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: A True Story
by Tery Maine
One time my therapist asked me what would have to happen before I transitioned. I told her that I would have to disclose at work and to tell my parents. Little did I know they would both happen in the same week. I dont want to ever have another week like that.
I must say that of all the blessings God has given me during this transition, I doubt if any of them are as wonderful as the one described in this story. But be warned. Youll probably need to have a box of tissues handy.
Cindy sat in the car and stared at the American Eagle on the Express Mail envelope. "Extremely Urgent" read the logo. Cindy knew it was best this way. Next day delivery. No waiting and wondering when the letter would arrive. Nevertheless, she wished it could wait. This was one letter she didnt want to mail. Yet, it was perhaps the most important letter she would ever mail.
Cindy was feeling good returning from her psychologists appointment when she saw the message light flashing on the answering machine. She had been telling the counselor how well things had gone in her meeting with the officials of the college where she taught. Next year, Carl Martin disappears and Cindy Martin appears in the district. The president of the school was arranging a possible transfer to another school in the district for a year to smooth the transition. His words still rang in her ears, "You have a job with us no matter what your gender is. We want to make your transition as smooth as possible." Now, she wondered what the flashing light meant. In thirty seconds she found out.
"Chuck, your Dad was checking something out in your car and found some credit card receipts. Whos Cindy Martin? Are you using a pen name for your writing or something? Please call. Were worried."
Cindy was just two and a half months away from the end of spring semester and the beginning of the real-life test when she would begin living full-time as a female. She planned to tell her folks then. "Well, that moves up the time schedule," she whispered as she removed an earring and began to dial the familiar number.
"Hi, Mama. Yeah, I got your message... Well, look its a bit complicated to go into over the phone right now but there is nothing to worry about," Cindy stammered.
"Well, your Dad was worried. He worries a lot. So, I wanted to call," she said then added laughing, "You havent gotten married and not told us."
"No, I havent." And Im not likely to anytime soon, Cindy added silently.
"And you arent leaving for Sweden to get an operation?"
It was getting harder and harder to avoid lying. Cindy hated lying to anyone especially people she loved.
"Not right away," she said truthfully, but with silent tears welling up inside.
"And you arent going around with a blonde wig and high heels?"
"No, no blonde wig." I got rid of the blonde wig months ago, Cindy thought. It would almost be funny if it werent so hard.
"Look," said Cindy, "Ill explain everything when I get up there for spring break. Its nothing to worry about."
"Well, dear, we werent prying. We were just concerned. I know youre nearly fourty but youre still our little boy."
After hanging up, the tears became less silent and more abundant.
As Cindy sat looking at the envelope, she remembered making the tape inside. She worked for several years in radio, but this was the most difficult tape she had to make. Her mother had limited eyesight so any letters to the family had to be taped. Cindy broke down six times trying to make the tape. After the last take, she threw herself down on the bed and cried for a half-hour.
The letter was an idea proposed by Cindys counselor. It ensured that she could finish what she had to say, and it could remove the effects of someone being shocked and saying something they would regret later. It seemed like the cowards way out to Cindy, but then she never claimed to be brave.
Suddenly, Cindy pushed open the car door walked quickly to the mail box and deposited the envelope. As the door to the box closed she felt an instant of panic, then a feeling of sad relief. Whatever happened now, happened. It was out of her hands now. By this time tommorrow, things would be radically different. Maybe better, Maybe worse, but definitely different. She didnt look forward to tommorrow. Back in the car, the tears overflowed again.
The balance of the day passed in a sort of fog. She did something to the car. She bought something at the grocery store. She graded some kind of papers. But the details of what she did blurred into the kind of fog she was familiar with living on the Coast. That thick billowing fog rolling in off the ocean drenched the skin and obscured everything cloaking every landmark in gray nothingness, hiding the road signs, devouring the road just a few feet in front of you. You could only go slowly, trust your instincts and have faith that you would make it through.
Faith. Thats what this was all about wasnt it. Faith in God that he could complete what he started in Cindys life concerning this transition. Faith in her parents that they were mature enough, intelligent enough, loving enough to make an attempt to understand. Faith in herself that she could deal with any response there might be.
That last one was the most difficult. The horror stories of parents completely refusing to talk to their children, disowning them, refusing to acknowledge their existence came flooding in on her. It was possible that this might be the case. She couldnt really believe it. Their relationship had been so close, so special. Was it possible that.......
She couldnt even continue the thought. No, that was very unlikely, but still there was the other side of the coin. This could hurt them deeply. And it could embarrass them among their friends. How would their church react? Cindy had a wonderful acceptance at her church , but would others be as accepting?
Did she have the right to lay this on them? Perhaps she should not have told them. Perhaps she should have just crossdressed for her visits with them as a male. But how long could she have kept that up? A few months, perhaps. Besides what about when they came to town for their next visit. No, honesty would have to come eventually. She had just hoped eventually was a few months in the future.
Cindy lay on the couch much of the night, lights low, face buried in hands crying and praying then crying some more and praying some more. Even the extra estrogen tablet she had taken couldnt reduce this anxiety. When she couldnt lie still any longer, she got up and paced through the apartment. Sat down. Tried to watch some TV, but nothing was appealing.
11:00. She should call the folks. Tell them a special letter was arriving. It would be a difficult call to make. To sound as if nothing was wrong, with tears in her eyes would tax every drop of vocal control 20 years of training could muster.
"Hi, Mom. Hows everything going up there?
A few moments of casual conversation continued, Cindy breathing deeply in a futile effort to relax. Finally, taking a deep silent breath, Cindy said in what she hoped was a casual tone, "Oh, by the way, I sent you a tape today. Its nothing to worry about. You should get it in tomorrows mail."
"Oh, all right. Is there anything I should know?"
"No, nothings wrong. The tape will explain everything."
"Well, Id better let you get to bed. We love you."
"I love you, too."
Cindy replaced the receiver like it was made of flawed crystal. She listened to the synthesized ticking of the electric schoolhouse clock on the wall as it measured out the remaining hours of her old relationships. In less than 12 hours the last pure domain of Carl existence would cease to exist. This at once excited her and scared her. It was exciting because she was moving forward. It was frightening because she didnt want to leave her parents behind as she moved forward.
Her rhythmic breathing which had regulated her vocal tones began to falter and quicken. She collapsed sobbing dry sobs into a blue ruffled pillow she bought at a Womens Ministries Christmas Boutique. Exhausted she looked back at the clock. It was nearly midnight. She had early classes tomorrow. She would have to try to sleep.
Cindy slept surprisingly well. Nervous exhaustion overruled tumultuous anxiety and plunged her into a deep dreamless sleep that only ended with the steady bleating of the alarm clock at 7:00 the next morning.
She lay listening to the clock for about 30 seconds, feeling that getting out of bed was an almost impossible task. She thought about her accumulated sick leave, but that wasnt the Martin family way. They plowed right ahead and did what needed to be done.
So, pressing hard against the mattress, Cindy got out of bed, deposited her earring studs into her jewelry box, and got dressed once more as Carl. Just two months and twenty-five days more of male life, Cindy thought, then I will be able to be me all day every day.
The first class breezed by, Cindy teaching on automatic pilot not really aware of the class or of anything else. Back in the office, she began to call her home number to check the messages on her machine. If she knew anything about the folks, she knew there would be a call as soon as the tape arrived. But as she picked up the receiver, her office mate came in complaining about a broken copier. Cindy almost laughed thinking about how important a broken copier would have been to her last week and how unimportant it was to her at this moment. She replaced the receiver. Chatted with her colleague for a few moments hoping she would leave. But she didnt.
Finally, Cindy left her office to go pick up her mail in the mailbox across the campus. As she trudged along the path she tried to imagine the scene when the tape arrived. Were there tears? Was there anger? What was said? How did her mother react? How did her father react? What would they say on the tape?
Outside the administration building was a phone. Cindy reluctantly picked it up, slowly dialed the number and listened to the ringing. One ring, two rings (if it rang another time no message would be on the machine).
No further rings.
"Were awfully sorry we missed your call," began Cindys purposely androgynous message. Cindy press the secret code, stopped the voice and heard the synthesized music box rendition of "No Place Like Home" telling her the tape was rewinding. Perhaps it was just someone trying to sell her insurance.
"Honey, we got your tape," it was Cindys mothers voice. "We listened to it," she continued her voice cracking with emotion. "It doesnt matter to us whether youre Carl or Cindy. We love you regardless. Dont you know that? We love our daughter as much as we loved our son. Listen Ill call again tonight. We love you very much."
Once again Cindys eyes filled with tears as she slowly replaced the receiver on the hook, but she kept the sobbing back and for once felt thankful for that male stoicism society implants in men.
Driving home from school that afternoon, Cindy noticed that the orchards were in bloom. It turned out to be a pretty wonderful day after all.
© 1992 by Tery Maine. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.