We spent much of yesterday doing the adult things we now have to make time for because hangovers are real and I like 8 hours of sleep: chores. My life has been a mess the past 2 months, a fact I’d been reminded of when I walked in the door to our apartment and was confronted by the giant, red suitcase I still hadn’t unpacked after my trip to California. I got back from California totally drained emotionally and physically. I’m blaming the lingering smoke from the Campfire for the cold I brought home with me, which dragged my energy below what is normal, making already unfavorable tasks like unpacking from a trip or laundry seem heavier than usual. Additionally, sometime in the past two weeks I sprained my wrist. I’m not sure how, although I do think it was while I was scrapping ice off my car when we had a cold snap a couple Tuesdays ago. Dear Readers, I have my first age-related injury. Dramatic? Yes, but I’m not sure how else to describe an injury procured while doing normal tasks during a timespan where I can confidently say there was no drinking-related injury. I digress.
Since November 1, 2018, Katie and I have individually, or both been part of the following events:
- Katie transferred from her position in the field as a sheet-metal journey(wo)man to a desk job at the same company
- A trip home to see Katie’s parents in which her dad completely ignored her and did not acknowledge her presence
- Scheduling a court appointment for a name change
- Stopping testosterone blockers because they were having a negative impact on Katie’s emotional and mental health
- Thanksgiving apart as Natalie went home to California last minute
- Natalie saw her extended family for the first time since Katie came out
- Natalie volunteered with United Way during a humanitarian crisis
- 4 electrolysis appointments
- 10 therapy appointments
- 2 support group meetings
- Attendance of the court appointment to have Katie’s name changed
- Work Holiday party
- Tea with friends at Queen Mary’s Tea Room
- Game night with Friends
- Brunch with friends on 2 separate occasions
- Food poisoning
- A plan was made for how Katie would be out at work
- Katie came out to her Union Rep
- Katie came out to her HR
- Katie came out to her bosses
I haven’t written much because I’ve been slightly overwhelmed by the above, trying to make space for my brain to turn off. I have noticed I’m not sleeping as well, a fact bolstered by my asshole-cat’s new habit of meowing in the middle of the night for attention, something that doesn’t happen if Katie and I are both sleeping well (or if it does, we’re asleep and don’t care!). Katie has been anxious about coming out at work, about the ripple effects this might have on her job, her security, and her safety. We are fairly confident that her immediate coworker circle will be fine, but there is a long list of “what-ifs?” that we can only agonize over because no one can predict how people react to transgender humans. Katie has been “Kyle” for 11 years in the field as a sheet-metal union worker. I know it’s a generalization, but there isn’t a super educated, welcome-with-open-arms community in the construction field. Katie’s anxiety is founded on the experience over the last year listening to less-than-friendly conversation about other transgender employees. I’ll leave it to your imaginations what those conversations sounded like. Tip: they weren’t great.
Yesterday was the first day I had the energy to get my life back together, to unpack the red suitcase. As we were folding Laundry Mountain, Katie asked me if she could move Kyle’s clothes out of the closet – she needed the space. I wasn’t expecting that question, although I’m not sure why. We’ve talked about Kyle’s clothes quite a bit. I want to have them made into a quilt so I can keep them in a useful way. I had previously asked Katie to not go through her clothes until we had agreed on a date. I wanted to be ready. After Katie asked, the silence bathed us as I weighed if I could handle it or not. I wasn’t ready, but I knew practically it was time. Keeping Kyle’s clothes when Katie is about to be Katie full-time isn’t practical.
I asked Katie to allow me to fold each shirt as she removed them from hangers. The first shirt, a western style plaid, was one purchased by Katie when we first met. When Katie and I met, she was about to take her first trip out of country for a friend’s wedding in Mexico. She didn’t have a suit for the occasion and had gone to Men’s Warehouse to get fitted for one. She wanted to look nice. When we met later that evening, she showed me all the clothes she purchased, how she got suckered into purchasing an entire wardrobe by the sales assistant. I thought it was so funny and, I’ll admit that I was impressed she could afford it.
Each shirt, each button, every crease and wrinkle seem to hold a memory, the image of Katie’s look to me when fully dressed, shirt tucked into her jeans, her green eyes looking at me from behind of beard of fear, looking externally for approval. I cried the entire time, remembering the terrible sunburns that were accomplished in them, the dinners I sat across from them in, the photos we took together to document the wedding, family reunion, or vacation. I never imagined my life would be where it is now when I purchased those shirts, when I went with Katie into fitting rooms to try them on. I never believed we would be replacing them with an entire new women’s wardrobe. We stopped at the hanging clothes. I needed a break. We’ll have to go through the dresser and all the Bill Murray t-shirts on another day.
I had a similar moment while watching Katie affirm her identity in front of a judge last week. As we waited for the signed copy of the paperwork confirming her name change, Katie’s excitement radiating across the room, I looked at her and had a sudden wave of complete sadness. I’m not entirely sure I understand why. Rationally, I know Kyle isn’t here in the way I used to think of him. Kyle is Katie. I know rationally, Katie hasn’t gone anywhere. Yet, the emotional weight of that loss sometimes slaps me across the face. The moment was fleeting, as I didn’t want to distract from Katie’s Name Day. I wasn’t quick enough to hide my moment and Katie caught my inner turmoil. She asked me if I was okay, and I told her I wasn’t sure, but I would be. She asked me to talk to her when I was ready and I did the next day.
Whilst in the blur of this year, Katie and I threw caution and financial responsibility to the wind and booked a round-trip flight to Paris from 12/29-1/11. We initially had a pretty rigid Idea of how we wanted to spend the time: Road trip from Paris up to Brussels, then Amsterdam, cross Germany over to Prague, Prague to Heidelberg and then back to Paris home. While I was in California, I asked Katie if we could skip booking anything at all. With everything this year, I’m not sure I will want to do anything except sleep in, drink coffee, eat croissants, and walk around Paris. Or maybe we want to go south to the coast? Back to Barcelona? I’m not sure. All I know is that I’m really, really looking forward to Katie’s first trip to Paris, to the memories we will make in new shirts. A very happy New Year it will be.