22 December 2009

Learning About The Cold

After this weekend's snow, the air has been filled with the kind of cold that seems to cut right through the skin and go straight to the bone. It is a windborne cold that feels as stark as the sky during the day and the twilight at the end of this, the second-shortest day of the year.

Ever since I started taking hormones, I feel the cold more than I used to. Not only do I sense it more; it seems to have a sharper edge to it.

The cold today is different from the cold one experiences, say, in Paris. There, it's the moisture rather than the wind that bears the cold. So, instead of piercing or slicing its way into the skin, the European cold seeps through every pore and orifice and seems to deposit itself, as if in layers, in the body.

Since I started my transition, I've been to Europe once--in the summertime. So I don't yet know whether, and how, the cold weather over there would feel differently from how it felt to me when I was full of testosterone (and, in my youth, beer or wine--or sometimes even stronger stuff!).

One thing I know is that over there, they don't see a whole lot of sunshine during the winter. The sort of day we had today--what someone, I forget whom, used to call C-cubed (clear, cold and crisp)--is unusual there. The gray layers of clouds mirror the cumulus stratified chill that builds in one's bones through those winter days in northern Europe. And, if you're not accustomed to it, you feel as if the cold will never leave. Those who are accustomed to experiencing it know that one day it will leave--with the season, or with one's own life.

Thinking about the cold, and the different kinds of cold, has brought back a memory of Cori. Until now, I hadn't thought about her today. It wasn't as though I was trying to forget her: After all, if you try to forget something, it's too late.

Anyway...This is the anniversary of her suicide. If the person that I am now could go back in time for her, I'd do everything I can to get her to see what I know now: That her depression, as bad as it was, and as all-permeating as it seemed to be, would be gone one day. And she wouldn't have had to die in order for that to happen.

Of course, that was something I didn't know at the time--and, truth be told, I don't think I could have understood even if the most empathetic soul showed me what I've just described. I felt the same way she did about her depression: It had permeated every atom of her being and seemed as if it would stay forever.

We had the same sort of conflict over our gender identities. We thought we could resolve it by doing all the things guys did, by wearing the "right" clothes and so forth. But the coldness and grayness just seeped deeper into our beings and pushed out any sunshine and warmth.

That was why she called me on the last night of her life, and why I went over to her place. I knew just how she felt even though I was years--decades--away from describing it to any other human being. I tried to keep it at bay, confined to some part of me I hoped I would never need to access. But of course, over the years, the cold and grayness just drew tighter around my being. I did not believe that there was an end to that seemingly-eternal winter of grayness and cold.

Now, of course, I have seen an end, and have seen how the cycle can begin all over again. Cori is long gone, so all I can do is learn from my experience and help others.

The cold and the grayness end, at least for a season. So does the wind.