I’m sure by the title you all think this is going to be a big metaphorical post about the path of transition and all the schmaltzy self reflection that comes with that. No, I’m talking about a very real path that goes through the heart of Williamsville NY. It used to be a rail line, but the village re-purposed it as some sort of memorial lane, but left the old rail station in place to confuse the message. I like to drive over there during lunch on especially nice days in spring and fall and take a little walk. The last warm day in November was gorgeous, so I did just that, and let me tell you, it was spectacular.
Well, that’s about it in terms of actual path. It’s pretty and all, and I enjoy it, but seriously, it’s just a strip of asphalt with a bunch of trees and shit alongside. If you got sucked in because you are a hard core path aficionado or old rail line enthusiast well, stick around and see if you have a secret ‘transgender schmaltzy self-reflection’ fancier hidden in there as well.
This was my first visit to my secret path since going full time. As usual, my secret was out because it was overrun by stroller moms and mid-day dog walkers, not to mention a maintenance crew hacking away at some detritus around a tree. We all ignored each other, which was nice because the last time I was down this way I could not imagine that would ever be the case. The last time had been in the spring, and I was still in full blown male mode. Ironically, I felt way more self conscious last time, wearily walking along in jeans and brown shoes, though made for a woman, sufficiently androgynous to pass undetected.
We had a warm spell in April and I wanted to check out the signs of spring. It’s my favorite time of year and my gardening bug was starting to wake up and urge me into the dirt with promises of bountiful harvests I would invariably lose interest in by August. I had the song ‘Here’s Where the Story Ends’ stuck in my head, and during my walk I wrote of a post about it, just as I did this one. I was also seriously freaking out inside, but not so anyone could really tell. The planning process with HR seemed to be dragging on interminably. I was so anxious for it to be over, hardly being able to stand the thought of one more day of presenting myself as something I’m not. At the same time I had low expectations for T Day. I had great faith in my group, but equally great faith in people’s ability to surprise the hell out of me for good or for bad. I also expected a lot more public negativity and wondered if my path walking days were done. Still, the female life I was maintaining was proving far friendlier than I thought, so there was hope. I resolved not to come back unless I was doing so as a woman. Much better outlook than the year before.
Last November we had a warm spell like this one and I headed to my path. The trees were about bare and I spent the time imagining it all covered with bitter winter snows; impassable with a hostile barrenness. I was a wreck. My ex had been through a huge health crisis that nearly killed her and I was still suffering the aftershocks of debilitating anxiety attacks. My body was still adjusting to the hormonal changes and the feeling of wrongness was intensifying. Rumors of massive layoffs were emerging and I felt my position compromised. I was out to HR with a working plan of transitioning at the start of the year. This suddenly seemed like a terrible idea and I planned to duck for cover and see if I survived. Still, someone knew, and if it was decided this was too much trouble to deal with, I could be gone. I thought about what the path would look like in the spring, but it was too hard to see past the winter. I couldn’t imagine feeling safe coming as a woman.
In the spring of last year I wandered the path overwhelmed. I suddenly knew myself again, but no one else did except for my ex. The very idea of what lay before me was too enormous to contemplate. I had just found the Belles, and had no connections there yet; only tales of grim outcomes. My dad had just passed away, I knew my marriage was over, and I had very low expectations as to both keeping my job and the reactions of my family and friends. I was numb. I felt trapped, and backed into a corner, betrayed by an accident of birth I could no longer ignore. I looked back with such great longing the last time I had walked that same path a strong, fit man, ascending in career and prospects, in a happy marriage, with my son on my back. It was hard to imagine ever feeling that good again.
So here I am now. I didn’t make it though unscathed by any means, but far, far better off than I ever expected to be and I’ll take that any day. Plus I’m now me, and things are somehow much easier to face that way. I have no idea what to expect next time I’m down there. It will probably be that first really nice day in April as the tulips and daffodils are pushing up from the thawing earth. Everything may have changed, or everything may remain exactly the same. Somehow I doubt the predictability of either outcome, but I’ll be there and happy for it.