13 March 2013


Here is another part of the work of fiction I've been writing:  


One thing I’ve noticed since I left this block:  all of the sentences that began with “You aren’t…,”  “You can’t…” or “You are not to..” have been replaced with ones that begin, “Why do you want to…”

I’m thinking of Vivian again.  Maybe she wouldn’t recognize me now:  it’s been... how long?  Last I heard, she wasn’t living far from here.  Not that she ever did, or would do otherwise.

Near here.  With or without a man.  Or a woman, perhaps. Then I probably wouldn’t recognize her.  No, she wouldn’t recognize her as she was when she drove me through her old seaside town, not so far from here.  Or as she or I was on the morning when I first woke with her, when for the first time since early in my childhood I wasn’t thinking about a cup of coffee, a drink or breakfast. Or any other drug, for that matter.

Until that moment, my body’d never caught up to my mind, or at least the rages, fears and other waves that swirled behind my eyes and ears.  The spirit had been ready, so to speak, but not the flesh.  But on the morning, my body craved, for the first time I remember, the touch of another.  My pores had opened, throbbing like buds after the first April rainstorm.

And her gaze:  It stunned me, even blinded me temporarily.  Twinges of needles, glancing without piercing—and I wanted more, because she could open me, if only for a moment, without rending.

For the first time, I felt—or at least relished the illusion—that someone’d taken from me exactly what I’d taken from her:  whatever we could absorb through our mouths, through our skins.  Of course we began and ended through our orifices; one of us, as it turned out, sweeter than the other, more bitter than the other.  She, always a woman, on my tongue; I, becoming a woman—or so I thought—between her lips.

And through those hours, those days of chatting before that first night; the hours that followed; the days when I loved, when she loved:  her supple touch.  I, the supple touch, like the steady wind against her curtains:  I turned to waves as cool as her linens against my skin.

No man could’ve loved me that way, I thought: no man could be loved so.  That word I’d always swirled around, like sand around those mounds where boys believed they’d built castles, all dissipated in waves and wind.  Boys rise, men fall; Vivian and I lay facing each other, her eyes opening to my gaze.

I knew I wasn’t going to die and go to heaven.  I’d always known that.  There was always another day, whether I wanted it or not.  After what, it didn’t matter; there was always the day, the night, they year after.  No way out of it, no way to fight—but on that day there was no need to fight, at least some things. Later she’d tell me it was the first gentle night she spent with a man.  Was that the same as telling me I was the first gentle man she’d met?  I know that’s something I’d’ve never been, not for her or anybody else. 

On that night, I merely did what I’d done ever since a man—another one who disappeared from this block—pushed his pants down from his waist and pulled my face toward his crotch.  There was no way out of the moment, which lasted an eternity; there was only the moment; there would never be any other. There was only him; there was only her; there would be this moment, consisting of women.  And no way to leave it, even if I’d wanted to.

There was one major difference between that moment with Vivian and the others that preceded it: I’d had no urge to resist, to flee or even to protest. I could only accept her, in that particle of time, in the others that flew away from it:  only me, only her, and no other force in the universe.

If she’d understood that I simply acted as I always had up to that moment, would she’ve declared that I was the first, the only, man for her even as I wrapped my body—at that moment clad in a black lace bra and panties—in her kimono and shuffled into the kitchen where I boiled water for coffee and the sun flooded the window?  Well, if I was savoring an illusion, who’s to say that she wasn’t, too?

So, her question—her plea, her accusation—“How could you…” when I started taking hormones, when I talked about surgery, seems inevitable now, even—especially—had she seen me, or I her.

Something else I hadn’t realized then:  the moment someone exclaims, “How could you!” it’s a sure sign you’ve survived, or at least progressed in some way, however small.  The moment you’re not a subject—which is not necessarily the moment you cease to submit, if you ever do—someone somewhere feels betrayed.  Actually, it takes only a moment of happiness, or at least equanimity, to make someone believe you’ve taken it from him or her.  Look at all those parents who resent, overtly or covertly, their children’s success—which for most children, for most people, means nothing more than getting what they want.  The son dreams of moving to a penthouse in the city; the father wants him to take over the family’s hardware store and father his grandchildren. And girls inspire jealousy in mothers who’ve stopped sleeping in the same beds with their husbands but have no desire to sleep with any other man.   They’d sit shiva; they’ll schedule exorcisms (or psychotherapy, which is usually the same thing) for daughters who realize they’ll find love, in all its glory and cruelty, only inside the curtains of another woman.

Contrary to what some churches teach every day and others teach on Sundays, love is not forgiving, and it can only lead people to seek it by whatever means and for whatever ends. 

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