates in front of us. Thanking her and each taking a few bites of food.
“It is different,” I said after a bit.
My mom nodded, “I bet. You’ve never really shown any interest in girls before this, so it’s a little surprising.”
She laughed, “I already said it was okay. I worry for you a little, but it’s certainly okay.”
“Worry?” I finished chewing, then continued, “Why?”
“Well, a couple reasons, I suppose.” She sat back against the booth and fiddled with her napkin in her lap as if organizing her thoughts. “First of all, isn’t it a little soon for a relationship? You had to have just met her.”
I nodded, unable to think of a reply.
“And it seems, I don’t know, reactionary or something. Like you moved away, and got into a relationship with a girl just to make your life that much more different than it could’ve been.” She thought about that for a moment as she finished off her lunch. “It’s not bad, and maybe it’ll last for a while.” She winced at the choice of words and rushed to add, “With so much working against it, I mean.”
I hunched over my half-finished plate of stroganoff and toyed with the noodles and mushrooms. I struggled with my thoughts for a minute or two. Part of me saw that what she was saying was all true; another part was disgusted with the way she had said it; and the hopeless romantic side was rushing to defend the way I felt. “It’s funny,” I mumbled. “I thought this would be like coming out all over again.”
My mom smiled.
“You’re right, though.” I continued, “It does have a lot working against it, but I dunno, I feel so good where I am, it’s hard to look past that to see problems with the relationship.”
“Well, it’s certainly alright, and I’m happy for you, I really am,” my mom patted my hand. “Just… you know I worry about you a lot. Just telling you those worries.”
I nodded and ate a little more of my food, though the sobering talk had left me with little appetite. I left the last few bites on the plate and we made our way back out to the car instead. I was suddenly anxious about heading home, wanting to just stay on campus instead, all the places I associated with Kris.
I waited until we were in the car and at the stop light before I voiced a new concern. “How do you think my dad will take it? Or Jared for that matter.”
A pained look crossed my mom’s face, but she hid it as she turned into a gap in traffic. “Well, you know Jared,” she said quietly. “He’ll probably be pretty pleased by it. As for your dad… I don’t know. I don’t think he’ll have a problem with it, though. Just don’t know how he’ll react.”
A small flare of anger pulsed in my chest at the thought of Jared. Near the end of summer, my mom had all but said to me that she loved everything about that man except the way he had reacted to me. With their marriage coming right at the beginning of my senior year of high school, I couldn’t help but feel as though part of the reason he had decided to delay in proposing to my mom until then had been because I was due to be out of the picture so soon after the fact.
The anger pulsed weakly in my chest before failing, buried under the pensive weight of my thoughts. I watched Fort Collins roll flatly by, diminishing from the tree-filled, slightly backwards town I had grown to enjoy into a dirty landscape of warehouses until we found ourselves on I-25, even the warehouses dying off to leave nothing but a flat expanse of grass.