letters to my sister

Dear Sis,

I am writing to wish you a merry Christmas and to thank you for your support in my move and in finishing school (hopefully soon).  NYC has been good to me and I am beginning to assimilate into the culture here, which surprisingly consists of paying attention to where I’m going, getting up for my subway stop well before the train arrives, and wearing a black coat.  I guess I’ve always been more of an urbanite, so not too much had to change :)

I am ecstatic that you’ve moved on from your abusive relationship and am happy that my experience with such was good for something.  We must always be careful since we are not like other people.  We can put up with a lot, too much I think.

I had been at a loss for what to write here for a long time.  Transition is something I’ve conditioned myself to not talk about, even here.  I only mention it in passing and in confidence, if at all.  So thank you for letting me post here.  I think it’s kind of a natural thing, shifting from the vertigo of gender change to the day-to-day struggles of life.  And maybe I can answer, to my satisfaction, the question I had been searching for – what happens to all of those transition blogs after they go black?  If you’re lucky it seems like there’s nothing to write home about after a certain point.

But I digress.  My mom is coming over for Christmas, so roommate and I are getting ready, saran wrapping windows and buying small housewares.  I’m excited to see her and show her around, it’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen each other though it doesn’t seem that long to me.  Roommate is also on vacation this week and in my hair, though in a good way.  It snowed the other day and I realize I don’t have appropriate snow boots for my outfits, oh well.  I’ll have to drop a line to the Christmas fairy ;)

Love,

Dana

 

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the castle at the edge of the world

Every day I’m more invisible, every week is quieter.  I forgot what it was like to be no one, unextraordinary, a blink of someone’s eye.  It’s comfortable.

But for a handful of people, I’m family.  And family is different now.  Among a handful of people I am unconditionally loved; as long as I’m a brilliant, incorruptible badass.

Flat-out, I don’t feel like I’ve experienced this before.  Friends were circles of people I would visit with and move on.  Parents were people who were always not-quite-sure about me.  Everyone was at arm’s length.  Now most people are, but some aren’t.  I don’t feel the need to have an opinion about it, which is good because I don’t know what to think.

 

Everywhere I go there are memories – of buildings, people.  Signs on walls – I went to a dance here, I kissed my ex-fiancee there.  This is where I snubbed the president of the university.  I hope he doesn’t remember.

I feel like I had a brother and these are his memories, but he’s gone.  We never knew each other, but I have his memories.  Sometimes I feel like I’m writing this for him.

 

I was talking to someone about flaws – things to work on.  I said I think I talk too much.  I feel a compulsion to say what I think should be said.  It’s reckless, and I should learn to be quiet.

 

the apparent struggle

I’m beginning to organize the immediate past in my mind – it becomes apparent that my remaining friends and family would do anything for me and that I’ve essentially achieved my life’s goal.  Things should feel simpler, lighter.  They should.  I’m still lonely and broke, but this seems temporary and relatively insignificant.

I recap events every so often, ‘you underwent a medical gender transition, you’re a woman of effectively indeterminate age, you’re starting over.’

‘you need to finish your degree’

‘these people will catch you if you fall, if you really truly need them’

And so it goes.  There’s a lot of waiting, of the sit-and-wait variety.  I need to chill, because I’ve discovered that I have much less emotional self-control than I’d like, and that these emotions are highly transparent.  It seems to go a long way toward winning people over, since I guess I’m a nice person and all, but I’m uniquely incapable of dating.

 

When I look in the mirror, I think that I am very beautiful and very ugly, sometimes simultaneously.  I think others feel the same, and it’s mysterious.  Just going out is like visiting a world in the distant future or distant past, where my features are unusual.  Extreme height, wild hair, thin, wearing 21st century makeup and business casual like I’ve lived at a university all of my life.  I feel confident and out of place.

 

I grapple with my hormones and with my place in the world.  I see other women and I can’t match their affect, I move too quickly, storming around like I’m going to kick someone’s ass.  I don’t know what to do with myself.

My body writes checks my mind can’t cash; tells me to think of children, and birth.  Fifteen pounds of fat form a layer across my body from the tops of my eyebrows to the tips of my fingers to the circumference of my ankles, a conspicuous stockpile of energy seemingly intended to maintain fertility through a significant famine.  Except I will never be fertile, I accept that.  My body doesn’t accept it.

 

And I realize that I struggle for my soul, struggle for the things I cared about; people, science…

The process of petitioning for my vagina was a Kafka-esque nightmare, chased with the reality that only a handful of people give a shit whether I live or die.  Now I need to figure out what I, myself care about; which in itself is important to me.

 

love in the time of hoverboards

I wish I had some time to myself.  After fast-tracking my transition, I just want a week to look in the mirror or visit my family.  I need to get a clear idea of who I am, because my appearance changes every week.  Important stuff like facial features, torso measurements, my outlook on life, different.  Every week.  I just blink into space.

What the hell happened?

 

People talk to me all the time.  It’s unexpected, I want to think it’s weird.  But judging from their body language, it’s normal.

I don’t need to hide who I am anymore out of fear of them finding out whatever it used to be that would put them off, my nascent femininity.  I say some of the most unfiltered and inane shit, and people listen, kind of.  They seem to find it pleasant.

 

Meanwhile, I’m rebuilding my important relationships.  Recasting them and making them whole.  I didn’t realize I was doing this, and maybe it isn’t me.  Maybe they’re ready to accept me for who I am.

Maybe they realize they don’t have a choice, the counterparties of my important relationships.

Maybe I just need help and it’s obvious.

Maybe I’m human and this is just what happens.  I feel a loss of will as I realize the idea of my father accepting me as his eighth daughter, or the idea of speaking to Leia again.  I realize that my friends are assholes, who love me, and there’s nothing I can do to change that, not now.

Not now, as I depend on these people to recognize me when I can barely recognize myself.

 

They know me.  They always kind of knew me, and didn’t tell me.  That’s love.

 

no return

My manicure is wrecked and it’s only Tuesday.

I don’t know what to think.  I’m becoming used to myself, my gender, and now it’s a grind.  Day after day, whoever I am.  There were some students flirting awkwardly on the quad and it all seems so normal, everything.

Leia called me ‘she’ at the dinner table with her family and nobody blinked.  Maybe I blinked.  The deli guy called me ma’am when my back was turned.  Neither of us really seemed to register this, but we looked at each other over a cheap turkey-egg-and-cheese sandwich with a sort of confused understanding.

 

It’s cold again.  My iPhone shuffles songs and some of them remind me of when all this started.  The Bird and The Bee, Spoon, the scary-beautiful winter when I told Leia that I’m a woman.  Everything changed.  I remember listening to Gimmie Fiction on vinyl, staring at the wall, not thinking everything.

I had never been so lost and I remember it so fondly.  And there’s no going back.  I’m used to being myself, in all of my incompleteness and complexity.  The contradictions, a strange understanding of other women and men, a strange separateness from them.

I realize that I’ve felt this all my life.  It’s better now that I know.