29 March 2009

One Hundred Days To Go

Barack Obama is still in his First Hundred Days. Tomorrow I will start my last hundred days.

That's right: It's only one hundred days to my surgery! And last night I did something else that reminded me of just how close I am its scheduled date: I bought my plane ticket to Colorado. I got a really good fare, so I figured it was a good time to buy.

Any plane that landed at this afternoon at La Guardia Airport, from which I will depart to and to which I will return from my surgery, would have had to descend through a layer of clouds that hovered over this city. Fog sheathed the upper floors of buildings across the river from Socrates Sculpture Park, where Dominick and I spent part of the afternoon. And a somewhat finer mist veiled those same buildings and everything else between that shroud of fog and the ground.

In some odd way, I found that scene comforting. Part of it, of course, had to do with Dominick's presence. But I was also recalling other times with similar weather conditions.

It seemed that the spring of 2003--my first in this neighborhood, and my last before living full-time as Justine--was filled with days like this one. None, it seemed, were exceptionally warm or cold. Through the months that preceded it, I had gone to work as Nick, socialized as Justine with a new circle of friends and acquaintances I met at or through the LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village and saw little of my family or old friends. It may well have been the strangest time in my life, as I was living with the exhiliaration of taking the first steps toward living my own life, and the fear of people finding out, on terms that weren't my own, about that life.

Maybe that fear and those thrills are the reasons why I found the season's fog, mist and drizzle so comforting. The bright sun could or would have made clearer all of those ways and things I was and wasn't, and the cold or driving rain would have driven me back into that emotional space from which I'd just begun to emerge.

My eyes have always been very sensitive to light. At very intense moments, the solar refulgence in which so many living things bask simply becomes too bright for me. Don't get me wrong: I love the sun as much as anyone can. But sometimes it is too much for me; so is the warmth of those rays.

Sometimes I wonder what it's like for a newborn baby when she opens her eyes for the first time and sees, for the first time, the light that will fill her waking moments until she closes her eyes for the last time.

And what will I see when I open my eyes from that surgery?

Will it be mist? A storm? Or preternatural clarity?

It's hard to know, under any conditions, what one will encounter a hundred days hence. But I know that I will be entering a new part of my life that will probably surprise me because much will be familiar and in which I will find normalcy, if not comfort, in ambiguity and unpredictability.

After seeing Dominick, I went to the bodega for a cup of mint tea and noticed that Millie's door was open. I rang; she and John invited me in for dessert. I talked about having bought my plane ticket and that its purpose is only a hundred days a way. As always, they were encouraging and supportive. I said that my mother might accompany me back here, then go and visit my brothers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Then I started to have a fantasy of my mother meeting her, meeting Dominick, meeting Bruce and the other people who've mattered to me.

Of course it's not likely that all of those meetings will happen. But sometimes the mist dissipates the distinctions between the possible, probable, improbable and impossible. Sometimes that's what we need.

As I left Millie's and John's house, the drizzle and mist turned to rain and lightning as thunder muttered through the streets. Surely there will be nights like that among the last hundred days, my next hundred days.