No, Uncle Roger, I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m bisexual. You would have a stroke if I brought a girlfriend over for Thanksgiving. Then you would make a snide, inappropriately sexual lesbian joke attempting to cope with your shock and homophobic disgust, and I would be uncomfortable for the rest of the night and avoid you at all costs. Sounds like something to not look forward to.
No, Aunt Sheila, I liked my blonde hair too; it went better with my trousers. I don’t care if you think my hair looked better when it was blonde. I like purple and that’s that. How else am I supposed to express myself? With a bland bob like you’ve got? Oh, please. Spare me the lecture!
No, Grandpa, my classes are great! If I have to tell one more person about my romantic, sexual, or educational life I am going to literally scream. Can’t we talk about anything else? Politics? NASA? The conspiracy theory that Kurt Cobain is still alive and chilling somewhere in the Caribbean? How jawbreakers are made? Anything other than my stupid, meaningless life.
No, Mom, I’m doing great mentally! I cried on the Jackson Park bus at 11:30 last night, and all of the therapists on campus are completely filled up with people probably worse off than me. I feel alone. I cry almost every day. I’m sorry I’m so weak. I’m sorry I can’t be as strong as you. I miss feeling like I’m okay.
No, Alex, university’s going great! I miss you. With all my heart, I really do. I miss your hand on my thigh when we drive down the highway, I miss running my fingers through your hair. I miss sending stupid memes to each other and talking on the phone until we fell asleep. I miss you. I wish I hadn’t gone to university. I wish we stayed in contact. I wish we stayed friends. I wish you hadn’t gone so far away. I wish you didn’t leave me for her.
No, Dad, all the payments went through. I hate how much money you and Mom pay for schooling, I hate how much debt we’re going to be in even after I’m done university. I’m scared for our family’s future. I’m sorry I cost you and Mom so much. I don’t know what I’ll do if this doesn’t work out.
No, Zoe, I miss you a lot. I miss you only a bit. I’m scared you’ll replace me as the only child. You and Mom will share drives to school that I used to, you and Dad will take trips to Foodland and pick up snacks only for the two of you like we used to. Every inside joke, every road trip, every Friday Movie Night, every Taco Tuesday… I’ll be excluded. You have them in the palm of your hand, and I hate it. I’m the odd one out now. I’m an alien in my own home.