I woke up terrified this morning. It wasn’t the result of dreams of monsters or high threat situations. I wasn’t suffering from the occasional existential dread I get of getting older and losing family and friends. Instead I was lying in a dark room. I could hear the rain sound from the white noise YouTube channel mixed with the cold air of the air conditioner. The faint light from the tv gave the impression of street lights off in the distance (the YouTube channel video is black, but the ambient tv light was still there). It was around 1:30 or so and laid there until almost 3am. I am sure I drifted in and out but I wasn’t able to go back to sleep. So here I am up and moving.
Like I said, the fear and anxiety wasn’t monster based, or bad dreams (at least I don’t think so), but was the distinct feeling, memory or some combination of the two that was a weird flashback to when I was homeless as a teenager. It was the same feeling I had when my family lived in the car, and under sheets of plastic under a state park bench and hadn’t lived reliably in a solid foundation and four walls and a roof for about a year.
When we were homeless I would always wake up hours before dawn and lay there in the dark. It was Washington State in the mid/late 1980s and it didn’t seem as dry back then as it does now. I remember it always raining a little at night. It didn’t matter if I woke up in the car in a parking lot near a store, in a rest stop along I-5, or even under a State Park bench at one of the many state parks we lived out of. There was always the faint patter of rain, sometimes heavy, sometimes it was just an occasional sound.
When I would wake up, I could always hear my siblings and parents breathing, snoring and moving around. That always made me feel safer, as I laid there in the dark. I think it is probably why nowadays I am uncomfortable sleeping by myself. Never liked it, not when I was 15 and homeless with my family, 19 and living with my first group of friends, or now with my husband after almost 28 years of marriage.
I would lay there sometimes for hours worried about my family. Watching them breath, listening to every sound outside the sleeping area (whether it was a park or a car). Sometimes I would catch my dad doing the exact same thing, laying they for hours as we both let my mom and my siblings sleep. Always worried someone would come and try to hurt them* (* Side note, that isn’t an exaggeration either, the threat of someone showing up to hurt my family was very real and something I will probably talk about later). The sound of rain outside was a combination of the normal relaxation people feel, wound around the anxiety that the rain was masking the sound of someone walking up on us. It doesn’t make sense but the two feelings are usually intertwined for me with rain.
When I was waking up this morning, I couldn’t get comfortable. It was a rare exception that the sound of rain didn’t reassure me. Instead as I turned and rolled around I had this worry that my blanket was going to get damp. I also couldn’t quite get warm no matter how I moved or curled up. I had that same feeling of not being able to get rid of the chill of being homeless (although this time it was the air conditioner not wind from an oncoming storm). I had totally forgotten about that feeling for quite awhile now.
It reminded me a lot of when I was a teenager. Back in the 1980s when we were homeless, except for a very few hot sweltering days of summer, I always had a chill. It didn’t matter if daytime temperatures would get into the 60s or 70s, you can’t get rid of that bit of cold on the edges of everything. It just stays in your clothes, in your sleeping bags (or in our case some blankets that we had kept). No matter what you did it was there. It was even worse if it rained because everything had that dampness as well.
I suspect that is why there has always been a fight my parents had with keeping the photo albums dry and the mold from eating away at the pictures we had. Even now 30+ years later when I took possession of the photos and I have removed all the pictures and separated them, properly storing them, but some just continue to mildew no matter what I do. The cold and dampness has just seeped into the photo stock.
I am sure part of my issue probably involves my brother who is currently living in a shelter and my worry for him. A large part of it is definitely therapy and maybe I actually feel safe enough to process emotions and memories I should have handled 33 years ago, and part of it is probably just a bad night.
Whatever the reason I am sitting here fully dressed in pajamas, t-shirt, bra and a small blanket, with all fans off and air conditioner stopped and I still can’t seem to get fully warm or get rid of the damp feeling. I will probably go try and shower and see if that helps.
I woke up this morning with an incredibly clear memory from my childhood. Something I hadn’t thought about in decades, but for whatever reason it came up now. Probably because we are starting to approach fall and it triggered something (Fall/winter always has the most memories pop up and the most nightmares).
Back in 1985 at a ripe old age of 13/14 (I had a birthday at this apartment) we lived for part of the year on Lombard and 32nd Street in Everett. It was in a converted mansion and we lived up in the attic apartment. A large 3 bedroom apartment with a cool turret for one of the bedrooms (not mine), that had a servants entrance under the bathtub (I will tell that story later).
I believe it must have been April or May of 1985 and we had only been there for awhile when we got up on a Saturday morning. My siblings and I were out in the living room and I was messing with the TV. We hadn’t had reliable tv in a long time (and I don’t think at this time we had EVER had cable, it was always rabbit ears… not just because I am old, but because we were poor. Cable was common for most of my friends, but we hadn’t had it.
So that meant our choices were very small. We got Channels 4, 5, 7, and 13. However my dad had gotten us one of those weird round rabbit ears for UHF. We didn’t even have the rods, it was just a piece of metal that was circular that you directly attached to the back of the tv (not even as good as the picture below, just the round bit with no base or antennae).
It was exciting because for the first time we got the “cool” cartoons that morning like Thunder Cats and some of the other UHF cartoons (on channel 22 baby). I remember looking out of the front window (we could see the string of Cascade Mountains) and the light had that sharp quality in the early morning when it was still sort of cold. I guess this could have been in September, but I don’t think I was going to Everett High School, I believe it was still North Middle School so it would put it spring of 1985, not fall. For some reason though, that quality of light and the sharpness is still with me (oh it might have been fall because I think it was about the same time that fall was coming and I would watch the spider webs with dew on them, sorry weird side tangent there).
I looked over and saw my mom helping my dad into the living room. They had been drinking the night before (same old same old for us) and we were asleep before they got home (I was the baby sitter since my sister was only 9 and my brother 4). I noticed my dad was hurting pretty bad and I ran over to check on him.
My mom had pulled his shirt off and his back was covered in boot mark type bruises, a lot of them. My dad explained he had gotten in a fight with a guy, the guy had multiple friends and like my father always was, he wouldn’t back down and took on them all. My mom later said she thinks at least one of the other guys he fought with went to the hospital, but it resulted in my dad and a boot party.
I remember sitting on the living room couch with its darker patterned stuff cushions. I looked over at my brother and sister and made sure they were ok. I then remember going into the kitchen and pouring water into a bowl so I could help clean his back up. I vaguely remember my mom not really wanting to do it and my dad was too hurt to fix himself so I did it, but that is sort of a vague memory so it may not be 100% accurate on that point.
Just the memory of connecting the antenna to the tv before all of this and seeing the first episode of Thunder Cats I watched (and honestly I found I didn’t particularly like it) just seemed a weird memory to crystalize for me today. Although a ton of other memories of that apartment kind of washed up as I write this. Some good, some not good at all. Maybe I can put some time down to write more memories up. Its important to me to record what I can, as time slowly erases or at least buries them.
There is my memory for the day. I should do this more often and fill more pages up.
Growing up super poor was beneficial to me in a lot of ways. It taught me how to deal with little to no food, how to push off the lights getting shut off or being evicted and how to minimize my belongings. The one thing it didn’t help was owning my own music during childhood.
We did have some music, my parents would buy some of it (or usually get it from friends) but it was never under control of me or my siblings (at least until I hit teenage years and got my own job. What that meant was we had to make do with our own ways of capturing music. In this case, it was with one of those old, large cassette recorders placed next to the tv as a song was playing.
The two different songs I remember most recording that way were vastly different. The first was a song from one of my favorite movies as a child, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”.
I am fairly sure this is the scene
My siblings and I played it for more than a year, a horrible tv version with just enough static from the rabbit ears to give it its own unique sound. I think I liked it so much because I would watch John Wayne with my grandparents, and my grandmother passed away around the time we recorded it. Sadly I don’t think we even had the whole song, it was just the song as it appeared in the movie.
The second song I remember the most is Eddy Grant’s version of “Romancing the Stone”. That was a really popular movie at our house, my parents had rented it for a weekend (with about 20 other movies in our traditional movie spree once a month) and we had recorded it as well. I just remember the faint tv static playing along with the song as we had recorded it.
I wish I had considered recording the video but we didn’t have mtv.
I think I still like both of these songs today because as a kid they were just two of a very very small number of songs we had available until I was a teenager (just a year or so after Romancing the Stone came out). Then we started getting music, a lot of music that we listened to between evictions. That is also when we lost the casette recorder but got a big box casette player (aka a boom box or ghetto blaster which at the time I didn’t realize was a racist connotation).
To be honest, I don’t recall why things had changed, our life had become a lot less stable when I was a teenager, you would think maybe it would be harder to get music. Or maybe that is when my parents stopped trying to budget and just gave up on it. Hmm… something for me to ponder on.
I woke up missing my father terribly this morning. I have always meant to talk about him more here, to share both the good and bad (and there was definitely both), but it has been hard with the transition, with the changes in my life and just how tired I have been.
This last couple weeks have been really bad, I have wanted desperately to call him and talk to him and my mother. I did it daily until I was 45 and he passed (I talked to mother multiple times a day for five months after that until she passed). However I never got to tell them about my transition fully (we talked a little, that is its own story).
This morning though I really missed the quiet times we spent together. It wasn’t super regular, but it happened regular enough that it was an expected feature.
He would come in and wake me up at a very late/very early time (somewhere between midnight and four am). He would be drunk sometimes, stoned sometimes and sober a lot of the times. He would sneak into my bedroom and have me get up and take my blanket (even at the age of 14 or 15) and we would go out into the living room. Even though he was my father, we snuck around like we could get in trouble. He tried to do this with both my siblings, but neither one of them were ok with being awoken at one in the morning, I have always woken easily and I loved these moments. So other than a few exceptions, it was generally just me and him.
He would just talk to me about the day, he would ask me all about my day, if I was in sports, chorus or orchestra he would ask me about that. We would watch a movie (usually a horror movie) together. Often he would make me a snack, one of his famous fried bologna or spam sandwiches, maybe some bratwurst or kielbasa, or if it was a good day one of his (and mom made this too) no-cook peanut butter oatmeal bars. We would sit and watch the movie and it was pretty spectacular for me, even as I became a teenager. Weirdly enough the movies I remember the most were Telefone and The Legend of Hell House.
These were quiet times in what was a very stressful life of violence, drugs, bikers and homelessness. I never complained or minded doing it at all. This morphed when I moved out, but never went away. I have horrific insomnia that wakes me up after midnight or one am anyways, and my dad would sometimes call me at super early hours and we would talk. I never had my ringer on so if I wasn’t up I wouldn’t’ wake up. I would just notice in a morning a call had happened and a voicemail that said simply “I love you Lucky.” I so miss those voicemails, and I am so angry I didn’t save them. It is hard to think of a world where your dad isn’t in it with you, before he is gone. I never fully considered that in time, funnily enough even though I stressed about him and mom passing for decades.
In a very rare blue moon before we moved out of Bellingham, but after I was with the hubby, I would go over there and we would sit in the living room watching tv early in the morning, with a single lamp on one of the side tables. While we drank coffee and had something to eat. In the last few years before I moved to Seattle and this was only via phone I had begun to bring his favorite donuts, Hostess raspberry filled powdered donuts, along with myself cooking the meals. He wasn’t able to get around like he did when I was a kid. I never thought my fried bologna sandwiches tasted as good, but he promised they were better than his. Maybe they were for him.
We still talked though when we didn’t meet in person. He would just chat with me, tell me things he was worried about, he was proud about with the other kids, or just how our family friends were doing. I would do the same. I think he liked talking even more when I was an adult. He didn’t have a lot of support network and when I could be there as well as an adult I think it helped. It helped me because he would listen to me as well.
So I woke up this morning in an unfamiliar hotel missing my dad. I feel guilty that it is only my dad I woke up missing. I love my mom, but our relationship was more complicated and it was my daddy I was missing.
I just thought I should start sharing more about my feelings and what I am thinking here. So here you go, the reason I spent most of this morning crying. That is hard because I never cried pre-transition, I am still not sure how to handle it. You would think that three and a half years later after his death this wouldn’t happen, but that’s isn’t true. You don’t get over people, you just adapt to the new circumstances.
I love you dad, and I really miss our late night/early morning tv watching.
ACDC has always been part of my life as far back as I can remember. My parents listened to bands like ACDC, then others like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Queen, etc.
My strongest memory of ACDC though is one Sunday morning we were getting ready to go to church. Church was a rare event for us, my father always had issues with religion after going to Vietnam, and this was one of those days where he was deciding he didn’t want to do it anymore.
I was 13 years old, living in our Lombard street apartment with my dad cranking up ACDC at 8am. They had been on a party binge and we all knew my dad wasn’t going with us to church (secretly I was hoping I didn’t have to go).
There had been an argument between my mom and dad over this fact, and my dad said “fuck that, I am staying home and listening to music”. This meant he would probably start drinking while we were at service and that Sunday would be a continuation.
We got dressed and were getting ready to leave, with my dad rolling his cigarette and sitting in his chair. ACDC’s song, “Highway to Hell” was blaring out and my dad was singing to it.
Just before we left my mom started yelling at my dad again. Then something strange happened, and I am not making this up, I watched as the stereo system starting making a clunking sound. Within a few seconds the cassette mechanism spit out the tape and Highway to Hell stopped playing as spooling cassette tape was everywhere.
I watched my dad just stare at the tape deck quietly for a moment. Without a word he stood up and got his coat, then he said, “C’mon lets to church” and we went.
This never permanently effected my dad, the religion problems continued, but he never played loud music and told my mom he was staying home to listen to music again either on a Sunday.
For your listening enjoyment, an oldie but a goodie!:
See bottom of post for pronoun disclaimer (note 1):
Jessie’s Girl has a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my husband and the time before we got together ( before he was my wife, or even girlfriend) . The song fit pretty squarely as part of the soundtrack of my life. This was because when I first met Wolsey and fell in love, Wolsey was dating my best friend Doug.
I met Wolsey when I was 17 years old and had just moved to Bellingham WA. I was a virgin, goin g to my fourth high school in 2.5 years and I had just found a group of friends to hang with. My best friends at the time was Doug and Jay.
We had met in a geeky Dungeons and Dragons game ( and this was summer of 1987 I believe). By the end of that school year (so summer of 1988) my friend had shifted from being a geek to being a stoner/punk (I didn’t, I was sort of my own thing… think older brother from Stranger Things but from a biker family but who is a geeky gamer).
Doug and Jay 1988-1989 school year
Yep that is me coaching T-Ball summer of 1988, right when I met Wolsey – old photo I haven’t cleaned up after scanning .
A photo of me and my dog Mucho right after meeting Wolsey – old scanned photo not touched up yet.
The advantage of Doug and Jay shifting from geek to stoner/punk was meeting new people and one of those new people I met was a very beautiful young lady who eventually would change her name to Wolsey after we had been married for decades (original name is classified as Wolsey hates it).
Wolsey was friends with another girl named Colby and they were also in the punk scene. Colby dated Doug for awhile, and I met Wolsey a couple of times. I thought she was pretty cool, and I was attracted to her. The better part though was I felt like we could be friends.
Fast forward through teenager drama and Doug and Colby broke up and Doug started dating Wolsey. This meant I saw Wolsey constantly and we became best friends. I introduced Wolsey to Dungeons and Dragons and while Doug and Jay would play but fuck around, Wolsey and I both enjoyed the role-play, the story telling. I learned that while Wolsey looked punk as fuck (and hippy sometimes, Wolsey would float between the two) Wolsey liked reading, stories and was super creative.
Wolsey right before we started dating. – old photo I haven’t cleaned up after scanning .
Right before Wolsey and I started dating. – old photo I haven’t cleaned up after scanning .
Doug and Wolsey moved into their apartment together and I was there all the time. Doug would bail on us and a lot of times it was just Wolsey, myself, with others in our social group hanging out. It was fairly soon after we started hanging out with each other like that, that I fell in love with her ( him).
However, Wolsey was dating my best friend and I absolutely would not do something like try and break in on that. Funny enough the next time I was in this type of relationship situation with another woman I went the other way and not sure that it was any better a result.
Funny enough my parents both knew Wolsey well by this point and tried to get me to pursue her (him). I told them there was no way she was interested in me, and both my parents shook their head and said that Wolsey would be perfect for me (they were right in the end… damn them 🙂 ). Although I still to this day wish I had listened to my parents and done it. I didn’t realize they were right and she had a thing for me at the time.
The first time I noticed Jessie’s Girl as a song (it had been out for awhile) was when I was sitting in Wolsey and Doug’s living room. Doug had just been an asshole to Wo lsey and stomped off. Wolsey was sitting there looking annoyed and frustrated and the song started playing. That was the soundtrack of how I felt about her for a couple of years. For some reason the song kept playing that summer too, even though it had been out for a few years.
I never wanted to jeopardize our friendship though. Even with how fucked up my childhood was (or maybe because of it and what my dad did try to instill) I tried to remain the p aladin, true to my word and to my friend.
The other large part I didn’t act was that I truly truly loved being Wolsey’s friend and I never felt like I was in the “friend zone”. In fact I valued our friendship above everything and didn’t want to jeopardize that. It is why I can’t stand friend zone people and incels. The other person owes you nothing (and Wolsey absolutely owed me nothing, I was just happy to get Wolsey’s friendship).
That is how it was for nine months as my best friend (well he had sort of drifted away as being my best friend to be replaced by Wolsey) and his girlfriend lived together and I would go over and visit. As a side note, in all fairness Wolsey was interested in me, showed me several clues but I was too shy/resistant I didn’t follow up. My romantic soundtrack for that time period was Jessie’s Girl.
I do realize now as a fully mentally formed adult that the song can be problematic, but I still like it and it reminds me of when my husband Wolsey was a pretty girl dating my best friend before she ( he) usurped that spot and replaced Doug as my best friend.
Disclaimer Note 1: Let me get a clarification out here, I do refer to my current husband in historical terms as my friend, partner, etc. I also refer to him as my “wife” or “girlfriend” sometimes when talking about a memory when I was younger that happened before his transition. Sometimes I do this because it gets hard tracking who is who in those stories.
He is ok with this, as I am ok with him referring to me as his husband or boyfriend when recounting memories. It is hard with pronouns, especially when in context memories and of referring to us both as people we no longer are (myself as a boy back then and my husband as a girl back then). Just a FYI, he is ok with the pronoun use.
Well today is it, it is my 48th birthday and the first one I am out to the world as who I am (a girl). You think that would be what I was focused on today but it isn’t. I woke up thinking about my 15th birthday in 1986.
We had been living in our car at this time for about six or seven months. Having left Lake Stevens, a contract out on my family we had to leave everything behind. My dad sold what he could, got a car (a 1978 Cadillac El Dorado I believe, a baby blue color).
We had gone down to Lake Tahoe in late January/early February and had just gotten back up from there at the end of June. He had to sell the Cadillac for money for food and by this time we were in a 1970s Gran Torino. From that point we had lived in the rest stops between Everett and Bellingham, camping out when my father could get enough cash for a park camp space.
By August though we were living in Birch Bay state park. We had a tent, the car, and we had made an occasional impromptu shelter under the park bench with plastic. Yes we were truly homeless like you see in the movies or in Seattle now. Eventually we got a hold of a tent at least.
It was the five of us, my sister, brother, mom and dad along with our dog “Thirty Eight”.
I remember that we didn’t have money for presents, the last gift of any sort I had gotten was when we were just becoming homeless and before we left Everett in February. I think it was from Catholic Community Services actually, that I had gotten a set of grey sweats and it was something I wore a lot when trying to sleep.
I learned a lot being homeless, how many people out there who would want to help… and sadly how many people pointed, stared or made comments. After all, no matter how clean we were, and how often we would dig money up for a laundromat, you always have this smell. It isn’t dirty, greasy, but it is a homeless smell no matter what you do.
I remember I was reading “The Exorcist” while we lived in that state park. This was the last full blown homeless location. After several weeks at Birch Bay state park my parents got enough momentum that we weren’t homeless in the fact that we got ourselves a tent, and eventually moved from apartment and shelter to apartment and shelter, but we were out of the car at least (and out from under the park bench).
The two things I remember from my birthday. The first is that my parents were sober most of the time we were full blown homeless (except when we were living in motels). When we were in the car, or in a state park they kept sober. So it was a sober birthday they gave me, which at the time (and maybe even now) made me incredibly happy.
The second thing I remember was my dad scraping what he could to get me a cake. It was one of those small, single layer, pie pan size cakes and when divided among five people it was a pretty small piece, but it tasted really good (I believe carrot cake, and to this day carrot cakes and spice cakes are my favorite). I remember thinking how grateful I was to have it, and to have family and a sleeping bag to lay on, under the plastic sheets covering the park bench.
It is funny, I am in a good place now. We might have a ton of debt, but they can’t repo my face or who I am. We eat well, we can afford to replace a tv when it goes out. I was less anxiety ridden though when I was homeless, I found happiness in smaller things (like a cheap grocery store single layer pie pan size cake).
Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all romanticizing being homeless, it fucking sucks. You are cold all the time, tired all the time and people treat you like shit. Sometimes though for me it is worse being tied to obligations, worrying about my job schedule and not getting to see the day pass by.
I suspect my childhood gave me a lot of fucked up coping mechanisms, and broke my mental health. That being said, it doesn’t change that I find myself today thinking about being 15 and living in a state park… under a piece of plastic and a park bench instead of what is happening now on my 48th birthday.
I never really thought about what I looked like when I stared at myself in the mirror. I generally would just groom and move on. It is just a station to stop at and fix up as best I can what I see in the mirror.
It is strange now that I have lost more than 105lbs, I am under 200lbs for the first time since I was 18. That combined with the fact that I am growing my beard out for electrolysis and causing a huge influx of dysphoria (which I will talk about more later) and the final touch realizing that most of the brown in my beard is gone due to laser hair removal means it is mostly a glint of silvery white.
Combine that with my longer thinner face and my hair is still brown means I am looking at myself in the mirror and realize I once again look vaguely like my father around this age. Especially when I catch it in the corner of my eyes, it catches me off guard. Not in a bad way, he wasn’t an unattractive man. I don’t hate the sight of him. I loved him dearly even with the alcoholism and other issues. It just wasn’t something I expected to see again.
When I was 18-19 and I first started dating the hubby I looked similar to now (just 30 years younger of course). I had more than one occasion where I would walk the hubby down the street (he was a tiny, very very attractive punk rock girl at the time, since this was 24 years before his transition) and people would comment back to my mom that they saw “John” down on Railroad (the local bar road) with a younger girl.
It got my dad in trouble a couple of times for stuff he hadn’t done, and I never understood it. I never really thought we looked alike (although looking at a photo album I can see what people were saying). We even had one person step out of a bar and start calling my dad’s name when I had walked by with my hand around Wolsey’s waist. Of course when they got outside and got closer they realized I was his older kid and apologized, but it was funny now (and I was a bit horrified back then).
I grew older and within a couple of years I had put on a lot of weight. I still think I looked hot (well, I didn’t, but W always thought I did) and I looked a lot more like my mother’s side of the family, the viking norseman bloodline was a lot more evident and similarities to my father disappeared under my bulk.
Now that thirty years have gone by and I have recently lost all that weight I look different and my body has morphed closer to my father (except far taller, my dad was always shorter than me) and my grandfather on my mom’s side similarity has receded.
So now sometimes, with the beard coming out and the silver white coloring glinting in the light of the bathroom mirror I see memories of my dad. Part of it makes me smile, I loved him dearly. Part of me misses him terribly. I haven’t yet really talked about the horror of him passing away and the total fucked up situation my siblings put the whole thing through. Maybe I am at a point I can do that.
Then part of me panics for a moment. Shame that I might “destroy” what is left looking like him living here in the world. It is a stupid thought. A fear that I am going to fuck something up. I realize this is more about fear of the unknown when it comes to the FFS, but that is how it comes out. That I might destroy the last remnants of my father that still live and look like him.
The worst part is that is quickly overridden by the gut sick feeling I see of myself when I see that facial hair coming through. I never understood up until coming out and transitioning what it meant that I hated facial hair. I tried it a lot, I come from biker stock and it is part of the uniform, especially the mutton chops. I think a lot of the time it looked really good on me, better than without it. It didn’t matter though, I always hated it.
I hate it more now that I know FFS is coming up and there it is mocking me while I wait for the electrolysis to make it go away forever over a very long period of time. That however doesn’t stop the weird guilt and shame I feel over intentionally changing my bone structure and removing that beard forever. Don’t worry, that guilt and shame only last momentarily and then my desire for my true self to come out is stronger, but its there.
I know part of it is I just miss my dad a lot. He had a lot of problems, way more than most dads. In other ways he showed love a lot stronger than any dad I have met. It is complicated thing, but I think the transition is forcing me to deal with feelings. The fact that I see parts of him when I look in the mirror has made it harder. It doesn’t help we are coming up to the anniversary of his passing and I think with the anxiety of the surgery.
Sometimes I can’t even clearly define why I am upset about it, I am still working on it, trying to understand. I don’t know if all this will be is random emotions about my history, my life and experiences and complicated relationships, but that is why I write it down. Maybe in 20 years when I am closing in on 70 it will make more sense why I felt this way… or maybe I will still have no clue.
For now it brings out some sadness, a lot of dysphoria, but also a little smile when I catch my father in the mirror.
I wanted to post something about how Wolsey and I met. This is actually already posted on my AG account a couple years ago, but I felt it stood up to time well enough to be reposted here instead of completely rewritten.
(Wolsey and I talked, and thought it would be easier to refer to him with feminine pronouns. It helps paint the picture of what he presented as, and how I’d have interpreted his gender back when we met. This was a long time ago, and neither of us had any concept of what being transgender even was.)
A common question I get is how did Wolsey and I actually meet? Was it fate? Was it some quirky romantic comedy? Was it maybe even a horror show? The answer to all of that was no, or maybe yes in parts. Overall though it was pretty straight forward, or at least that is how it seems now.
I had recently moved up to Bellingham right before I turned 17. The first thing I did there was meet a group of friends that I played Dungeons and Dragons with. It was a household that several friends lived at, almost a flop house. A middle aged single mom owned the house, and was taking rent for all the teens she moved in. Most of these kids were near homeless, and this was a viable option for them. One of those people I met was my future husband.
Wolsey was a damn cute punk rock girl, at the time. She was a sassy smoker, drinker, and very alternative in her outlook. She had that intensity you only see in movies. She was something between a hard rocking Joan Jett and a manic pixie dream girl. Strangely enough, even with all that, she seemed to like me and wanted to hang out.
Over the next couple of years, she ended up dating my best friend, Doug. I was pretty shy and had ran away from a few different girls that approached me with my Dungeons and Dragons books as a shield. It wasn’t much different with Wolsey, when she showed interest in me.
Funny enough, Wolsey was the one who enjoyed playing Dungeons and Dragons with me the most. Her tough exterior was captivating as she roleplayed a cleric full of healing. She really wanted to help tell a story. Unlike all my male friends, who just liked to kill everything they encountered in my games. Even Doug would give both of us a hard time for liking the storytelling aspect of the game. I should have known that this was a good since Wolsey and I continue to play these kinds of games, thirty years later.
With Wolsey dating Doug, at the time, I was around her a lot more. She became my best friend, while Doug drifted off into a world I didn’t want to follow. I would be lying if I didn’t say I had a mad crush on her for a long time. We would wander off by ourselves while her boyfriend decided to hang out at home, and I just liked spending time with her. I had no expectations she would date me. I just felt like she was a really good friend.
It was sometime during this time period when my parents had met Wolsey. They already knew Doug, and he brought her over, and they liked her. For a time, Wolsey lived a half a block down from my family and my father went over to borrow the phone regularly. That is when he noticed that Wolsey, who was presenting as a woman at that point was cute, and seemed to be focused on me. This went on for a while, when eventually my mom and dad asked how serious Wolsey and Doug were as a couple, and that they thought Wolsey would be perfect for me. I could not take the suggestion seriously because they were my friends and dating. I also just couldn’t believe that she was interested in me like that.
Eventually Wolsey and Doug broke up, and Wolsey asked me out to meet her for coffee. I freaked out. I wanted to be with Wolsey and I was positive she didn’t feel that way about me so I ditched her . . . at least twice. I look back now, and I can’t help but think I was such an idiot. At the time, I felt there was no way in the world someone as cool as Wolsey would want me and that I would just be making her uncomfortable.
Some time went by and I lost contact with Wolsey, as I became involved in my first live-in relationship. That partner decided to jealously block several communication attempts by Wolsey, something I hadn’t heard about until I broke up with that partner a few months later.
After this first major relationship breakup, I moved into a room at the same house I had met Wolsey. This time I was the one living there and not Wolsey. During this time, I had jumped four or five jobs in the space of a few months and was working in the paint department of Kmart.
That’s when I got an announcement over the intercom saying there was a phone call for me on line 3. I remember it with clarity.
I pick up the phone and it is Wolsey’s voice. She seemed excited and maybe a little out of breath. All she asked was what time I was off. I was confused and excited. I hadn’t seen Wolsey in months. I had missed her but I figured she was off dating someone and doing her own thing. Her words to me on the phone were, “Don’t go anywhere.” It was a pretty commanding tone and I agreed to wait.
Twenty minutes later I hear stomping boots coming down the aisle and there she was dressed in a leather jacket, facial piercings, a very tiny shirt that revealed her feminine body quite explicitly, a mohawk, makeup, and the cutest purple crinoline skirt. I was getting off work about this time and she came up and hustled me to her truck and took me home.
We spent the next hour and a half talking. Over the next couple of weeks, we talked a lot and she kept showing up at my room. Wolsey was homeless at the time, but that didn’t bother me. I invited her in to my room and let her stay on my single-wide bed. I left out cans of ravioli, with a can opener and a spoon, for her to eat if she was hungry. Wolsey was always hungry and this was the one thing I knew she liked to eat.
Within a couple of weeks and we were fulling dating and she moved me out of that horrible room and into our own apartment. We had a tumultuous first seven months and spoiler alert… ended up breaking up for six months. I had been working graveyard shift as a taxi dispatcher, and it had created a huge scheduling problem between us.
While I might have dated another woman and lived with her, this was the first relationship I wanted to last permanently. I had a lot of preconceived traditional, unexamined, views and expectations. I was confident though, so I asked Wolsey to marry me. I was surprised when she said no. I think I was too surprised to be crushed. I wouldn’t be crushed until later.
Now as I am older, I can admit I didn’t handle the relationship in the most mature way, and I suspect she thought I was someone I wasn’t. I kept putting forward this ideal of a relationship that didn’t exist anywhere. Instead of following my parents lead, or maybe one of my friends in a successful relationship I clung tighter and dug deeper.
The whole time, these decisions felt like a mismatch that would almost fit, but not quite. Wolsey was trying to get her hair styling degree and I pressured her a lot to pay attention to me. I was trying to work 18 hours a day and I can’t do 10 hours a day, let alone 18, without becoming someone I don’t like.
The relationship ended quietly a few days before Thanksgiving, and our third roommate decided he was going to move out with Wolsey and one of her friends who didn’t like me. I was left without roommates, in an apartment I couldn’t afford.
I ended up living with my old best friend, Doug. Unfortunately, he had developed a more serious drug and alcohol problem, and I still ended up paying all the bills on my own. When I complained, he brought me pizza he had found in a dumpster. This was not an easy time in my life.
The next six months were brutal and I drifted through multiple jobs and had multiple places to live after I had grown tired of living in that situation with Doug.
I ended up living with that same ex-girlfriend from before and her boyfriend. This time I was just as a roommate with another person sharing my bedroom.
Throughout all of this, all I could really think about was Wolsey, and how I had made things bad and how I could have handled things better. Even the things that really bothered me during the relationship now seemed insignificant.
What I knew was that Wolsey had gone hitchhiking with another gutter-punk down to California. I didn’t know if she was ok. I didn’t know if she was dating the guy, and it really did rip me apart. It bothered me so much I ignored other women that pursued me.
Our town was small, and I heard Wolsey had gotten back from California when I noticed her in the video store. I did everything I could to avoid her, my heart was pumping so loud in my ears I couldn’t hear the TV’s on display. I didn’t say hello, but turned away.
A couple of days later I was told I had a visitor by a very annoyed ex-girlfriend and roommate. I came downstairs and answered the door, and there was Wolsey. She looked tired, hungry and a bit sad. She looked worried. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen and sadly enough I almost shut the door on her right there. I was so terrified I didn’t know what to do.
Fortunately she did, and she stayed in my room a couple of days while we talked about things. I followed her back to her new place (the one with my old roommate and supposed friend.) Their household broke up within a couple of days of me visiting Wolsey and it ended up with Wolsey and I renting the house, with new roommates who were much better.
Wolsey decided to change, I can’t tell you exactly what happened but she cut her mohawk off, and got a job at Mervyns at the mall in the shoe department. We started working out our finances and she made it clear how much she loved me.
She asked me to marry her on the couch while I was playing one of the iterations of Megaman on a Nintendo gaming system. She said she never wanted to be with anyone else in her life and I replied the same. There was no way I wasn’t going to accept the proposal, she was everything I had dreamed about for years.
We were married on Halloween of 1992, it had been less than four months since we had gotten back together and while we were married by a judge who was inappropriate, it was the most fantastic evening of my life. Marrying my spouse is the only decision in my life I have never regretted.
To this day I can’t see a cute girl in a mohawk, a can of ravioli, or smell the smell of cigarette smoke on a person without thinking about Wolsey and how much I loved him when we met.
That my friends is how Wolsey and I met and got together, well in a few words at least. Oh, and here is how we are now. Just as much in love.
Wraith, Spook, and a bunch of characters I don’t remember, Pencil Sketch 1991 – Shadowrun
At that time in 1991 this was actually one of my favorite pictures. In it is our shadowrun group. On the left is Wraith, my combat decker. Beside her is Spook, an asian cat burgler.. sort of (it’s hard to remember). The other two characters I think were Ben’s whose name I think was Mist… maybe. The other was Drew’s and I have no idea at all the name of the character.
The game was pretty cool, the group was a lot of fun but a lot of problematic things now that I am 28+ years older. Spook… that name would have had an objection from me now, but honestly we didn’t even consider other racist commentary possibilities.
As for other characters, Spook and Mace (Weylin’s characters) were really the only ones I liked in game, considered close and would protect. Ben and Drew’s characters were not liked by Wraith (or by me), they were just sort of filler/backdrop.
The funny part is hearing other people’s stories, and its always intriguing to hear different points of view. I am sure Wraith was annoying to other characters/players just like they were to me. Just as humans we rarely look outside our own point of view to take it all in.
It was a good set of games, well at least until we started having bad things happen… then waking up from it like it was a dream. That pretty much killed the campaign for me.