Ten years ago Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 25, 2003. A drab and dark day in New Haven, as I remember it. A Thursday, which meant I was in the midst of wrapping up another Weekend section at the New Haven Register, where I had been the entertainment editor and music writer since September of 1992.
And somewhere in between putting out one fire or another, I took a breather and checked my personal email. Since the evil Yahoo has chewed up and spit out a lot of my early emails, the exact wording is long lost to the ether (and possibly the NSA). The subject line read something like
The Fresno Bee/Assistant Features Editor Position
And the message, from the then-features editor at the paper, pretty much read:
Hello. I’m the features editor at The Fresno Bee. I saw your resume on journalismjobs.com and was wondering if you would be interested in discussing an assistant features editor position with us.
And for the first time — and certainly not the last — I heard the inner voice, loud and clear. The same voice that came to me a little over four years later and asked me if I could transition genders.
All of a sudden, the busy newsroom (straight out of the ’70s Lou Grant School of Newspaper Interior Design) became quiet. And things got very calm — a state to which I certainly was not accustomed, especially working at a fanatic’s pace all the time with little downtime. And I was introduced, at long last, to my inner voice — the creepy whisper from within that sounded an awful lot like HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. And HAL simply said:
Okay — it’s Fresno.
And six months later, minus two days, I was on a plane out of Bradley International, headed to the heart of the San Joaquin Valley to start a new life. In more ways than I could ever have imagined.
I listened to the voice.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened had I not listened, or had I been too scared to do anything.