I Was Taught to Hate My Lesbian Neighbors. They Took Me In Anyway.
The summer my parents’ marriage was falling apart, my best friend’s two moms saved me—even though my dad said they were going to Hell.
“Hey Penny, is Carrie awake?” I ducked through the screen door, letting it bang shut behind me. The sun had barely crested the Seattle skyline and I was already at my best friends’ house. Her mom, Joy, grabbed a bowl from the cabinets and a box of cereal and set it on the kitchen table. “I’ll go check,” she said. I pulled up a stool and sat down, pouring out the sugary cereal and adding the milk that Penny, Carrie's other mom, fetched from the fridge.
It was the summer before my mother left my dad. My twelve-year-old self lived in books and fantasy worlds of unicorns and dragons, rather than the real world of dark bruises and a shattered living room lamp, swept up and never discussed. Unlikely friends, proximity brought Carrie and I together more than anything else. We were the only two girls our age in the neighborhood.
My strictly religious family attended church every Sunday morning, worship services on Sunday night, and Wednesday night youth group. I’m not sure if Carrie had ever been to church. Her two mothers, Penny and Joy, lived around the block from my parents’ brick Edwardian house in a small two-story bungalow that they were constantly improving. They played the Indigo Girls on their stereo, danced around their kitchen, and talked about summer solstice as casually as my mother discussed the church bake sale.
I only went back to my house to sleep, escaping out the back door every morning before my dad could catch me. If I slept through my alarm and he hadn’t left yet to meet a client I’d have to stand barefoot in the kitchen and recite my assigned Bible verses for the week, or share with him the prayer requests he required me to write on 3x5 index cards. My mom taught kindergarten, and had the summers off, but while physically present, she wasn’t really there. She moved in a daze through my father’s shouted words and hid for hours in the bathroom, planning the escape she’d execute later that fall.
Every morning I’d show up on Carrie’s doorstep and her mothers took me in. They never asked why I was there, and never told me to go home. They acted like it was perfectly natural to have a second daughter.