I climbed up, obviously. Up and out of that town and began the process of unearthing the parts of me that a denial bred of survival buried. I left. Though I still visit for holidays.
My sister still lives in the house I was a teenager in. Our first night there, I found myself walking around the yard and thought “I was a girl here,” which felt right in way that almost embarrasses me to think about. I was a girl there. I also was not. That dissonance is a hard thing to parse, but I the very least I can be a girl there now. And that feels the most right of all, a calm center amidst the storm of discomfort that I associate with the place. It felt weird to feel comfortable there, but we’ve both changed, and no longer look as we once did. And I have finally resigned myself to being a visitor, no longer trying to make a place that didn’t want me a home.
But with that comfort came something else, an unshakable desire to be seen, to be acknowledged. I wanted the town itself to acknowledge who I am now, somehow. Some representative to see me now, and claim me as more than just a visitor. The double edged sword of trans-existence; the desire to be recognized and unrecognizable at the same time.
I met up with some old friends, who were as overjoyed to see me as I was them. But it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. After all, most of them were visitors themselves, having made lives in other towns, other states, other countries, only to be drawn back into orbit by the holiday’s pull. Seeing them was wonderful, but not what I was strangely aching for.
I did finally get what I was looking for, but not in anyway I expected.
A trans pre-teen clocked me as I came out of a toy store on the last day of our trip. She came over, nervously hovering. She very much wanted to ask me something that she didn’t have the words for, I could see that. But we did speak to each other for a few minutes about the pig puppet I had purchased for my daughter on impulse. She helped me name it–“Pebbles”–and then quickly ran away.
There’s a lot of talk about how visibility isn’t enough, and that’s absolutely true. But I also think that it’s very easy to forget how important visibility is. I don’t know what it would have meant to see someone like myself as I am now, with a wife and child and a general aura of accomplishment, when I was this girl’s age. She’s already got an edge on me, thanks to 25 years of social progress and increasingly easy access to information. I couldn’t have started transitioning when she did, no matter how much I wanted to. But even with her headstart, it was clear that seeing me, a stranger who was nonetheless connected by ways neither of us expected or intended, meant something to her.
I didn’t have a chance to say this before you ran away, but it was very nice to meet you, Lily. Thank you for seeing me.
Looking back on 2019, it appears I spent the lion’s share of it raising my delightful child, writing my dream project–more on that in a moment–and getting more involved with my local queer community. This is a fantastic way spend a year, if I do say so myself. Try it if you can. A pretty good year. After the rollercoaster that was 2018, I take a year spent achieving modest goals and leave it at that.
I wrote a great many words that will not see the light of day until months or even years from now, but I have a handful of things you can read immediately, if you are so inclined:
Gordon Ramsay Skewers Classic Books
Benign Situations That Could Easily Turn into Horror Films
Lesser Known Kingdom Hearts Worlds
Games to Play with your (Evil) Genius Toddler
Literary Characters Give Dating Advice
Gothic Tales of the Thrift Shop
What If George R. R. Martin Had Written Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle?
Coffee Orders of Fictional Characters
Terrify Your Friends With This Halloween Party How-To!
And there were two installments of Frankenstien’s Support Group, Chapters 18 and 19, both of which are extremely good in that monsters-and-feelings vein you know I like so much. There’ll be more of those in 2020, mark my words.