I was driving home from work today when I happened to get caught at a red light (as people do). Usually I consider these moments extremely challenging to my [undiagnosed] ADD-ridden personality, but sometimes they can be opportunities in disguise. Like when I looked to my left and happened to see a doppelganger. Not mine, but that of the absolute best girlfriend I've ever had. I fell prey to mixed feelings, sort of a cross between sick, sad and giddy. Let me tell you all about her.
Let's call her Sara, because... why not? Sure.
Sara and I met at an unlikely time when I was feeling lonely and desperate, longing to reach out to anyone who would be interested in knowing a transgendered person such as myself. Perhaps I was reaching the point of ceasing to care who knew, consequences be damned, so long as I was able to finally express myself freely in the company of real, actual people. As anything can happen to a girl in that state of mind, it was probably lucky I met Sara.
We often found ourselves in the same place at the same time, although neither of us had much reason to acknowledge the other. We didn't even know each other, in fact. It was the dawn of the Information Age, when email accounts were novelties and the internet was fairly innovative. Some of us had discovered chat. Behold! a "room" "full" of people all "talking" at once, where identities were easily concealed and experimental topics of conversation were bandied about with whimsical abandon. At once, the most frightening and hilarious thing that could be said about the modern world was the sudden freedom we could all enjoy courtesy of sheer cyber-anonymity!
We met well, I like to think. From the serial numbers that displayed whenever I'd log in, she deduced that we lived in the same town, so she struck up a conversation. I cheerfully admitted that I indeed shared her zip code, then balanced interest with caution - my chat identity was female, after all, and despite the privacy I enjoyed I was reluctant to inform my new "friends" that I wasn't exactly who I'd led them all to believe; not to mention, here was a person that much closer in proximity to where I lived, no immediate threat to having my cover blown but there was now an element of danger to consider.
Sara and I enjoyed finding each other whenever we logged in, and after awhile the only reason I visited that chat room was to maximize the chances of having a conversation with her. We shared the same sense of humor, and our differences strengthened our respect for one another. She seemed to value the connection we shared (no pun intended) and made me feel like more of a person when we "spoke." But because nothing good ever lasts, it wasn't much longer before Sara got tired of the whole chat scene. ISN'T THIS SUCH A WASTE OF TIME? she asked one day, then suggested that we should abandon chatting to give real life another chance, and resume our friendship... in person.
I panicked. For obvious reasons. I convinced myself that any hope for a positive outcome should remain dim, but that I was honor bound to tell her the truth - I wasn't actually a woman, Holli wasn't my real name, and the only thing I regretted was that I foresaw our friendship coming to an abrupt end. And that's what I did.
OH MY GOD, she typed when I had finished explaining myself and the situation. Exactly twelve seconds passed, during which I forgot to breathe and began to list the ways I hated myself. But then on my screen appeared: THAT EXPLAINS SO MUCH.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN? If I wasn't using a keyboard, there'd've been a stammer. My heart was a trip hammer in a bone cage.
NUH UH, SISTER. WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE THIS CONVERSATION IN PERSON.
And that was how I met the real Sara, although it would be awhile before she met the real Holli. I remember actually feeling stupid, for the first time in my life, that I wasn't meeting somebody en femme. There I stood in a small town coffee shop foyer, wearing a gray hoodie and a day-old layer of grizzle on my chin. A complete fraud. The antithesis of who I'd claimed to be...
As opposed to Sara, who was even more wonderful than I could have imagined. I won't even try to describe her, but she left two impressions on me. One was a pang of deep regret that I would probably never be able to date her on account of what she now knew about me, and the other was that it didn't really matter, because I was now outed before this amazing new friend and she hadn't slapped me for my deception, turned on her heel and stormed off. Instead, she proved curious about how I came to be and where this new relationship would take us. "I've been excited about having a new girlfriend with whom I have so much in common," she professed over coffee, "and I intend to meet her."
My stomach did double flips, but before we could get to the point of mutual admiration I had to fill in the rest of the blanks about myself. Once I started, I couldn't stop. Every detail about my past, my gender variances and various other vulnerabilities came spilling out. Everything was on the table. She could have swept it all up into her arms and used them to her advantage, or tossed it all away like garbage, if she was the kind of person to do so. Instead, at the end of my ramblings, she took me by the hands and said, "Well, dear, I'm happy to tell you that you're no longer in this alone. So let me ask you, are you ready to introduce us properly?"
...I can practically hear you asking why I've stopped the story. "Is there more?" you ask, teeth gritting in anticipation. And the answer is "Yes." Also, "No." You see, the entire account you've just read is a bit of ruthless fiction. I could go on, but there's really no end to it, nor is it the only version. If this somehow frustrates you, annoys you, or makes you wish you hadn't wasted all that time for nothing, then hello! and welcome to my world. For this is but a sample of the sublime fantasies that spring up whenever inspiration appears in the pleasing form of a woman, triggering the deep longing I have for feminine interaction. My mind invariably goes to the realm of possibilities, where I smoothly construct "what if" scenarios that appease my unrequited desire to be one of the girls. In the end it's all a fabrication, because my social circles have never expanded into the strata where there are women who enjoy the company of crossdreamers like me. And yet it's one of the things for which I've wished most consistently. Drat it all.
Incidentally, there is one grain of truth to my wonderment in that, somewhere in the world, woman named Sara actually exists. Under the moniker Suede (she enjoyed fashion and it was her favorite material) she met me on the internet when I was in college, and we did wind up discussing gender, sexuality, and sexual orientation on a regular basis. She lived very close to me at the time, in Baltimore, and offered to have me visit so we could explore my feminine proclivities together. Alas, I was certain I could never find the way by myself as I've always been cursed with a terrible sense of direction... which was a flimsy excuse, covering up the more reasonable fear of having to explain my absence to my girlfriend, Erica (if we were even dating at the time, hard to say).
I have a terrific imagination. Sometimes I think it's out to get me. As we shall soon see, next time...