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It would be my last real physical activity for a while, and I was determined to make it count. We drove for about 20 minutes before leaving the car to walk a couple hundred feet. After crossing a short bridge, we descended to the red clay path we'd just passed over, and started walking upstream alongside the bed of the disused canal.

"It's frozen," ey observed, as we walked along a section of slackwater that had developed a thin sheet of ice along the banks. We found some rocks and played a bit, skipping them across the ice sometimes, breaking small holes in the sheet at others. After a bit, we continued north.

The trail was not busy, but we were not alone. One person passed with a nod. A jogger, next, intent on the exercise and the music I assumed was in their ears. Next came an older man, and as I passed I softly spoke a greeting.

"Where are you going?", he asked brusquely. Just a walk, we replied in unison. "Why are you dressed like that?" It quickly became clear how it was going to go. "You're not girls!"

The abuse came in streams, and occasionally I bothered to answer. "You must have wealthy parents, that you can afford to be out here doing this." We were walking away, at this point, but I shot over my shoulder, "Poor as dirt." His stream of abuse continued unabated as we slowly moved out of earshot.

Ironically, as we continued walking, I got a call from the hospital about the final timing for my surgery, then barely 16 hours off. I wasn't independently wealthy, nor even dependently so. The funds I fronted were borrowed, and surgery was only in reach because I moved to a place where I knew my non-employer policy would offer coverage by state mandate.

Of course, he knew nothing about what was between my legs. His judgement was made based solely on what I look like, or perhaps what I sound like. To him, I will never be anything but someone I am not, and cannot be. As we walked on, we talked about the vaguely unsettled feeling we both then had, before finally letting the thickly glazed surface of the canal beside us again provide some distraction from a world bent on intolerance, right in the shadow of the haven I'd be spending time recovering in ever so shortly.


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