We dropped Chris off at a friend’s birthday party and then, like all long-term married couples who find themselves with an afternoon free of children, we went grocery shopping. After a lengthy debate on which cereals to buy — oh, the things that pass for passion once you’ve seen each other naked for more than a decade — we found ourselves in the checkout line. As I put the much-debated cereals on the scanner, the clerk, a high school student who was maybe 17 years old, asked, “Are you two partners?” I, of course, assumed he was awkwardly attempting to hit on me because, well, I assume everyone is hitting on me while Todd worried that the kid had decided to use us as parental surrogates and was about to practice his coming out speech. We were both wrong.
The clerk said he was asking because he had two Dads. He then went on to tell us that his Dads had adopted him…from Oregon (like Chris)…when he was about eight years old (like Chris). He told us how he had spent those first few years of his life in a small town outside of Portland (like Chris) living with his grandparents (like Chris) before being placed in foster care (again, like Chris) and then at last being adopted by two gay guys from Pittsburgh (like, well, you get the point). The similarities were stunning.
But what struck more than the similarities, more than these coincidences, were the odds that we had found ourselves at this particular Giant Eagle on this particular day in this particular line being waited on by this particular clerk who then, for whatever reason, felt a connection to us which prompted him to share his story, which in many ways was, is, our son’s story. It was as if the universe was opening a door and saying, “This is the future.”
In that moment I wanted to meet his Dads. I wanted to shake their hands and to thank them for coming before me. For blazing the trail. For giving this young man a home and a future that included reassuring hugs, and goodnight kisses, and evenings playing board games, and extravagant Christmas mornings, and love, and happiness, and a million other things I hope to give my son.
As the clerk handed me my receipt and thanked us for shopping at Giant Eagle I found myself asking him if he was happy. It was an odd question, invasive really, and I silently judged myself for being so forward. But he seemed to think nothing of it and replied, “Yes. I’m very happy.” And for some reason that made me very happy.