By Marc Frazier
Having become so used to change, my run calms me because of its sameness. I’ve had enough of change. I thought I was a boy at first, but I was wrong. Now I do not have to think about how unhappy I was. I am feet slogging through the humid Southern heat, tunes pumping through my veins. They aren’t the only things to have pumped through them. The earbuds keep the world out. That’s what I want when I run the Buffalo Bend Nature Path. And the familiar landmarks: the bagel cafe, littered gutters, the San Jacinto Street Bridge. The Houston skyline.
At times, odd things pop into my head between beats. Sunday school lessons: of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of which is love. Perhaps I can work that into one of my greeting cards. They are mostly e-cards now. Who uses mail? I am lucky to still have this job with all the cutbacks and downsizing. One of the tricks is to make every day a special occasion: Gerbil Appreciation Day, No Speeding Tickets for One Week, Actually Putting Some Money in the Envelope for the Basket during the Offering at Mass. I have to keep thoughts simple, the font size readable, especially for the elderly. Sometimes I fantasize that the cards are sent from hell: Congrats on Your New Horns, Congrats on Having Your Skeleton Displayed in Anatomy Class, In Sympathy for Someone Trying to Poison Your Black Cat Salem, Congrats on Losing Any Semblance of Goodness. Most of the sentiment boils down to “thinking of you,” “missing you,” or the greatest of these, as my Bible lessons taught, “love you.”
These daily runs keep me from dwelling on what happened before. I miss my little sister Melissa, who I loved desperately. She passed in her early forties, but I still think of her as my little sister, my heart. Melissa went quietly, as we stood around her hospital bed and they stopped life support. Before is a word I constantly push to the back of my mind. When I sit in meditation, my cat, who thinks he’s a dog, lies down on the floor beside me and breathes deeply. Thoughts about “before” try furiously to intrude, but I persist motionlessly.
I see a man ahead of me motioning for me to take out my earbuds. I plan to run right past him. He mimicked how one takes out earbuds. He looked desperate, so I pulled out one.
“Hey, queer,” he shouted.
“What are they calling you freaks now? He/she’s?”
This guy was from the stone age, if not further back. In these situations, I also think of an appropriate greeting card. On the spot. Congrats on Graduating Fourth Grade, Congrats on an Effective Lobotomy, Best of Luck with Your New Job at the Flintstone Museum, Thanks for Making Everyone Feel Smart.
But I have learned there is really no use engaging with such people. My run is what I need to concentrate on. “Have a nice day,” I smile and run ahead with both earbuds in. Blocking out the world can be a really good thing. It’s more aggravating when the person minimizing you is very intelligent and should know more about Trans individuals. It was a long haul to become a woman, but sometimes signals get crossed, and does this surprise anyone? I mostly just want to be left alone to enjoy this new freedom I feel and to live as the real me.
My mother claims to have never really known me.
“Who are you?” she asks. “Who were you?”
When she asks how I can live with myself, I always think the same thought: You can cross the same river twice. She obsesses about death, which makes sense for her. Now I spend my time learning about real closeness.
I do want to go dramatically though, with sirens, people racing to the scene. Reporters. The whole nine yards. I’m supposed to be thinking of catchy heartfelt phrases that fit easily on a card. Instead, I keep running and let random thoughts fly. A man stares at me with that Was she a guy before? look I’m used to now. I’m still waiting for my company to add a Trans Day, but that isn’t going to happen. I don’t need that to make me happy. I just am.