MORE THINGS I’VE WRITTEN
This is the place where you will find full-text versions of pieces which have been published in print-only outlets, or are otherwise unavailable anywhere else online.
“Fear Not,” published in Slaughterhouse Collective, Volume I, Issue 4, “Found Family,” September, 2018.
I was raised by a woman who went through a string of men during my childhood, or, rather, more properly, they went through her. Mom’s a good person who’s made bad decisions for a terrible reason: fear. She was afraid. Afraid to be alone, because of what another man had done to her one time when she was alone in her own home. It’s like the men, the one who is my dad, and the others who weren’t my dad, but who were there, anyway, knew that they could treat her bad because her fear was bigger than her concept of self-worth — it was more fully-formed, more detailed, more explicit… and that fear demanded more of her attention.
Once a month, I get together with a group of women of the lesbian persuasion to share a potluck dinner and play canasta. I was relatively new to town, but luckily, my partner already had a great group of long-time friends, whom we refer to as our framily. We are writers, social workers, nurses, and interpreters. We laugh, cry, kvetch, and support each other.
Mom had a son with the man to whom she was married before she was married to the man who is my dad. Dad also fathered three boys, now men themselves, with two other women. I have two older brothers and one younger brother who all shared a last name with me. Another man, who was not my dad, but who was also married to my mom at one time and adopted me, had a son he had adopted during a previous marriage, and so, legally, I have five brothers — four by half-blood, and one by a couple of sheets of paper.
I met Stacy for the first time eight years ago. When I saw him, I knew who he was: a devastatingly handsome man. That birth had accidentally bound him in a female body did not escape me, but it was less than a triviality. It would be several more years before he would shed his lesbian skin and become the man he had always been meant to be.
I am completely estranged from my entire family. I feel like that should seem like a strange thing to say — that it should feel weird to type this sentence — but, it doesn’t. It doesn’t seem like a strange thing to say because I haven’t seen my brother by my mom in more than twenty-five years. It doesn’t seem like a strange thing to say because I also haven’t seen my dad in that long. It doesn’t seem like a strange thing to say because I haven’t seen the brothers who shared my last name in more than a decade, after not seeing them for fifteen years prior. It doesn’t seem like a strange thing to say because I haven’t seen the man who is my adopted dad, or his adopted son, in eight years. It doesn’t seem like a strange thing to say because I haven’t seen my mom in a little over a year. It doesn’t seem strange.
Not long after Stacy and I started seeing each other as more than friends, he decided that he wanted to take testosterone to become more fully male, physically. I wasn’t so sure about the idea, at first. I didn’t want to lose the person I knew. I didn’t want to lose my friend. I didn’t want to lose my lover. I didn’t want us to lose our framily. I was afraid. I was making a bad decision for a terrible reason: fear.
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.*
My dad and my brothers who are his sons all still live or work in the town where I grew up and lived a fair portion of my life. I even spent the better part of ten years working regularly at City Hall, where my dad worked, but we never ran into each other. We were both someone in each other’s background, standing in line for the metal detectors, or riding the elevators. Maybe I drank coffee a few tables over from one of my brothers. Maybe my route to the grocery store intersected with another of my brother’s routes to work.
August 29, 2017, I gave Stacy his first shot of testosterone. It’s now a year later. I haven’t lost the person I knew. I haven’t lost my friend. I haven’t lost my lover. We haven’t lost our framily.
And I am not afraid.
*Koenig, John. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (Sonder). YouTube. https:// m.youtube.com/watch?v=AkoML0_FiV4