Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cosmic

I was about four miles into a hot and humid run and my asthma was making each step and breath seem like a major accomplishment.  It was the first full day of summer and I felt it.  In the distance I noticed a young girl with a bright yellow top riding a bicycle towards me on the opposite side of the road along Goose Rocks Beach.  As she approached, it appeared she was riding erratically, as if she this was her first time without training wheels.  Her sun drenched salty shoulder length wavy blonde hair tousled from side to side. As our paths were about to cross, it suddenly dawned on me that she wasn’t riding a bike at all;
she was on a unicycle. A smile emerged from my straining mouth. I can’t imagine what she thought of me, if she even noticed at all.  I felt old enough to be her mother or even grandmother, but I’m just a sweaty middle-aged trans woman struggling to maintain a jog that’s only slightly faster than walking.  The girl appeared to be no more than eight years old, relaxed and enjoying her morning alone away from her family, yet intently focused on maintaining her balance.  As we passed each other she didn’t look over at me, she just continued on her way down the road. 

Columbia River Gorge
This was my second day back in Maine after trip to the west coast. For ten days I was 3,000 miles from home, working, learning, networking, volunteering and sightseeing, in and around Portland, Oregon.  Surprisingly, it was my first trip to the picturesque northwest state, whose motto, alis volat propris, (she flies with her own wings), is a tenet I live by.  After attending a leadership retreat for five days, just 20 miles east of the city of roses, high above the Columbia River, I decided not to return to Maine right away, rather I would extend my stay and explore more of the Northwest. 



Along with a delightful colleague from the retreat, I volunteered to gather pledges during Pride in support for the Oregon United for Marriage campaign.  A generous organizer opened his house to the two of us as well as use of an inflatable mattress and a couch for us to crash on.  We enjoyed dinner together and quickly became close, sharing stories and noticing we had a lot more in common than we both knew.  Laughing and holding each other’s hands on the way back at our guest’s house, we decided to pick up some food and a bottle of cheap wine.  We didn’t stay up much later; I don’t even think I finished my teacup of pinot noir. A long day and a few cocktails had tired us both out.  As we headed to bed I knew I didn’t want to be alone or sleep on the questionable pullout couch in the middle of their sparsely decorated living room; reading my mind, she suggested we share the air mattress.   

The next few days were special.  We worked together alongside other volunteers from Oregon, gathering support for marriage equality from hundreds strangers we encountered at the Pride festival and parade along Portland’s waterfront. 
But our cheerful time during the retreat and in the city was constantly kept in check as one of our colleagues was recovering from emergency surgery and was still recovering in a local hospital.  The experience was a reminder to me to stay mindful of other people's situations and live each day like it was my last.  With our work done by Sunday evening, I was ready to leave town for a day or two and explore Oregon’s majestic coast.  My new friend joined me and we drove off up and into the evergreen mountains towards the Pacific Ocean in a rented red Toyota. 

Manzanita Beach, Oregon
After spending the day driving and stopping to take pictures of the views and each other we landed in a small seaside village.  I had asked a woman also waiting for her lunch at the Vietnamese food truck on Sunday for suggestions about coastal towns to visit while in Oregon, and without hesitation she mentioned Manzanita.  I could tell by her expression it might be a special place to check out on our adventure.  I don’t know if she thought we were a couple, we weren’t, but she didn’t mislead us one bit.  As the sun was setting we exited 101 and drove through the lush sleepy town towards the twilight and the sea.  A long flat beach with mountains at either end greeted us at the end of the road and we rejoiced at the welcome sight. There wasn’t much choice in motels, but our room was perfect anyway.  Only sliding glass doors and a rain soaked carpet separated us from the Pacific. 

Settling in our room we enjoyed a few vodka tonics, laughing and teasing each, before heading out to find dinner.  We had planned on eating at the local pizza place we noticed driving into town, but it was closed, so was the Mexican restaurant; we ended up at the Sand Dune Pub.  As we navigated pub food and drinks, our conversation meandered between silly, sweet, and honest, all the while noticing and commenting on the other beautiful people in the bar, men and women alike.  We knew it was time to go when the waitress leaned over our table to turn off the glowing neon open sign.  Walking back in the dark to motel, I failed to notice the deep puddles and our sandals and feet got soaked, but it didn’t seem to matter.  Within minutes we were climbing the gray stairs alongside the empty illuminated pool to our  room, I reached into my handbag and found the blue plastic key chain with raised white numbers, 40.  

As we poured each other drinks and took off our skinny jeans, the original plan of diving into the cold Pacific faded into the night.  With both of us in or on top of the queen sized bed we continued to talk, and the once silly and playful nature of the evening took an unexpected turn.  One after the other we shared very deep secrets about our pasts. I sat propped on one arm starring into my friend’s ocean blue eyes, stunned at her revelation, but I couldn’t find words to express my support and gratitude for trusting in me.  Likewise, I don’t think my friend knew how to respond to what I exposed about my past either.  With words failing both of us, we embraced each other in silence.  I didn’t want to let go.

Her tender fingers began to explore and touch my body.  First up and down my arms, then my legs, it was a sensation I hadn’t felt in more than 3 years.  The soft touch of someone else’s finger tips traversing my flesh had been missing from my life for too long.  The tenderness was overwhelming and I couldn’t hold back my tears.  They ran down my cheeks and dripped onto her waiting shoulder.  She must have felt the dampness, as her hug suddenly became stronger and she whispered into my ear.  I barely could get the words out of my trembling mouth, but I somehow managed to thank her, while trying to explain why I was so overcome with emotion.  One of my greatest fears before and during transition was that I might never share an intimate moment with another person as a trans woman.   

Friend's Cute Feet and Toes
But there I was, holding and embracing another beautiful woman.  My heart was pounding and my desire and affection for her and that moment intensified. We changed positions and sat face to face on the bed holding one another with our legs wrapped around our vulnerable bodies.  In an instant we were kissing, grabbing, pinching, and biting each other with the urgency of an approaching tsunami.  I felt like a teenager, making out for the first time. Trying to stay relaxed and live in the exhilarating moment, I reveled in the joy of fulfilling each other’s pleasures, with no guilt or shame.  The rest will stay were it should, between us.   

We were two people who needed each other, and for some reason our paths crossed, like shooting stars burning across the atmosphere, landing in each other’s hearts.