No one expects that a natural disaster or major storm would lead to someone accepting you more than they did in the past, but that’s exactly what happened for me during Hurricane Sandy.
I was staying at a hotel with my grandmother and my father since neither of our homes had power or heat. Generally, family gatherings of long periods were toxic to me. My father and my grandmother couldn’t get along most of the time, and constantly had something to argue about. But while resting in the hotel room, one of the most troublesome topics on my end came up from my grandmother: “So, why DON’T you have a boyfriend yet?”
My grandmother always had a stereotypical air to her. Her goal for me was to grow well, marry a nice Jewish man and have lots of kids. My dad already knew I didn’t like guys that way, but after attempting to come out to her about seven years prior, this topic didn’t really sit well for me, or my father, who knew what happened the last time. Unfortunately, I was about to be forced to bring that back to the surface.
“Mom,” he noted, “Ashley doesn’t like guys. She likes girls. Like the one at the reception desk down stairs.” He’d even seen through my blushing face at that time? I hadn’t even noticed I was so obvious! But at this point, I was certain the eccentric beating of my heart was loud enough to hear a mile away.
“Why didn’t you ever tell me, dear?” My grandmother gave me a look showing she clearly meant she didn’t remember ever hearing I was a lesbian.
“I did, seven years ago. You told me ‘it was a phase’ and brushed it off.” Surprised to hear this, she could vaguely recollect it for a moment, she tried to deny it ever happening, with clear determination. But she slowly began to accept that I’d been hurt to the point I’d never forget those words, and did something I couldn’t recall her ever doing before.
“I’m sorry, dear. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’m proud you’re able to be honest with yourself about who you are! I accept it wholeheartedly. I hope you find a wonderful girl who can love you as much as I do someday soon.” She smiled at me a smile that made me feel like crying.
Soon enough, my grandmother’s tune had changed for the better. No longer was she pushing me to find a “nice Jewish boy to have lots of kids with.” Now, she wanted to know when I’d get a girlfriend, and find a “nice Jewish girl to settle down with” in the future, and to give her great grandchildren. Sure, it was only a slight change but it was a change I’d needed for the longest time, and it made my feelings that had become disdain towards my grandmother strongly calmed once again. The storm in my heart, like the hurricane, had finally come to pass. And to this day, I will never, ever forget it.