Hey, how's everyone?
Gotta admit, I thought I was done with this blog, that I was just Krystle Kamen, single mom, climbing enthusiast, more tomboyish and church-going than anyone who knew her in high school would ever expect, and I was kind of okay with that. It's not a bad life, and I figured it would become more and more mine. After all, I talk to a whole lot of people in their twenties who seem to have basically left their before-college life behind, especially those from abroad - you meet a fair number of them in this city when Covid doesn't have everything shut down - and other single moms whose pregnancies didn't necessarily meet with their parents' approval. I'll never really think of my life as normal, I don't think, but it kind of is if you choose your starting point from after I got pregnant and ignore that there's a pandemic in the middle of it.
So what's up with today? Well, it's been a heck of a weekend, with a lot of stuff that involves me having started out as Jonah Glass, and I don't know where else to get it out.
As longtime readers know, I've been estranged from my parents, and while the pandemic has at times at least had us texting and calling a bit more, since it hit people of color in customer-facing jobs fairly hard and that's me/Momma Kamen/Karla, on top of how Little Moira couldn't get vaxxed until just a few months ago. The original Krystle wants no part of me, and I don't blame her, and after some initial reaching out, communication with June petered out as he lived his/my life. It's been kind of lonely, but it's helped me focus on giving my baby as normal a life as I could, and that's a silver lining, I guess.
June - "Junah", as some folks call him - reached out to me a couple weeks ago. He was graduating from college as Jonah Glass and thought that I might want to be part of that. He'd checked with my parents, and wanted to invite me to the barbecue they were having, if that wasn't too weird. I wasn't sure what to say at first, but really wanted to go. My parents and I may disagree about a lot of decisions I made, and there's nothing in this world that can mess with you like the idea of someone being better at your life than you were, but these are all really important pepole to me.
Still, I was nervous when I said yes. My dad came down to pick us up that morning, and we had about an hour to drive, and I tried to ask him about a few things quietly as Moira played with a doll in the back. He looked a bit hurt that I'd ask, but he seemed to understand, and basically said that he hoped we'd be able to put things behind us. It was good to hear him say that, and we talked about basketball the rest of the way.
I could kind of hide how nervous I was when I arrived by introducing the suddenly-shy Moira to Gramma Glass, who she hadn't seen since she was a baby. Still, facing Mom was nerve-wracking. I get my hair straightened these days - it looks "more professional" at the climbing center with the mostly-white customers - and I'm in pretty damn good shape, but I'd spent a lot of the previous two days worrying about how masculine or feminine to present myself. Like, the boobs can't be hidden, and it's not like I wear summer dresses with a lot of cleavage regularly, but I kind of also didn't want to look like this being my life was something I hated. I wound up in capris and a camisole, praying that I wouldn't wind up changing into a swimsuit because Moira wanted to go in the pool.
It went okay. We hugged, she mostly said she was sorry for how things went down (Moira's namesake views "I wish we could have handled it better" as not really an apology, but I'll take it), and she was delighted by how Moira was already carrying favorite books around and how much she looks like both her parents.
We didn't have long to ourselves; another car pulled into the driveway while we were still talking, a hybrid model that kind of looked nice but still had a few miles on it. From where I was standing, I initially just saw Junah in the passenger seat as it passed and then noted the Black Lives Matter bumper sticker, though I was half-surprised when the driver got out and was white as heck, a 22-year-old redhead in booty shorts without any booty and a crop top that made it clear she'd never had a baby between her tiny waist or the bee stings on her chest. She gave me a couple furtive glances before going over to Mom, leaning down with an "and you must be Moira!".
I raised an eyebrow at June. I kind of knew what he looked like from social media, but it was odd looking at him. I could recognize my old face, but it was a man's face now, and not just because he'd grown a beard and settled into a sensible half-inch of hair on his head. I don't know that anyone who didn't know about the inn would peg him as, I dunno, conservative if not in a Republican sense, but he to me he really looked like someone more settled down by time than a black man in his early twenties would. "So... Who's she?"
He chuckled. "Oh, that's Alana. She's great. We've been seeing each other a year and, well, you know how dating for folks like us is, right? Am I attracted to her because she reminds me of myself, or because she doesn't, am I trying push too hard on what I figure comes naturally for this body, does she sense who I am underneath or just like what she sees on the surface, all that, but it never felt like there were questions with her."
I shrugged. "She's cute, I guess." I felt like I should maybe feel some attraction or something, but didn't; she did less for me than the average girl in the locker room. "Seems really young for you, but I guess she's my real age and how old people thought I was when..." I let it trail off.
"Yeah, but it works."
I shrugged and went to collect Moira, asking if she wanted to help make lemonade.
Folks from around town arrived. Some I recognized, though I had to be told who others were. Four of the other members of the youth group I went to the inn with were there. One had a baby of his own and another was pregnant. She didn't bring a husband and had a lot of questions, and I honestly couldn't remember how she'd treated me when I said I was staying as Krystle, but watching me play with Moira seemed to reassure her, that if a former guy like me could handle this, so could she.
Dad grilled, we all ate, and it was really nice. It was most awkward with Alana, who saw me as old - nearly thirty! - and probably kind of a creep for how old Jonah must have been when Moira was conceived. Technically true - I was way too young and the guy who knocked me up was a monster - but really misdirected. Having an adorable kid shields you from a fair amount, though, and Moira is super-adorable, at least until it gets to be around two or three and she's dragging but insisting she's too big a girl for naptime.
We both wound up staying the night, and it turned out we were both early risers. I was making Moira some pancakes when June came into the kitchen and sat at the bar.
"I thought you ought to know - I'm going to ask Alana to marry me."
I froze. "Okay."
"She's already got a job waiting for her with her family's business, so we're moving to Colorado, and if I'm going to that, I might as well really tie myself to her, right?"
I shrugged. "I guess? I mean, you've got way more of that sort of experience than me."
He chuckled. "That's true. For example, right now, she knows I'm going to propose, because she's no fool, but she sort of convinces herself that she doesn't, because even ladies of your generation don't want to be pushy or have the moment when I do ask be underwhelming. But she thinks about the possibility. And since she only found out about 'Krystle' and Moira a few weeks ago, it's heavy on her mind."
"I don't see what it's got to do with her."
"Look at it from her perspective. We're about to move across the country from where we've been, and it sure looks like I've got something major tying me back here. So she wants to know what the arrangement will be."
I groaned. This conversation was the one I'd worried about and asked Dad about when he picked me up. When I told my friends about this invitation, they all warned me that it wasn't exactly me who was being invited, but Moira, and that maybe I should be kind of wary because for as much as I've been able to get away with having no formal custody arrangement while my babydaddy was in school, this could be and attempt for him and his parents to get some control over Moira's life. I told most of them that I didn't think it was like that, but I couldn't really argue with Karla's personal experience. I figured I'd escaped the whole conversation, though.
"There's not going to be any arrangement. You're, like, technically Moira's uncle or something. The twin brother of the man who, you know, did the deed."
He chuckled. "I guess that's one way to look at it, but Alana doesn't know that, and she wants to be the good stepmom, even if she doesn't want to be that full-time. She wants me to be able to see my daughter, and she doesn't want to make an enemy of you, but she absolutely will take it personally if you say that the two of us can't be part of Moira's life. And I'll be honest, I don't want to be seen as the bad biological father who ignores his daughter, especially since... Well, you've probably got some idea of what folks like her parents think about broken Black families."
I laughed nervously, expecting him to join in, but he didn't. "This is stupid."
"It is, but here we are." He took a sip of coffee as he heard stirring in another part of the house. "So, anyway, when she brings the subject up at some point, and she will, don't totally shoot her down."
At that point, Alana came into the kitchen, asked if she could help, said hi to Moira, and then Mom and Dad, so there was more breakfast to make, and we all kept busy enough that the subject didn't come up before they left to get back to backing up their apartment in New York and Moira and I hugged Mom goodbye so that Dad could drive me back.
I gave him a slimmed-down version of the conversation, and he said something about how much simpler it would have been if Krystle and I had just gotten back to our right lives. I asked if it would be better for Moira, and he said "God only knows", not in the offhand way a lot of people do, but as someone who would really like Him to share that information. He said he really hoped that it didn't come to a situation where he and Mom didn't have to choose between supporting their actual son or the person everyone saw as their son.
Not exactly the complete support I would have liked to hear, and though I didn't say that, I asked him if maybe I should have declined the invitation. He admitted that might have been the smart play, but that he was very glad to see us. Maybe, he joked, we should have waited for a different occasion.
Maybe. Still, given that we haven't found the right occasion at any point in the past few years, it was probably better to not wait for the perfect one. Even if this one did end on a reminder of what a tangled mess the Inn can make of your life.