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Are we really happy here
With this lonely game we play
Looking for words to say
Searching but not finding
understanding anywhere
We're lost in a masquerade

“I want…. I need some space, Gar….” Patti sat on the opposite end of the couch, her arms folded in a self-hug. Gary sat still, fearing that any movement toward her would send her running to their bedroom for solitude. She turned and faced him.

“This whole thing…. It seems so….” She struggled to understand him, but it was just too steep a hill to climb. She turned away and sighed.

“I’m sorry.” It was the sixth or seventh time he had said those words in the past two days; he’d lost count and she lost any real sympathy for him in the midst of her own pain. It almost felt as if in trying to downplay what he told her he amplified it to the blare of a klaxon horn. He looked down at himself in survey; hardly any change but for a simple turquoise bracelet on his left wrist and newly polished nails; clear but shiny.

“I know you’re sorry, Gar. That’s the problem. You tell me you’re sorry but you’re not going to do anything but what you want.” She huffed.

“It’s not what I want…”

“I know, Gar…it’s what you need! What about my needs. I don’t like this….” She began to cry softly. He leaned closer for a second but backed off as she pulled her arm away from his touch.

“I… I want to be happy, Gar…. I don’t know if I’ll ever be happy again…” Patti sighed but turned to him and half-frowned

“I love you…. That’s what’s so hard about this. I love you! I don’t know….” She stared at his hands.

“At least they’re clear….” She laughed, but her heart wasn’t in it and she turned her face to the back of the couch and began to weep. Gary put his hand on her shoulder and she went to pull away, but he turned her to him.

“I’ll let it go….” He could no sooner let this part of him go than to stop being brown-eyed or left-handed. But letting go and setting aside can be two very distinct things, as words go, if all the more painful.

“I hate you!” She said it even as she fell into his arms and wept. He sighed and held her tight as she cried. Looking down at his wrist he saw the light dance off the semi-gloss of the turquoise. He held Patti with one arm and shook off the bracelet; dropping it on the floor next to the couch. Nodding his head, he kissed Patti’s hair and began to cry….

Both afraid to say we're just too far away
From being close together from the start
We tried to talk it over but the words got in the way
We're lost inside this lonely game we play

“What’s the worst word in all of this, Patti?” Louise smiled warmly; an invitation that was too hard to ignore since no matter how Patti felt otherwise she needed to talk.

“It’s like we’ve been playing a game all along….” Patti sighed and Louise nodded in encouragement.

“I feel so….useless…” She looked down at her body in almost disdain.

“You don’t feel… needed?” It wasn’t quite what Patti had said, but it was exactly what she would have said if words didn’t get in the way.

“I don’t know… I feel almost abandoned. I mean…where did he go?” She laughed but the frown on her face belied any lightness of the tone in her voice. She raised her hand and held it in front of her face; palm facing her like a mirror.

“You haven’t changed, have you?” Louise smiled once again; that inviting expression that eased the pain out of Patti.

“Yes…I have. Doesn’t everybody? Oh.. dammit….Godfucking dammit….where did he go? Where did my husband go?”

“You miss him? Has he gone anywhere?” Louise prompted.

“Fuck it, Louise, you know what I mean….. Oh shit…I’m sorry.” She went to wipe her face with her sleeve. Louise handed her the box of tissue and nodded.

“Yes, Patti… I know what you mean. Do you?” It wasn’t as provocative as it might have sounded as that warm smile accompanied her words once again.

“I ….I’m a woman…. Why can’t he see …. What the fuck happened?” She looked away.

“What has changed, Patti… what has happened? How do you see it?”

“I…I knew things….I knew he was….oh, fuck…” She paused, reaching inside for words like a child reaching into a bag sight unseen looking for her favorite candy.

“He was different?”

“Yes… I just….”

“You didn’t realize just how different he was?”

“I….I’m a woman…. I…”

“You never imagined just how different he was…. That the man you married….” Louise left it open.

“He’s not a man….I didn’t know… I never realized.” She stammered, searching for the right words until look of quiet realization crossed her face and she began to cry.

“But….” A small, almost insignificant word, but illuminating instead of intrusive.

“I….I still….” She turned away; her head resting on the back of the couch. Louise sighed in relief as the pain seemed to flow out and away from Patti; a cleansing, healing flow.

“I…I still love….” No other words were necessary for the moment and no other moment was necessary in the process for the time being. Love was what brought Patti and Gary together, and it would do whatever was needful for both of them, no matter how things how things might turn out.

“I’m going to head out to Connie’s now, okay?” Patti said as she picked up the keys from the kitchen counter. Gary looked up from the laptop at her and smiled.

“Have a nice time.”

They both spoke; words followed by innocent laughter. Gary stood up and walked over to her. She looked at him with an awkward half-smile. The bracelet had returned and the nails were neat but now longer and a pale pink. Little steps, she thought, as she pulled him into her for a warm hug. He kissed her on the cheek. She shrugged in frustration but kissed him back in the same manner. He wasn’t the same, but maybe…just maybe; had she changed enough?

“I…love you,” he said, the words were tentative and almost ashamed; repetitive and almost with a completely different meaning than ever.

“I… I still love you,” Patti said with a quick squeeze of his shoulders and that continuing, inviting smile as she looked into his eyes; even if her own words were halting and awkward. She sighed in relief.

“I’ll call you.” She wanted to add more, but it wasn’t easy and really too soon to take it all in. Time enough, she thought, to understand…....the words would come....

Thoughts of leaving disappear
Every time I see your eyes
No matter how hard I try
To understand the reasons
Why we carry on this way
We're lost in a masquerade

This Masquerade

words and music by
Leon Russell
as performed by
Jason Gould

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Say The Worst Thing First

Such complex issues distilled into so few words.

Patti's dilemma reminds me of this.


Please listen, if for no other reason than to hear Sarah Blackwood singing in a West Yorkshire accent.

fa 144a.jpg Nicki

“I… I still love you,”

"all you need is love"? But can even love overcome the difficult choices a trans person faces? You hurt yourself, or you hurt the one you love, who can make that choice?


A Train On Twisted Tracks

In situations like this I always try to put myself in the place of the non-trans person.

I'm a straight man. I fall in love with a woman. I'm lucky enough to marry her. Bliss! Then she tells me she wants to become a man.

What am I supposed to do? If I try to stop her she'll hate me. If I do nothing I'll lose her. Even if we stay together she won't be the woman I loved.

How will I feel? Do I blame myself for not being enough of a man to satisfy her? Do I wonder whether I fell in love at all, or might I have been a slave to some evolutionary imperative that couldn't see beyond a beautiful body?

I told you these were complex issues.


fa 144a.jpg Nicki

Maren Sorensen's picture

Perfect, as usual!

You summed up the conflicts, emotions, and angst of both sides of the equation with your usual piercing insight. You always seem to strike to the heart of the matter with laser-like control. I wish I had that ability, but I suspect it's a natural talent and not something learned.

You have a real gift.



It is so terribly difficult to follow one's own need in the midstream of someone else's life. We expect to be accepted unconditionally by those who are the most important to us and yet we place our own conditions upon that acceptance. We are truly blessed, or at least I am, when we are accepted as is. But then again, I never had to tell a mate, or lover, after several years or even decades that there is a truly different person within. What an enormous amount of strength and courage that must take. And what a risk!!! I don't know that I would have that kind of strength. Great little piece...as usual.

Only a Little Irish...



Renee M's picture

I Can't Decide

If the bigger problem is the paternalistic male superiority idea or the victorian excessive rejection of sexuality from everyday thought. Does society fear anything but standard het missionary sexuality so much that differences in kids in anything about sex or gender raise a horror of deviant sex practices? Does a boychild's attraction to fem items and practices seem to threaten sexual deviancy like that in The Scarlet Letter? Which would bring so much public revulsion and hatred?

Or is it the social necessity that men are superior and must be in charge and the corollary that wimyn therefore must be inferior and subservient such that a fem boy is disrupting the social order and that a masculine girl is a revolutionary antisocial concept?

In our lifetimes, sex and nonstandard sex are big in the media, everybody sees it, accepts it or is disgusted, but only a very progressive family would talk about sex organs or mating habits of humyns or our closest ape cousins with small children at a family dinner. The equality of wimyn in all aspects of life is now a well known concept and is considered correct by much of the population. The idea that sex is shameful especially anything deviant about sex or gender is fading, but holds on with some social conservatives in positions of power. The idea that a little girl is as valuable and entitled as a little boy is widely accepted, but that girls and boys can't mix, can't see each other naked and must be differentiated visually and behaviorally still hangs on. Is that about sex being 'nasty' or men being superior and obviously distinct from wimyn?

I could imagine a society much less constricted by these ideas about sex and gender. In such a society Gary and Patty would not be married, because Gary, even if not transitioned probably would display some femininity, would not have to hide it from others and would know to concentrate on a womyn attracted to femness in a life partner. Patti, OTOH would not have been raised with gender separation and homophobia, might have had somewhat fem partners in her early dating and would know if she could stretch herself to truly love a fem life partner or would have steered clear of Gary in the first place.

Hugs and Bright Blessings,

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