17 November 2008

Waking in Strange Places

Tonight I am at the college, where I'm reading papers, preparing lessons and surfing the web. I decided that if I went home, I wouldn't get enough sleep to make it worthwhile. Still, I wish I could see the cats.

I did an all-nighter at this college once before and managed to get a pretty fair amount of work done. That night, I met one other first-year faculty member who, like me, knows that this place could be better than it is, and wants to do something to make that happen.

Surprisingly, I was no more tired during my classes the following day than I would've been had I gone home and slept four or five hours, if that. But the following night, I turned the key to my door and the next thing I knew, I woke up around 10 o'clock the following morning. It's probably as close as I've come to having a blackout without drinking.

I can remember a few other times when I've walked into my door and could recall nothing else until I woke up the next day. It felt as if I were opening my eyes to some place as strange and distant from wherever I'd fallen asleep as any other country I've visited feels from this one.

Is that what I'll feel like when I awaken from the surgery? Or will I be too wracked with pain or benumbed with painkillers to notice that anything's different, or to notice anything at all? Will I waken to same self, different world? Or same world. different self?

Bruce likes to remind me that one has to become the change one wants. He says that's why I have the sort of relationship I have now with him, my parents, and other people: I became the person I always knew that I am, and they are responding to that. The weird thing is that sometimes I feel like they've all changed more than I've changed. I'm not sure of whether that's a good or bad thing.

So much of my past has become distant now. Aside from a few really vivid memories, so much seems as if it happened in another place, to another person. This isn't quite the same as the automatic process of denial that took over after I was molested, for example. Those sexual assaults never faded away; they muttered through my sleep like distant thunder one may hear on a seemingly-clear day. And, of course, that muttering turned into rumbling, then crashes accompanied by the lightning that struck. The more firmly I tried to hold on to those clear days when I ignored the thunder, the more fierce was the lightning strike.

But at least I feel that I am being released from the illusion that recalling everything is important. There are lots of emotional idiot-savants who never forget a slight or an insult but learn nothing from either, or from any other experience. Instead of a being a different person or in a different place, their lives are a sequence of, "Same shit, different year."

Well, the years have changed, but the past few haven't been "same shit" as the year before. Now I find myself waking up in different times and places, even when I am in my own bed.

What will it be like in that hospital bed? Or when I wake up from the operation? It's less than eight months away: an instant or an eternity? It depends, I guess, on how far I go and how far I come on my way to becoming a more complete version of Justine. Which, as far as I can tell, means waking up, whenever and wherever.


Erin B said...

Hi Justine

I've followed you here from Lovely Bicycle. I hope you don't mind. You are the first transgendered person I have had any contact with and I'm enjoying reading your blog.

Thank you for posting such personal entries to share with people.

Justine Valinotti said...

Hello Erin,

Of course I don't mind! I hope to hear more from you and that you find my writing interesting or useful.