I'm on the roof tonight. My building is not but three stories tall, and the small, wooden platform placed on top has no real view of anything. It's three in the morning, And I can see a small part of the river and the lights from the bridge are there, but mostly in my vicinity there's construction from the old brewery and the low, brick buildings that make up what was Memphis' busy Main Street. (Now an artsy, gentrified area for people who'd rather pretend like they live in more urban areas.)
I have lived in a variety of spaces in my adult life. I have rented small apartments in tall buildings, owned a home on a street that personified middle America (front porches and all), and anything in between. If I looked deeper I could remember all the different places I lived growing up too.
My parents worked for a living, and not always with great success. Their limited means coupled with an expansive family made for quite an interesting experience. We moved once every few years in an attempt to find the perfect space for 2 adults and 6 children (and occasionally some pets) to call home "comfortably".
Moving that much meant that many times it wasn't just building you were leaving behind, but friends and neighbors too. And I guess I would have felt the pain of that more poignantly had it not been for the other five young souls that navigated the gypsy life with me.
My parents had not intended on having six children. I'm not sure they ever intended on having four, but once they reached that number they were done. It was when mom decided to discontinue her possibilities of getting pregnant that she learned she was expecting for the fifth time, and at a later appointment she'd learn of number 6. (hi!)
Six. I can recall my mother saying she cried for quite sometime after hearing the news. I can also tell you now, how often she says today what a blessing that number has been. Each of us brings a very different personality to the table(very boisterous table).
As kids we always had huge disagreements that could often turn physical. We talk over each other and laugh like it's a competition. Many people think I have a big personality, but if you came to a family function you'd see even bigger ones. And there weren't always disagreements, we generally cared for one another if we had to.
When I was in third grade we had one of those really rare Memphis snow storms. So of course we all spent the day outside playing in the cove we happened to live on at the time. And when a vicious snowball fight erupted between the different houses on the street, it was the Big Six that took the victory. One kid said "no fair there's so many of you!"
In our adulthood the differences are glaring. Some of us went to college, some didn't. Some of us are Republicans, some Democrats. Some of us are little, some of us aren't. Some believe in God, some believe in fashion (I'll let you figure that one out).
No difference is greater than the one I love to tell at parties after I've been drinking for a bit (or at all): three of us (the boys) are gay, and three of us are married to ministers(obvi the girls). Many people get a real kick out of that, but truly it has shaped our relationships and the way we interact.
For instance, when I decided to tell the world I was gay in high school, it was most definitely my sisters opinions I feared more than my parents. I always looked up to them. My siblings were cool, and since we all went to the same school system I was reminded of this fact everyday. Teachers would remark on my eldest brother and his intellect, kids would pass me in the hall and say "oh that's Megan's little brother" or "he's one of the twins related to Emily". I wanted so much, even then, to be someone that my brothers and sisters respected.
I believe that is why I take this divide in ideology about homosexuality, so seriously. These women I'm related to and look up to, don't necessarily carry a belief in what I believe to be inalienable rights. The three of them sit on a broad spectrum when it comes to interpreting scripture, and their views approach opposite at times, swinging from the very conservative sister to the one that voted for Hillary.
As a gay teenager I was always careful with what I said around them and the language I used to say it. There would not be a world in which I did not want them in my life, so I had to alter my life. I wouldn't bring boys to functions because I was worried how they might feel or what they might think. I obviously grew out of that at some point, probably when I married a man, but even then I didn't invite two of my sisters, because I was afraid of how their rejection might feel.
Today my brothers and I live out in the light. One of us does drag and even showed up to Christmas this year with glittery nail polish on (and no one questioned it). We have stopped curtailing what we say around them because truly they aren't the tea totaling pastors wives we made them out to be in our minds.
My sisters are why I continue to go to church today. It might not be a church any of them would ever attend but they inspire me to seek out faith. They are the reason I don't blame all Christians for the mistakes of few. When I see conservatives on the news vowing to take rights away from minorities and LGBT, I think of my sister Megan and her warmth. There is no person she would not reach her hand out to help if they needed it, she is charity. A facet of what it is to be "Christ like". Alisha, can literally relate anything to a scripture, even why we should protect the rights of our Muslim brother.
They will always be apart of my conscience and often I look to them for advice. My favorite part is being the same for them. They receive daily education from us gays about the treatment of LGBT and why different laws and news stories are important, and they listen.
What makes my life (and a CNN election panel) work, is the opportunity for a dissenting opinion. These girls are honest and upfront about their beliefs and invite us guys to do the same. We all group message daily (hourly) and will be friends until the grave. I don't believe for a second that's not a more perfect outcome than what my parents originally expected. It's definitely a more colorful one.
I'll never be happier than those moments spent around our boisterous table yelling over each other and laughing until we can't anymore. Moments made possible by the open minds of pastors wives and a few gay men.