As I turned the key to that apartment for the very last time, It brought to mind fresh starts and the changes they bring. And as with all things, there must be balance For each beginning there must also be an end, Our lives are thus marked by these endings and beginnings Those apartment walls, now blank and barren, enclosed not simply space but also a time as well. They hold all the memories of the beginning years the start in the everyday world as myself It was a time of tremendous uncertainty, yet also a time alive with joy and excitement. Every experience a first time, Each first time ripe with life changing potential From the minuscule to the monumental Each one of a thousand triumphs over the fear Each decision to continue in spite of failures All recorded as the growth of the person that is Rachel. With the final physical culmination of a lifelong dream fulfilled, I moved unconsciously from thinking about being transgender To being aware only when I had intentionally made myself visible. Finally arriving at a point where I simply live my life each day, It’s been a long journey, spanning years from a dark and fearful place, To standing erect and open in the sunlight sharing my truth. And whether I’m speaking directly to a single heart or to a sea of faces I’ve finally realized that by living openly I make a difference, I’ve shared stories that have made some listeners cry They have in turn shared their own stories with me, With likewise tearful results. I’ve met trans people, at all points on their journey I’ve met the parents of trans children struggling to understand. And the survivors of trans people that could no longer go on. I’ve offered insight to some and given hope to others. I’ve shared comfort, and tears when there’s nothing else left to say Each of these unexpected connections welcomed as a sacred gift, And proof that I never knew what I was capable of until I tried.