And now-

I’m thirty. I’m single- dating, in family, heartbroken, but single and excited to be so. Lately I’m one of those assholes that smugly explains that I am my own partner, then cries alone to Adele in the parking lot of the local registration and records office.

I live with my child, a rescue fish alternately named Shred or Wally (depending on whom you ask; I say Shred), a plant named Bob that I nurtured back to green and flourish after it was brought half-dead to me in the nuthouse, and a  contumacious calico kitten, whom sometimes I wish to defenestrate. (I won’t.) Soon we will no longer live in a shelter.

Sometimes I sleep. I dream often of bears- bears hunting, bears attacking, their breath and teeth and tongue. I am a newly returned student- undergrad, again- and simultaneous to my beginnings on this campus, a bear has come also. An I shit-you-not black bear, the very same species as hunted us October of two years ago, when we lived in a shed on the side of a mountain in Burnsville, NC. This October’s black bear peruses trash cans and parking lots, rather than the sides of our shed with its claws. This October I do not sleep with knives and bats, with bags full of rocks tied tight for propulsion. I sleep instead in a shelter, in a double bed buried in throw pillows, precisely the width and length of the partner who no longer sleeps beside me.

And soon I will sleep in an apartment that is, as much as section 8 allows, my own.

My gender is shifting, my body is changing; I can feel both orgasm and the draw and release of air through the passage of my breath. I no longer live exclusively in a dissociative haze. I am not reprieved of panic, but I balance it better. I am no longer afraid to leave the bed, the room, the shelter; I do not shy from people as if they themselves had jaws and hunger.

I carry around a 32 oz, gray and blue, barrel-shaped Bubba-brand thermos, purported to hold in heat for 8 hours. It mostly does; I drink from it all day, hot or not-I’m told my face disappears behind it when I do so; I can grip the gray contoured handle with both hands, unhindered by the bottle opener carefully affixed to the lower edge. I fill Bubba with boiling water each morning, and steep six packets of Kava tea for the day. This keeps me friendly. I also piss a lot, and thank fuck for bear-free single stall bathrooms when I can find them.

My femme part is hotly simmering to emerge into her stride. I’m slowly introducing the fact that I also wear women’s clothing to friends and peers. My life is a complex line-walk of identity management- “constantly risking absurdity”. For Halloween I’m wearing a full length, fully orange, fully be-spangled thrift store gown with a train, no back, and an indecently thigh-exposing slit up the front, along with platform boots painted with bones, and elaborate, LED-lit ray-shaped head-gear. I’m claiming to be A Fucking Ray of Sunshine, although I’ll admit that the gown preceded the justification. My kid is horrified; he doesn’t want his friends asking him a bunch of questions.

I told him to tell them that it’s complicated.

I’m finding lately that I tolerate the distress of complication very well. In heartbreak I’ve found a way to make home in uncertainty.

The kava helps.

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