A Work of Art
unctuous guilt sticks to my skin
embarrassment clings to the pain within
belief that I have no worth
the fecund soil of a desperate earth
the velvet death of "not enough"
the broken bits of forgotten stuff
this tortured soul, a work of art
desperate to take my shame apart
When I was 9 I had a dream that changed my life forever. It was one of those viceral dreams that feels real for minutes after you wake up. I wanted to hold on to the vestigial emotions as long as I could.
I dreamt I was a girl.
In the dream I was at the park on the swings. I had a dress on and it ruffled with the wind of the swinging arc. My hair was long and blowing around my face. My neighbor friend, Stacey, was there and she laughed a joyful laugh as she said, “Look Ted! You’re a girl!” as if it was the most normal yet most wonderful thing. My heart was flying out of me with wings of it’s own, propelled by the swing, a full sense of freedom.
Then I woke up.
I hugged my pillow holding on to that feeling. Being a girl. It just made me feel whole and free and home. I had never identified as a girl before. I was a boy. I had boy friends, caught frogs, played baseball, got dirty. I was also shy and sensitive and sometimes called gay. But I knew I liked girls. It was very clear to me that was my preference. What I hadn’t fully understood, until that dream, was that not only did I like girls but I also wanted to be a girl. I wanted to dress like one and look like one and have people see me as one. This dream unlocked that for me.
When the happy dream feeling wore off I was terrified. What could I do to get back that euphoric feeling? How could I tell anyone? Who would ever understand this? The journey both internal and external of making this transition was long and winding and often painful but the pure joy I felt from that dream sustained me through the most difficult of times.
It would take a few years to have my family and friends understand and accept me as a girl. It would take more years to go through the medical process of becoming one. Now I am a full-fledged girl. But much more important than that, I am a happy whole human being living as I was meant to live.
One morning I woke up and I was a girl. And it made my life complete.
My knees give way to the platform. The train screeching in is the last thing I hear. Then blackness. Blessed quiet universe. Interrupted by visions of violence and long buried memories of abuse. Shaken shaken shaken. Awake now I look up at the flourescent-lit ceiling of the 81st street station. Coming into view are the concerned blue eyes of a stranger. A stranger holding my head and asking me questions. Asking me questions in a caring voice that I wish I could have heard just once growing up. I try to form words to let this kind person know I am okay.
"Do you want me to call 911?"
I move my head slowly to indicate "no". I do not want that kind of attention and chaos. I start moving to stand and this kind stranger is helping me. Holding me. Leading me to the bench against the wall.
I haven't eaten since day before yesterday. I don't want to eat anymore. What's the point? Life is a vast dark emptiness that I stumble through. Tripping over objects that lurk unseen in the landscape. Causing me to fall again and again. Each time it gets harder to stand up. What's the point?
The stranger holds my hand and asks if I would like some water. I nod. A water bottle is extended and I go through the motions of opening and drinking. The stranger smiles at me.
"Do you need help getting home?"
Yes. I want to know I matter. This gesture of kindness. Human to human. Not monster to child. Take me home.
#home #abuse #kindstranger #humanity #love
In other news, a middle-aged woman took a shit in Canyon Park this morning. I am that middle-aged woman.
It was my usual Friday ritual. Not the shit. Going for a run with my dog in the lovely swath of nature that is Canyon Park. I was about half a mile from my house when it hit. An intense, sweat inducing, sensation in the nether regions. I can usually use the mind-over-matter technique, but no amount of mental jiu-jitsu was helping me get past the urgency of the turtle head poking out.
This attack happened where I leave the neighborhood and head into the wilderness. It just so happens I know someone who lives right there. She is the kind of friend I connect with only when I bump into her. Not the kind of friend whose door I can knock on at 7am and then race into her bathroom to take a massive dump. I toyed with the idea of intruding on her morning when suddenly there was reprieve. That spectacularly sweet absence of pressure. I was saved! I could continue my run with the dog. Several minutes later surrounded by the silence of trees bathed in the golden glow of morning light I broke out into a cold sweat.
I ducked quickly down into a ravine. Trampling through the overgrowth I looked for a hidden spot with a bald patch to lower my butt. Time was against me so the reconnaissance was brief. I pulled down my shorts and released. The dog tilted her head and watched this oddly reversed scenario. As I looked at her I realized I could use one of the doggie poop bags to pick up my waste and dispose of it. It was a calming thought. That simple act would make this whole episode civilized. I used a leaf to wipe, stood up and pulled my shorts on. Gloriously empty. Overwhelmed with joy and love for a perfect universe. I had the poop bag in my hand and turned to pick up. Nope. I couldn’t do it. It was huge! Our dog is small so I had imagined a one-handed grab-and-go but this was most definitely not that. I just left it there. Feeling slightly guilty but marvelously light I continued running without a care in the world.