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 he 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.
Where did those damn words go? they were here just a minute ago. Now a song from my youth has kidnapped my brain Sent it down the rabbit hole, To the accompaniment of “Are you going to San Francisco?” I’m suddenly deep in the summer of ’67 My junior year of high school looming large It was my time of turmoil, fear of the future swelling each day. The war was a constant drumming in my ears empathy tearing at my heart. These memories remain even though The person that created them no longer exists. Each scene remembered, suggested other memories. Growing exponentially this mass of recollections has soon consumed all of my brains computing power The words that were to last forever, words dragged across the threshold From the mists of a dream into the waking world. have slipped away, vanished before being committed to permanence Now displaced by visions of fading photographs, snippets of songs and a gnawing disquiet. my mind relinquishes any semblance of control, submerging itself wholeheartedly in a world of ghosts. Remembered honestly, this was the most difficult time of my life Yet unintended in this flood of remote memories, Lies long hidden evidence of strength I didn’t know I possessed. Strength that in the end allowed that terrified boy to survive.
Life has certainly taken a turn for the better lately but
My natural inclination is to
Wonder if this is the calm before
Has this fear of success been hard wired into my brain,
By simple repetition of a lifetimes of bumps and bruises
Where has my propensity to identify
with Eeyore come from?
Is this a product of a childhood trauma perhaps?
Or a genetic disposition
Or simply a cruel joke
Of an unsympathetic universe.
To dwell in this dark cloud all the while ignoring
The silver lining is exhausting,
Caustic to hope, fatal to mental stability.
Killing the joy of hard won forward progress.
To stand still, to give in to doubt, is to perish.
To allow uncertainty to plant the seeds of paralysis
Is to guarantee a fresh wave of self-doubt
And an extended stay in the grip of depression.
So, it is that I endeavor to remain fixed in the present moment.
Turning a blind eye to the past and its burden of regrets.
Turning a deaf ear to the whispers of the future predicting failure.
Accepting this moment as a gift
Remembering that tomorrow is promised to no one.
I told a friend that in response to my “I got the job” declaration, I was showered with 150 congratulations! As well as a smattering of yays, way to goes, awesomes, yippies And several I still haven’t figured out yet. Yet amid this cloud of well wishes and happy thoughts Not a word from my daughter. You have to figure out a way to let it go, I was told As many times as I have considered this advice I still have no answer as to what that would look like Does that simply mean not speaking aloud? Of what is swirling about incessantly in my mind Or ignoring the pain that throbs deep in my heart. Can you ever really put behind you The pain of what feels like rejection? Whether it comes from a direct confrontation Or a slowly descending veil of silence. Transition provided for lifelong friends, the impetus to vanish silently into the shadows, never to be seen again. Even having sworn to erase them, having refused the whispered call of a shared memory. Their ghosts continue to materialize unbidden, Reinforcing the truth some memories and traumas are indelible. But family is different isn’t it? Doesn’t blood and DNA matter Seems like it would, wouldn’t it, seems like it should, shouldn’t it? What’s all that blood thicker than water mean? does it matter at all? Or is it simply a thin pencil line on a family tree Reaching out into the world each day through my words Visible and vocal my presence is obvious What triumph or tragedy is currently playing out in my world Can’t be missed by anyone that would choose to look. What does it say when your child prefers not to know? Does my genetic connection give me a special right to expect her to? How do I judge if my expectations are unrealistic? Or should I simply assume parents’ expectations of children are always unrealistic?
I listen to the poets as they pass
one by one across the stage
Sharing insights on their lives,
their hearts open to scrutiny.
Even with subjects personal and traumatic
They project outward positive thoughts
Dealing with the lingering effects
of shitty circumstances life had handed them.
I had arrived feeling devoid of inspiration,
looking simply for distraction.
That desire was certainly achieved
Yet more surprising,
Were the emotions wrapped in the words,
Both quiet and boisterous they spread.
Flowing out from the stage to blanket those below.
Subtle nods and barely audible ummm’s
Confirm the connection has been made.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” - Maya Angelou The years of my youth, long ago dissolved into history. Only a vague awareness of their relentless passage remains Undefined longing, born of the story I lived each day, but never knew Left ghosts of uncertainty woven into the fabric of my existence. Ever present and seemingly unchanged across the years, These longings linger like the smell of wood smoke from last night’s fire Clinging to my skin, wrapping themselves about each stand of hair, I could feel them, gripping my heart, whispering in my dreams. I see their shadowy form in my reflection, even though others could not. Part of my soul, they are my story, one never spoken aloud. A lifetime of grappling with their shadows has brought understanding, the why of their existence, a final acceptance of their truth. That I was to live my life as a transgender woman was no longer deniable Yet I remained cloaked in invisibility, unable to summon the courage to face the inevitable consequences certain be unleashed Yet my words, as an animal in a cage, long to break free of confinement, run free in the world Fear calls upon every argument, no matter how thinly disguised To strangle my voice, to preserve the status quo of silence. Hope rises in resistance, growing stronger bit by bit. Until the resistance finally crumbles and the words pour forth. In defiance of fear, swaddled in the words of my story A lifetimes labor comes to fruition, truth in physical form. With this realization came courage, came visibility. And the woman that is Rachel was born into this world.
Did you ever want to do a thing? But don’t really know why But don’t really know how. I have. Did you ever want to know? Why you want to do a thing But don’t know how to begin Not sure if you want to begin I have. Did you ever want to figure out The why of this thing But are afraid of the why of the why Not sure what’s hiding in the why I have. Did you ever wonder If the thing is really a thing Or something else entirely I have. Did you ever wonder, could it be one thing, Masquerading as another thing Just to throw you off the trail. I have. Did you ever wonder where? The thing would lead you If you could find the courage To follow the path into the unknown I have, I will, I am.