So many things have changed over the last two years and a bit. The biggest change, to be honest, has been me, inside and out.
At that time, I was just about to graduate from high school. I did all right, I guess, mostly As and Bs. I got along with others for the most part, but I never really got close to anyone because I had a deep, dark secret I didn't want to tell anyone: I wished that I had been born female.
I was about average height for a male, 5'8", but very slender, wieighing in at a mere 130 pounds. I was never really interested in competing with males, especially when said competition involved some form of physical aggression, but my height and build was perfect for running.
I ended up on the track team after I had my final growth spurt a few months before i turned 16. I was never a star, but I truly loved to run.
To this day, I'm not sure just what clued in my younger brother Jamie, but something did, and we had a long and very emotional talk. The upshot of that talk is that I agreed to meet with a psych starting as soon as possible, and that I would finally show the world my true self.
It wasn't an easy journey, especially with my state of mind at that time, but thanks to Dr. Anne Kelvins, I made some progress that summer.
At the end of the summer, I packed my bags, stuffed them in the back of my hatchback and set out on a new journey: college life.
Dr. Kelvins had given me the name of a doctor she said came highly recommended, I met Dr. Barb Pentall three days after I arrived on campus. We had a good first visit and discussion and I would be seeing her every two weeks whenever I would be on campus.
But that was only the first step in my journey. You see, I had resent my college application, stating that I was transgender and seeing a doctor.
It was what happened next, just a few days later, that would turn my whole life upside down in the absolute best of ways. I was wandering around the campus, learning the layout of the buildings and where various classes would be held within certain buildings, when I met her.
Her name was Mary Jane Walker, she was a stunningly gorgeous girl, slightly taller than myself, with waist length sandy blonde hair. She was also here for her first year of college, taking business administration courses versus my interest in social studies and social work degrees.
As to how I met her, that happened on the first Friday that I was on the campus. I headed in to the student lounge, grabbed something to munch on, what it was I can't remember, then looked around for somewhere to sit. Then this gorgeous girl invited me to sit down next to her.
We got along with each other very well, which seemed odd to me because she is far more social than I have ever been. We were so engrossed in our chatting that we didn't notice that the place was emptying due to it being almost the dinner hour. We walked back to her room.
While going up to her room on the third floor, I informed her that I was in a room on the second floor, at the other end of the building.
We continued to talk right through the evening and well into the night, at one point ordering from a Chinese place and paying Dutch. By the time that I left her that night to go to my own room, I had spilled everything to her, including my intense need to be a girl, and she listened.
Time passed as we both became swallowed by course work, but the bond between us only grew stronger the longer we knew each other.
I started taking her home for major holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, as she was not on good terms with her family. You see, they were a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites as she tells it, telling her she would go to hell for wanting to love other women.
I suppose you can imagine just how much worse it might have been if she ever introduced me to them. She avoids them like the plague.
Well, that brings me up to the here and now, Thanksgiving is approaching again, and we will be heading to my family's home as usual.
There is one significant difference this time, though. Mary Jane doesn't know that I bought a beautiful engagement ring for her. I'm besotted!
So we hopped into my little hatchback, practically causing the car to overflow with suitcases and other packages, and headed home.
The drive home wasn't particularly long, not quite ninety minutes, and we chattered happily with each other.
Mom was quite happy to see us, as was Jamie. I wish dad was still here, but he died a few years ago from lung cancer and emphysema.
Mom welcomed us into the house, Mary Jane and I heading back to my room. We would be staying together due to lack of space. Mom has five brothers and two sisters, plus a total of nine aunts and uncles, plus her parents and assorted children, so the house would be very full.
Mom's parents would stay in the house for the weekend, but the rest had found rooms in a reasonably priced, fairly decent motel nearby.
We retired early as we would be awake around 6:30 AM to start the cooking of the Thanksgiving meal.
So yeah, we were up far too early, just ahead of the house being swarmed by all of the female relatives, and the great cook fest commenced!
We snacked on this and that as the meal slowly came together, then the turkey was placed in the center of the table, smelling amazingly good.
We were lucky enough to have a large room as our dining area. We had to bring out a second eight seat table, and still had several relatives who ended up sitting on the sofa, two love seats, two recliners and the kids were all over the floor from one end of the house to the other.
The meal was great, I don't think there was even the slightest scrap of meat left on a bone on that poor turkey.
After the meal had finished, the next tradition took place. Each of us took a moment to share those things we were thankful for to the others.
I listened, smiling and nodding as other members of the family gave their thanks for the things that had happened in the last year.
Then my turn came. Oh, boy, I never did tell you that I'm just a wee bit shy in crowds, did I? Well, yep, here I was blushing all over.
I stood and faced the majority of the people in the house, then began to speak. As far as I can recall, it went something like this:
"I'm thankful for my family, for the people who, when I was at my lowest, helped me and stood tall beside me as I found myself.
"I'm thankful for the extended family who have offered support and encouragement when I've needed to cry on a shoulder or three.
"I'm thankful for friends, especially those who have been able to look beyond the surface and honour and support the real me.
"I'm very thankful for my little brother Jamie. If he hadn't been paying attention, I would likely still be the morose young man you all knew.
"But most of all, I am thankful for the woman who, since the day we met, has given me her love and support, even when her family interfered."
I was no longer nervous as I walked around to stand beside Mary Jane, then reached into a pocket and pulled out a small, square box as I dropped to my knee on the hardwood floor. I looked up at her, smiled and with all my love, asked, "Will you marry me, Mary Jane Walker?"
Well, I guess it's no surprise that she jumped on me, enveloping me in a very tight hug as she cried on my shoulder, then yelled out, "YES!"
But there was a bigger surprise in store for me, as she returned the gesture just seconds after we were both standing again. She giggled, reached into the purse that was on the table, pulled out her own little box and asked me, "Will you marry me, Rebecca Lynn Thomas?"
I surely will, for I do love that woman so. We want to finish our degrees first, though, so it will be a few years before that happy day arrives. That isn't the only reason to wait, I want to have my SRS done and be fully healed before we both go down that aisle.
To all the Americans here, have a Happy Thanksgiving. The holiday season is upon us.
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