It takes a real piece of work to actually go and write an ode to themselves. I mean really, who has that kind of self-absorbed chutzpah anyway? Well, as it turns out, apparently I do. That sounded suspiciously like an opinion, even though we all know you are reading a blog entry titled “An Ode to Michael”. Has Michelle finally lost it? Is it OK to call her a douche-bag, or is that just for guys? OK, perhaps I better explain.
Not long ago I was speaking with someone who recommended that I consider holding some sort of funeral for “Michael”, you know, since I wasn’t going by that identity anymore and because some of those closest to me might have some feelings about it. While not totally opposed to the idea, I considered my audience for such a thing and decided against it. My spouse, someone highly suspicious of the medical care industry and hospitals in particular, already has enough worry over my upcoming operation. I think introducing the concept of a generally death related ceremony at such a time would only fan the flames of anxiety and miss the point entirely. As far as my immediate family goes, I believe such a thing would be characterized as a ridiculously fluffy exercise necessitating either a Crayola decorated shoe box or functional toilet. Yeah, it’s not going to happen.
I’ve talked before about still casting Michael’s shadow and what that means. At that time though I mainly talked about how other people felt about my change. As this is a very self-indulgent exercise, I think it’s time to concentrate on how I feel about it. There are two stories that usually get told about transition. One is about the complete euphoria that comes from expanded self awareness and the courage to do something about it. The other is about the heartache and difficulty associated with rejections, losses, and the vast number of hoops one has to jump through just to be reclassed as second banana citizens. This is different. I want to talk about the feelings associated with the loss of an identity I put so many years into.
Old, pre-transition pictures of me are still hanging about the house, and my mom naturally has dozens everywhere you look. I sometimes look at them and ask the boy or man in the picture why I couldn’t just remain that way. I had a really good run as Michael and was the for the most part very happy and living an idyllic life. I had the respect of others, a decent reputation, a strong marriage, a wonderful child, family I’m close to, a good job with a track for upward mobility, and a heady sense of self determination. As Michael I could have kept all of that going and added even more into the mix. I could have also completely avoided causing a great deal of heartache, sorrow, and loss in those closest to me. The greater sense of inviolable self determination has left and at many turns I feel but one step away from living out that Bob Dylan song about a Rolling Stone (I really love that song). Why could I not have just kept Michael going and made everyone, including myself, happy?
Well, we all actually know why. Under auspices that it would have been easier and better to do nothing at all, that option was never really on the table. After all, I did choose that from the moment I became self-aware at 4 (or earlier) up until early 2011 when I faced the reality that the identity of Michael was just not mine to keep. The best threats and bribes I and those around me could muster were nowhere close to the asking price to retain it. A happy caterpillar still reaches a day when it’s time to start spinning, even if continuing to defoliate my tomato plant seems like the best of all possible worlds. No power known can halt or slow the ticking of the clock that brings with it the beginning and end of all things.
So to Michael, I acknowledge that you had a really good run. You did your job, had a quiet charm, carried my load, and did little harm (OK, I didn’t mean for that to rhyme, just so you know). I know people are going to miss you, and honestly, so will I. I liked myself as you, and that feeling is just a little harder to achieve at present, but I’m learning and at least now it’s real. Had I been able to afford you, I would have been happy to keep you on, but that account is empty and now closed. If you don’t mind, I’d like to leave with you my fears, my failings, my limitations, and my secret self-loathing; buried so deep none of us knew it was even there. Though you are behind me now, you will always be remembered by me and others and I can only hope that I carry with me forevermore the best parts of you, and farther than you could have ever gone. Rest in peace, still with us and forever inside me.