03 April 2010

Healing In The Mist

I climbed the arc of the bridge from the Queens "mainland" to the Rockaway Peninsula, a long strip of land wide enough for only two roads that run its length.  One skirts the bay; the other, the ocean. Between them is an elevated railway that's part of the city's tranist system.

However, I could see none of it from the arc of that bridge.  I know it's all there only because I've cycled there so many times before.  

Sunshine accented the thin, wispy clouds that streaked the sky as I left my apartment for my ride.  But as I rode closer to the bridge, clouds gathered and thickened until the sky was overcast and the air filled with cold mist.  I've spent enough time around seashores to know that, in spite of the dense sky, there was no danger of rain.  The air and sky often grow gray--actually, almost silvery--by the ocean, especially at this time of year.

By the time I reached Rockaway Beach, a spring day had turned almost wintry.  That's not unusual at this time of year, because even though the temperature reached 68 F (20 C) today near my apartment, the ocean temperature is still less than 40F (5C).  That difference in temperatures was, of course, the cause of that mist that braced my skin.  

For the past eight months, I've been keeping myself warm and have swaddled myself in soft, cushiony layers.  That, I am told, is normal after surgery, even in the summer.  And of course we are now just emerging from winter. 

Still, I enjoyed feeling the cold mist against my face.  I didn't even mind when it grew denser and became a fog thick enough that I could just barely see the railings, let alone the sand or the ocean, as I pedalled along the Rockaway Beach boardwalk, or that I could only see a couple of cars from the Wonder Wheel when I was asecending a ramp only a block away from it.  

And I didn't mind that everything had turned gray, for it was a silvery, if not steely, hue.  It was actually very pretty, especially when I could see ocean at Coney Island well enough so that I could see the white of foam dissolving into the silvery mist as the tide spilled onto the beach and rolled back into the sea.  

The cold, gray and mist felt like a sort of healing.  It may have had to do with the way it all felt against my skin:   astringent, but not stinging, much less painful.  It was as if something was leaving my body, and spirit and a kind of serenity, if not joy, was taking its place.  

True healing is not all sunshine and rainbows and puppies and kittens.  (And, yes, those are a few of my favorite things:  No apologies to Julie Andrews, or John Coltrane!)  It is uncomfortable at first but, once it's underway, bracing.  And it opens as it cleanses; thus, one has to be willing to be opened in order to be healed.  At least that's been true in my own life.

And my gender transition has been about healing myself from a number of things, including the scars from the sexual abuse I experienced as well as the ways in which I internalized, and expressed, the hate that was part of my life.

After those things, it's almost odd to say that I was healing from my surgery, as that was part of my healing.