You know, it isn’t often I have a year like 2010. It was a year in which I truly took responsibility for myself. Sure, my parents bailed me out a couple times, I’m not saying I didn’t need help, but I clothed and fed myself, paid my bills, found work, and braved a new city on my own. In a lot of ways, 2010 was the first true year of my adulthood and I’m left with this feeling of pride that’s carrying me into 2011. It’s got me excited about the next 12 months for once. I can’t wait to get started on…I don’t even know what! My friend Mike sent me a text at midnight with what has quickly become my phrase for the year: Let’s Get It. Enough with resolutions and timetables, I’m just going to go out and get it this year, simple as that.
As productive as 2010 was for me, it was also filled with craziness. I drove across the country in the longest four days of my life. I was out of work for a month, searching in a barren market. I held a job as a messenger/driver when I could count the number of times I’d been on a Californian freeway on one hand. I totaled my car, lost my job for which I needed my car, was out of work another month, got jumped for my phone and even managed to fit in a mild head injury just as 2010 was puttering out last week. But as I reflected on the closing year, I could only see good things.
It’s really just this feeling of hope I have. I went home and I saw friends I hadn’t seen in a year. One year isn’t enough for everything to change, but everyone had made small changes, changed jobs, got new cars, boyfriends, girlfriends, what have you, but they were there, and everywhere I went, there was this familiarity and ease. Of course, that made me think about next year and all the things that wouldn’t be the same come Christmas 2011, but somehow, I couldn’t feel sad about that. Sure, I felt weird that maybe some people wouldn’t be in town next time, but I just couldn’t feel sad about change. I’d always feared it before, but having been affected so positively by it this past year, I had suddenly become its number-one fan.
I feel like change is the key to my hope. Every little step for me makes me feel like things could get so much better. I’ve been eating right and working out and now I feel more at home in my own skin. It’s not like when I was 14 and overweight and my doctor told me to lose a clean 50 pronto. This was just me treating myself right and every day I’ve done that I’ve felt good. I’ve gotten obsessed with superfoods and I challenge myself to not only eat well, but eat the best I possibly can, like it’s some sort of game. I’ve also decided to treat myself right when it comes to clothes and style. Somehow, because I was so broke this year, I’d forgotten that good fashion isn’t about looking good for other people, it’s about feeling good about yourself. I’d stopped feeling good about my clothes, or even caring about them. I was trying desperately to save up for my top surgery, but something always derailed me, some big expense I just couldn’t get around. So I saved penny after penny in an uphill battle to reach ten grand when I realized I was going about it all wrong. Fashion is confidence, confidence is me being my best, my best equals good writing, good writing gets bought, I get paid, I pay for the surgery with money from doing something I love. That’s how I’m going to do this. I’m going to do it as my best self, kicking loads of A in an arena of my choosing.
I made great strides and big changes in terms of my transition this year, but perhaps the biggest, and the one that gave me the most hope, happened just days ago. I had written my aunt to ask her if she had told her family (a husband and two daughters, ages 11 and 6) that I was transgendered. She’d known for a year, but I knew she was still uncomfortable with it herself. With the trip nearing, I decided to write her a very blunt letter. I love my aunt, she helped raise me and she’s always been an integral part of our family unit, but she is, in some ways, old-fashioned and traditional, and I was not sure what her reaction would be. She wrote back and said she hadn’t done it, but she would. She would be straightforward with the kids, she said. I kept thinking, half because I believed it and half because I had to believe it to go on, that the kids would actually take to it better than many adults. Kids are resilient and far more attuned to what’s going on than people give them credit for. Well, when they pulled up to the house for their visit, I was having a mild heart attack. Completely freaking, I told myself I was having an out-of-body experience and that it would all be over soon. My six-year-old cousin was very shy at first, hiding behind her mom and then running to the other room. She seemed very nervous, that made me nervous. Then the older one came in. She was pretty much normal, greeting me, perhaps a little shyly, but happily and I felt a glimmer of hope for the day.
It ended up being one of the best experiences I’ve had in terms of trans stuff. I watched as the younger one called me my birth name and then corrected herself. Corrected herself! She had no way of knowing, but she had just become better and more mature than most of the people I’ve encountered in the last four years. And that spurred me on to be better, to shake my nerves off and act normally, as I wanted to, as indeed the whole process of telling them was meant to make me able to do. I had honestly had days where I thought this would never happen, and here I was, making it a reality.
All this, inevitably, made me think of our beloved Harry Potter series. You see, hope is a funny thing. You can have endless amounts of joy, you can be flying high when the going is good, but hope only comes around during the struggle. It’s like the Patronus cutting through the layers of Dementor mist. How unfair it seems that one should have to conjure up something so powerful and good when surrounded by such sadness and reality. But I kept my hope alive this year; I guarded it like the last flickering candle when you’ve run out of matches. I steadied myself when I knew things were rough and getting rougher. I kept the memories of the good things. It has to be something good enough, doesn’t it? It has to be something real and potent, like that memory of happiness with his parents that Harry had. I had my accomplishments, moments when I surprised even myself, when I went beyond what I thought possible. I thought back to the one time that Harry was truly unable to conjure a Patronus. I’m not talking about when he forgot he was still wearing the Horcrux during the first half of Hallows, but at the final battle, when Ron, Hermione and Harry run out onto the grounds. Hagrid has just been taken away by spiders and there are giants battling on the grounds of Hogwarts. “A dull hopelessness was spreading through him. Fred was gone, and Hagrid was surely dying or already dead; how many more lay dead that he did not yet know about; he felt as though his soul had already left his body…he almost welcomed the oncoming oblivion, the promise of nothing, of no feeling…” How seductive it can be to dwell and focus your energy on the certainty of all that’s gone wrong. To hope is to dare. “We’re all still here, we’re still fighting,” Luna says. There’s no guarantee that things will get better, but that makes it all the more brave to believe that they can. And so, 2011, I welcome you…and do what you will. Because there’s only one thing on my mind this year, going out and getting it, and that’s what I intend to do.Comments (11)