At one point, well in, maybe after we've each gotten past the initial inclination not to share anything important, he's talking about growing up where he did, a suburban town, spending lunch money to take the bus to the city where he would hang out with a couple other fiends playing hooky. They asked where the gay part of town was and went there. Found a community center that was hospitable to gay kids. And then took the big step of crossing the threshold.
We all did that, right? We all found ourselves on one side of a door, and asked ourselves if we were really going to pass through it. Wondered what was on the other side, and knew that there was really no turning around after that, even if we immediately turned around. The question had been asked, and it had been asked out loud. For G it was a community center, for me it was a phone call to Stasha, for you - whatever it was for you.
G says, "It was a big step." And it was, of course. I picture him, standing there between two friends - for whatever reason, I'm picturing two white guys, but whatever - and weighing, and then somebody decides to step forward, and the others follow. I can see the scene as clear as if I were standing on the other side of the door looking at them. I know just what that felt like.
And so we talk a little more about that, and then other things.dogs and cars and driving through the west. Everything and nothing. And I'm listening, and suddenly it strikes me that when G was standing there, he was a teenage girl.
The picture changes. That's easy. G is now a pretty fifteen year old with processed hair, maybe dyed pink. I don't know why, and the reality is, that's probably totally wrong; G was more likely a butch girl with cropped hair and a canvas army jacket. It's perfectly easy to remake the picture any number of times.
But I suddenly have no idea what it felt like to be standing outside that door.
I can find correlatives in my own life to almost anything; I've been an outsider, lived in strange cities, traveled to places where I didn't know the language. I've been out of work and broke, and so can understand that part of the feeling of being poor; I've been hopeless, if not about money, and so maybe can understand that part of being poor, too. I'm gay, and sometimes can use that to try to understand what it feels like to be a woman, or to be some other kind of minority. Here, I got nothing. i literally can't imagine what it might feel like to think, feel, know your body is the wrong gender - let alone the number of steps along the way to that (metaphorical) door. It's not that I don't believe it, not that I think (I think) there's something wrong with being a trans person. It's just that I have reached the limits of my imagination.
That feels wrong. It feels like a lack of empathy. I hope it's not, and I hope it goes away. For now it's troubling and fascinating.
When I was in school, they would talk about a finite universe. I would try to picture what that meant. What happens when you reach the end of the universe? Do you run into a wall? Isn't that wall something, and isn't that something part of the universe? And what's on the other side of the wall? Or is there just nothing? And isn't that nothing part of the universe? What is not something and not nothing?
This conundrum would keep me up at night. It's keeping me up at night again.
When you don't have answers, one of the things you do is turn to poetry. So, Robert Hass, "Heroic Simile."
That's all I got for now.