The spirit was willing but the flesh was very weak. And maybe I’m just not as young as I used to be.
Last night, I went to see one of my all-time concerts — probably the final time I’ll see my beloved Beach Boys, on their 50th-anniversary tour, from the third row center at the University of California’s Hearst Greek Theatre in Berkeley.(They played 46 songs in about 2 1/2 hours — no way are they gonna “Do It Again” after this tour, all of them nearing 70.)
With a couple-hour stop for a nap on the way back to Fresno, I got back to the house-that-I-refuse-to-call-a-home at 5 a.m. The adrenaline was flowing, so I posted the playlist on Facebook and answered a couple of responses. Finally was ready to sleep at 6:30 this morning. I set the alarm for 8:30, fully expecting to jump up and hit the shower and head to the Tower District for the Pride parade at 10, as usual on the first Saturday of June.
“Uh-UHHHHH,” my body said, wagging its finger at me. “Girlfriend, you get your ass back to bed!” So since my body has been fighting me of late, with problems with allergies and breathing and a lot of restless sleep — and because I have to work tonight — I gave in and settled in for some more unsettled sleep.
I wasn’t planning on marching this year — as I did last year, on my 50th birthday. Last year, I marched, in a rare-for-Fresno June rain, with a local trans support group with which I was loosely attached. But I don’t feel comfortable being part of a group, so I’ve drifted away from them (though I still correspond with a couple members from time to time, one of whom has shown a subtle but huge amount of support). And between last year and marching in San Francisco’s parade two years ago — and my souring on SF in general — I think I have this marching thing out of my system, so going to the Pride parade in the Tower is more a socializing thing — running into friends for a festive occasion.
I’ll be down in the Tower in a short while. Once I finish this and pull myself into the shower.
Here’s the thing to me about the Pride concept, as it applies to the LGBT alphabet soup — and it’s something I brought up in my SF post nearly two years ago:
To me, logically following, you can’t be proud of how you were born. Bring proud of being born in between genders makes as much sense as me being proud to be blue-eyed or blonde or Irish-German-Slovak. I had no say in the matter.
Pride is about accomplishments, not genetics. And you can be proud of what you do with what you’re dealt.
Now, in my case, I’m not totally proud of myself at all, as I haven’t handled the employment thing well.
A week ago, I was back on the ledge over my three years of frustration, of unemployment and underemployment, of being trapped in a rotten situation, of being not just rejected by the work world, but largely ignored. A week ago at this time, I was not just harboring suicidal thoughts, but pretty damn defiant about it this time, which scared me. It wasn’t a depression in the clinical sense. I was just exhausted, fed up and angry — you can only fight the rest of the world telling you that you’re worthless and useless and denying you a decent living for so long, when you know deep down that you don’t suck. (And impending birthdays seem to be a trigger point.) And as much as I want to go home, head back East and start another chapter of my life, I won’t go back with nothing — I won’t go home a failure. And in my eyes, if I don’t go back with a good job to jump into, I’ve failed, and miserably.
But I am proud, as I was last night at the Beach Boys show. I sat in the front center of the theater among thousands and didn’t feel self-conscious about it. Had a nice long talk while waiting to get into the theater with the guy in front of me — Dan, a college professor, who is an absolute fanatic.We spent a half-hour or so talking Beach Boys; that was refreshing, being able to speak with someone who speaks my language. And if he read me as trans, I don’t know — I don’t care and it didn’t matter. Used the women’s room at intermission — first time I’ve done that at a big concert, and actually, it was my first big show as Frannie 2.0 — and no one seemed to blink, as far as I could see.
In short, I’m proud of just being myself and living my life out and open in the real world, and maybe making a difference by just living something that resembles a “normal” life, whatever that word means.
I’m proud of having been smart enough to listen to my inner voice nearly 4 1/2 years ago when, sitting on the bed after work one night, it asked me out of nowhere, “Can you do this?” I’m proud of taking step after tiny frightening step and confronting my fears and dealing with them and, if not slaying them all, at least reducing the remaining ones to a manageable size.
I’m proud of forging my own road. It’s been this way all my life, regardless of which gender I’ve lived — I’ve always taken the harder road, cursing under and over my breath as I’ve watched other people cruise freeways while I’m driving the bulldozer through fields and forests and hills and mountains and building freeways for others to follow. There’s a payoff somewhere, right?
And I’m proud of being able to convince my friends and much of my family to come along for the ride — of winning over hearts and minds one person at a time, one blog post at a time, one tiny step at a time. Of convincing them, for the most part, that this is the better me and to accept me. I know a great many people, but very few had even met a transgender person before me (and to tell you, I hadn’t met many myself). I’ve been, I think, in my own way, able to foster some sort of understanding about something that’s not readily understood, that’s out of many people’s realms.
And I’m proud of having done all this in Fresno — the overtly right-wing, overtly religious city that serves as the butt of more jokes than any place in California except maybe Bakersfield. Fact is there’s a considerable number of LGBT people in town; if you live in or hang out in the Tower, there’s no way you don’t have friends or acquaintances who aren’t. I cannot tell you enough how much support I’ve gotten from friends and strangers and friends-who-used-to-be-strangers alike. Especially in my moments of deep despair, such as the ones I’ve encountered of late.
I have had little to no support from the formal LGB and/or T community in San Francisco, where I had hoped to live. Been treated like shit, actually — and some of it is a Bay Area-vs.-Valley snobbery. I’ve had people turn to ice when I told them I live in Fresno, and on at least a couple of occasions, I’ve had to say, “Hey! Wait a minute! I came out in Fresno!” Here, for the most part, I know where my friends stand as I live the day-to-day in the California no one east of the Sierra knows about and no one west of the Sierra wants to know about.
So, in a way, every day is my Pride parade. Every time I get out of the shower and do my face and slip into a cute pair of shoes and walk out the door and head into the everyday world is my own little bit of pride. That said, though, wish I could’ve been there in the Tower this morning. Guess I’m getting old.