relationshipping, trans talk

Flashback:

flashback:

their first ‘out’ Halloween.
They go to New Orleans because not only is it the most fun-debauch city in the South, but also the most accepting of all types of queer.
He’s come out as a crossdresser but transsexual is not an articulated option.  Yet.

He dresses up as a femme fatale secretary with breast forms, blouse, tight pencil skirt and 5-inch black patent, Mary Jane fuck-me stilettos.  She’s a Southern belle vampire.  He’s nervous, especially riding down the elevator and walking through the posh hotel lobby but no one gives a second glance their way.  And once they step onto Bourbon Street, they are given mouth-to-mouth pink shots within minutes.  Between street shots, topless women, beads thrown for baring tits and all-around Halloween debauchery, he talks to loads of people and she is given a steady supply of absinthe and whiskey.  They go to countless bars and laugh, dance, drink and chat.  At the oldest bar in the Quarter, she sits on his secretary lap and they share a beer and a sweet, quiet kiss amidst rowdy, drunk-as-fuck jocks, professionals, costumed insanity and constantly thumping beats.

It’s after 4AM and they’re walking back to the hotel.  His feet HURT from the heels and he needs to pee.  Badly.  She suggests he take off his heels so they can get back faster and he’ll be more comfortable.  He refuses.  They trudge on.  He asks how much farther.  He wonders if there’s not a place to stop.  She tries coaxing him again to take his heels off.

“It’ll save time.  We still have a good eight to ten blocks.”
“NO.”
“Okay.  But I really doubt there’ll be a place to stop.”

She looks in all directions as they walk, wanting to relieve him of foot pain and bladder discomfort but along these smegma-lined streets that reek of old booze, there’s nothing but residences and an occasional bodega that may or may not be open.

“You’re walking too fast!”
“I’m sorry…I was trying to get us back quick.”

She turns around and he’s many feet behind her, his body language reads total exhaustion.

“What are you doing?  We’re almost there…only 10 more minutes, I think.”
“I’m in pain.  It hurts so much.”

She’s mad.  The only option is to keep going.  But he keeps stopping, which wouldn’t be so bad except he’s about to piss himself.  She’s damn frustrated that he won’t hur— no, she’s frustrated because she has become intolerant.  She can’t be nice, offer to support him, take some of his weight off those damn stilettos.  She’s too concerned wondering if this is how it’s going to be from now.  His costume isn’t just a costume, after all.

They argue back and forth, he’s too slow, she’s too fast.  She’s fed up with his complaining.  He takes off his heels.  As soon as he does, the defeat he feels is palpable; he says he just wanted to begin and end the night in his heels and he cries.  She is finally silenced and her face discloses her sadness and guilt: the heels represent a self-imposed test that he would have passed if not for her.

They deal with their own grief and regret as they silently ride the elevator and enter their room.  He immediately goes to the bathroom then to the balcony to smoke.  He looks down at the NOLA cityscape as dawn breaks.  She has crashed before he finishes his first smoke.  She wakes up after some hours to puke up excess absinthe.  She wipes the tears induced by vomiting and looks at her tired eyes in the mirror, ringed with Halloween makeup and studies the countertop: makeup strewn about, bras, underwear and various outfit incarnations.

Her face mirrors the trepidation that her heart can no longer contain.
She doesn’t know if she can be the supportive girlfriend she’s been as (s)he figures out who (s)he wants to be.

 

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relationshipping

The space in between

the space in between

is my weakness in relationships.

I mean the space between the fate of the relationship and negotiating the present without being overly influenced by the unknown future.  I often walk the fine line between picking my battles and communicating enough to allow the other person to continue getting to know me.  This entails work.

I let the small shit go but sometimes the small shit ends up being kind-of a big thing which doesn’t rear its ugly head until…well, until it does.  Communicating after (what I deem) the ideal window of time is difficult.   I’m usually emotionally annoyed at the point of confrontation but I know it’s because I let little things pile up and since my person isn’t aware that I take issue with something they’re (not) doing, it’s not fair to lash out.  Still I’m annoyed.  People in long-term committed relationships understand how to broach this, or better yet, circumvent this pile-up and I want their wisdom.

I recall a friend’s words from many years ago:

“You know, people always hate on ‘selfish takers’ but what about those who can’t accept?”
For example, her very generous neighbor who was good for any kind of support.  One day, my friend tried to give back to the woman and said woman literally couldn’t accept my friend’s generosity.  She didn’t know how.

At the time her story struck a nerve but I didn’t understand why.  I thought, I can take.  When my person does things for me, I can earnestly accept.  But over the years her words echoed in my head from time to time.  I realise now that I was successful at many things during my long-term relationship history except communicating my needs.  I have never known how to ask for exactly what I want.  Ultimately, I didn’t give them a chance to make me happy.  Does this mean I was a commitment-phobe, deep down?

It’s been very easy to segue my dissatisfaction into, “We need to break up.”
Which isn’t exactly kind.  Or fair.  (And I call myself an equality nazi; but I do also call myself a hypocrite.)
S has said that I tried to break up with her every month.  Sigh.  She’s right.

It’s obvious, even to stubborn me, that my past behaviour is lacking and stupid so I try to correct this.  After all, I like relationships.

So I try.
Convey your shit, Rumi.  Tell him what’s wrong and give him a chance to fix it before you quit before the fucking miracle.
First, breathe.
It is so new, this type of communication, that I feel bewildered and incredibly unsure of myself.  I figure this isn’t the time to dance around so I am blunt.

“I need more from you.  I really understand that you’re busy but these recent days of long silences are damaging…distance creates distance.”

I am hopeful that if I can name the thing and he cares, we can get through this.  WE can work it out. Maybe it’s a combination of redefining distance, how long is too long, what kind of communication I need.

I wait for his reaction.

“Rumi, this is the best I can do.”

Oh.
Fuck.
That wasn’t what I expected.

And what can I say to that?

Turn inwards, question my issue…He’s doing his best…but it’s not enough and I really don’t want to articulate that because that means this— we— can’t go anywhere and I don’t want us to end because I thought there was a tangible future.

Ouch, this hurts.

But I can’t do the work if the other is already maxed out.
I can appreciate his honesty and…move on?

NOooooo.
But what else is  there?

 

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relationshipping

Her turnaround

Turnaround

shocks me.

But then again, S has always had the ability to make my mouth drop.

Today, it’s this:
“I’m okay if it’s him.”
“Wait, what did you say?”
“As long as it’s he who’s your boyfriend, it’s okay.”
“Wow.  Really?”
small sigh…Yeah, Rume.”
You hated him.  What changed?”
“I see how you feel about him.”
I stare in wonderment at S.  Her capacity to change astounds me, repeatedly.

“But I’m going to hate anyone else you date.”
Her sly smile makes me think she’s kidding but the look in her eyes makes me think twice.
“What??”
“You heard me.”
“How do you know that?”
“The very unique circumstances under which I met him can’t ever be duplicated…”
And it was meaningful, I finish silently.

“Circumstances…I see…”

I will never know exactly what happened during their meet but I do know that an olive branch was extended to S and even though she really, really wanted to hold on to empty hate, she couldn’t.  It would have been a more simple reaction to continue hating the man who’s seeing the woman she still loves.

I imagine there was a moment where mutual love broke through the layers of hate that was based on who he represented, not his actual character.  Their moment gives me hope and humbles me.  I take from them both: his unrelenting efforts to make peace, her capacity to call herself out, regardless of the audience.

They’re really good people.
And they really get love.

(I also like to think she likes him at least a little.)

 

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relationshipping

Grant me the sereni— 

grant me the sereni—

fuck.
I curse my attempt to breathe and get peaceful.
Again.

Try again:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

I tell her, “It’s this damn hope I have that’s starting to make me feel duped.  I can’t change my current difficult, seemingly impossible situation but I don’t want to give up.”

Which reminds me of the man who flew halfway around the world to meet S.
They’re good friends.  For a solid year they talk, Skype, text nearly everyday.  I heard the tail end of a phone call about six months into their friendship.
“S, he likes you.”
“What??”
Uh-oh she’s turning red.
“Um you’re turning red.”
“Shut up, Rumi!”
“You know he likes you.”
“He has a girlfriend.  Besides, what makes you say that?”
“Because no guy stays on the phone for that long to be ‘nice’.  He really likes you.”
“But…”
“Do you like him?  I mean, if he didn’t have a girlfriend would you consider going out with him?”

Yeah, he and his girlfriend broke up not too long after that conversation.  And he and S became more than friends.  Which brings me back to his flying out to Tokyo.  I mean you have to meet in the real to see if it’s real, no?

I check out of the apartment while he’s in town because, as if I’m going to witness potential crazy-honeymoon-period-doing it (but I’ll gladly listen to her tell me the gory deets).

I meet up with them and it’s immediately clear that he’s really, really into her.  I mean he can barely ask me a question because he’s so glued onto her.  I’m pretty sure he thinks he loves her.  So I look over at her and…S doesn’t have to say anything for me to know that something’s not right.  Nothing is outright wrong but something’s off.

Two days later, she and I meet up to chat.
“I’m just not attracted to him.  I think it’s pheromones.”
“Aww…I’m sorry, S.  That sucks.  He really likes you.”
“I know.  I feel terrible.  He’s so nice and he thinks I’m beautiful and awesome.  But I just…can’t.”
“No, you sure as hell can’t.  You can’t make that X-factor chemical attraction happen.”
“I tried…”

And how’s this for fucked up:
Even though this really sweet guy is guilty of nothing but showing her love and affection, I’m protective of S to the point where I’m cursing this dude for making her feel so down.  Yes, the sympathy unbalance is definitely fucked up.

My words echo between my ears:
“I can’t change the current difficult, seemingly impossible situation but I don’t want to give up.”

And I’m finally able to be sympathetic towards the poor dude who faces definitive, unrequited love…there’s no going back.

“You don’t want to give up…I guess that’s where the rest of the prayer comes in.”
“Oh crap, how’s the rest go?  I forget ’cause I always get stuck on trying to accept the shit I can’t change.”
“You have to change what you can.”
“I can’t change the situation.”
“Maybe you have to take yourself out of the situation…?”
“Yeah…  But that’s so fucking hard.”
“I think that’s why they say that ‘courage to change the things I can’t’ bit.”
“Hmm…”
“And then there’s the wisdom to know the difference…”
“Goddammit.”

 

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relationshipping

People disappear

People vanish

and it cuts me.

“So I’m seeing someone.”
Silence.
“Um…”
“Yeah?”
He’s angry.
“Why do you sound angry?  Are you mad?”
“Well, yeah.  I didn’t think you’d be dating anyone.  Why do you think I’ve been on the phone with you for hours every night?  Why do you think I sit through your tears and help you get over your breakup?”
“….I thought…I thought…  You’re my best friend.  I thought you were being my best friend.”
“C’mon, Rumi…you know better than that.”
This time the silence is all me.

He goes into detail as to why I ought to know better but I’m questioning my awareness as fast as I can because I’m caught and psychosomatic heart-drop reactions are combatting mental processing.

I consider things like:
I thought you were asexual because your art is your girlfriend and I don’t see your vulnerable side.  There was a window where we could have not skirted around the ‘do we consider something more than friends’.  And though it was never shut, we sure didn’t make efforts to see each other on the constant and we never stopped skirting, dammit.  When you moved away I made an effort to strengthen our tie because it’s fucking rare that I can talk art and people and life the way we can while you crunch on pickles, beer and cheese curds and I eat fatty-fat pulled pork sammiches with my whiskey drink.

Maybe I should have known better.
Maybe you could have said something.
We’ve been stock-still.

“I’m sorry…”
“Well, I’ll probably disappear for a bit.”
“Really?”  Damn…this fucking hollowed out feeling makes it hard to breathe.  “I guess my time is up?  I almost made it to your six-year time limit.”
“Yeah…usually six years is it.”
“Seriously?  You’re dumping me for your self-imposed friendship time limit??”
We both know it’s not the time limit that’s pushing me out of his world.  And I don’t insist on an explanation.

Because we both lose.
Even though it feels like he won.
I unwittingly broke his heart.
But he controls if I ever get to talk to him again.
And on what terms our future correspondence will take.

It’s been years since we last communicated.
I have a feeling he’s doing great.
I know he’s producing awesome images.

The funny thing?
That guy I was seeing?
A blip of a memory.

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relationshipping

I stopped writing

 

i stopped writing

and it was nice.

I write this personal blog, I claim honesty.
And yet I hold back.

Not about my trans ex turned wife and the mother of a scary-delightful roller coaster that her transition has been.
I hold back about my personal shit.  Say, the other relationship that is the most fortified citadel I’ve entered yet.  It’s awesome on the inside because I feel so safe and at home.  It’s a mindfuck on the outside because those walls are a damn high climb, makes my neck hurt just looking up to gauge the road ahead.

But cool things emerge.  Like stories I’d forgotten.
Like this one:

Did I ever tell you about the most magical room in a row of mostly empty rooms encased in cinderblock?

It all starts with a boy named Raymond White.  Raymond was the first emotionally and intellectually challenged individual I knew.

I don’t remember our handful of conversations.  I could say they revolved around asking him to join a game of “Red Rover” or what he found at the end of the enormous flat field that was the entire backside of the school, as the area that butted up against backyards of single-family homes always had an air of creepiness and I expected to find dead birds among the fallen and rotting branches.  Or perhaps we talked about our daisy-chain necklaces.  Maybe we debated how high we could swing before jumping off without injury.  But all of these are romanticised and contrived memories.

What was real: Raymond had beautiful and piercing slate blue eyes, awesome, thick-soled velcro sneakers in a matching shade and a penchant for wearing ill-fitting khaki pants (maybe this last point is better attributed to his mother but not the shoes; he loved the shit out of those velcro sneaks).  He was taller than most and his straight, sandy-brown hair was always cropped close to his largish head.  He had trouble meeting my eyes directly and he spit a lot.  This tendency towards drooling made him definitively unattractive and put me off, which then made me feel guilty because even though no teacher said anything explicitly about his CONDITION (maybe we say autism today, maybe not) I– everyone– knew Raymond was different and NOT to be made fun of.  But everyone except two girls made fun of him behind his back, even at this Montessori school where mutual respect was the goldenest of golden rules.  Because even at Montessori popularity was revered and if you felt the popularity leader might turn on you, Raymond was a most reliable and accepted scapegoat.  

Towards what will have been the end of my acquaintance with him, Raymond started carrying a stick almost as tall as him, All. The. Time.  It wasn’t necessarily the big stick that was alarming as much as Raymond’s attachment to it.  When he started to wield it as a weapon and lunge at people, fear and latent disgust happily manifested into righteous anger.  Even my teacher got on board, whom I had thought was the coolest woman ever.  Granted, there was an incident involving biting her hand but— seeing such hellfire hatred in her eyes scared and disappointed a nine-year-old me.  I overheard her talking about her inability to handle Raymond anymore and that scathing tone, the one that reduced him to less than nothing more than explicit, nasty names ever could, shocked and silenced me and I never could open up my small heart to her again.  She scared me in a more permanent way than Raymond coming at me with his stick 100 times over ever could.

You said, YOU said, he can’t help it.

That teacher never looked back at him.
Not very long after the biting incident, Raymond was absent for some weeks.  There were wonderings about his whereabouts but children are adaptable and easily distracted.

I don’t know how many months passed but one day, I see a new teacher with the kindest face, one of the top-ten kindest I’ve seen to this day.  She leads a class— and there was Raymond! in the field.  The students look so free, spinning with arms extended, their heads thrown back to catch as much of the sun’s rays.  I can’t help but feel their grass is much greener than ours because as much as I love spelling tests and grammar and Pythagoras (geeky truths), I have never fallen into the freedom spin that I witness in this blue doorway looking out.

As more days pass and curiosity about the new group of students and our familiar Raymond remains unabatable, there is finally an opportunity to openly study their school lives, which seem so different and more magical compared to ours.

And Jesus Christ did I underestimate just how fucking rainbows and unicorns a school experience can be.  The door to their magicland is identical to every other ugly blue door along the cinderblock corridor.  But as soon as I walk in, I am transported.  The room is so FULL.  Of colour, movement, animals(!), educational decor that is more cool than cliché and energy, an awesome, positive energy that pulls a huge smile from the corners of my mouth.  It is heavenly.  There are birds flying around, for fuck’s sake and I don’t mind them.  (I’m terrified of birds, by the way.)

There’s no way I could concentrate as well as these students in such a fun environment.  It makes me want to hula hoop and even though there aren’t any in sight, I know I’d be able to locate one somewhere in this room.  That they can focus amidst all the active and dormant activity surrounding them is a testament that they are in the exact right place whereas this is a mini-vacation for me, not where I belong.

I exhale huge, relieved.

Not because I’m positive I don’t belong here (that makes me sad, actually, because this world opens infinite imagination potential) but because Raymond is in a GREAT place, a warmer, safer place that gets him.

It’s the first time that I understand annoying clichés about silver linings and everything happening for a reason.  Those expressions rarely occupy a spot in my mind but it occupies the same thought cloud as my current line of thinking: sometimes we wear out relationships with those who can’t handle us so we can get to the people who can.

Or something like that.

 

 

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relationshipping

Reboot

Reboot

 

and reconsider.

So, I have yet to live on my own.
My first long-term relationship was with my roommate.

I remember a conversation on a couch…
“Are we going to regret this?”
“Regret what?”
“That we’ve never…dated…you know?”
“Hmm…I guess…I don’t know.  We go on dates...
“That’s not what I mean.  Will we regret never having had a proper courtship?  The dating period, having our own places, choosing— really choosing— to live together.”

I feel a little hollow and all I can articulate is, “Oh.”
Followed with, “Well, do you want to?  Live apart, I mean.  I’m sure we can find a way out of this lease, figure something out…”
But it feels like a big fat lie I’m spouting for all the effort and cash it’s going to cost.  Let’s be real.  We’re 21 years old, in Manhattan and just forked a fat wad of monies for this proper one-bedroom apartment not even a month ago.  The entire reason we’re living together is because it’s convenient and cost-effective.  Well, there’s love too.

I look at her and see concern and consternation.
Which makes me pause, doubt, rethink.

Maybe we I should seriously reconsider this.  This is a point of no return of sorts; even my pseudo-adult self knows that undoing, retreating, detaching is always more exhausting a process than getting over the shock, hurt, adjustment in the present.

“Hmm…I-I wonder if…what do you think?  For real?  I know it’d be a shit process but I don’t want you to regret this.”
We’re silent.
We’re exhausted.
We’re not even unpacked.

I roll a spliff because it’s what I do in these uncomfortable moments when heavy uncertainty clouds the air.  Getting high isn’t the goal as it’s the calm within the routine I seek.  Like ironing.

But we get high.  I look at the cat stretching in the windowpane sun squares on the hardwood floor and take in my familiar surroundings: colorful furniture we hand-painted last year, schools of soft plastic, blue Jedi goldfish gathered on ceiling corners, a beautiful, delicate orchid that we hope will make it, post-jostling move (a ‘grown-up present’ from her parents given a few months ago, her 21st birthday) and the art on the walls that comfort in their familiarity.

We’ve laid a touching foundation for our home.
We get sentimental, talk of not wanting to live apart because the love and like in the moment is worth risking cohabitation-induced regret and/or speeding up a breakup.

We show our youthful naiveté.

***

I live alone for an entire three months before a roommate enters the triplex my ex and I shared in the South.  Then I get a boyfriend and it seems the most sensible choice for him to stay with me during our crazy honeymoon phase because he lives a state away.  Our first night together is our last night apart for at least a year, when he leaves for some cowboy-Montana-ranch thing.  In the span of three years, we can count the number of nights we spend apart.  On two hands.

This boyfriend, my current ex-girlfriend and wife, and I realize our cohabitation time is coming to a definitive end in Tokyo.
I contemplate my words regarding personal space:
I need to have a place to call my own, to fill with objects of my own choosing, to maintain as I like without considering somebody else.
I have never lived alone.
I resent this inexperience.

But.

The luxury of daily emotional support from my ex/best friend/wife/roommate in spite of challenging fights and moments of high emotion is not lost on me.
Nor is the fact that I am kept alive through alcohol poisoning and nursed through a recent Dengue Fever because of her.
There is an ideological shift.

I consider my past, how my natural inclination is to share my life with the ones I love.
Cohabitation.
It’s what I do and I’m starting to think it’s the way I live my life.

 

P.S. Reader requested topics: I’m working on it!

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