05 July 2009

Today I Arrived in Trinidad

Today I arrived in Trinidad.

I walked down Main Street, part of which was part of the Santa Fe Trail. Between the gingerbread houses and Victorian storefronts on the east side of the street--where one can find vintage dresses in the window of a store that's still marked "Chemist"--flat-topped Fisher's Peak looms like a broad-shouldered gargoyle over a series of chapels.

Most of the stores and galleries were closed today. I'm not sure whether it's typical for Sunday, or whether they were closed because it's the day after the holiday. However, after spending some time wandering about in a store that sold all sorts of "vintage" chotchkes, I sauntered into a museum dedicated t0 the work of Arthur Roy Mitchell. Admission to it is free on Sunday.

A very gaunt and soft-spoken man with breathing tubes in his nose described the importance of Mitchell and his work. According to this man, Mitchell couldn't decide whether he wanted to be a cowboy or artist. Finally, at age 30, or somewhere around it, he "got the courage to go to New York to see whether or not he could become an artist," according to that man.

As it turned out, Mitchell found a niche: doing the artwork for the covers of magazines dedicated to stories about cowboys and the Old West, of which Mitchell experienced its last days when he was a boy. Apparently, those magazines had a very large readership during the 1930's, so Mitchell became a very in-demand artist.

It struck me as ironic that Mitchell's courage took him to my hometown, while my courage--Yes, now I believe all of those people who've been telling me I have it!--brought me to his hometown.

The museum closed at 4:00. I spent some more time wandering and window-shopping when I felt rain coming on. Plus, I was starting to feel hungry. So I ducked into a place called Jo-Jo's Pizza, where the eponymous owner, his wife, daughter and mother were cleaning up and "doing a bit of re-arranging," as the mother said.

I could have spent the rest of the day with them because they were so friendly and welcoming. In fact, I plan to go there after my surgery. I was especially taken with the daughter, an almost perternaturally intelligent and aware girl named Lauren. Even more striking was her resemblance to my niece Lauren, at least the way she was at age seven or so.

I'm surprised now that I didn't cry, or at least start to feel wistful, over Lauren--especially when I found myself talking with her the way I used to talk with my niece, and the girl I met today talked to me the way Lauren did. Actually, it didn't occur to me until later that I was seeing my brother's daughter in Jo Jo's daughter.

Oddly, that exchange, and the walk in the shadow of a mountain, made me feel transcendant in some way. I mean, I haven't even had the operation yet--that's coming in about 36 hours--and I feel in some way that I've been freed from something. Even though this town is about 6300 feet above sea level--an altitude I haven't experienced outside a plane since my last trip to the Alps--I did not feel tired, or in any other constrained by my body.

In fact, I felt as if I weren't even using my body to walk down that street, to photograph Fisher's Peak or the mountains that stand to the west of the city, or to come back to the Morning After House, where I'm staying until I have my surgery and for two days after I'm released from the hospital.

Robin--Dr. Bowers' office manager--brought me here from the hotel in which I stayed last night. It's always strange to meet someone with whom you've only spoken on the phone for more than a year. Robin looks younger than I expected. And, in fact, she is younger. No, I'm not going to tell you how old. Suffice it to say that she's a good bit younger than I am.

And she was even warmer and friendlier--and more helpful, which is really saying something--than I expected her to be.

Bruce has said that people haven't changed; I'm encountering more friendly people than I did before I started my transition because, he says, I'm more welcoming than I was as a man.

The people are friendly here. I did not know a single one of them before I arrived here, and they greet me warmly and try to be helpful. And, as you may have noticed, I feel very open to them--I feel as if they are available to me, and I am to them.

Today I arrived in Trinidad.

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