Detours and Memories

My mind continues to present challenges in my everyday life or perhaps they could be better described as minor detours. The first emotion that arises when thimagese detour sign appears is one of frustration, I have things to do I don’t have time for this, yet I’ve learned that with a little patience something wonderful may revel itself.  Yesterday was just such a day, I had spent the morning sitting on my porch marveling at the beauty of a fine June morning. It was warm and peaceful, the sound of birds filling the air, I was feeling centered and at peace. I suddenly found myself captivated by how the air smelled and how the light itself had a certain feel; I knew I had a memory residing somewhere with this exact scent and visual trigger and set about to locate it deep in my childhood memories.

I finally found it deep in the file marked “Adirondack Mountains.” I’m instantly carried back to summer vacations, which when growing up always meant camping in the Adirondacks, a place so different from my home in a suburban neighborhood of Long Island. It was an escape from blacktop and concrete, a completely alien environment compared to the other fifty weeks each year of my life.

It amounted to my father’s annual pilgrimage to the cold trout waters of Northern New York, a duty he took very seriously. I, on the other hand, was not quite so enamored with spending hours in a twelve-foot aluminum boat or standing on the bank of a tiny stream engulfed in clouds of mosquitoes, the purpose of which was to catch a stinger full of eight-inch brook trout that I didn’t eat anyway. I look back wanting to feel the warm nostalgia of that childhood but at this point I’m not feeling it. I’m sure that were very enjoyable times deep in those woods; but now when I look back it feels lonely.

The thought that a particular memory could feel lonely triggered another detour into the nature of how we remember. Is everything now colored by my current reality, by my identity of today? Have my memories slowly evolved over the course of my lifetime? Do the feelings I recall actually exist as a part of the memory or are they added as seasoning when recalled.

I’m left to try and decide if I’m recalling those memories accurately, was that reality or am I rewriting history by recalling feeling that were not there, remembering them in a way that makes me feel better about myself.

I don’t know how to find the answer for that question and more importantly whether it makes any difference at all at this point. I have managed to spend several pleasurable hours contemplating this and I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected scenery on this detour.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Have you ever noticed just about the time you think you’ve got something figured  out, the Universe will share with you it’s law of the unintended consequences.

Such was the lesson that was shared with me yesterday. I took a huge risk last week when I told my story standing at a microphone in front of a room full of people. I thought that the risk I was taking was that I might have a meltdown in front of strangers,  be humiliated by forgetting the words or not being able to speak them coherently. As you might have guessed by now, that was not the problem

The story was very well received, More than a few people stopped to speak to me afterward to tell me how much they had enjoyed it and that they had found it moving. The one person that was not in attendance that evening was the woman at the center of the tale. She was out of town that night, so I sent her a message that I was going to tell this story, that I wouldn’t use her name but I wanted her to know, none the less.

She sent a note back and asked me to send her a copy  which I did. I will say that I was somewhat apprehensive because its personal nature and my hope that she remembered our history the  same way that I did.. Apparently I was correct to be uneasy. A week later an email arrived saying that said she had  finally had time to read it; and it went on to say that putting these feelings into words made her discomfort worse.It made real the fact that we do not feel the same way about each other.

I think she knew that all along but I thought that my actions had shown clearly that I did not have a problem treating her simply as a friend. I have considered it a wonderful gift from the Universe that I could be in her presence without my feelings for her being a problem, but

She does have a problem with it, her spending time with me now is uncomfortable.

The one thing that she always tried to get me to understand was that even if we did not agree, each of us is entitled to our own perspective, to our own opinion. It took my living as a woman to finally understand the way I had been dismissive of her point of view and her opinion.

It was a lesson well learned and even though I don’t think it’s a problem, she is uncomfortable and I will respect her view. She is an extraordinary individual and the only thing I have wished for her is that she be happy.  I told her that I am still here as a friend if she ever needs me but that I will not contact again.

It seems that there will always be a price to be paid, and sometimes the cost isn’t known until the bill comes due.


Another Step

Another morning, another milestone, yet another step on the journey.
At my favorite table in my favorite coffee shop, looking down at the airline ticket I just purchased to take me to and from Montreal. Leaving before dawn on March the 12th, I return as the final embodiment of Rachel’s feminine spirit on March the 22nd.
The 20th of March is my birthday and the first day of spring, a time of rebirth that will take on a much deeper meaning to me this time and forever after.
Each time I read that line the tears well up in my eyes and my breath stutters just a bit.

I ponder the meaning of all these feelings welling up. I am excited, at bit terrified and oh so curious. I wander back through my memories, viewing snippets of a lifetime living in the shadows. The more time I spend, immersed in recollections, the more instances I remember of being out of sync with who I really was. I have always had a sense of when I became aware of my gender incongruity, but the truth is that it made me so uncomfortable I didn’t think about it much, it was just there.
That has changed since I transitioned and I became comfortable with the reality of me. I realize now how much earlier in my life I knew of my differences. It doesn’t really change anything but it does help to reassure me that this is not a dream.

I imagine everyone goes through these feelings as they make their way down this final stretch of a journey that has lasted a lifetime.
I know the steps, I know the path, in my mind, in my dreams, I have taken those same steps and traced the journey ten thousand times. The realization takes root that this time is different, that this time is real, that it is not just another one of the countless dreams I have had over the course of my lifetime.
I look down at these pieces of paper, I look beyond the words “confirm your GRS”, beyond the departure time listed on the plane ticket and I marvel at what they represent. A dream made reality, a future made whole that was until now only fog and shadow.

I continue to deal with the anxiety of the unknown, and the certain knowledge that life will never be the same again, but the excitement grows a bit more each day.

Another Milestone

Four years, is it really possible? Four years, what did I think this place would look like? Could I have ever envisioned where I am in my life and what the past 1460 days have felt like, looked like, even have smelled like?
It has been an extraordinary one thousand four hundred and sixty days, four trips around the sun and countless trips to the therapist and words, reams and reams of words. Words of despair, words of joy, words of gratitude disbelief and amazement.

The world looks very different than I supposed it would, but I think that is true of everything in life. The truth of the matter is that we project the way that we will feel and interact with the world using the way we feel now. The trouble with that thinking is that four years later I am not nearly the person that I was. I honestly don’t feel I would recognize myself from four years ago and as I continue to change and evolve I wonder what I will look and feel like four years from now.

I will say the most astounding thing that I’ve learned is that is never too late to make a change, big or small, it matters not. Humans have such an amazing ability to adapt, the survival instinct is something not to be underestimated.

I do know that I have committed to moving forward with the final chapter of my physical transition to Rachel. Today I made the down payment on my shiny new vagina, that’s what I’ve gotten to calling it, a slightly irreverent reference to something that is almost mystical and definitely spiritual. I have lived with the fantasy of this my entire life and in truth it has always been a fantasy, not in a sexual sense but that the person that I was did not have the courage and could not ever even imagine having that kind of courage.

Now that the ground work is done now that the commitment has been made I can get down to contemplating all of those messy details. Like I don’t know the first thing about vaginas real or otherwise, I wonder if it will come with a handbook? “Vaginas for Dummies” for example. I’ve never seen support groups, meetups or adult educations seminars on the care and maintenance of said body part. I’ll have to place an ad and see if I can find a tutor.

Rachel’s Declaration

Yesterday was to have been my surgery date in Montreal with Dr Brassard. My change in employment a few months back necessitated its postponement for another six months. So far so good, but for some reason my brain has decided that this would be the perfect time to second guess all the decisions I have made leading up to this point.

How am I to know what the right answer is for me?

I continue to travel down this same road again and again. It seems that after agonizing over all these huge decisions over the last 4 years, the situation has changed yet again. I have been presented with a new set of facts and my brain, in its quest to leave no stone unturned at least 6 times, goes back to the beginning of the decision making process yet again. It feels compelled to reexamine the same terrain one more time. Granted there are some new facts but the basic premise has been decided for a long time. What do I hope to accomplish by litigating the basics yet again?

Here are the facts as I see them this morning.

I am transgender, I am transgender through and through and I have always been transgender, period.
I have wanted to complete my transition with surgery – forever, OK, almost forever
Now that I am within a stone’s throw of accomplishing my goal I’m freaked out.
I’m worried about the money, it’s hard for me to believe that is what actually has me bothered, especially since my settlement with a former employer will give me enough to pay for it. Is it the cautious remnants of my previous life? The last hurrah of a persona too fearful for sixty years to take any chances at all. or is it simply the enormity of the step I’m about to take?
Or is it something peculiar to my personality?
Is it worth the effort to try and convince myself that all the decisions I came to before are still valid, or is it just as easy to go back and go through them all again?
What am I so worried about?
Am I worried that I will be undertaking something I have no earthly concept of how difficult it is going to be? Yes, I accept that I have no idea what this is going to feel like. Like trying to explain what it is like to be transgender, I won’t truly know until I live that reality.
Am I worried I’ll be disappointed with the results? No I’m not. To physically see myself as the person I am is as they say, priceless.
Could I spend the money on something that would make a more significant difference in my life? No, this is the most fundamental change I could possibly make, something I have thought about my entire life.
Does the permanence scare me? This is after all a one way trip. No, I’ve made the commitment to this, I can visualize it, I have dreamed about it, I have looked at it in every possible light, from every possible angle. I’m sure there are things I’ll discover that I never imagined but that will be true of whatever I do, and I’m willing to take the risk.

Thousands have gone before me, they have said that the risk, the pain and the expense has been worth it. Why should I be any different? I’m not any different, a little older than most perhaps, but fundamentally the same as all that have come before me.
I have examined all of these things again and again and again and I am finished.
This is my declaration of certitude.

March 14, 2016

Let the countdown begin!