Saturday, March 5, 2011

Glimpses of light, surrounded by doubts

I fly a lot for my work.   A trip or two a month, usually.  When I can I like to fly as Dana.  Just to set the stage my hair is long, I'm on the thin side and I'm just short of 6 feet tall.  I'm wearing designer jeans, a red turtleneck, a beautiful scarf and my hair is down and styled.  But I look in the mirror and still see who I was.

Anyway back to the story, I like to be last on the plane.  I figure I'll be sitting in that seat for the next 4 hours so why sit there any more then I have to.  It's reserved just for me, there's no rush to get to it.  So I'm walking down the aisle last in line and sure enough some one's in my seat.  I do the usual thing and tell him he's in my seat and ask if there's a problem.  He says he'd like to sit next to his wife and asks if I'd seat in his seat just across the aisle.  I look to see an empty seat, and a woman sitting next to it.  After all these years of flying I've learned an aisle seat with a female companion is as good as it's going to get.  So I switch seats with him. Turns out the woman next to me had switched seats with the wife earlier.

We fly for four hours, meals are served, drinks are given, chit chat with the woman next to me, and the plane lands.   The man gets up and leads over to us and says 'Thanks for switching seats with us ladies'.  'Ladies' did you hear that!  'Ladies' he really thinks I'm a woman.  I mean he thought I was woman.  Just a glimpse, that's all I got but it's a glimpse, this might actually work, this might become me.

Surrounded by doubts. 

Now my FFs and I usually have gossip hour over coffee on Friday mornings.  It's a long standing tradition dating back to when the boys were in grade school.  Most of the time it's laughs, round table discussions on Survivor, or whichever reality show is on.  Some times it gets heavy and serious problems are let out, dissected, and pondered.   But always in a loving way.  I'm asked how things are going and expose my latest deep thought of the week.

When we started this journey I knew it'd be hard.  I knew there would be long periods of confusion.  But it occurred to me this week that it would be hard on my friends as well.  I never stopped to think how hard it would be for my friends to come with me on this trip.  They have all known me for decades, they knew the struggles and the dilemmas.  But I failed to see how hard it would be for them to see me, actually see me, as a woman.  As a member of their club.  All these years I've sat at their table as a guest.  The odd 'man' out, the one who thought like them, enjoyed the same things they did, drank the same wine, had the same problems, but still not a member of the club. 

Earlier in the week I was in the office with K, and a friend of hers comes in to say hi.  I've met her once before at a party.  Now I usually work as Dana, I'm clearly Dana, I'm dressed as Dana, I'm thinking as Dana, I'm being Dana.  K introduces me as the old me, and uses the dreaded pronoun, 'he'.  It's a knife to the heart.  She meant no harm, she talked of me as she has for the last 20 years.

E does funny things to the brain.  I can't let this go, It still hurts and still causes the eyes to well up.  But, my deep thought of the week is how hard it will be for her and my FF's to think of me as a woman.  To actually have 'she' come out with no fore thought.  I'm not sure it's doable.  I worry about everyone in my life, can M change 30 years of conditioning, can K change her deepest memories of me to 'she' and 'her'?  Will they put the time and effort into our commitments to each other?   How much effort can I ask of M and K and all my FF friends.   Is it possible?  If not, can I get to the point where it doesn't hurt, where the knife doesn't go to the heart, but the head deflects it.

Just when I need that self confidence I've had my entire life, that ability to protect the heart with the head, E steals it from me.  I don't think it's coming back. 

I had a brief glimpse of light, but it's still dark and I can't see anything at all.