14 July 2009

Beginning in Trinidad

At the Morning After House, where I have been staying since my release from Mount San Rafael Hospital, manager Carol Cometto keeps a guestbook. Here is my entry in it:

I was born in Georgia.

I have lived most of my life in New York.

But I have come to Trinidad, to begin.

Even though I had been living as a woman for nearly six years before coming here, I feel that my life as the person I am is starting just now.

Of course, it is not the surgery itself that changes one's life. However, it is one of our rites of passage from what we were expected to be to what our souls yearn to be. And Marci Bowers is exactly the right person to "deliver" me through that passage.

Not only is she an extremely skilled surgeon and fine doctor; she has the empathy and compassion to understand what we feel and need, and the vision, artistry and commitment to make it real.

Another person who has that passion, commitment and empathy is Carol Cometto. The Morning After House--her "baby"--is a dynamic testament to those qualities.

It hasn't been around for very long, so it has its kinks. But Carol got the most important part right: You walk in and you feel loved, not just "the love."

When I came in last week, I said to Carol--only half-jokingly--"You really don't expect me to leave, do you? She placed me in the "Sabrina" room. It's beautiful, and I could spend days, months, years basking in the light of it.

But it's not just the wood tones or the sunlight and views of Trinidad mountain in the window that make the place so inviting. It, like no other room I've ever been in, was crafted by someone who knows exactly what you want and need to feel the day before and the day after one of the most important events in your life.

Most important of all, what Carol has done is to make a space in which a real community is possible.

I am fortunate in that when I return to New York, I will be seeing a doctor and gynecologist who treat other transgender women. I also have friends and colleagues who have stood by and behind me. However, even in New York, I don't where else it's possible to find a place in which everyone understands just how you feel. It's like having your own native language and finally meeting the people who speak it in the land in which it is spoken.

While my stay at the Morning After House, like those of most guests, is short-lived (two days before and four days after my stay in the hospital), I feel that it will be a kind of "moveable feast" that I will always take with me, and which will always nourish me.

I will have, not only the house and Marci and Carol; I will also have Marilynne, who so steadfastly supported her daughter in her surgery; Danny, with his humor and overall enjoyable presence; Becky, whose spouse Joyce was my roommate for my last two days at Mount San Rafael Hospital. And of course, the nurses--especially Martha Martinez--in the hospital.

Because of them, I am beginning in Trinidad.

On The Eve: Bastille Day

Tomorrow I'm going home. As nice as this place is, I'm looking forward to going home.

Danny, the very sweet (and handsome!) trans man from Alaska, left this morning. And Marilynne and her daughter are not here now, either: They had to go to a hotel because one of the secretaries in Doctor Bowers' office messed up their reservation.

As much as I like the other people who are staying here, I miss Marilynne and her daughter, and Danny. Then again, I look forward to seeing Marilynne and her daughter again for a "girls' weekend." They brought up the possibility of coming to New York in October or November, after her daughter and I have sufficiently recovered and while the weather is still nice in my hometown. I'd really love to spend Thanksgiving weekend with them because that's when New York starts to deck itself out for Christmas. But I don't think they'd want to leave their family, and I would probably spend that time with my family or with Millie's.

I'd really like to see Joyce and her partner, Becky, again. That might be an excuse for me to take a trip to West Texas. I've been to Texas once, and I went only to Houston, which, in some people's minds, doesn't count. I don't particularly want to go to Houston again, but it might be fun to go to Lubbock, which Joyce described as "a college town in the middle of nowhere."

And/or I could go to Alaska and see Danny. Now that's definitely not a weekend--long or otherwise--trip. Also, I wonder how his wife would feel about that.

Hmm...Is this where I start expanding my horizons--into my own country?

Is that what revolutions are all about? Well, at least the French one was about that. I mean, some guys thought that maybe didn't need monarchies and droits du seigneur and all those other things that were making French people--some of them, anyway--unhappy.

They had the right idea, although it took them a while to make it work. I think, though, that the next revolution shouldn't be within a country. I think the human race needs this one: getting rid of war and all other forms of hate and exploitation. If the human race has any hope of becoming more enlightened, I think that is what we need to do.

Someone once told me that I'm a revolutionary. I almost want to say "If only...," except that I'm not sure that I'd actually want to be one. It's like I was telling Mom tonight: I never really wanted to cause anybody any trouble, or to be difficult in any other way. Things just turn out that way sometimes. I am who I am, and that in and of itself is very difficult for some people, at least at certain times.

The thing is, I have made life difficult, if only for a moment, for everyone I've ever loved and who has ever loved me. You can only imagine what it was like for Mom to raise a kid who was feeling something almost no one knew about, much less understood. Bruce and I have fought and argued; I'm sure there must have been moments when I've made Millie cringe.

And they are the ones whom I feel ready to see again. Marilynne and her daughter are part of the experience I am bringing back, which is a resource that will enable me to continue my life in the way I want it. So are Danny and Joyce and Becky. And that couple from Montana and their kids. Carol, the manager of The Morning After House, too. And, of course, Nurse Phyllis and the staff of Dr. Bowers' office: Robin, Janet and Ann.

Of course, the bridge from the days before this experience to tomorrow is Dr. Bowers. The friends to whom I will return tomorrow, the family members I hope to see in the days and weeks after and the colleagues with whom I will work again in a few weeks know who I am. Now I'll be more able to live as that person.