I’ve done a lot of reminiscing about my moments of trans experience before coming to the slow realization that I was in fact trans. I thought it might be fun today to go in the other direction and go back to the last time things seemed simple, and really, the last time I managed to fully convince myself that I was indeed male. This might seem strange, but I think it is important to acknowledge and remember times of joy and good feeling. They were important steps that brought me to where I am today.
Deep in the fiery crucible that was 2011 in which the very last shreds of illusion about myself were burned away, I often thought back to 2009, the last time I remembered really feeling good about myself, my life, my marriage and my future. I thought I was winning you see, because I hadn’t yet realized the race was lost before my first shaky steps were taken 37 years before.
I had been dealing with bodily discomfort for a long time by then, and my attempts to adjust were becoming more extreme. In the years previous I put on a massive amount of weight, close to 100 pounds above my old Air Force weigh in, plus grew a beard flecked with considerable grey. Between that and my hairline I looked at least ten years older than my true age. When it finally hit me I was going in the exact wrong direction, I undertook a very focused effort to turn the dial all the way to the right, full volume, no distractions. It worked pretty well! The beard of course was the first thing to go.
As the spring and summer came about in ’09 I felt very strongly that I was winning, and with a vengeance. My huge Clausian belly was gone and I worked out rigorously with weights every morning. Every weekend, and every weeknight I got the chance, I strapped my son to my back and headed out on long 5 mile hikes around the local area. Never exactly a contented soul, he loved the jostling motions and gurgled many observations and questions in his sweet little voice. We bonded as the fat melted, my legs grew powerful, and a sheath of hard muscle developed over my whole upper body. I felt good, strong, powerful, and very alive. After the stress of having a consistently attention hungry child for a year and a half, my spouse and I started bonding again, although old problems lingered and she was distracted with her PhD program. Still things were looking very up in every direction.
In spite of what was to come, that summer remains a memory of great contentment for me, and one of great victory all around. I was well on the way to building a perfect male body. Things were going fantastic at work. My spouse passed her exams and transitioned from student status to candidate status, which I understand has great import in the world of academia. My son’s language took off finally, adding new words and then phases to his vocabulary when just 8 months previous he had one simple word, “up”. My dad was also working out every day and we compared notes every week at our standing breakfast date, along with multiple trips downtown to enjoy our mutual passion for the local architecture. By Thanksgiving everything had changed.
In September after that last golden summer I started having mixed feelings about my workout routine. My arms and chest were noticeably bigger and the view in the mirror I expected to fill me with exuberant pride instead made me feel vaguely uncomfortable. I could not explain why. I kept it up, attempting to push through, but by the following spring I simply couldn’t anymore. In November my spouse traveled to NJ with her mom and the baby leaving me alone for a week and my very first instinct was to go femme for the time, at least in the house. It felt right. A little too right. The reunion in Jersey wasn’t nearly as joyful as it should have been, and I knew it was my fault.
In December the final blow to my effort towards an ideal male existence came. My dad had been suffering from stomach issues since before Thanksgiving and we assumed it was an ulcer. The MRI on Christmas Eve showed something far worse. My world was crumbling and simply couldn’t hold; my glorious year of victory sped toward crushing defeat on all fronts. The entire next year would be spent attempting to unconsciously preserve the shell around me that had been there so long. We fought the good fight, all of us, but by early last year it was all over. The chick had emerged out of the weak and shattered veneer and there was no putting her, me, back in there.
Now it’s 2012 and summer. Time for a do over year. I can’t bring my dad back, or my marriage, and I’m back to losing a new layer of fat the hard times somehow put on me. This time though, I have my legs on the ground and no longer curled up in an embryonic state. It feels good, and I think if I gain back the momentum I had in the summer of ’09, I can fly.