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.
Camp Horizon is located in Birch Bay Washington (the site of an old Air Force Station) that provides recreational facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities. I was fortunate enough for two, one week sessions, to be an assistant counselor. It is something that has stayed with me for my life, or at least the last 30 years since I did it (1988). I ended up going up to Birch Bay in summer of 2017, and while I was there I decided to go back to the camp and take some photos. In addition I do have a couple of photos from that time.
Funny enough, I had lived in Birch Bay in the fall/winter of 1987 at the age of 15/16 and I never knew this place existed. Then we moved to Bellingham that spring. There I attended Bellingham High School. When I was at the high school, I somehow got in contact with a nice young man named Russ Nelson. He was the stage/videographer for the high school. To this day I can’t remember how he got me interested, but he talked about Camp Horizon and I should volunteer as an assistant counselor.
This was a new thing for me. I had just gotten done being homeless for a year+ and then living in Birch Bay (once again I didn’t know this place existed). I thought this wouldn’t be bad to start with on my resume. I believe it paid $50 for the first week and if I went the second week it went up to $75 (although I could be off a bit). So I agreed to it. Russ was kind enough to drive me to the camp (which was about 30 miles from my home).
I got to the camp, met several other assistant counselors (and a couple of college aged counselors) and began my short lived career as a camp counselor. We were there for five days each session I believe and our days consisted of bunking in the dorms, getting up, running classes, movies, gym activities, and most importantly just being there for the campers.
It was the first time I worked with people more disadvantaged than me and I loved it completely. I will be honest though, it probably helped that I had regular meals, recreational activities and no drunk parents (they were in a bad place at this time). To this day I still remember Dayleen (I am sure I did not spell that right). A young girl who was deaf, with some developmental disabilities and I believe cerebral palsy. It is because of her that I learned my numbers and letters in American Sign Language, along with the way to say “Cookie Monster” and a couple of other phrases.
My three strongest memories were waking up and hearing “I wanna dance with someone” by Whitney Houston, going downstairs and meeting up with Dayleen. I don’t remember exactly what we were working on, I just remember her being so excited about us playing and her signing “Lucky” or some variation of it when she saw me. Sadly I had a picture of her but once we started moving a lot as an older teen, it disappeared in one of our many homeless moments.
My second strongest memory was wrapping up my first session and feeling incredibly sad that it was over. It was followed up with getting home and my parents were on a run. There was loud arguments, loud music and much drinking by several people. I just remember wishing I was still at camp.
My third memory was Melody (I think her name was Melody, not Meloney, but I could be wrong). She was one of my many unrequited loves. I was very quiet as a teenager at this time, and I never figured out how to ask her out, or do pretty much anything. However, my favorite memory with her was laying under a tree, next to her and talking for a long time (probably longer than I should have since I was after all a counselor).
The two sessions went by very quickly and before I knew it I went home and collected my check for the two weeks. I believe I bought my parents an anniversary present and my brother a birthday present with it, never spent a dime on myself (I think the remaining went to house bills). I never was able to go back the following year. This was because by that time I was working full time and supporting my family.
Fast forward to summer of 2017 and we went up to Birch bay and stopped by the camp. Surprisingly there were people readying the camp for this summer and we talked with them. They are up to 6 or 7 weeks a year of sessions and they have been constantly updating the place. They were kind enough to let me take some pictures. So below is our gallery and it includes photos from my adventure and last weekend. I know we had other photos, if I find them I will add them.