Can Dreams Come True?...Part 1

Can Dreams Come True?… Part 1

I flick my smoke out the window my first since graduating high school three years ago and I drain what’s left of my Pepsi before getting out of my car.

Yes my car it’s one of the things that I made sure of before coming here and doing this. I got my own car. It’s a piece of crap older Saturn but it’s mine. Mine being the Very key word here. I likely could’ve had dad’s old car but with my folks there were always strings. A prime example is my brother and sister. Jordan my sister got the car and its title and the insurance are still in dad’s name.

My brother Jack, dad’s on with him in almost everything from his bank accounts to his lease.

And that’s why my apartment is mine, everything I have including all my student loan debt it‘s all mine. I knew long before I graduated that this was where I’d be going in life, who I had to be because not being me. It was killing me inside so I knew as soon as I was going to be legal I was going to be Josie.

And knowing my dad at the very least if he had the leverage on me like he’s got on them then he’d be doing his outmost to run my life. Maybe even more than ever if he got wind of what I had been planning sort of since I was sixteen.

I love my folks but dad’s one of those guys that still thinks that we’re still under his “Guidance” even when we all live out from under his roof. Don’t get me wrong he can be a good guy but he’s also. “The dad.” And he’s “In charge of the family.”

So why am I terrified?

Because I’m expecting to be kicked out of the family today.

Why?

Today’s the day I tell them I’m going to transition. I’m going to stop being Joseph and that I’m going to start being Josie. And in a family where you don’t have issues me doing this is…well I don’t know? I don’t even know how my family feels about gay people.

Let alone what I’m going to do… Actually I’m already doing or trying to do, trying to transition but it’s a hard thing to do.

I stare at my house or rather my parent’s house and shiver. It’s cold but that’s not why. I’m expecting…I’m not exactly expecting a warm response when they see my dressed in my actual clothes.

They already have kind of written me off as the problem child of the family and I’ll admit I’ve been a mess. But they have no idea about Josie, They have no idea I flunked out of college two years ago when I just couldn’t do Joe anymore. To them I’m Joey, the family fuck up…even with all they don’t know about me I’m touted still as the family example of what not to do.

No they don’t know that either…they only really talk to me over the phone except for the holidays and I dress as a guy then and stop shaving just to get the look and use my guy voice on the phone or when I see them on holidays.

My family’s one of those suck it up families, we don’t talk about…anything families and we don’t apologize families…we just ignore people or events until enough time goes by and then everything’s okay again. No one’s mentally sick or gay or stuff like that. If you’re sick it better be an actual disease…otherwise shut up and keep it to yourself.

I know that it sounds like they might be people that I’d be better off without but I do for the damndest of logic still love them…and part of me still has a little sliver of hope that they might not loose their shit so I still keep contact with them.

And I have these dreams where they get it… and nightmares when they don’t.

They have no idea how hard it’s been…and honestly I don’t think that they’ll get it…or want to.

Not one bit about this is easy since as early as when I hit puberty and everything just went side ways for me it’s been hell.

I knew I think sort of when I was little maybe but that wasn’t that bad, no I hit puberty and my voice started and everything else and it all looked normal on the outside and the more it happened the more something inside of me screamed silently No!

Which led to depression…and not just feeling like shit but the real deal with hormones that my brain should have never been on driving me inexorably out of my tree and fucking with my brain chemistry until something just snapped or burned out or something.

No proof but that’s my opinion…they say trans people have their brains wired to their real gender…well I think when you are like me and you hit puberty there some of us that literally short out.

So Depression…which I’ve lived with and nearly died with more times than I can count honestly and then there…everything else that goes with it…with being transgendered.

Secrecy it’s not something you can tell your friends or family or anyone easily.

That adds to not only am I living a lie but I’m a liar too.

That adds to the depression’s mountain of bull shit.

Being physically male…I’m not one of those story girls that was a slight and slender guy that becomes a pretty girl. I’m five eight and I’m a size ten to a twelve in women’s clothes, I used to work at UPS when I was still in college in the warehouse and I’m solid…too solid for my liking at all even after the amount of hormones I’ve been on which all leads to looking at myself time after time in the mirror and hating what’s there…loving and need ing the changes but just hating the stuff that’s not changed. My one blessing in a really crappy beard growth that is in patches and peach fuzzy. Being a blonde and all its light but it’s still there and I hate it with a passion.

So while it’s getting better its still been there ever since my brain screamed no and that’s being wrong and looking wrong and having it never go away…it drags on you like a weight.

More for the depression mountain of bullshit.

Which affects grades once you hit that depressive downward spiral.

Fuck you hit that and nothing really matters because there is no light, there’s no end of the tunnel and you can’t you just can’t find strength.

Okay you know how when you’re feeling level and you have to get your butt moving to do something and you need a few minutes and stuff to gather the will power to say get off the couch and take out the trash or something.

Well that ability when you’re in spiral it’s broken…your life car lost a gear. So if you can manage to go forward at all you literally have to find a new way to do that.

And inside your head you know that that’s all fucked up and that adds to the pile of shit in your head.

And try to hold a job like that.

So then you get on meds for depression if you’re lucky and can afford them or your insurance will.

But that still leaves your GID and there’s another punch in the head because to get help you pretty much got to start coming out. Then some insurance companies won’t cover hormones and blockers and if they get a hint of your GID being related to your depression they can cut your coverage.

Some companies do that and some will even contact your employers if the coverage is through them and bang you’re outed and then out of a job.

I had that happen once already.

Gotta love laws that let them fire you for pretty much any reason… “At Will”.

And yeah even if your state laws are good about gay and trans and other issues they usually find a way.

And there is lawyers and the ACLU and stuff but just try dealing with all of that stuff with depression.

So then you’re trying to find a job, and when they start asking questions they…the look they give you when you try to explain things to them.

So you do anything that you can, you find shitty jobs and try to live in stealth mode which just hurts more and more and then you hit where you have to choose.

Rent versus food.

Lights versus phone.

Psyche meds versus transitioning meds.

Gas…lol! If I didn’t live so far from them I’d be tempted to have taken the city bus and walked here.

………………………………..Dammit I light another smoke which I should not be doing since I had quit until this but…but right now this is a bad habit that’s keeping me in check because I chose my transition meds and I’m functioning on half of a Silexa.

And my stomach’s in knots

I get out of the car and pace, and pace…smoke and pace. I’m sure I look like a crazy woman.

Well clinically…

Okay that made me snort.

I don’t really giggle and I am one of those girls that will think something that will make me laugh…for no apparent reason.

After a couple of cars pass I screw up what little courage I’ve got and head down the sidewalk to the house.

Breathe Josie breathe.

Everyone’s home but then again its Sunday dinner. I haven’t been to one in a long time. It wasn’t really an option while I’ve been going through transition. I’m still not but I’m just tired of hiding who I am.

I go up and knock on the door and fidget with my keys and my purse and Mom opens the door. “Yes, can I help you?”

C’mon…c’mon voice work…work right too…

“Hi mom.” I do manage to get it out in my real voice.

She blinks and looks at me a few times. “I’m…I think you have the wrong house miss.”

“No mom I don’t.”

She takes another look and her eyes get wide, huge and she drops her oven mitts. “Joey…?”

“Uhm…Josie actually mom…”

“J..Josie…..”

“Yeah, can…can I come in?”

She blinks like I prodded her and she picks up the over mitt and nods. “I think…I think that’d be best…I…I think I need a cup of coffee…”

I head in shakily and Dad’s in the lazy-boy with a beer while Jack’s sitting on the couch almost crouched like a fighter. He very into the game. Jack played football in school and it was like every time he watched it on TV he was the coach and the benched ace that would’ve won every play.

He stopped a moment to check me out and it really felt odd. And gross…not just the brother and sister thing but he’d be the last…no…not even if he was the last human on earth.

I don’t hate Jack, but if he wasn’t family there’d be no way we’d ever cross paths.

I follow mom into the kitchen and Jordan’s there texting on her phone and Kelly is peeling carrots. Kelly is Jack’s girlfriend for like the last five years. Yep…no ring. Just shacked up. More proof of Jack being Jack.

Mom heads for the teapot and she’s shaking as she’s filling it.

“Mom…?” I ask…sort of really scared now.

Jordan drops her phone. “Holy fuck.”

Mom reacts on autopilot. “Jordan!”

Kelly’s staring at me wide eyed but she gets out. “Joe?” at least.

“Josie now.”

“What!” Jordan screams/shrieks.

“I…My…My name it’s Josie.”

“I heard you the first time, just I mean like what the fucking hell Joey.”

“Josie.”

She looks at me like I’m pulling some stupid joke and stares and glares at me really hard and she’s doing that sort of chewing on her inner cheek thing she does when she’s thinking.

Mom…she still staring at me, then at my chest. “Jesus….what will we tell people?”

“That you have a transgendered daughter?” I offer.

My sister barks out laughing. “Oh yeah that’ll go over well lets tell every one that we have a pervert in the family.”

“I’m not a pervert.”

“You’re dressed in women’s clothes.”

“That’s because I am a woman.”

“Oh no you’re fucking not!” She yelled it at me getting kind of red in the face too.

“What in Sam-Hill’s going on in here you’re yelling over the game.” My dad just walked into the kitchen with his empties looking for some more beer.

Jordan points a finger at me. “Joey’s home only he’s calling himself Josie now.”

Dad looks at me and goes to the fridge and gets himself another couple of beers and looks at me again. “What’s all this about?”

“I’m a girl.”

“Not the last time I heard.”

“Well…I am.”

“You weren’t born one.”

“Well I am whether I was born one or not.”

Jordan huffs. “Pervert.”

Dad looks at me and cracks the top of the first beer can. “I don’t want another daughter.”

………………………..

He just sort of turns off the fact I’m right there and he walks past me back out to the TV room and there’s this whole dull pain lump forming in the center of my chest.

I had no reason to hope but some stupid reason I had.

Jordan slaps me hard across the face and yells at me. “Are you satisfied!? Are you satisfied you…” she just ends it with a scream and heads out to the TV room after Dad yelling. “What do you mean you don’t want another daughter! What’s wrong with the first one!?”

Mom leaves the kitchen after her and I can hear them fighting my brother exclaiming “What? Joey’s a what?”

I’m right in the middle of a nice full flown panic attack when Jack storms in and he looks at me and he starts to laugh…and laugh… “Oh my shit you are a little pansy.”

“Jack…” Fuck…fuck it’s hard to breathe.

“Those titties real?”

“Jack…fuck…”

“Lemme see…”

I try and turn but I feel sick and I feel slow and like I said it’s really hard to breathe. It doesn’t take much for him to rip at my clothes and then he cops a feel.

Hell no he doesn’t cop a feel he grabs a handful of breast and he squeezes. It hurts like hell and that’s enough that it trips me off.

Yeah…like a little bomb.

I’ve been hurting enough and I’m screwed up enough that there’s this really deep, deep well of Josie not being a nice person. And added into my depression…well there’s anger.

See…when you’re like me and you’re messed up and going through depression there’s this thin little barrier between my anger and the rest of well people. It hits the worst off my meds because it’s like I have zero tolerance for anything in the world.

No seriously it’s like nearly everything sets me off when I’m like that and it’s this level of anger that takes you through things like what’s the effing point, nothing I do is ever right, nothing good ever happens and the of course me losing it enough that I have to, and I mean have to prove to myself in this twisted way that all the shit in my life is well deserved.

That’s me off the rails and off my meds.

And Jack…grabbing me bruisingly hard just tripped my super angry bitch switch. And my having to ration my meds to where I’ve been underdosing for likely way too long really isn’t helping.

See the way some people say that meds make them feel numb…well to me that’s this sort of extra layer to my thin little wall that lets me shrug off the little shit that would set me off without them.

Like it adds a little layer of don-giv-a-fuck.

But little things not getting grabbed and bruised or assaulted by my own effing brother so…flip goes the switch and then goes the whole pot of coffee that mom had just made in the perk to his face.

Yeah he screamed and he managed to roll under the table when I threw the empty pot and him and I leave…I leave and I run out the back door from the kitchen stumbling over things that are in the backyard that I’m not familiar with and I’m running and sobbing all the way to my car.

It takes me three times to get the engine to turn over and I’m sobbing and crying at it because after the second turn over my brain was screaming about me flooding the thing and being stuck out here now was like the absolute worst thing that could’ve happened.

Strike that I think everything that just happened was the worst thing that ever happened.

I pull out of there as fast as I dare and my eyes are teary and my visions wet and blurry and once I’m out of my old neighborhood I slow down to an emotional driving crawl.

Effing Jack, Effing Jack, Effing Jack…

Dad…just…just looked at me like I was nothing…nothing…why the hell should I be surprised right I mean he wrote me off as the example of what not to do so much…pissed because I wouldn’t let him dictate how I was going to live…

“My roof, my rules…” I growl out mimicking him and the way he’s been all of my life.

I’m not one of those Daddy’s little girl girls and I don’t want what he’s never given me…I mean it’s not like I’d even know what to do with a functional family. But I do wish that I didn’t have to spend my childhood being made pretty much to feel like I was always not doing things right.

He was that dad…y’know the ones who aren’t abusive…he didn’t hit or scream or call me names but there was just this effing feeling always coming off of him that no one around him could do anything “right enough” to please him.

We never got praised…we were lucky to get a “good” or a sort of “Well you didn’t fuck it up.” look and that was about it. You were far more often asked why you didn’t do something this way or that way and grades…”I suppose the higher grades were taken.”

And mom…mom was his enabler…it never mattered what he said…or how he acted or how hurt we were if it came down to a fight with us or him she always chose him over us.

No wonder we’re all screwed up…

I stop and pull into a gas station and sit and breathe and breathe and shake and shiver as the panic attack sets in all over again as the bruises are hurting now more and more because of Jack sexually assaulting me…I’m already flashing back and that just makes me bawl.

Jack’s an asshole; he’s always been an asshole it’s his way of coping and getting attention but why!? Why in the fuck did he have to do that? Say that? Go that effing far!?

I bawl until it gets to a breaking point and I scream and thrash at my steering wheel until I fall over into the passenger seat crying.

I think someone knocked on my window but I was too out of it really and they might have tried the doors too but even when I’m driving I lock the doors…its Grand Rapids…now Detroit but I know people that’ve been robbed for stopping their car and being female. I’ve no desire to be car jacked or something.

Yes, depressed, transgendered and kind of paranoid.

I’m not sure how long I’m lying there but as soon as my freak out wears off I’ve lit a smoke and I’m still laying there across both seats and staring at the floor of the passenger side of my car thinking I really need to clean this.

Then there’s someone tapping at my window.

I blink and look up and there’s a cop there looking in at me his flashlight shining in. I sit up and I wipe at my eyes. There’s that hard crusty crap there and the goop that is with it and there’s make-up on my fingers now I frown knowing I must look like hell.

Yeah…I don’t normally…I barely wear the stuff anyway and I wore it today to sort of reinforce the fact that I’m Josie and well with the crying and stuff I really look like crap.

I get a tissue and wipe my fingers and then power down my window a little.

“Yes officer?” My throat is scratchy and the smoking likely didn’t help.

“We had a couple of calls about you here in the parking lot ma’am people were worried.”

He’s giving me this look like something is bothering him.

“Can I see your driver’s license and proof of registration and insurance?”

I sigh and look for my purse and then dig everything out between my purse and my glove box and pass them to him. I really want to ask why but really you don’t get to do that with cops. You do and they get pissed off that you’re giving them a…

Oh great his stance just shifted…yeah, oh yeah if you’re like me you can see it sometimes people go from relaxed and their normal way of standing to something completely different when they see my original drivers license and they go all aggressive.

I start to look through my purse and he stops and glares at me. “Slowly buddy…”

I look at him and I could so scream right now but that might get me anything from shot or beat to arrested or I want to cry…and I’m thankfully that tired of the bullshit it comes out as a shaky sigh.

“I’m getting my other papers….sir…”

He is looking at me like I’m…like he stepped in something and asks. “What other papers?”

I pass him my copies…yes just copies of my carry papers and the paperwork for my official name change and stuff for the DMV.

He’s looking at them with all the scrutiny that a bigot usually bothers to muster.

“So why does your ID still say Joseph but your insurance says Josie?”

Sigh…can’t you frigging read? I’m biting my tongue and it’s really hard.

“Because I’m still waiting on my new ID’s to come in the mail, the paperwork is all right there.”

“Yeah…” He’s looking them over again. He’s looking at me again…I can almost smell the dislike he has for me on him. “Listen…Josie…you start your car and get wherever you’re going to.” He shoves all my stuff back in through my window and he’s frowning.

“Yes officer.” I’m biting my tongue again and I just put my stuff on the seat and fasten my seatbelt and try and start the car. I’m really hoping it’ll start since he’s still here and he’s headed to his car but he’s still watching me at the same time and for sure if the car doesn’t start he’ll have me towed or something.

There is no shortage of people just waiting for an excuse to be an asshole to people…and triple that if you’re transgendered like me.

Thankfully it starts but it’s sounding pretty bad. I really need to take it to a garage or something before it dies on me. But that’s another bunch of bills that I can’t afford.

I pull out of the garage parking lot and the cop actually follows me to the next four way of lights. He turns off another direction after that but it’s still…it’s still the last thing I really need after the day that I had.

Fuck…

I hope Kelly’s alright I think that she was still there in the kitchen when things exploded between me and Jack. I really do since she’s right now the only one in the house I think I can stand.

I head home which is both good and bad…I live in Baxter and it’s not the greatest of areas to live in sometimes. Actually it’s kind of a shithole but beggar can’t be choosers right?

It’s not that bad, I have a car so I’m okay that way and I live in a duplex so even the immediate neighborhood isn’t as bad as some of it can get. But it’s an older house built like back in the eighties and it does need a lot of work and my landlord…well I’m just one of a long list of people he don’t care about so it’s just kind of put up and shut up with a lot of the stuff and if something breaks fix it yourself with no getting paid back or wait for his guys to eventually make their way over to fix whatever.

My other half of the house neighbor is okay he’s an older black guy close to his sixties and he just kind of keeps to himself and he’s only known me as Josie though he never calls me that it’s always just “Miss.”

Good neighbors are the ones that don’t get in your business.

And after the day that I’ve had.

I get my papers and put some of them away and lock the car and then lock my doors while inside and I go right upstairs and I’m headed into the bathroom dropping my purse on the floor and everything else and I run myself a bath…while I’m doing that I wash my face clean and get undressed.

I’m working pretty much on autopilot right now and pop another one of my meds and actually chew it….

Just…

When the water’s deep enough in the tub I crawl into it and…and I roll onto my side for awhile and just shake…shake and cry and just.

Yeah well anyone who’s been here, just gets it.

I go from one side to the other then to my back where I can just sink and slide under the water. It’s pretty much gone cold by now but I really don’t care…I’m there past pruning and right up until I start to shiver then I get out and get dressed. Panties then one of my old t-shirts and some sweats and old but comfy wool socks on my feet.

I use the bathroom and I head to bed.

Yes it’s really early and I don’t care, I just set the alarm for work tomorrow and I crawl into bed and I ache inside and out and shake just plain out of tears right now and pull my pillows around me and hang onto to them and go through that hell I have when I try to sleep and nothing shuts off, it just keeps playing and getting caught up on all the shitty parts of the day and my life and being alone and just so effing broken.

Everytime really…the meds help when I’m on full doses and stuff but usually it’s me riding out this hell until I’m literally too exhausted to stay awake and then sleep takes over.

I love sleep.

When I can it just sort of takes things away.

Which is why I never have sleeping pills in my place. It’d be far, far too tempting to abuse them or to just take them and drift away on the really bad days.

And that scared the crap out of me.

Depression sometimes…most of the times comes with two main suicide things one is the want it to stop and drift away…then there’s that anger…like I said there this I’m broken and I hate you, I hate everything feeling there where you’re set off by everything you can’t cope at all with it either it’s just…it’s when you take everything the wrong way and suicide and hurting yourself comes in these urges of I’ll show you…or just this selfly aimed psychotic why not.

I have both.

Yay me at least I’m good at something.

………………………………………… I really hate that damned alarm clock. It’s loud and it’s annoying and worst thing is that it’s that signal that I have to wake up and go out there to the real world.

I drag myself out of bed and the change from the warmth and comfort is actually achy. It’s not cold here yet but yeah I’m enough of a girl I like being warm. I make coffee and I start getting ready for work. Water microwave, instant coffee and there’s messages on my machine…it’s full…screw that I don’t need to listen to them this morning. I need to be functional and I can just imagine what’s on there. I actually force myself not to listen to them…I know that they’ll be…but it’s a fight with my OCD depressive addiction. Oh yeah…we look for things that might set us off sometimes, that can’t leave well enough alone…I look at the machine twice then I’m out the door and headed to work.

No, no breakfast…with everything that happened…I’d still likely puke if I ate. And…honestly I couldn’t be bothered…it just seemed like too much effort.

I get the car started on the first go and I drive to where I work at Fed. Ex. No thankfully I’m not in the call center or driving deliveries but I’m on the line where stuff gets sorted and scanned. Not a glamorous job but I’ve got my own little space on the line wedged between a bunch of machines sort of and people pretty much leave me alone. I was lucky my time with UPS gave me enough experience and a decent reference to actually have a job. And they’ve been pretty good at leaving me be.

Alone can be your friend sometimes.

Usually the case for me because of all the stuff I’ve got going on in my life and in my head I’ve known for awhile that most of the time I’m not fit to be in the company of most human beings.

No, it’s true…I’m not quite right and I know it only I’m also not the kind of person to be able to put up with peoples bullshit. I don’t have a good social set of skills…it’s too tiring so much of the time to be the standard of fake civil most people come to expect these days.

Not a big deal here where I’m working now, most of my co-workers back here on the line are either black or hispanic or some other nationality. I’m like on out of like maybe twelve white people back here between two shifts and that’s not racist it’s just the way it is…well it might be racist by the company but regardless they leave me alone.

It’s boring and mindless scan and sort which sounds bad but it lets me just do what I need to do and the rest of my brain can crawl off to its corner and lick it’s wounds.

First break is coffee and smokes…I know it’s a shitty habit but yeah…Lunch I walk down the street to Elmira’s it’s a bakery and I get a couple of rolls with butter since their hot and some more coffee. I eat as I’m walking back tearing off bits of roll. I saw a travel show on some place in South America and they had this fresh bread with butter and just coffee as like one of the thing to do as a native for breakfast. For some reason it stuck with me and seems kind of my thing…like coffee and a croissant only not as high end.

If I encountered something high end I’d likely fall off and break something. (Attempted joke.)

I finish off my shift and I drive home stopping only to get a whole seven dollars and forty cents worth of gas and the guy that pressed the buttons gave me this look like loser for that and I frown back at him.

So what I’m broke, too bad.

And I mean that literally broke unless I sell something.

Not blood…I’m not good with blood and besides with me as I am they’d likely not take it.

And just…and I swear just because I was thinking of blood…there’s an ambulance in front of my house and they’re carting out my neighbor…with a sheet over him.

I swear if it wasn’t for bad luck.

Yeah….

I head into my place feeling well still life-kicked and my messages are still there on the machine and I sigh and press the button might as well get this over with right? I kick off my boots and sit on the stairs and listen.

“Mr. Masters this is Ronald Murray from 1rst American Savings and loans I would like you to contact us in regards to your student loans. You can contact me at….”

Yay…fuck…

“Joseph it’s your mother we need to talk call me back.”

“Joey its Jordan what the fuck, stop fucking around and get your head out of your ass and act normal for fuck sakes.”

“Joey…answer your phone!” Jordan again.

“Joey…Jack got burned pretty bad from that coffee are you fucking psycho!?”

“Josie…? It’s Kelly, just…you better steer clear for awhile Jack’s really pissed off and everything’s really angry and bad right now.”

That one was quiet like she was talking softly…likely without the others knowing.

“Joey…you little asshole…I was just joking…but no you had to freak out and…just…just stay the fuck gone fag…I see you and the fact the we’re BROTHERS won’t keep me from kicking your pansy faggot ass.”

Yeah that was Jack.

Autodialer…hangs up once it knows it’s a machine.

Phone-spam.

Phone-spam.

The rest is garbage.

Mom called me Joseph.

Dad…no word from him.

Jordan’s pissed off.

Jack want’s to pound me.

And I owe money…like that’s something new.

I don’t get paid, I get funds I work for to pretty much triage my life enough to stay alive.

That being said I erase all the messages and I force myself upstairs through the inside hurt that just makes everything ache right now and I strip out of most of my clothes and let the fall where they may and just crawl into bed again and pull the covers up and shut the world out for a few hours.

Not that my dreams are much better sometimes but occasionally…occasionally I’m not me in them.

I’m Josie, I’m the in my head need to be Josie. The one that’s marginally pretty, not in debt to her eyeballs living in a shitty place and…no I get to be a normal girl living a normal life and just.

Then of course I wake up and the dream falls apart and I’m the actual me and there are times when I’m just too tired from feeling this way that it’s too much work to be heartbroken over being this way.

I get out of bed and I hear people next door and take a peek out of my front window to see the super and his truck there and they’re cleaning out stuff from the neighbors place. He see’s me and knocks on my window. I go and open the door.

“Yes Emil?”

“Jus so y’know there’s family coming in to clean the place out from like someplace in Canada so if ya see the car like don’t freak out ‘kay?”

“Yeah ‘kay.”

I close the door. I hear him calling me stuff in Portuguese. He knows what I am…he say’s tranny in close enough to English to know he’s calling me shit. He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him. He’s…he’s shifty and I don’t trust him. I don’t think he’s violent or anything but you never know but he just comes across as that guy who comes in to fix something and lifts stuff when you’re not looking…or will steal your underwear to jerk off into at home.

Well maybe not mine.

Family huh? I didn’t know he had anyone left and a Canadian?

Actually I’ve never actually met a Canadian before for all that we’re not that far away. Oh I’ve seen like tourists and stuff but I’ve never actually gotten to know one. Oh well as long as he leaves me alone I’ll leave him alone.

Alone is good sometimes.

I head to the kitchen and I make some supper. Canned tomato soup and grilled cheese…with just cheese slices on my George Foreman Grill. It’s actually good this way. I like grilled cheese, it’s easy and one of the few things that I can eat fairly regularly and the whole thing fits my budget and food stamps.

I eat a lot of soup, and I kind of don’t mind that since it’s sort of helping me get to where I want to be weight wise. But I’m also a fussy or rather finicky eater too…it’s more a nerves thing really and my own mental issues. I like food…I do but I if I can prefer good food.

I eat so much soup because I just…I can’t really go the boxed mac and cheese thing often or ramen noodles…I try to get healthy choice soups with less junky stuff in them but I still have to go with what I can afford. I’m a borderline vegetarian too because I can’t afford a whole lot of meat for groceries and I just can’t go with processed stuff all the time so I try for chicken because it’s cheap usually, and ground beef…but lean and even then I’m…yeah eggs though I like eggs, eggs I can afford and stuff so often eggs are my friend.

So it’s grilled cheese and tomato soup and laying on my couch watching my laptop on Hulu or sometimes Netflix because I can afford internet or cable and I really…really hate what passes for television sometimes and at least this way I get to at least pick and choose what I want to watch.

Emil makes noise for another hour and I watch another hour more before going to take another bath and head off to bed. I wonder just how much he ended up stealing?

……………………………… The next three days are pretty much shower rinse and repeat. It’s Friday night and I’m pulling in from work and after getting paid and having paid my student loan payments and the adjoining late payment fee’s and my rent portion and my utilities enough down so they’re not going to turn off my lights or my phone I have just enough to get my meds this time and my hormones and a few things from the grocery store and hope that what’s left will keep me in gas and bus rides the next two weeks.

There’s a Pontiac Parisienne parked in my neighbors side of the parking lot with a u-haul trailer on it’s hitch there and it’s a nicely taken care of car really like from the eighties. It’s not tricked out to be like some street racing car but just rebuilt to look like it came off the line not that long ago.

There are Canadian plates on both the car and the trailer and from Nova Scotia? Apparently it’s Canada’s ocean playground.

I think that’s out there on the east coast.

I can hear music playing from next door and I think it’s that blues singer Nina Simone though it does sound like its being played off of vinyl.

There is this smell coming from the place too and they have the front door left open and propped with a milk crate of old shoes.

I should’ve just minded my own business and went inside my place but I did sort of walk into the doorway…well out on the step of the doorway and looked inside.

There’s a guy there and he’s wearing one of the old guy’s shirts just loosely over a white t-shirt and he’s wearing old faded, like really work faded and not the trendoid version of faded jeans on and he’s barefoot.

Blonde with thick shoulder length hair and glasses about six foot and muscled yet still on the edge of skinny and he’s dancing sort of with the music but all by himself.

And I’m not sure about this since I’m still working on me and my gender but he’s cute?

I’m not sure how to handle that thought.

He looks over and he see’s me and he smiles. “Good afternoon.”

“Uh yeah…good afternoon.”

“I’m Ryan and you are?”

“Josie…..uhm…what are you doing here?”

“Moving in.”

“Huh?”

“This is my Great Uncles place and he passed away a few days ago and he left everything to me.”

“Uhm…” I’m not even sure how to ask this. “You’re white.”

He laughs. “That’s the third time I got that today. Yes I’m white, well mostly white my family is actually a whole bunch of mutts really and his half sister was my maternal grandmother and she was half black.”

“Oh…I mean…I’m sorry it’s just I was kind of expecting.”

He nods. “I know like I said I’ve gotten this three times today.”

“So…moving in?”

“Yeah, I mean it’s pre-furnished and it’s away from home.”

“You have a work Visa already?”

“I don’t need one I’m a dual citizen.”

“Oh…that’s handy.”

“Is right now, my dad’s an American and he left pretty much saying he wasn’t ever coming back.”

“Why?” Dammit, this isn’t any of my business.

He gestures me inside……I bite my lip…alone…alone is good…I don’t need this.

And some how my misgivings in my head are betrayed by my feet and I find myself in the kitchen.

Oh my god it smells really good in here right now. I don’t even know what I’m smelling but I’m almost drooling.

He’s got two mason jars out and he’s pouring what looks like iced tea into them and passes me one. Homemade iced tea strong and black with lots of lemon and just enough sugar to balance it out, decent iced tea and not sweet tea, I’m not a fan of sweet tea but this I can drink.

“Thank you…” My face feels hot. And part of my brain want’s to rabbit out of here and to hide in my side of the place.

He takes a drink and stirs something that might be baked beans in a slow cooker on the counter. “Dad’s from Boston and he really had a hard time after the gulf war and it never really sat well with the family and we have relatives in Halifax so he ended up moving there and stayed.”

“So why the tension between him and his family?” Given my own issues I’m morbidly curious.

“He quit, he came back after his tour was done and he quit. They’re a pretty gung-ho bunch from what I’ve seen at a few reunions I’ve gone to and apparently quitting when there (He air quotes) nothing wrong with you just wasn’t done in his family.”

“Oh…that, that I can get…”

He’s looking at me and while I pass…I also sort of…if you look it wouldn’t take too much to see I’m not standard issue female.

He knows too I can see the realization in his eyes. And there he…he blinks and his expression goes back to what it was…?

He nods. “There are unreasonable people everywhere.”

“Unreasonable?”

“Hey in my opinion if it’s not my life and it’s not in my bed it’s not my place to judge.”

“Oh…”

He nodding and tasting stuff from the slow cooker on a spoon. “People usually judge themselves way too much and too hard anyway. I have no right to really add to the shit that someone’s going through.”

“That’s….”

He grins at me and…there’s just this little warm feeling or something from it. “Yeah…”

Okay…he actually oddly reminds me of one of those hippies or like one of those surfer types.

“Do you surf?” Dammit edit mouth edit.

“Nope, there’s sort of sometimes waves home you could but its way too expensive.”

“Oh…” Hippy then…though like thirty some odd years removed.

“I snowboard though.”

I snerk…that that little laugh snort.

“Isn’t that a different kind of surfer…like dude.” Oh…is my mouth going to get me in trouble.

He smiles and dammit it’s a nice smile. I’m not sure just how nice? It’s been so long that I was in this kind of situation and that was pre-transition and it had been a girl. I’ve really not faced this yet.

Yes I have been avoiding it.

“No, well actually I don’t know I’ve really just snowboarded with friends growing up at home with an old snowmobile to pull us back up the hills. I’ve like only been to the local ski hill about seven or eight times.”

“Oh, well I’ve never even been skiing before.”

“I can’t ski, never really got the knack for it.”

He’s moving to the stove and he’s checking things in a pot and I smell greens. I’m not sure what kind but cooking greens has a particular smell.

“You’re making a lot.”

“Oh Charlie here had a bunch of stuff to use up and I hate throwing stuff out that’s perfectly good.”

“Me too actually.”

“Want to stay for supper?”

“Uhm…”

“You have a date?”

“No!” I blush. “I…I mean I don’t really date.”

He nods and there’s an understanding look in his eyes? “Me either, I’m not exactly most girls idea of a date.”

……?

I look him over again and okay he’s not a big guy by any means but he’s…okay he’s actually sort of a pretty boy like actually pretty and I almost missed it with the way he’s dressed but he’s still good looking enough that he’d appeal to someone…and he just said he likes girls in a round about way? Maybe they are all into the big burly beastmen up there in Canada or something?

“Just…just let me get cleaned up? I’ve been handling packages all day.”

He looks at me and my brain catches up with my mouth. “Deliveries dammit!” I blush hard enough he could use my face as another cooking surface. I leave and he’s laughing a bit at the whole thing.

“Josie!?” He shouts as I’m on the porch.

“Yes!?” I call back.

“Do you drink?”

“Not usually!”

“Is Iced tea or lemonade okay?”

“Either’s fine!”

I head inside and actually ran up the stairs and then back down and lock my door then run back upstairs and get undressed and into the shower. I’m shaking by the time I’m soaping up my puff and almost panicking.

I’ve been pretty much alone ever since I started transitioning and dealing with depression hasn’t exactly put me in the mental state to deal with dating either. But, he seems actually nice…like kind of normally nice and he knows…I know he knows just from his expression and I don’t think it’s a big deal to him…and that’s so really rare y’know.

I scrub a bit harder and now suddenly I’m shaving my legs. I’m…I trying to. I really, really suck at this and since I’m broke I don’t have any of the evil burny stuff that’s way easier. I’m biting my lip as I nick myself twice.

Who the hell invented these flat handled razors?

I even wash my hair and then I get out and get dried and use some Chapstick on my nicks it works and I try for some lotion I’m getting down on that too and get into some underwear and blow drying my hair while agonizing over what to wear.

It’s not a date but I’m not showing up in sweats, but I’m scared a dress would be too much? It’s also taking too long with the though of Ryan cooking and things being close to being done and me holding things up adds to my frazzle.

Tights…black tights are good, a skirt one of my comfy denim ones and a halter top and a loose blouse over that.

Look in the mirror and bite my lip, make up…no make up…I do a little modest brush of mascara and a really light blending brush over of some foundation. I’m eating so I’m not doing lipstick.

One more check… okay…I don’t look like a complete mess.

Oh crap am I really doing this?

I slip on my ballet flats and go back downstairs and get my purse and my keys and slip out and lock my place back up. Yes I’m paranoid but I’m also in a bad area of town.

I stare at the fact that Ryan still has his door completely propped open still and the smells are drifting out along with the music and I see a few of the neighbors out on their porches being nosey.

I hate that and I knock on his door.

“C’mon in!” He calls out, doesn’t even ask who it is.

I’m frowning and I call out. “It’s Josie!”

“Okay, good foods just getting ready.”

I step inside and it’s…it’s bugging me that much I move the milk crate of shoes and close he front door and lock it.

Yeah it occurs to me I locked myself in but I feel safer with Ryan already than some of the people that might have a problem with me. I’m not exactly sure how stealth I’ve ended up being really.

And I’m sure Emil has outed me for sure.

I walk into the kitchen and I’m hit by the smells as he’s set the table, old dishes the old guys stuff? Nice old school china and Corningware. There’s baked beans with crumbled chunks of crispy bacon on the top and greens that are juicy looking and at the same time not soggy looking either and they smell like collards and turnip? And he’s setting down a cast iron frying pan down on a wicker placemat with cornbread in it. And there’s a casserole dish with pork chops in them just a couple of them but those kind of thick cut ones.

Wow…

“Wow you can really cook.”

He smiles. “We all can in my family, my folks worked and my grandmother watched us when we were little and showed us all how to make some stuff rather than feed us too much store bought stuff and having us all doing stuff kept us from being underfoot.”

“Sounds really old fashioned to me.”

“Kind of actually pretty rural so about the same thing, everyone have wood heat and farmed a little bit where I grew up it was half the jobs when you were a kid.”

“Well if this is how you turned out then great.”

“Oh no, I went to a couple of bigger cities and fell in love with fast food and all the stuff we never had growing up until I go older and realized that it really was garbage.”

“I’ve kind of always been a town kid, first Ann Arbor, then here.”

He nods and pours some lemonade from this old glass decanter like pitcher you know the one with the little yellow plastic top and the lemons as decorations on the side of it.

“This was all his?”

“Nope, mine I score some really nice stuff my grandmother used to have at a few yard sales.”

“This stuff’s pretty collectable down here I think.”

“It is home too in some places but where I grew up all the little old ladies are dying off and a lot of their kids and grand kids don’t really care about this kind of thing.”

“You do? Why?”

He smiled and shrugged. “I like nice things.”

“You don’t get crap from your family about it being girly?......sorry I didn’t mean that it’s…it’s just around here a guy that’s into that is seen as…”

“Gay? Camp?”

“I..uhm…yeah…” Dammit, dammit this, this is why I shouldn’t be let out around people.

“Those are just labels and I’m not much into those my family has figured out if they don’t respect me for being me then I don’t really have a use for them.”

“So that’s why you’re here?”

“No, like I said before. He named me as his next of kin with dad being persona non grata. I’m moving here because I need a change. This (He gestures around.) is a change.”

“Ryan this is a shitty place to live, it’s a bad neighborhood not a change.” I smile and he starts to pass things I go for the corn bread first and it’s still hot and it’s thick and there’s that warm almost corn-meets-cake-meets-sunshine kind of smell coming off of it once it’s cut and out of the pan.

“No worse than Uniacke Park or Cole Harbor back home just bigger, actually size aside it reminds me of Springhill.”

“Sorry I’ve never heard of those places.”

“The first two are neighborhoods like this in the Halifax-Dartmouth area down home.”

“Sorry still a blank. I don’t know that much aboot Canada.”

He snerks which is cute actually. “You ever seen the Trailer Park Boys?”

“Unfortunately.”

“That’s filmed in Halifax it’s the capitol of Nova Scotia.”

“Oh…so is that accurate?”

“In some of those areas…yeah about eighty percent yeah but that’s just one crowd in those places but yeah I went to school with guys just like them.”

“Really?”

“Really it’s one of the reasons I left home right out of high school.”

“No college?”

“Not until a couple of years later when I found out that I was getting really sick of one shitty job after another. Then I went to community college in Halifax and then again about five years after that when I moved closer to home.”

“Oh what did you take?”

“Culinary the first time.” He’s smiling.

“I knew you were a cook.”

“Yes and just a cook chef’s school’s something else entirely. I just wanted better jobs that unloading delivery trucks. Not that what you do is bad Josie but I’ve been there.”

I nod. “I’m at a scanning and sorting station not on the docks and that’s a hellishly hard job especially loading since you’re on the clock.”

He nods. “I did mostly grocery deliveries but it’s still not fun spending eight hours lugging potatoes and onions and things over and over and over.”

“So then what was your second thing you studied for?” I’m interested because its job courses but he’s still kind of educated y’know.

“Cosmetology.” He says getting himself some greens.

“That’s…”

“I like girls just fine but it’s also a decent job too if you’re smart about it. Guys need cuts and there’s a whole lot of guys that pay really well for the services and there’s no barbering courses home.”

Actually as far as I know there’s really none here like outside of the military it’s not really a thing that’s that common.

“Okay, a lot of money in it?”

“I lived in Fredericton for awhile and worked in a place downtown that was old school enough that you could read the paper and get a pint poured while you wait and I was charging thirty five dollars then for a hot shave and fifteen for a cut, twenty five for a shampoo and a style.”

I goggle at that. “Holy crap!...oh…sorry, were you busy?”

“Right downtown with all the lawyers and the banks and the provincial legislature it was really popular and very often put on expense cards there was really good tips too.”

“That’s…that could work around here.”

“It’s my back up plan, I’ve already got some job interviews lined up, well auditions.”

“Auditions?”

“I’m a club singer right now.”

“Okay…” I honestly don’t mean anything by that it just seems so…flaky…oh crap, crap, crap…that just sounded like some comment that my dad would say. “Sorry…there’s my dad slipping out.”

“Hey that’s okay that was my family’s reaction too the first time I was doing it.”

“The first time?”

“Yeah, remember me saying that if they wouldn’t respect me then I wasn’t going to have anything to do with them?”

I nod having taken a mouthful of the best baked beans I’ve ever had and I’m stuck rolling my eyes in my first foodgasm in a long time.

“Well I moved to Halifax and became a singer and it didn’t go over so well.”

“I know that feeling; my family is just so thrilled with my transition.”

“Sorry, they should be happy that you’re brave enough to be yourself.”

That’s really nice to say and I’m glad he doesn’t have a problem with it but it also says that yes he knew. I find myself letting out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding.

I smile a little just because of the food and the kindness. “Thanks Ryan it means a lot just knowing that someone doesn’t have a problem with me trying to be who I am.”

He nods and unlike me he stops eating to talk. Another blush for me, he even uses the napkin. “I learned a long time ago not to judge someone else, it took me awhile but I did.”

“Oh?” Okay that sounds interesting?

“I went to school with a few people that were gay and lesbian and even a transgendered girl and I was the typical little insecure teenaged prick and I met some of them years later and after a lot of life teaching me how to bake my own humble pie over and over I found they were some of the nicest people I had ever treated like shit. Except for the trans-girl.”

“Why what did she end up like?”

“She didn’t. She never made it past seventeen. She had been harassed that bad that she ran away from town to go out west and transition and she got into the wrong crowd and stuff. She tried to come home after that and she had changed a lot to being herself but the bullying didn’t stop. She ended up taking and overdose.”

“Oh…oh shit Ryan…uhm…were you one of the bullies…?” I’m asking too deep of stuff, I just wish my mouth would actually come with a working brain-mouth filter.

“No not the second time when she came home but I didn’t do anything to help her or to stop them.”

“Peer pressure is scary Ryan; it’s entirely why I never had the guts to transition before I got out of the house and away from my high school.”

“It’s still not an excuse, not really. It was a lesson I learned but it cost way too much Josie.”

I nod. “Ryan some people never even bother to try and learn the lessons in life. Trust me it sucks but it’s not a total waste if you turned out like this.”

He actually blushes…oh my god…I’ve never made anyone blush before.

“Thanks Josie.”

Y’know it feels really good to have someone call me by my real name. I smile a little again.

I try and shift the subject a bit to something less heavy for two people really just meeting even though the level of un-bullshit is refreshing.

“Okay, so what did you do to these beans I’ve never hand then like this before?”

He smiles that nice smile of his again which I’m kind of getting used to and maybe…liking a bit more that I’m getting to see it so much. Even having someone smile around me and me being included in what’s going on is really nice.

“It’s a pretty basic recipe really soak the beans and everything and slow cook them. I do fry the bacon and use the bacon fat to brown off the onions I put into them first instead of just tossing in the onion raw. Some brown sugar and some molasses a little bit of mustard my grandmother used the dry stuff but I like just the whole grain stuff from the store.”

He takes a drink of lemonade. “The other thing that I do is I add a pound of pitted dates to it.”

“Dates? I never heard of that.”

“I got that off of this old fellow at the barber shop apparently it’s an old Acadian trick. You can cut some of the sugar in the recipe and there is just this texture that melds with the beans and that flavor too.”

I’m eating more and you can sort of taste them there once you know they are there but it’s so good and there’s this caramel sort of buttery note that you get in there somewhere add the crispy bacon on the top and it’s got all the fat and salt that they need.

“Okay that really neat and I have to say it’s really nice to eat a home cooked meal for a change.”

“Tired of your own cooking?”

“Sort of…yeah.” Not that I usually have a whole lot to cook or that the fact I’m usually depressed enough that it’s semi-nausea from just feeling bad to not having enough meds or hormones or just barely feeling like eating…sometimes just getting motivated enough to eat on bad days is draining.

“I get that way unless I have someone to cook for, or eat with. If it’s just me it’s almost what’s the point sometimes.”

I nod and have another forkful of the greens. “These are good too; you cook like you’ve been into the south.”

“I watch cooking shows but also like where my Great Uncles side of the family and stuff comes from is the south and they lived part time up home way back when.”

“Really?”

“Yeah the coal mines back home way back used to be owned by a lot of companies from down south like when segregation was going on and they used to send them up on the train to places like Springhill and Minto and Cape Breton to work the mines since it was dangerous and they hadn’t had all the machines and stuff they have now. A lot of the black families in those places are from those guys settling down.”

“Okay…cool you know a lot of history about back home.”

“My family it’s actually a pretty big thing, my grandmother had pictures on her walls from back then and she remembered all of that and of course when all the relatives used to come and visit they’d tell stories. It all kind of stuck.”

“Well take it from me that fact that you still know all of that stuff’s kind of nice and the fact that you cook like this is agreeing with me for sure.”

“I can’t take all the credit especially for the greens I couldn’t have cooked them if he didn’t have them in his deep freezer.”

“Still very good.”

“I grew up eating them and hating them and now they’re something I love.”

I eat some cornbread which is again really good and while I’m nowhere near the cook that Ryan is I can tell that this is made right. To me made right is cornbread without sugar added to the recipe. Like everything else though he’s got his own twist on it.

“I’d have no idea really how to cook like this.”

“I could teach you.”

“No…that’s just…” I’m blushing a bit. “We just met…okay it’s just hard sometimes…”

Dammit my mouth I mean really….my blushing cranks up again and Ryan just nods and gives me this kind and gentle look.

“Hey Josie…its okay I was just kind of being selfish anyways.”

“Being selfish?”

“Yeah, I’m new here and I don’t really know that many people yet and I hate eating alone and stuff so I figured we could maybe cook…eat together and stuff.”

Okay he might be sort of bullshitting with this to spare me my feelings and make me feel better but it’s someone actually giving a shit about my feelings and trying to make me feel better.

I didn’t know how good something like that felt before.

And I think that there’s some truth to it also, I mean there’s just something in his eyes that I’m not used to seeing and I can’t even really tell you what it is besides nice…? I mean I know that there’s more to it than that, and I know there’s more to him moving here than just that but even with all of those things he’s still.

Ryan’s just nice.

And dammit this is likely the very best date, not a date talk with someone as the real me that I have ever had and I don’t want to wreck it.

“Can I think about it?” Wow my voice suddenly sounds kind of small.

“Sure…” His voice is soft and gentle and soothing…he’s really different than a lot of other people.

Okay to be fair I’m a frigging hermit-girl but still.

He gets up and head to the stove. “Coffee?”

“Yes please.” I get up and I’m getting the dishes as a girl and like a girl with a guy just…that whole stereotype but not stereotype…that very girl scene is actually playing out and it’s actually kind of nice in this oh-whoa way as I realize it.

He makes coffee in this old screw together stove top perk pot and he goes to the hall and he changes the record to another one and this music starts to play and I’m now expert on the blues but it’s Billie Holiday.

And we’re there doing the dishes together as the coffee perks and the smell starts to fill the plans and I’m in this pretty old school kitchen with a guy and it’s all so kind of like some crazy dream.

*End of part 1 and fade out to… “One for my baby…and one for the road.”



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