posted on 6.30.20 / posted in After

A few decades without bell laps

The central preoccupation of my life has become ___________.

So many options on the last day of June 2020. Mine isn’t one of the biggies. It’s the same one from this time last year, and maybe the year before. I’m not sure. I’d have to ask my therapist.

“I said that?”

She would know.

Lately I have an elevated amount of sympathy for transgendered people, but in the worst kind of way. A lightbulb went off in my head when an element of their struggle reminded me of my own. I always cared, but I notice more now because I think it relates to me. Maybe it doesn’t matter how you get there, so long as the sympathy lasts and isn’t always about you.


I don’t remember the first time I heard the term and I’m not sure its meaning was immediately clear. In context I think I got it. It makes sense. If you spend your life in the wrong body, and finally have the courage to take steps to get in the right one, you’d want the people closest to you to see the person you always knew you were. When they don’t it must be heartbreaking.

But what do I know? It probably feels nothing like that.

And that’s the extent of the similarity. I had no idea I was this person until the transformation was complete, sort of like Orlando. The initial process took a few months, but I didn’t notice until the morning I woke up the other person.

My central preoccupation is twofold, but amounts to the past. The past is choking the goddam life out of me, just when I finally learned to breathe. It comes in waves and flavors, but that sums it up.

The vanilla version:

Had I been diagnosed and treated for narcolepsy before half my life was over, things would be drastically different today. Every significant decision I made was with a mind battling fatigue and paranoia. I didn’t roam the streets shouting at people. By all outward appearances I was normal. You had to get to know me before you saw the problem, and by that time it was your problem too. I was a sneaky fucker.

The exotic vanilla version:

Despite the feeling my life could have been happier and more successful, I wish I could go back and relive all those bad decisions. I don’t want a second chance for a better choice (finally over that) and I don’t want to avoid the mistakes. I just want to live them again, and leave behind less carnage this time.

I wrote a few letters to people I know I must have hurt, but it quickly became a depressing exercise. I even sent a few before I realized it’s as bad as deadnaming. After the sweet experiences became bitter former friends and lovers will have cleaned themselves up without my mea culpas. They don’t need the drunk driver who killed their mother to track them down after he’s released from prison to say he’s sorry years later.

The deeper truth to exotic vanilla is that there’s not a single experience from my past with a last chapter. That’s how I know the old me is breathing his last.

He wishes I could start fresh somewhere. Just up and leave everything so we wouldn’t have to clean up his mess. That’s what he did. When things got hard he left jobs, relationships, states, countries. He earned the trust of employers, generous family members, friends, and lovers, both casual and significant. He made it years sometimes, but usually months, made a mistake, lost his shit, and skipped out. You name it, he Irish Goodbye’d it.

His life is broken up into too many unfinished things to count.

I want closure. Trite as that may be. I’d take it rapid fire too. I’d sit down with a former friend I ghosted when I moved to a new place and let them tell me what an asshole I am. Or punch me. Whatever. Just give me the end I ran away from and left you with. You probably turned it into something good and I got nothing but this void.

The deepest cut is so vanilla it’s covered in fibrous skin (bean metaphor. I know, I’m beating the fuck out of this horse). I want an epilogue. The story years later. The forgiveness. It’d be so much easier if they all gave it to me so I wouldn’t have to forgive myself for the friends I lost, the experiences, the careers, the simple awareness and appreciation of so many people and places.

The old me is dying, but I’m the one keeping him on the saddest, most desperate life support. It’s hard to let go of his life because I was there for it all. I’m so pissed at him. I yell at him in my head, “I could have done so much more with this. Any of this! I could have built fifty lives out of each one you just unceremoniously walked away from.”

Things I ignored or took for granted while they were happening involuntarily visit on a regular basis. Fucking hauntings. All the dreams I have of running into people I left behind happen in airports. Instead of inner turmoil they can hardly remember who I am at first. Then, what’s worse, they’re happy to see me. I explain how sorry I am and they’re all smiles and “don’t worry about it” and “I have to catch my flight, but we should connect!”

Should we? I didn’t catch your number or your new last name and I think you took my wallet, keys, and plane ticket by mistake. I’m stuck here with no cash and don’t see a way out of this Terminal.

Well, I guess I could walk. Irony.