I come out to one greatly loved, whom I have not seen in decades. She has questions. She has concerns. I cannot tell her much, from across so many years.
I was, through those decades, deliberately, though eventually unconsciously, "out of focus." For reasons which I have stated ... there is no simply greater liar, where the self is concerned, than the closeted transsexual.
Someone said: "It's wrong to do anything to the body God gave you." But the person saying this has had a gall bladder operation. I have more respect for the 7th day Adventist position; a little more consistency. A lot of them practice before preaching, a rare instance.
God didn't give us wings, either, but people do fly.
I write to her:
All that, and all the selfishness, and all the overwrought autobiographies, and all the rather ridiculous transphobic pharisees aside, there's not much about me, and my life, that's at all new.
I rise, have coffee with Beloved (whom I often don't see again until 10 pm), make myself a veggie burrito, shave (still necessary after almost two years of electro), do my face, dress, brush my hair while upside down, mousse, toss back, put in my earrings, dress, grab my purse, and go. I drive, listening to Air America or Haydn or Muddy Waters or the Chieftains, for twenty minutes. I let myself in the employees' entrance with my combination. I greet everyone; they greet me. One is our European cataloger; knows eight languages. He's Polish. He holds the door for me and bows slightly. "Bonjour, Madame." I drop a tiny curtsy; "Merci, Monsieur."
I "open" the department: unlocking four doors and turning on two banks of lights; turning on the twelve public monitors and checking their network connection; turning on the service computer, making the coffee, checking the lost and found, checking in overnight books, and straightening chairs and cleaning countertops missed by the janitorial crew.
I sit at the service desk and help patrons find the restroom and the stapler, until ten, when I am relieved by a "real" librarian, and then work on projects: hiring, training, scheduling and monitoring student workers, electronic publishing, trouble-shooting. I go to lunch with friends. "What about him? Cute?" "Not really ... but the other one is O.K." I go to the ladies' room, wash up, snatch a bit of paper towel, check my makeup, return. "Your guy is out of the running," she says, lifting her coffee cup. "Oh? Why?" "He picks his nose on the sly." "Ewww...O.K., yours is better."
I attend a circ meeting. We haven't met in a couple of months, so we all check in. The main stacks manager announces she has been riding to work on a motor scooter. "Must be my way of dealing with my midlife crisis ... though it's not as big as yours, Risa!" We all crack up. It's the only reference to my status all day.
I help afternoon patrons. "That title is in the Science library; shelved by title. It's also available online. What year?" "2002." Clickety-click. "O.K., that one is available in a bound volume in the Science stacks, just look for the letter "R" on a range card." "Where are they?" "Across campus, underneath the courtyard between Physics and Chemistry. Here's a map." I draw a green circle. "Thank you, Ma'am." "You're welcome, sir."
I call the kids. "Need anything?" "Not today, Mommytwo; Momma took us to the grocery store Thursday." "Oh, right; she brought home tofu and bok choi for me. Did Brother get the four-cheese pizza?" "Uh-huh, but he doesn't put veggies all over it like you said." "Well, it's his choice. You're both learning to cook, finally; I'm proud of you. I go now?" "Uh, huh, love you. "love you." I hang up, grab my coat and purse, and head for a meeting at a friends' house.
Eight of us sit round a table, munching homemade cobbler and drinking lemongrass tea, while long-haired black cats roam amongst our stockinged feet. These are almost all mothers of gay and lesbian children, trying to make a world that will treat their kids as human beings.
"What about Pride Day at the community college? We'll need tablers." "I'll go. Risa, go with me? We'll make a day of it, eat dinner afterwards?" "I think I can; call you?" "Mm-hmm." "Who has the table?" "Elaine does; it's in her garage, and the literature is with it in one of those big plastic tubs with the lid." "we can just go in?" "Mm-hmm."
It's 9:30 pm. I shut off the engine, gather my things, and feel my way with my feet along the darkened, wet-leaves-buried walk toward the front door, step up through the mudroom, and make my way to the fireside in the dining room. Beloved hasn't been here long, but she's built a fire and she's in her nightgown. I can smell hot cocoa.
"Hello, love." "Hiya. Want anything hot to drink?" "No ... any mail?" "Two catalogs and a bill." I pick up a shining mailer. ALL ITEMS 30% OFF MARKED PRICE. "Uck, that one; all the models drape themselves over stuff and all you can see is cleavage." "The other one's just as bad. All I want is a green jumper." "I'll take you shopping next Tuesday; I promise." "Silly ... you have your own backlog. Going to bed?" "In two sips; I'm worn out." "Me too -- read a book?" "Sure, I'll have my cap down over my eyes."
I go into my little bathroom and disrobe, wash up, pick a nightie, drink a little water. I also take my two little pills -- the blue one, for Girl, and the bigger yellow one, for Not Boy. These help me to live, in twelve-hour installments. I decide, every twelve hours, that I want to do this, that I must do this, that I will do this. Tonight is the 2,306th decision. It was no contest from day one. I take the pills, pick up my book (of travels, by Jan Morris) and go into the bedroom. Beloved, already asleep, has left the light on for me.
After finishing a happy chapter on the coast of Yugoslavia, I reach up and turn the switch.