Welcome to 2017!
In a few days I move away from Austin, likely never to return. I grew up in Round Rock. I went away for a few years, and then I returned here to begin my career and my adult life right during the dot-com crash. I’m actually a lot older than I look. Many people upon meeting me seem to assume that I’m 27 or so, when in fact I turned 38 late this year. “Wait, how old are you?”
I keenly feel the passage of time. I feel that I have not begun to approach what I wanted to accomplish by now. But, realistically, I have between 40 and 60 years left. The amount of time that I spent here… three more times. And a lot can change in 16 years.
16 years ago, I thought I was a straight man. I was married. I voted for Bush and thought the Republicans could run the country well. I was Catholic and believed the anti-abortion rhetoric, yet I somehow rejected the anti-gay rhetoric. Go figure. Though we knew a few gay men in college, it was shortly after we moved to Austin that my wife and I noticed for the first time pairs of men openly holding hands at formal “respectable” events. We began to feel a relief that this was the kind of safe city that we never really recognized we sought.
15 years ago, my wife and I decided to have a polyamorous relationship. She said that I had suggested it years earlier while we were dating. I did not remember saying that, but it felt like the kind of thing I might have. It was shortly after this, as I thought about love, romance, and relationships, that I began to believe that it was tragic that I was straight and not bisexual. I can remember being apologetic as I (very occasionally) turned a man down. And it was shortly after this that I understood that I was parting ways with the Catholic church… and I did not particularly regret that.
14 years ago, I found out how infidelity felt. Infidelity in a polyamorous relationship looks different than in a monogamous relationship, but it hurts the same. It cuts through hearts, rips out rugs, and crushes dreams.
I also learned that maybe the Republican party was actually made up of a bunch of chronic liars, and became a Democrat. Later I started to understand how violent and hateful Republicans could be. How did I never see this before? And maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t hold the reproductive health doctrines of men who want to ban abortion but also ban all other forms of contraception and all forms of sex that carry no chance of pregnancy while simultaneously starting a war and lying to me about weapons of mass destruction!
12 years ago I joined a company that became my career for the better part of a decade. They weren’t great… in fact sometimes they were downright awful, but over time my authority became vast, as did my knowledge of everything about the business… except what was in the best interest of the business. Ya know, sometimes we techies need to be informed of the big business direction so we can make decisions intelligently.
10 years ago, with the onset of Saturn Returns, I finally figured out that I was not a man. That moment has lead me through so many changes and to so many of the people that I find so important in my life now. As a man, I would never have made any of the connections I have as an androgyne. This realization sometimes keeps me awake at night, knowing that it is by the grace of but a few words that I have in my life the love that I experience now. More rationally, a few of my current friends would have been my friends anyway, and they would have noticed my egg tendencies, and they would have aided in my hatching. I may have ended up exactly where I am now, on a different schedule.
Letting go of my own gender also let me release my expectations about my sexual orientation. Reparative therapy, especially religious-based “therapy”, is bullshit. We know this. And yet, I successfully “prayed the straight away”!
I also gave up on “til death do we part” and let my marriage end.
Five years ago, I learned photography, and I changed how I see the world. Always watching for that perfect moment. Seeing textures. Analyzing light. Understanding focus and freezing motion. The speckled shadow beneath a canopy. The shimmer of a cobweb five meters up and at least that far away.
Three years ago, I talked myself out of my first suicide attempt. In the aftermath, I evaluated my life. I saw clearly how I was wasting it on my employer’s amazingly small dreams, and I chose to spend some time quite alone. I loved living out in the woods. I hated having to drive for twenty minutes to reach the closest decent internet connection, and for an hour to reach any of my friends. But there is a lot to be said for the peace of the forest, for stars so bright as to light the ground, for rain on the metal roof a mere meter from my lofted bed… and for really cheap rent paid in cash under the table. Oh, and did I mention that my landlady also covered electricty? Pretty epic, especially since the cabin wasn’t well insulated and I had to run 2.5kW of heating that winter.
In the last two years, I have truly started to learn how black lives matter, and how little I understood my own racism in the past. I have learned about social justice, and become keenly aware of my failings. I have gained true confidence in my skills, and become comfortable in my body for the first time in my life. I have felt my socialist/anarchist heart begin to blossom as I notice the Democratic party repeatedly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
And, shortly after my birthday in 2014, I met the woman who has become the love of my life. She had to exercise both persistence and patience. I was wounded and avoiding romance, sex, dating. She had to convince me that a lesbian, even a trans-friendly lesbian, could be interested in an androgyne who still had and wasn’t particularly inclined to get rid of eir penis. But, she exercised that persistence, and she waited patiently, while over the course of months I fell in love and I healed. Now we talk of our sixty year plan.
I will miss Austin. I will miss the people here. I will miss all of my bike routes and the restaurants and the events. I will miss the familiarity. And I feel guilt, leaving all of you to stay and stand against the legislature.
But for this woman, where she goes my heart shall follow.