Essays, Poetry

26 This Spring

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[Image: Sprouts in a plastic container on a wooden floor. Open makeup pallets behind them with Sage’s smiling face reflected in one of the mirrors].

 

I’m waiting for the leaves to come back on the trees.
I’m waiting for the New Year to really begin.
I’m waiting for the spring air to roll over me,
Chilled but full of moisture,
Smelling of plants soon to be.
I’m waiting for the grass on the hill to turn green.

I’m waiting for the opportunity to try again.
My false start has come to an end,
But the world will come back to life
And I will be able to try again.

We’ve survived another winter,
Apart and together.
Now we have the chance
To breathe again,
To live again,
To think again,
To reimagine.

My false start has come to an end
And I am getting ready to try again—
When the leaves, the grass, and the fresh air
Come rolling back in.


CW: discussion of body stuff, grief, and sickness.

I turn twenty-six on Tuesday the twenty-sixth. I feel more like myself than I have for awhile. I am writing more like myself and I am writing more in general. Poetry has come back into my life and is taking up more space than ever before. Prose and ideas for prose are everywhere. I am compiling the past few years of my transition into a zine. It’s all been falling into place since I let go of the need for a refined product, success, or legitimacy and focused my energy on the process instead.

I love the process. That is the essential piece, you know, loving the process. The piece that can so easily go missing. You can become so focused on the end goal, on the need to be and to appear productive, that you lose sight of why you create in the first place. We create because we love and need to create. This doesn’t mean that creating should always be easy or simple or fun. Sometimes, especially when you are deeply invested, it can be incredibly difficult and confusing and frustrating, but if you love it, that drive will help you move through those challenges.

I was sick last night. I lay on the bathroom floor for hours, shaking. Something went wrong in my body and I felt it in every part of me. I could barely keep my eyes open. I was alone. I lay there and cycled through the following thoughts: I wish this wasn’t happening. What’s wrong? When is it going to stop? Why is this happening? I wish this wasn’t happening…

Then another thought came into my mind as if from elsewhere: this is what it means to have a body. This is what it means to be alive. Having a body means that sometimes that body gets sick. I felt lucky for a few moments just to have a body, even if that body was angry with me. Then I fell back into the cycle: I wish this wasn’t happening. When is it going to stop? Why is this happening?

I was cold and couldn’t stop shaking, so I ran a bath. I lay down in the warm water and felt just as unwell, just as alone, but didn’t shake anymore. I lay back and I let go: this is happening. I can’t stop this from happening.

I started to sing an old song, a song I learned from a community that would stand in two rings and sing two rounds into the night. I sang that old song in an old language and thought about how I didn’t know what the words meant but could feel what the song meant. I sang it to myself, over and over, and I stayed there with my hurting body in that bath and became okay with what was happening.

I was at a New Year’s party a few years ago when something traumatic was triggered and my vision took on a ring of black spots and I felt like I was going to be sick. I lay alone for hours on the cold tiles of a stranger’s bathroom floor, even though I hadn’t had a single drink that night, and rang in the New Year. I had just lived through one of the hardest years of my life and felt the weight of it in my body that final night. I didn’t sing then but I did ease into the pain, mind and body joined together on that cold tile floor. This is what it means to have a body. This is what it means to be alive. Sometimes, you will be sick and you will feel it in your body whether the cause is from your body or your mind. Sometimes, you will be sick, you won’t be able to make it stop, and you will have to get down on the floor with it.

My body is a beautiful alarm system that has always reliably sounded the bells whenever I’ve become too cerebral. Pay attention to me, it says. Take care of me.

That New Year’s Eve, my body took on all of my grief and pain and made me lay on a cold floor all night so I could move into the coming year with a clearer mind. Don’t take this with you, it said. I felt the fog of death, disappointment, betrayal, anger, loneliness, and fear rise like smoke off of my body and leave the room. I came back downstairs at one in the morning and smiled quietly at the party guests who were getting ready to head home. It was a new year and I was new. My family and I drove home in the car. It was dark and they were tired and I was awake and feeling better than I had in a long time.

Yesterday, I lay on another cold tile floor and then in a warm bath. I let all of the awful feelings wash over me. I sang an old song that I did/didn’t understand and thought about renewal and how I was turning twenty-six in three days. Pay attention to me, my body said. Remember to pay attention to me.

I can’t promise to always pay attention, body, but I will try. You will be twenty-six soon, as will I. You have carried me this long and have always been my friend. I will try my best not to let my mind get in the way of your needs again.

Spring is almost here and soon it will be my champagne year. I am leaving something bad behind. I am writing every day. I am searching for community. Just like that NYE all those years ago, something in me died last night and something new came alive in its place. I let toxic smoke rise from my body in that bath and I became new.

I am turning twenty-six in two days and finally, I am ready.

Poetry

When You Don’t Pass

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[Image: Blurry image of Sage shaking their head. They have short red hair and are wearing a black shirt with a white bird on each shoulder].
Disclaimer: I don’t feel like this all the time. There are multiple sides to every story, to every experience. There are lots of wonderful and exciting things about my transition. It has opened up new doors, allowed me to access a happiness and freedom I was unable to before. There are also many supportive and lovely people in my life.

But there is a less glamorous side as well. There is a difficult side, a challenging side, a painful side. There are shitty people, as well as the broader transphobic society that is slowly changing but still has a long way to go. Sometimes, it’s necessary to express this side of things. Having a creative outlet for darker feelings is important. So, if you don’t want to read something heavy right now, please feel free to skip this. Just respect my right to share it.

Also, YES, the whole concept of “passing” is problematic af. Doesn’t mean I don’t get caught up in and affected by it.

CW: transphobia (internal and external), mild self-loathing, general sads


When you don’t pass:

You feel like a failure,
A fuck-up who’s constantly “getting it wrong”.
When people misgender you,
Sometimes you think you deserve it.
You’re lonely
Because you’re the only one who can see
Who you really are.

You’re accused of
“Not being real,” of
“Following a trend,” of
Being otherwise “illegitimate”.
You are dismissed,
Erased,
Invalidated.

You are waging a war against your body,
Constantly disappointed by the mirror,
By the reflection that feels like an insult—
The cruellest thing anyone could ever say.

You ask yourself, over and over,
What am I doing wrong?
What is wrong with me?

You ask yourself, again and again,
When will it happen?
Will it ever happen?
And how much longer do I have to wait?

You look around you and see
Other people’s radical transformations.
You contrast & compare.
You come up short.

You feel fucking exhausted.

What is(n’t) happening?
Why isn’t this working?

You’re not taken seriously.
You’re not respected.
You don’t
Respect
Yourself.

You’re left asking,
Who am I?
Who am I?
And why am I stuck here?

When you don’t pass
Every day takes a little more out of you,
While you work towards the day that you do.
But more importantly,

You work towards a world that doesn’t require you to.

 


I’m not looking for sympathy by sharing this, it’s just something I wanted to express. Thanks for reading.