27 September 2008

Another Adolescence? Wisdom?

Drizzly and damp. Not quite the stormy day forecast for today. But it's been one of those days that keeps lots of people indoors, or keeps them from straying far from home.

So what did I do today? Laundry. Wrote an article. Cuddled cats. Cooked spaghetti. Real exciting day, huh?

Ironically, this day reminds me of a lot of days in the spring of 2003. It seemed that a lot of days that season were like this. It was my first spring in this neighborhood, after moving out of the place I shared with Tammy in Park Slope. Somehow, the gray, diffuse light was easier to live with than days of endless sun: I had been taking hormones for a few months, and felt raw and vulnerable--and a little scared, as I hadn't yet "come out" to very many people.

And on days like the one that just passed, and this night drizzled by the fine mist in the air, I find myself tending to things that need tending to, within as well as outside me.

Lately, I feel as if another layer of skin has been peeled away. I've been taking hormones for five years now, so I'm not sure it's the reason. Then again, it may be that back in the spring of '03, when I'd been on hormones for a couple of months, my body was reacting to that initial surge of hormones and I was like a child having her first growth spurt. But now, I feel something else is changing in me. I'm not so sure it's physical, although I think my breasts have grown a bit, and I feel that something around--or in--my eyes has become more female, if not more feminine.

A few weeks ago, around the time the semester started, I was feeling more senitive to--more easily hurt by--things people said. Of course, I went through something like this a few months after I started taking hormones. But now I feel like I've come to another level of sensitivity, or something.

It seems that lately, everywhere I look, someone wants to talk with me or some little kid wants to play with me. Sometimes the kids want to talk, too. Like the young girl I met while her mother was having an electrolysis treatment and I was waiting for mine. I had no sooner walked into the door than she introduced herself to me. Jasmine. And she just had to show me a toy that reminds me of the Etch-a-Sketch I had when I was a child. And her story book about race cars and drivers. I'm not sure what the moral of it is, but it was fun to hear her read and misread it.

Somehow I get the feeling I'll see Jasmine again. I don't know why.

It's not just kids, though. I've already had students "come out" to me and tell me about abusive boyfriends, difficulty in a marriage and with finances. One student, whom I'd guess to be about 40, told me about the her partner, whom she lost in the World Trade Center. She told me that to explain the fact she was missed class this 9/11.

Every time I've seen her, she was wearing black. I wonder if she's still in mourning. Even when I saw her smile, she looked kind of sad, though still kind. A few people--including Tammy-- described me that way in the years before I began my transition.

And I'm thinking of the lecture I attended last week at the college. I got in late, as one of my classes ended a few minutes before the lecture began and two students wanted to talk to me afterward. Upon arriving at the lecture hall, I took the nearest still-available seat, which happened to be next to a student I didn't know.

She kept on looking at me and smiling. I had no idea of how to take that. Of course, back in the day, it would've fed my ego: she was pretty. But now...Was she reading me?, I wondered. She seemed like a completely straight, if not narrow-minded, woman: I had a hard time imagining her attracted to other women, straight or otherwise.

Not that I would have acted on such an attraction if it were there, of course. But I quickly realized that it wasn't her attention: She was just a friendly young woman who was being nice.

Are you a professor here?

Yes, I am, I responded.

What do you teach?


Oh, really. Which ones?

I mentioned that I am teaching Business Writing and Composition, but that I have also taught literature and research writing.

How can I get in touch with you?

I gave her my campus e-mail address and telephone number, and showed her where she could find my office.

I would like to see you again, she pleaded.

Of course. Now that you have my information, feel free.

I will. Thank you.

I haven't heard from her yet, but I've a feeling I will. About what, I don't know.

Hey, even cats and dogs I meet outside are walking up to me. It may well be that I'm growing more sensitive, or more understanding, as some people have said about me.

I mean, I'm not anything special or terribly unusual, really. I just wonder if people are sensing something else about me. A college staff member with whom I'm friendly said that I seem "more peaceful, more serene."

Well, yes, even amidst--or maybe because of--the craziness of a typical day, I do feel something calmer within me, within that sensitive skin of mine.

This is really odd, this combination of raw adolelscent nerve endings and the perception of wisdom, or something.

And another sign of change: I'm getting sleepy. G'night