13 June 2010

They Ask About "It"

My birthday's about three weeks away.  The anniversary of my surgery is three days after that, and the anniversary of my name change (and a couple of other things) is a week after that.

Maybe I'm turning into a proverbial (or not-so-proverbial) old fart, but none of those things seems so monumental right now.  When you get to my age, you've experienced a bunch of birthdays already, so it's no more of an event, really, than having your morning cup of coffee (or tea).  As you get older, time passes more quickly, so events come and go at a faster pace.  Paradoxically, learning that has been teaching me to ( in the words of someone who's much wiser than I am) live in the moment, not for it.  You do what you can in this moment precisely because it will be gone before you can even begin to think about it.  

What's got me onto another ramble into two-bit philosophy?  Well, today I bumped into someone I haven't seen in two years, or close to it.  Kyra was a tutor in biology and chemistry when I was in charge of the tutoring center at the college.  She was a good tutor for the main reason she's good at most of the things she's good at:   She has a warm, inviting personality and relates well to people.   

Today she was visiting a friend who just happens to live near me.  We got to talking about one thing in another; she's trying to decide whether to go to graduate school; of course I'd give her a recommendation--for that, or a job or whatever else she wants to do, I promised.  

Then, she asked me, "How did it go?"  I knew what she meant by "it."  She wasn't being coy; she just knew that I knew what she was talking about.  I told her that I experienced no pain and that my life got crazy for a while but it didn't have to do with "it;" now it seems almost inconceivable that I lived as long as I did before taking my trip to Trinidad.  

Everything I said was true.  But what I didn't tell her was that, in some way, the question seemed odd to me.  Or, more exactly, not quite relevant.  I felt the same way on Thursday when I bumped into Diane, who had been a student of mine at the same time I was running the tutoring center.  The last time either of us could recall having seen the other was at her graduation a year ago.  That was about five weeks before "it."  

And, yes, she asked me that same question about "it."  So did Sharon, who was a student in the last class I taught before "it."  I encountered her in the hallway during Finals Week; it was the first time I'd seen her since that class. After taking that class (Intro to Literature), she was inspired to change her major to English, she said.  She also asked how "it" went.

I was happy to see all of them.  And I appreciate their interest in my situation.  However, it seemed strange that they should ask about my surgery or its aftermath.  That it went well and I'm happy with it seems as normal and routine to me as brushing my teeth in the morning.  The surgery seems like just another event in my life now.  Yes, it changed, in some way, how I see and feel about myself.  And the years before my surgery, not to mention before my transition,  seem as far in the past as the Paleozoic Era.  

I'm not sure that it's because I have changed so much as a result of the transition or the surgery.  Perhaps it's simply a matter of moving on with my life--and, in my case, being fortunate enough to be moving on with a life that I had envisioned for myself.  Some people have told me they've seen a change in me;  I can see something different in the photos Bruce as well as a couple of complete strangers took of me.  The simplest explanation I have of it consists of a confidence and peace with myself that I never had before.  When you feel those things, it almost seems redundant to talk about them. People who know you see them; sometimes other people respond to them.   And, when such serenity and joy become normal--that is to say, when you carry them within you even when day-to-day situations are exasperating or annoying--they become the reason and means for what you do, and whatever event brought you to them starts to seem like just another moment, albeit a very good one.

So, while the surgery was a happy occasion for me, and seeing my newly-formed parts of my body (and spirit) developing has been wonderful, it seems strange that anyone else--even someone who hasn't seen me in a while--would express interest in them.  It's a bit like asking an experienced doctor how her licensing exam went.  We've made it through those events in our lives; there is only this moment.

Maybe that was the whole point of having the surgery.  It was an event I anticipated for a long time and dreamed (and despaired) of for much, much longer.  And why?  So that it wouldn't be an event to anticipate or enshrine---so that I could live as a woman.  

Still, I am glad that they asked, even if the answer doesn't seem so relevant now. And I'm glad they're progressing with their lives.