Akira’s parents have been married for forty years last May. She doesn’t hear from them often, but when she does it’s enough to bring even her best moods to crippling depression.
Their dreams for their privileged only daughter included marrying a wealthy Japanese man who would provide for her and their children. Their dreams included her finishing college. Their dreams included 401(k) accounts, a mortgaged home, and weekends filled with little league and gymnastics. Their dreams didn’t include her dropping out of college during her first year and eventually moving into a small loft apartment with her girlfriend.
Akira’s parents continue to deny our relationship. I am her roommate, her friend, a nice girl who helps her get to all of her doctor’s appointments. They have been to visit us once in the three years we’ve lived together. They looked scornfully at our garage sale furniture, scoffed at the hallway lined with her paintings, and asked when she would stop all this foolishness and settle down with a nice man.
I didn’t take it personally. I never do. It’s not about me. It’s about them, their culture, their background.
My parents have been married two years, but they have been together since their early twenties. They would have married sooner, but it wasn’t legal until recently for two men to wed each other. My brother and I were both adopted, though neither path was easy for a gay couple. Charlie was abandoned by his junkie mother only days after his birth, and my biological parents were 15 and 16 years old. Charlie was the first person I called when I fell in love with Akira.
My dads don’t visit as often as we’d like, but when they do, Babbo always buys us tickets to the theater because he knows Akira adores it. Before the diagnosis, he would drop hints and try to figure out whether Akira and I would be heading down the aisle together. I never gave a straight answer, because I didn’t have one. Père says I don’t have to have one. He thinks we’re much too young to worry about marriage.
As I near my thirty-second birthday, I still think Père is right.