19 January 2010

Mine: Becoming Mine

Neither the students nor I can believe that the winter session is almost over: just two more days of classes. This means, of course, that the year is more than two weeks old. Is it still a "new" year?

It is for me, in a way. After all, this is my first year after my surgery. A lot of things still seem new. What that means, of course, is that they're still in flux. I realize that when I look at my new body parts: They are becoming what I envisioned, only better. Still, they seem to be different every time I see them. I guess that even though the major healing is completed, what Marci created is still developing and, I guess, taking shape to my body. In other words, it looks like a vagina; it is a vagina and it's becoming my vagina.

That may be the first time I've used the "v" word three times in the same sentence. Then again, I'm not Eve Ensler. (That said, her play is canonical, as far as I'm concerned.) It's funny that I now feel, upon using it, what kids feel when they use a "forbidden" or "bad" word. Of course, there's nothing wrong with the v-word (!), but it's funny that it's still novel for me to use it in reference to a part of my own body. I guess I'm still getting used to the idea that what it refers to is mine.

My vagina. Through all of those years, I wanted a vagina rather than what I had. I guess that was the only way I could think of her. (At times like this, I wish my first language was Italian, French or Spanish: It seems so weird to call such an intimate part of one's self "it.") I had seen enough women's genitalia to know generally what they looked like--though, I must say, I still have no idea of whether what I saw represents a fair cross-section of what the world's women have. I just knew that I was meant to have one of those.

What I didn't know was what mine would be like. I'm not sure that, save for her origins or a couple of things she'll never be able to do, she is so unusual. I mean, the size is about right for a woman of my proportions, and her folds are in all the same places. Even my clitoris is like others I've seen, and has a "hood." The hair is still growing around her: I don't know whether this rite of puberty is progressing at more or less the same rate as does for other females. Or am I developing slowly? If that's the case, I guess it would be appropriate: After all, it took me a long time to get to where I am now.

Whatever...The development is happening at my pace, and not someone else's--certainly not that of the boy who was experiencing the puberty he so dreaded. I'm talking, of course, about me when I was about thirteen or so.

I never felt that same sense of ownership over what developed then as I do over what's been developing for the past six months. Perhaps "ownership" isn't quite the word: It commodifies whatever I'm talking about. Somehow claiming ownership of something is not quite the same as saying that it is mine: I take ownership, but something becomes mine in an inevitable, even organic, way.

And I know that my vagina is becoming mine by the way it feels in my body: At times I can feel the tension and energy of muscles and tissues that have been growing together and working with each other in ways that, while seemingly natural, are still new. Other times, I just feel--comfort is not the right word; perhaps inevitability is. Though my vagina is only six months old, I find it hard to believe that there was ever anything else in that part of my body. Even her color, a sort of pale pink, seems more of a match with the skin of the rest of my body than the tone of the organ I had before.

My vagina is mine because she's becoming mine. And I expect--and hope--she will continue that way. She's still new, after all, even if she's always been a part of me.


Gunnar Berg said...

You know I might have commented on your last posting. This one, well, the only comment I have is that I am totally unqualified to comment. Have a good year. No...have a good life; it appears that's what you're starting, with your long delayed puberty and all. Live well.

bell said...

This is lovely! I'm glad that you're so happy with your vagina. I feel awkward writing that, but it is exactly what I mean.

Justine Valinotti said...

Gunnar: Yes, I really do feel that I'm starting a new life, and I thank you for your good wishes.

Bell: Believe it or not, writing that post felt awkward at first. It was almost as if I were speaking for the first time in a new language. But I've come to learn that actually learning anything means that I will experience awkwardness, or at least demands that I am willing to experience awkwardness.

Jeanne Genet said...

What a fabulous post. Surely you need to publish this somewhere. What I like most is the natural speech - It feels like you are simply giving the reader access to your thoughts, as opposed to trying to make a statement of some sort.

Oh, but I think you overestimate how comfortable women who were born with the stuff feel about it. I have never uttered the phrase "my v..." for any reason, even at the doctor's. It would just never occur to me to say something like that or even to think it for that matter. I think that women in general are more detached from their "stuff" than men are, less aware of how it feels to/in them, which really is bizarre.

Justine Valinotti said...

Jeanne, it never would have occured to me that women are more detached from their "stuff." Maybe the fact that I've had to think it so much has colored my perceptions.

It's ironic that you found it "natural." Although I was writing precisely what I felt, I somehow believed that it was awkward, mainly because I knew I couldn't rely on things I'd said or even thought previously. In a sense, I felt more like "bell".

I'm so happy, not only for the compliments, but also for the fact that all of the comments I've received on this blog have given me further insights.