28 June 2012

Fatigue, At The Beginning And The End

I'm so tired now.  I've been tired for so long, I want to close a door and cry.  Mother used to do that sometimes.  But there's no door here for me to go behind and close.  And the tears won't come now, anyway, because I don't have the emotional energy, or even a space inside me, to allow anyone else to see them.  For crying in the presence of others is always an involuntary form of sharing, or at least diverting one's attentions.  Those activities require energies I just don't have right now.

Maybe it's the day, and my hope that it will be my last on this block , that's so drained me.  But taking hormones does that to you, too.

The first time you take them, you're expecting something to happen, even though the doctor or whoever prescribes them tells you nothing will, at least not for a while.  Two pills:  One, the anti-androgen, is white and has the texture but not the taste of an aspirin tablet.  The other--the estrogen--is small, with a hard shell in a shade of candy-coated cow piss, which is pretty much what it tastes like.  Not that I've ever tasted cow piss, candy-coated or otherwise.

After I took those pills every day for a couple of months, I couldn't notice any difference.  But Vivian did.  She called me that day, ostensibly because she wanted to return something I couldn't recall leaving at her place.  It'd been a few months since she pronounced me "too much of a woman" for her tastes and broke up our relationship.  She'd found a watch with a woven black leather band when she was cleaning, she said.  And indeed she gave it to me when we met for supper that night, in a restaurant a few blocks from where I was staying.  

But there had to be another reason for her wanting to see me; I could hear it in her voice when she called.  I couldn't imagine her wanting sex with me again.  So what, I wondered, did she want?

As I cut into the piece of chicken I ordered, I got my answer.  She called my name--my old one.  I looked up at her.  "Something's different about you," she intoned. 

"What?"

She reached across the table and dabbed cheek, where she used to stroke with her fingertips.  "It feels different."

"How so?"

"It's...softer."

"Huh?"

"It really feels softer."


"Really?"


"Yes."

"All right," I said.  "I'll confess something:  I am taking hormones."  Her face grew longer.  "The doctor said my skin would get softer.  But not this quickly."

Then she asked me to stand up.  "Wow!  Your body's changing."

"How so?"

"None of your clothes fit you right."


"I think I've gained some weight."

"Maybe you have.  But it's in your rear.  And you're growing boobs!"

I couldn't notice those changes yet, I said.  And I felt like I needed more sleep.  "But," she cut me off, "you don't seem depressed.  Or angry.  You always were one or both, especially near the end of our relationship."

"To tell you the truth, I'm not.  I don't even feel sad very much.  Maybe..."

She cut me off again. "Maybe you accept things, or are resigned to them."

"You could say that."

She could. None of it surprised her.  Before that night, I hadn't told her I was taking hormones.  In fact, I hardly told anybody.  I don't know who could' or would've told her.  But I knew, then, that she'd asked me to supper so she could find out what I was like on hormones.  Why else would she want to see me again?

The old lady whose name I never knew is looking my way again. Who could' or  would've told her?

Make it tomorrow, please. I'm so tired.  All I want is to have my operation, then to get some rest.

2 comments:

Sophie said...

Beautifully written.
Sadly most of the things I could write about re my initial hormones would involve farce rather than fatigue.

Justine Valinotti said...

Sophie: Thank you. It's based mostly, though not entirely, on my experience. I do remember being tired and giddy--when I wasn't having crying jags--during my early days on hormones.