05 February 2011

Giving Up What I Never Had

The other day I was talking--about what, I don't recall-- with another faculty member.  All I know is that it had to do with things we were teaching because she related a story about something that happened to her in a class once.  And I mentioned--I forget why--that once, when I was conferring with a student about her paper, she blurted, "When you were teaching A Doll's House, you were teaching about yourself, weren't you?"

I hadn't mentioned it to anyone in a long time.  I also hadn't mentioned that I had that conference with that student during my last year of living as Nick.  In fact, not much more than a week after that conference, I took my first dose of hormones.  

All of that meant, of course, that the answer to that student's question was an emphatic "Yes!," even though I hadn't realized it until the student asked.  Just four months before I had that conversation, my life was different:  I had to leave it in order to do what I needed to do.  I had to give up relationships, a cozy living situation and a lot of other things in order to make my changes.

But as I was talking to that faculty member the other day, I had a really odd sensation.  I felt, not that what I gave up was insignificant now, or is less than what it seemed to be at the time.  Rather, it felt as if I never actually had the things I gave up.  

Perhaps I never had any of it.  At least, I never had--among other things--the love of certain people.  I lived under the illusion I did; so did they.  However, whatever relationships I had with them was built on a false pretense because I never was the person they thought I was.  And, ultimately, I never could be that person.