31 December 2010

At The End of 2010: Leaving The Past, Again

Nobody I know seems sorry that 2010 is ending.  I realized this tonight, when Mom, Dad and I were having dinner at the Mezza Luna restaurant (highly recommended!) in the European Village of Palm Coast.  The owner, who greeted customers after they were seated, said he was worried about business earlier this month. The economy is bad everywhere, but particularly in Florida.  It might be better here than in Detroit, but that's like saying that the North Pole isn't as cold as the South Pole.

I won't say "good riddance" to this year.  It wasn't great, but it wasn't awful, either.  More than anything, I'd say this was a transitional, or perhaps developmental, year.  It was my first full year after my operation, which means that I am still learning new things about my body, myself and my world.  Probably the most important change I'm seeing is in the ways in which I see other people. 

Probably the most interesting, and sometimes difficult, thing I've learned is how to look at my past without either hatred or sentimentality.  In some ways, what I had thought of as my past wasn't really mine after all.  I have come to suspect that, at least to some degree, this is the experience of most women.  As she was leaving Torvald, Nora (in A Doll's House) said that she went from being her father's property to Torvald's property.  Her ideas, opinions and wishes--and her very life itself--were therefore never her own; she took secondhand versions of what those two men in her life offered, if she got anything at all.

My life, before my transition, was a variation on that:  I was trying to fit, or make myself fit into, the ideas, wishes, wants, dreams and accomplishments of men, most of whom I didn't even know.  All I knew was that they didn't fit me any more than I could fit into them.  I could no more become the military officer my father had wanted me to become (To his credit, I think he came to understand that.) than I could become the next Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  It wasn't only a matter of being more than a foot shorter than the basketball legend; it also a matter of my emotional--and, according to the medical tests I would undergo much later---hormonal makeup.

Now I am just beginning to discover what my strengths as well as my interests are.  I don't know how long I will continue to do that:  In some ways it's exhiliarating, but at other times I wish I could be more settled.  But then again, I sometimes think that I always was and always will be in a state of flux.

So 2010 was a year of transition and development.  It's probably the sort of year I needed to have.

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