Day 19: Not So Good
I catch my train back to BWI in the late afternoon and arrange to meet with my oldest son on the train for a weekend home from college. It’s been over a month since I dropped him off for his sophomore year at Goucher College, and it’s great to see him again.
I was hoping to get home before sharing my news, but patience has never been my forte, so we drop our bags off in my car at the parking garage and I tell him I have some things I need to talk to him about.
Now let me preface this by saying that my oldest son is the one person I was sure would be okay with all of this. He is a terrific kid. Very empathic and always there to give someone a hug when they are the least bit down.
You might see where this is going. And you’d think by now I would have learned my lesson on setting expectations. But no, that’s not how I roll.
I start pacing and tell him first about my move to NYC. All good.
Then I tell him about hiding my stuttering for 25 years. Again, all good.
Then I tell him I’m transgendered. Aaaaaand… not so good.
I am really caught off guard. This is not at all what I was expecting. And I start to get a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.
But I put on a brave face and tell him that he needs to react how ever he feels. We all have visceral reactions to things in life. This isn’t a time to pretend and tell me what I want to hear. This impacts him. This impacts our relationship. This impacts his life. Be honest. It’s okay.
Well, he tells me, I have a few trans friends at Goucher and I’m just not comfortable around them.
Good, good. Don’t hold back.
I try to explain that it’s not like Tootsie. That girl mode entails things like yoga pants, long skirts, clogs. Nothing outrageous. He doesn’t need to see me in girl mode. I’m still mostly in boy mode anyway, etc, etc. etc.
By now, we’ve been in the garage for a while, and I realize we should probably be driving home. We continue our conversation in the car, but this is not going at all how I had envisioned.
That said, I genuinely appreciate his honesty. And I’m sure he’ll come around. Right?
Empathy. Hugs. Just give it time.
We make a pit stop at the mall on the way home because the padding on my glasses broke off earlier in the day. We walk by a slew of women’s clothing stores, and I point out blouses and leggings that I might wear — again, nothing too showy. Nothing too age inappropriate.
He seems to start to get it, but there’s still a palpable distance between us.
We finally get home in time to pick up my youngest from work at the movie theater, and after a late dinner and an episode of Doctor Who, I find myself absolutely exhausted and emotionally spent. I tell the boys I’m beat, and head up to my bedroom, explaining they should spend some time catching up. Brother-to-brother time. And that gives me go-upstairs-and-try-not-to-lose-it time.
I close the door of my bedroom behind me and tell myself, hold it together. Give him time. And for god’s sake, get some sleep.
I crawl into bed, close my eyes and wait to see what tomorrow will bring.