Falling Apart or Together
Dr. Kristine Arnold continued to meet with me as the girls’ team was now down to their last regular game. Dr. Kristine asked, “How do you feel about the girls’ regular season-ending?”
I said, “I’m a little afraid, as I don’t want to stop being Rose or Dort. Right now I’m dressing as Rose most every day except weekends. I even try to find a reason good enough for my father to allow me to be Rose or Dort.”
Kristine said, “But you are Robert, isn’t it right that you should spend more time as Robert?”
“I find being Rose is helping me to be a better whole person. I find it funny I sometimes talk to myself as Robert. Often about how some of the things I’m learning speak to me as Robert.” I think Kristine was impressed by how I was able to explain myself.
It was usual for the boys’ games that our fans came up with something unusually cute to get the team and fans of both sides to take notice. One of their favorites was to lift up newspapers like they were bored and reading the paper when the other team was being introduced. We the Cheer Team had prepared something we thought was creative. We had worked with the Pep Band and they perfected their part.
It took place just when the teams went back to their benches for the introductions. The Destroyers’ Pep Band kicked in playing an old song, Sixteen Tons. There’s a line ‘St. Peter don’t call me I cannot go’. We played the song the last two weeks of the season in preparation for this game and to accomplish our perfect season. The second time we sang ‘St. Peter don’t call me I cannot go’. There was an abrupt change to Anchors Aweigh, at which time I unfurled our Destroyers’ flag as I waved it and stepped out to the middle of the court. Fans came to their feet and began to sing the song. And we anticipated correctly; many of the St. Peter’s fans found themselves standing and singing along to the Navy’s Anthem.
Our girls’ team walked to the half court line and the St. Peter’s team was soon there. They greeted one another, Kaylea was the first to say it, “Let’s have a good game and leave it on the floor.”
This was a very unusual game at the end of a very unusual season. We were on their court and Coach Daley was becoming known for her team’s attitude of good sportsmanship. I personally knew how different it was from all the men coaches at our school.
I was back to my traditional spot next to the team. I would be seated during the game and standing only during timeouts. There were only a few cheers where I was to be participating in the cheer.
With the first tip-off St. Peter’s made in known they came to win, doing what they thought was needed. Our Kristin Hadley was a tall and good jumper. Anticipating she would win the tip, the other St. Peter’s players went to Kaylea and Thyme to get the ball before they did. It not only leads to their getting the ball but should have led to a quick score. Thyme, Kaylea, and Kristin did well in their three to the five against them.
Kaylea not only stopped their player going to the basket but stole her pass knocking it to Kristin. Kristin threw it to Jenn who made a quick basket at the other end.
Jenn and Trish seeing that they only brought one player to throw the ball in and one person to take it, they both covered the girl who was to receive the ball. Soon five seconds was up and the ball out of bounds became ours.
It was the third basket for a 7-0 lead when I first jumped off the bench seat. I saw Coach Daley as she ca e down to me, “At ease sailor; young lady, I want you to stay glued to that seat. Do we have an understanding?” When I said, ‘Yes’, and was seated she smiled and said, “Good. Now the rest of you be good.” She was talking to her players.
The players on the bench were talking and encouraging the players on the court as well as one another. Coach Daley changed players to rest them as the game went on. Once, I didn’t understand it when Kaylea was fouled as she made a basket. Right after Kaylea made her foul shot she took Kaylea out for another player. Their coach had not taken out their player who fouled. I muttered, “That’s unfair.”
Madi sitting next to me said, “You must not have kept track, Kaylea would often make one or two fouls in the next few minutes. Coach doesn’t like K going into the last period with more than three fouls on her.” I looked down the bench and saw that Kaylea was in fact content with the move.
With five minutes to go in the first half, I rose from the bench during a time out and circled the court waving our flag and the SS Cook’s colors. I handed the flags to Anne and started to take turns doing stunts with Sharon and Sandra. One of their players came out and stood in my path as I was about to make my last jump. I was either going to chance to crash into her or kicking her if I couldn’t jump properly. Instead of planting two hands for my backward flip; I use just the one to send me sprawling to the floor in another direction. It hurt awful and would have me limping if I was able to get up at all.
The officials indicated to Coach House that I needed to get off the court or it could go against our team as its last time out of the half. Anne was furious which was no help, Mary Errands gave me a hand up and wrapped her arm around me. So as I stepped with my left leg she was in step with me with her right leg. It took most of my wait when we were in sync. I sat back down, with severe pain. Tears came any time the pain spiked, but I didn’t cry out loud. The five playing minutes lasted close to fifteen minutes. The only saving grace was our physician’s assistant sprayed it to be very cold and not puff up.
Come half time, Sierra came down holding out my phone. Deb Trien from the SS Cook was calling. “We’re proud of all of you, and the team looks great. Our medic wants you up and walking around. You need to do no less than two cheers in the second half. He says, ‘If you go out now with an injury now. You will be sidelined for all your playoff games.’” Jenn said, “Go hug Heather that will help bring a smile back to your face. We’re with you, and will soon set sail to come home. Please tell Jaylene.”
She was right, my hugging Heather gave me my smile back and Jaylene happiness also helped to lift my spirits. I walked Heather until Therese told me Anne and the Cheer Team were looking for me. Therese said, “They were afraid you went to the hospital without telling them.”
Jaylene thanked me for holding Heather and the news I shared. Right then I had feelings for Kent and others aboard the ship. Jaylene said, “You are like a pregnant woman.”
I giggled as we walked toward the team. I said, “There’s no way I understand that one?”
She said, “You look determined to do what you need to do. It is not a matter of life and death, but of wellbeing. Your friends say you have come a long way. I do not understand your journey, but you now have the spirit of a determined young woman. I am proud to stand with you and call you my friend.”
We had to part company, so she hugged me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, “Bless you.” I stepped to be with the team and there was no pain.
Coach House asked me, “How are you? I am sure you are hurting. It will be okay if you need to sit out the game or go to the hospital now.”
I said, “The pain has lifted and even the swelling is minimal. I feel a need to do what I can. I hope you will allow me to do that. You’ve helped me to become a real cheerleader, please don’t stop me now.”
I apologized to the Cheer Team for not staying with them. I did tell them the news from the crew of the Cook. I went to the end of the bench for the basketball team. Coach Daley came to me, “I’m impressed that you’re still with us. The team cares a lot about you. It will help them to see that you are doing as well as you are. …Grab your happy feet, we are ready to put some good distance between us and the Saints.”
It took some time off the play clock as the Destroyers scored fourteen points to their three, plus they had three more fouls. One could tell the St. Peters team was putting all their energy trying to get back in the game. Our fans were no better than a third of their crowd, but we were the ones making more noise like it was our gym.
During the third period, I already took part in two cheers. Our team had over a twenty point lead that they would keep the remainder of the game. Coach House called us together. “Keep cheering, but let’s not do anything personal in being derogatory toward our opponent.” There were at least two voices that wondered out loud, “Why not?”
Alexis House asked me, “Dort, can our mascot give a good reason. I was surprised that I had a quick answer. “We’re a reflection of the basketball team and they’ve chosen the high road. If the basketball team can do it. …Let’s do Sandra, Sharon and Jessica proud. They have seven more games leading our Cheer Team.”
I felt our team’s joy and considered how intense their emotions must be in going 20-0. Somehow it moved me to compassion as several of their senior and varsity players were taken out the closing minutes of the game. This was likely the end of their season and high school career. I clapped softly as they came out and bowed in respect to them. Soon it was the whole cheer team and many of our fans stood up and joined.
Ten minutes later, the game was over and we were officially undefeated for the season. I couldn’t believe it I was crying out of sheer joy, just like I was one of the girls.
My two sisters were soon there congratulating and asking if I was hurt. I looked toward Sierra and saw my father and mother coming. I braced myself for a derogatory remark from my father. Instead, he complimented me and asked how I was from my fall.
“Daddy, don’t tease me. If you have something to say, say it. I know you’re not happy with me.”
My father looked at me and his facial expression changed. “Hurry and sit down Rose. You don’t look well,” he said.
I could hear voices and there was either a bright light or nothing…
I woke up and from the smell of things I knew I was in a hospital. But I didn’t recognize where or know any of the names from the few name badges that I saw. One nurse stopped and talked to. “You’re going to be alright honey, but you let yourself get rundown. We’re putting in a pint of O+ and will keep you the night just in case. I do have one question for you while you’re alert. Do you want to be Rose or Robert?”
I said, “What difference does it make?”
“I’m nurse Sommers, and when you came in someone called you Robert and you got agitated and you said you’re Rose. So I’m asking before anyone else comes in here, who are we treating Rose or Robert? There is a room on the OB floor if we’re treating Rose.”
“I want to be Rose, but I don’t understand why I’m here.”
“Let me get the doctor and she’ll do the explaining,” Sommers said. Dr. Caruthers was soon there.
Dr. Caruthers said, “We’ll have your family in a moment, but I want to explain what I understand happened. Then I’ll try to explain what I think may have triggered this episode.” She drew up a stool and took my hand. “Being in a university town neither anxieties nor a person being transgender are new to us. I think both acted to bring around the events of tonight and you finally pass out.”
“We know of you being Dort the Destroyer, a mascot for your girls’ teams. I gather Rose has grown as part of being her and having to dress up so often. A cheerleader not eating right on a big night is nothing new, but as it did tonight it catches up to a person.”
“You had just won a big game that made for an undefeated season for your team. The celebration had already begun, so what was the stress that pushed you over the edge. Your outburst here, “I’m still Rose, I’m Rose, I’m Rose! Do you think that was to us, or to your sister who was with you?”
Without hesitation, I spoke up not wanting Sierra seen as the one who exasperated me. “No, it wasn’t my sister, I saw my father coming.”
She said, “But your father said he came to congratulate you and to make sure you weren’t hurt from something that happened during the game. Did you hear him congratulating you as well as the team’s victory?”
“I guess I heard him but wasn’t actually sure. He’s been extra hard on my sisters and me. He thought I should be punished but became upset when I grew to like being Rose, Dort. It’s like I’m new and have friends. I’ve changed and I’m not so shy.” I continued after catching my breath and thoughts. “He’s going to count the playoff games like a countdown! It ends with me going back to being Robert. No more Dort or Rose.”
Okay, what you said is between us. I’m going to allow your family in to see you before you go up to your room 0534. Since it’s the OB floor and you need some rest. They will say goodbye here and you’ll go to your room to sleep.”
I saw it was 11:45 when they came in to see me. First, it was only Mom, Dad, and Sonja; Sierra and Anne soon followed in. Dad was enthusiastic for him, “I so glad you’re alright. We wanted to tell you how proud we are not only for the team and school but especially about you.”
“I sorry Rose that it took something like your fall for me to appreciate your changed. Robert, I forgot you could do all that.”
“We’re you proud of Rose doing it?”
There was a silence, “Of course you’re Dort the Destroyer. You’ve gone the extra distance in fulfilling your discipline.”
“Daddy, I’ve gone the extra distance as Rose. I like it.” I turned to Sierra, Sonja, and Anne.
“I hope what happened to me didn’t take away from the win.” Anne came to the bed I was lying on and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
She said, “You did super, the team is proud of you and sent their good wishes. But no, they were quite happy to get to town and celebrate. I told you before you need to eat better. Jaylene Fox said she was sorry. She blamed herself for you not getting things at halftime.”
“I hope you told her that’s silly. That I’m a big girl and can take care of myself.
Anne said, “But you didn’t and you scared all of us.”
Saturday morning, I woke up and used the toilet off of my room. I walked out into the hall and down toward the nursery window. I was looking in their nursery window. I’d never seen newborn this soon after their birth. I thought of little Marie. Two mothers had walked down. One even walked into the nursery so she could nurse her very small baby. It looked like her nipple was too big for the very small baby. The woman next to me said, “Look she actually latched on, I bet Carrie’s happy.”
I said, “You and she are friends?”
“We were in Lamaze, but she wasn’t due yet. That’s my little boy over there? Which one is yours?”
I giggle, “I didn’t have a baby. I came in last night having fainted.”
Jade said, “Do you want to have a baby when the time comes?” I didn’t know how to answer, ‘Of course I would, but I’m not a real girl.’
Tiffany the other Mom, said, “If I am correct, she can’t. You are Rose Anderson named in this morning’s newspaper? Just to let you know, you’re as good of a woman as most and better than some that I know.”
Tiffany asked, “How would you feel about coming down to my room when I nurse little Megan there?” I looked up to see if it was a serious question. I was surprised by the invite as I felt my yearning to be as much a girl as possible.
I replied, “If you really wouldn’t mind and think badly of me.”
Tiff said, “It’s natural for you as a girl. I live at least five miles closer to you than the hospital. Maybe you’d even be open to being her babysitter in a few months.”
Tiffany wasn’t back to her room more than five minutes, when Megan’s bassinet was wheeled down to her room for the morning. Tiffany looked to me to be the most beautiful woman, but then again, I had never seen a woman like this. She hadn’t covered herself and the baby as she would do if she were out in public.
She asked, “Is this why you accepted your punishment without much fuss? Was it afterward, that you then liked being Rose?”
I couldn’t believe she asked such questions, it was like she saw through me. “I guess I might as well trust you. You seemingly know that I see myself really being Rose. I never thought I’d be invited into this part of a woman’s world. I do have a coach who is pregnant and I kind of hope she’d or another woman would be comfortable in inviting me. …Would you mind, if I confessed I never saw a woman as beautiful? You look like there’s a glow to you.”
Tiffany said, “I can’t see it myself. But I felt the change, so quickly after Megan was born. I went from the excruciating pain, she caused during my labor, to absolute joy and pride that I wouldn’t have believed it, but it happened. The doctor even fixed a tear down there and I stayed joyful.” She had started to pull a sheet back that I might see her there. Then she stopped and laughed. Rose, I am so comfortable with you. You truly are another woman to me.”
Soon there was a knock at her door and a doctor was there looking for me, not Tiffany. “Hello, I’m Dr. Brianna Wright, a Psychiatrist and I need to see Rose.”
Dr. Wright explained that she wanted to visit with me and if possible decide where my stress was coming from.
Story to be continued…
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