never alone – a paradox

It’s a hot sunny day.  I just had one of those enigmatic lunch meet-ups where you make clear to the other party that you’re really, actually, truly gay (really).  And they lose interest; I’m walking back.

A foreign family is taking photos on the sidewalk, and I swear I can feel the cold vacuum of space – stretching off into non-existence.

We are alone in the world.  And all we have is each other, that is all.

 

I’m never alone.  Between the coffee shops, the cafes, my officemates, my roommate, the people I date; I’m rarely actually out of the presence of other human beings.  This is an unexpected outcome of the transition.  I used to spend a week at a time in isolation, occasionally coming out for air, to go to the office, find food, whatever.  And the world was so big, the sidewalks stretching out to distant vanishing points; the air lacking the clarity of virtuality I became accustomed to, staring into an abyss of pixels.  Never again.

 

I’m bad at being human, which apparently makes it so.  To be imperfect, fragile, pained, and needy.  Desperate, beautiful and young.  People see themselves, extend constant minor assistances, tell me things.  And I think of them.

All I had to do was to become ambitionless, and lost.  I can see it in their eyes, ‘welcome home.’

 

“I’m sorry about all of that stuff I said last night.”

“It’s okay.”

 

meaning

…And so it’s a struggle to find meaning.  Transitioning used to be meaningful and now it’s over.  I’m telling people that the cosmetic procedures I’m considering aren’t going to change who I am, which is good, transitioning sucked.  But it provided some hope; it was like, ‘Oh, there’s this endpoint where I’ll be okay.’  And I am okay.  Just okay, and tired.  Very, very tired.

I’m trying to be social and people like me, I’m able to form new relationships.  Someone even asked me out half-assed.  It’s just that I know, know in my soul that none of it is permanent.  That no relationship can be counted upon.  It’s all bullshit and lies; exchanging business cards when it isn’t really necessary.  And I can’t undo this knowledge.  It’s a steep and surprising price to pay in order to be in my right body and my right mind; knowing what my erased life feels like.  Like the ending to It’s a Wonderful Life, except there’s no one to wave a magic wand and turn it all back again.

 

I find that the last shred of meaning is writing about my new life.

Someone shakes up the spacetime continuum every few weeks, changing everything.  Leaving me in the same location with the same genome and social security number, and a collage of memory like a broken mirror;

Lost in a daydream, I think of the person I love.  She touches my hair, touches my neck in a certain place, and it’s all I’ve ever wanted.

I sit in bed, head to my knees, eyes squeezed shut, overwhelmed with the knowledge that I will never, not ever understand my body.

 

Tonight I’m a capable, charismatic, healthy human being who can do anything she desires, and I just want to go home.

 

going outside

A deliveryperson rang the bell at 7 am.  I was expecting them, but I rolled out of bed.

I signed the form and she was gone.  As I stepped outside, I couldn’t remember a more beautiful day.

 

I tiptoed down the step, down the walk, peered down the block and realized I’d worn two layers of clothing all year.  All spring, all summer.  But now I could feel the air on my skin.  I remembered how cool it could be in the morning, that it’s damp and smells like lawn.

I lost myself in this and rubbed my eye – a vague burning sensation from my undereye gel.

 

I had coffee on the step that morning.

 

mundanity

Suddenly it seems like not such a big deal, everything.  I’m a trans woman, life goes on.  Some people get it, some don’t.  It really doesn’t matter in the long-run.  There are other things in life than one’s gender and the implications thereof, opinions thereof, actions and words, on and on and on.

When I open my eyes, I see that my situation is routine, uncommon but routine.  And it’s my business to live my life and get on with it.

 

I never knew that cold mundanity could be so breathtaking.  It’s like a miracle or something.

 

my charmed lonely secret life

It’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m dancing in the kitchen with the shades drawn – getting down to funk music only I can hear.

I have a new haircut.  It’s beautiful.  It’s just what I asked for.

‘It should move.’

My stylist is a genius.

 

It’s girl hair.  It’s bad.  I wear it back most of the time when I leave the house.

Because people have a way of making you aware of gender boundaries, their boundaries.  It’s bad when people you’ve worked with for five years make a conscious effort not to stare.

I remember when I used to get compliments on a new haircut.

 

I remember when people knew who I was.

An old friend called out of the blue.  We were catching up.  I told him that I’m transgender and that I don’t have any good options, but that’s okay.  I told him as if I moved into a new apartment or something.  Awkward silences.  No one had ever shared anything like that with him before.  Why did I tell him?  Do I need a reason?  Didn’t I know this before?  No.

 

I thought I knew who I was.

I don’t think I could’ve handled any of this like five years ago.  If I met myself back then, I don’t know what I’d say.

 

I always wanted to write.

Be careful what you wish for.

 

conflicted monologue

You know you’ve been gone for a long time when your stationary smells like toothpaste.  But I’m back home now, surrounded by familiar stuff that I’d forgotten about.

This first week has been weird, in a good way.  I feel like my gender-dysphoric issues, things that I awkwardly speak about, are a weight that has been set down.  I feel like myself, I like myself, life is fun.  I can breathe.

 

It started when I considered auditioning for The Vagina Monologues, which my department is putting on for V-day.  It’s that time of year.  The idea of auditioning was in the back of my mind and I mentioned it to Leia, who basically dared me to do it.  So I read the book.  Surprisingly, I never read The Vagina Monologues.  I vaguely remember picking it up and finding it painful to read.  But reading it now, I really enjoyed it.  There’s even a trans women’s monologue that Eve Ensler added in 2004 (she published the original version in 1998).  It’s the only passage I could really relate to or envision performing in front of people, so I prepared to audition for that part.

I was really nervous.  So I was greatly relieved and disappointed when I found out that the script, the official 2014 V-day version of The Vagina Monologues, does not include the trans women’s monologue They Beat the Girl out of My Boy… or so They Tried.

Why?  I have no idea.  I know it’s been performed for V-day before.  The passage does seem like an anachronism in a classic work of nonfiction – to tack the contemporary experiences of trans women onto a work that ushered in acceptability of the word vagina.

‘You mean grown-ups couldn’t say vagina either??’

 

Yet, I couldn’t help feeling left out.  Could this just be another instance of transphobia?

Then a couple of days passed and I got over it.

 

dissolved girl

I’ve been home for two weeks now, and I don’t know where to begin.

 

I’m talking with my Mom and she thinks that I’m a healthier person than I was a year ago, and that no one will relate to me as a woman.  This is uplifting and annoying – but I was expecting the worst, so I didn’t immediately absorb the impact of her words.

 

I’m walking down the street and for a second I could have sworn I was dreaming.  I spend the rest of the day wishing I was, and that I would wake up.

 

I’m hanging out with my Dad and I can’t tell him anything about myself, anything new.  He asks what’s on my mind and I tell him nothing, just some random memory.  It’s all I can do to keep from bursting into tears.

 

I see those Macy’s posters that just say ‘believe’ with their oddly beautiful cover girl and I wonder if she’s a real person.

 

When I get home and throw my pocket debris on the table, I notice this pack of gum.  It reads, “Neither just sweet nor just peppermint, sweet peppermint is suffering from a delicious identity crisis…  but he’s a little sensitive about it, so we’ll leave it at that.”  The inside is covered with graf-style Queen of Hearts and King of Hearts scenes of chaos.  And a strangely anthropomorphic pair of scissors cutting a playing card in half.  If you turn the pack upside down, there’s a manish queen with a Jay Leno chin, more chaos.  I was dumbstruck.

 

the space between

I told a friend that I am transgender.  He said he doesn’t know anything about it but that it sounds great.  I was taken aback.  My girlfriend said the same thing, that my trans-ness is not a problem, that it is good.  It doesn’t seem that simple.

 

Yes, realizing who I am is like standing under a waterfall in 120 degree heat, an overwhelming and unparalleled experience of joy, so epic, so wonderful; it brings me to tears.  I love myself.  But I miss humanity.  I miss the simple pleasure of watching a movie and saying, “me too.”  I miss meeting new people and really getting to know them.  I feel fortunate now to keep the friends I have.  It’s daunting.

I am lonelier than I’ve ever been.  I feel disconnected from people and places that I’ve known.  I can’t remember their names.  It feels like five years have passed and it’s only been eight months.

 

Yet, I feel a strange and powerful sense of achievement.  Yes, I am a woman.  I feel confident in myself and my abilities, more human, more complete.  But it costs.  I feel like I’m in outer space, that I have achieved the unachievable and am so far away from where I started that nothing matters.

 

Sometimes I dream that I am an astronaut on another planet.  When I look back home to Earth, it is the only place I want to be.

Awake, I promise myself that I will find my home someday, somewhere I can feel a part of.  It’s so far away.