On the Banks of the French Broad

“Are you here for the couch surfing meet-up group?”

My blank look, enhanced by a couple of beers, evidently told the tale that I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about, and so began our conversation.

This is only one of hundreds of conversations I’ve had with strangers over the last few years. The important thing that you have to understand is that is so new for me. I have only been able to say hello to a complete stranger since I began my transition five years ago. The change in my personality as I slowly revealed myself arrived with the realization that I had stopped being worried about what other people think of me.

Right after accepting myself as Transgender, this change in thinking has been the one that has had the most profound effect on my life. It has blessed me by introducing me to people like Kerry Fields, someone that I made an instant connection to and someone that I never would have gotten to know at all if I hadn’t ceased being terrified of every new encounter.

I could identify with her story; she is on a voyage of self discovery, dealing with the results of her own transition, having become another person after losing a tremendous amount of weight. The psychological changes of such an event, like dealing with gender dysphoria, leaves body image issues and scars that linger long after the changes are complete.

So young at 29, at least by my standards, she had just begun a four week journey by herself, some nights sleeping in her van, interspersed with nights couch surfing at strangers homes. In search of new experiences, cool people and perhaps a better understanding of who she was and who she has become. We instantly made a connection and for the next hour or two our conversation flowed easily, ranging far and wide from the casual to the deeply personal, swapping stories of what moves us and and what makes us laugh.

I am always appreciative of the gift of these interactions, a few minutes this way or that and our paths would never have crossed and we would both have been poorer for never having known each other. It is almost as if the Universe had something it wanted me to see, another feeling it wanted me to experience. I say this sarcastically, as I know perfectly well that was the case.

I had been sitting on the bank of the river trying to absorb the tranquility of the steadily flowing water, my attempt to push back against the darkness that seems to be gathering on the horizon. While I found the undulations of the dark water soothing, it did leave my my mind free to dwell on all those things that reinforce the darkness, until I heard an unfamiliar voice say, “Are you here for the couch surfing meet-up group?”

Many thanks to Kerry Fields for a wonderful conversation, a meaningful connection and a confirmation that wonderful experiences are always just around the next corner, even if you can’t see them. I hope that her journey brings her peace and understanding.

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