I’m From Ipswich, MA.

by Toby Mehalba

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

On September 7th, two precious children entered my life. They were c-sectioned, which means Macbeth better look out. They had the most precious presence, but I’ll get to that in a second. I remember sitting in my room when I found out they were born. I saw that I had a few missed calls and a voice mail, one of them from my mom saying “congratulations big sis!” another from my dad explaining that my step mom was just admitted to the hospital to have the c-section. I immediately called my dad at about 9:30 at night, asking him if I could go see them. He said that I could see them on Facebook, like the stranger that I am, and that I should have been there. I felt like absolute crap. I wasn’t there when my little brother, Adam, was born because he was born in Egypt, and I told myself I would be there. I’m so disappointed in myself, and so is my dad. Anyway, he told me it was too late to be driving, but I could see them tomorrow. So I was crying, and recorded a video of my reaction because I never want to forget how I felt that night. I went to bed, and went to work the next morning.

Where I work is fairly conservative, and I had just dyed my hair turquoise and purple. So you can bet that I lost a ton of money in tips because everybody thought I was a bad kid. Not only that, but I mentioned how I was raising money for Obama’s campaign, and a customer lashed out at me for supporting “a nobody” and I explained to her that we all have different needs, and my support goes to somebody that suits my needs. She left in a huff, and I was sorry I had said anything. I don’t like arguing with customers, because I know it’s a gap in generation, but in a way they’re sort of like a family to me. Anyways, I closed up shop after 4 painstaking hours, and called Olivia to see if she wanted to come to see the babies with me. You have to understand, if you’ve ever seen Grey’s anatomy, Olivia is the Callie to my Sloan. We are incredibly close, and she is practically family seeing as she met my new siblings, and my parents love her. Anyway, I went to pick her up and we were on our merry way. When we got there, my step mother wasn’t feeling too hot. She was tired and nauseous, and feeling crappy. But she was happy to see us, and so was Adam who was without a doubt happy to see us and escape being stuck in the room alone all day. My step mom Samira called in the nurse to bring in the babies, and when they came my heart fluttered. They are so beautiful. In my head all I could think about was that this was the first day of their life, and I was there for it. I just wanted to hold them, and protect them from everything bad so they would always look as at peace as they were (except for Ryan, who looked very serious from the get go). I picked up my baby sister, and automatically felt this magnetic love for them. I love them unconditionally, and now that they’re here I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I held her for what seemed like hours, with her little fingers wrapping and tugging on my pinky and heart string. With every peep, and every yawn and sneeze, my heart swelled with love. Eventually it was time to take Olivia to work, and I decided to take Adam with me and save Samira a headache, and have some time to rest.

We drove to her work, laughing about how easily Adam fell asleep in the car, and I realized I didn’t have my phone on me. I asked Olivia to call it, just to see if I had it on me, but couldn’t find it. I realized I left it in the hospital, and I told her to immediately drop the call. She was in my phone as Mama Dyke. I had this gut feeling, that that moment was where my life would change, and not just with having the twins in my life. I had a feeling he knew at that moment. After Olivia got to work, I took Adam to get ice cream, like I had always been promising but never got around to. He said he loved me, and that he thought I was the best. I love him, forever and always.

We went back to the hospital, and I could tell something was different in the air. The mood was different. But my step mom had her friend in the room, and her two daughters and newborn son. They were absolutely adorable, and we played I spy for a good hour. Eventually they left, and I continued holding and loving Ryan and Jenna. When all of the sudden my dad asks me “Do you love them?” “Of course I do, I love them with all my heart.” In which he replied, “How heartbroken would you be if they lived in Egypt?” In which I replied, “Devastated. They’re my world.” Then he explained that he didn’t want them raised in this society, and when I asked him why, he said he can’t raise children in a society that supports gays. I asked him why he suddenly wanted to go, and he said because I was supporting them. I mentioned the difference between support and tolerance, in that I wasn’t expecting him to be supportive of my support, but tolerant, and how Christians may believe Islam is wrong, but there’s a difference between them openly protesting Islam, and being silently against it.

He waited a long while and said he wanted to talk to me outside. I told him anything he had to ask me could be asked in front of my brother and step mother. And he asked me if I was gay, because if I was, it would decide what happened in the next few months. I lied about it for the first hour. Said that I was just a supporter. He asked if Olivia was, because she was Mama Dyke in my phone. I said she was, but just because she was doesn’t mean I was. He said he had to go outside to breathe, and I should stop lying to him. When he left my step mother looks over to me from her bed, and asks me if I really am. I told her I’m trying. I’m going to say whatever it takes to keep the family together. But she asked me if I really was, and I told her yes. She started to burst out in tears uncontrollably. I couldn’t tell if she was rejecting me, or if she was sad that I had to continue hiding, or just in total shock. But this hurt, knowing that I’m hurting the people I love. At this point, Ryan started crying, and as soon as I picked him up he stopped. She said he must really love me, and she was sorry for me. The nurse called me a baby whisperer when she came in, and saw Samira was crying and asked what was wrong, and Samira burst into tears again, saying it was just family stuff, but what tore into me was calling it “bad news.” I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to put Ryan down when he stopped crying, and I had to get my things and leave. Adam was running after me, and I told him he had to stay with mom. He seemed so confused, and he was ripping my heart of screaming, “Tara I love you, come back Tara please.” I went out to my car, and my dad was by the car saying, “Just talk to me, just please talk to me, tell me what’s going on.” I told him. I told him I didn’t ask for any of this. He said he hates that he loves me, but we’re going to get through it, and I told him I don’t think I’ll change. He said we’ll try and I told him I don’t want to. But when he asked why, I told him it’s more complicated, and that I don’t feel like a girl. Which would mean I’m not technically gay. He said, “No baby, you’re a beautiful girl” and that broke my heart. I don’t want to be beautiful. I want to be handsome, I want to be me. I don’t want to be labeled. Anyway, I’m still in shock that it happened. I drove home from the hospital balling my eyes out and calling whoever I could to keep me from doing something stupid.

One thing that will always stick with me is when he asked me, he told me to swear on the life of my brothers and sister. I just froze. It made me sick to my stomach that he would corner me like that. I would never do that. I couldn’t swear on the life of my baby sister and brothers, and lie. I froze. I said I would never swear on their life, and he was sick for doing that. I went home, grabbed my things, and went to New Hampshire to see my mother. I stopped at a friend’s house along the way and bawled my eyes out. I’ve never been more ashamed of who I am, or more upset that I am the way I am. I’ve never had anything but pride until this moment. And I hated myself. I stood in John’s driveway, in hysterics that my life just changed. All the work I did hiding went to waste, because I was careless and left my phone in the room. We went to my aunt’s house the next night, and talked to my mom and auntie. Even they didn’t use the right pronouns. My life is in shambles. This all happened within a matter of hours, and my life is different forever.

No more hiding. So I guess what I’m learning from this, is that anything could set me off right now. So I’m going to have the philosophy that everybody has stuff. Nobody will be able to understand verbatim what is happening to me right now, but all that can happen is be supportive. Don’t go out of your way to ruin somebody’s day, because you never know what just happened, or what’s about to happen to them. My life changed forever in just 24 hours, and I’m eager to find what happens in the future.

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