02 June 2009

Hearing My "Secret"

The other day, I was returning home from a bike ride. It wasn't a long ride--about 30 miles or so--but through most of it, a rather stiff wind rushed at me head-on or at my side. It seemed that I never had the wind at my back. And I was riding my fixed-gear bike, so I couldn't shift into an easier gear.

On a fixed-gear bike, which is what racers ride on enclosed tracks, if the wheels move, so do the pedals. So the bike doesn't move unless you pedal it, and it doesn't allow you to coast. I chose to ride that bike because I had intended to ride a flat route to and along the ocean, from Rockaway Beach to Coney Island.

By the time I got to Coney Island, I was toast. And it was very late in the afternoon. So I decided to get on the subway to come home.

The "F" train is probably the most direct way back to my place. But I like to take the "D," which winds and curves along an old stretch of elevated track along New Utrecht Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bensonhurst and Borough Park. That is where I lived until I was about thirteen years old, when my family moved to New Jersey.

That line offers some of the most sweeping views of the Verrazano Narrows and Bridge, as well as of the solid and, oddly enough, charming brick row houses in two of the last blue-collar New York neighborhoods.

Also: Underneath the elevated tracks near the Bay Parkway station, one of the most famous movie scenes was filmed: the chase in The French Connection. I'm not normally a fan of that sort of thing, but because it was done so well--and the movie was so good--and, well, let's face it, I have pride in my roots--I enjoyed that scene.

Anyway...The D train was re-routed due to track work. The change wasn't announced until the doors were closed and the train was about to pull out of the station. So, instead of those vistas I mentioned, I was treated to panoramae of weather-stained concrete walls along the stretches of track between the dilapidated stations of the N line, where the D was re-routed. There is one neat feature about that line, though: It runs below ground level, but under an open sky.

Then the D train returned to its normal route after crossing the Manhattan Bridge to Grand Street in Manhattan's Chinatown. Ironically enough,a few minutes and three stations later, I would transfer to the actual N train at the 34th Street-Herald Square Station.

Somewhere along the way to Queens, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone I sometimes see on the street. Actually, she called out to me: I sat at the end of one of the long benches near the rear of the subway car with my bike propped by a railing and my right hand, and she stood near the other end of the car, which had filled up by that time, with a friend.

Since we live only a block from each other, we disembarked at the same station: Broadway in Astoria. From there, it's about a ten-minute walk back to my place. Along the way, Lucy and I talked and she commented on how she hadn't seen much of me lately. I commented that I was busy with work and other things. Then we talked about things that are to come in our lives.

I have bumped into Lucy from time to time for the past several years. She is pretty and has a warm, contagious smile. And, in every encounter that I can recall--including the one I am describing--we parted with a hug and a kiss. Being the emotional person that I am, I very much enjoy that.

When we've talked, it's been more about how we felt than what we were doing or had done. More than one person has said that is more or less typical of conversations between women. It's more of a conveyance of emotion rather than a report of actions or happenings. So, while we knew a bit about each other, we didn't know the details of each other's lives.

Until the other day, that is. You might say that I "came out" to her: I mentioned that I am about to have my surgery. Although she knew that I've never been a typical woman--much less a typical man--that revelation surprised her. Although she never knew me when I was still living as Nick, she said that, because of some of the people she's met, she "thought" I was undergoing a gender transition: She could see it in the softening of my facial features and that I've grown something like breasts. But, in all of the time we've known each other, neither of us said a word about my change. It just happened that way.

After we parted, with an even heartier embrace than usual, I felt both relieved and a little sad. There was something almost innocent about our not having talked about my transition or upcoming surgery, but at the same time, I was happy to know that I could share my "secret" with her.

Today she sent me an e-mail in which she thanked me for being "open" about myself. I am glad she appreciates that, but all I really did was to share something true about myself. To me, she's really the one who's being "open."

Not that I'm complaining! :-)