dariaphoebe: (Default)
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.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
As we stood at the curb, we talked about the city, the place I now called home. Until moments before, it had been business as we walked around an apartment. I carried my phone about while on a video call to be eyes and ears for my sweetie, 2000 miles away. Now, though, ey had hung up, and it was just the two of us.

As he looked up the hill, his eyes settled on my bike. "How do you like riding that?", he asked, his eyes shifting to me. "Funny story," I replied.

I knew exactly what he was asking. My bike wasn't the sort most people were used it. A few months ago, I picked up a recumbent bike. To the uninitiated, a recumbent bike looks like a chair on a long wheeled frame, and so people assume it will be ungainly to operate. Indeed, it definitely requires adapting if you're only used to riding an upright bike, but I've taken to it rather well. The only issue I have is my need to build a new set of muscles to climb hills.

I laughed lightly before continuing to reply, "It was actually Savanni who convinced me to get it. I'm having surgery in 5 weeks, and ...". And then I stopped. I'd just met this person. Quickly, though, I finished the sentence. "I'm having a vagina installed. Needless to say, it'll be far easier to sit on a seat like this than on a normal bike. And that's what ey pointed out, so I got this one a few months ago."

For just a moment, I worried whether explaining this to someone who was a stranger but a few minutes ago was proper. His words and his expression indicated he understood, and I quickly relaxed as we finished our discussion.

While it's not reasonable to ask someone about their body, this felt different. I have no qualms explaining my impending surgery. I've been forthright even when the questioner had unreasonable expectations of my obligation to answer. It's important that people understand this is a normal, usual thing that folks may need to do to fully be themselves, to be able to own their own bodies. Talking about the path that led me here and what I expect ahead causes me no burden, and hopefully relieves that weight on others. And so, I will keep sharing.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I pushed myself along the canal towpath, working against the waterlogged clay surface, into the gorgeous morning. On one side of me was the early 1800s canal; On the other, a broad, placid river. I'd failed at self-care for a few days, and it was time to apply some.

The previous night, after foolishly moving my car, I hoofed it a few blocks to find a late dinner. As I looked north after walking over the canal, a bright light caught my eye. I stepped away from the road, and walked toward the railroad station. I kept moving toward the building so the station sign would come into the view.

We were coming up on a year since I'd first found myself alone aside the river, just as I had the after last night's dinner. On that first occasion, I wept. I realized a month or so prior what I needed to do, but I felt the means to do it would be out of reach, and I feared the consequences of pushing on.

The previous August had brought the realization that the surgery I thought I could do without wasn't optional. By September, I had a plan to pay. In October, I finally told my spouse. By the end of November, I lost that way to pay, and as December ended, so did my marriage. The consequences had all been realized and my fears had come home to roost.

As I came to the next town, I turned the bike off the towpath. Shortly I found myself riding over the river, and shortly turned north. The towpath for the canal along the other side of the river featured a powdered limestone surface, where the railroad that replaced it had previously been. The ride got easier.

With this year, there were changes. Friends took me in as my life fell apart. Throughout the moments where I found myself struggling to keep moving ahead, folks held me up when I foundered. I worked out a plan, arranged to move, and got myself scheduled for surgery.

I turned back across the river, pointed at the spot I'd walked past the night before. As I reached the shore on the Pennsylvania side, the sign naming the municipality echoed the one I'd finally seen when I got close enough to the train station to take a photo.


dariaphoebe: (Default)

May 2017

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