The picture is me in my office during transition, apparently working on my email. It appears to have been my 46th birthday. The photo is remarkable in that it shows me having a clean, organized desk. Almost never happens.
When logic and proportion
Have fallen softly dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
When last we met me, I was home in Oregon, a failure at life, from my point of view, in the summer of 1967.
There is war in Vietnam. It was certain that I would be drafted, as soon as I did not return to college in the fall.
June - The Six-Day War.
June - ABM Treaty negotiations collapse. Looming over all of us, many of us for almost our entire lives, was fear of the bomb.
July - Major race riots take place in Newark and Detroit
I reacted to all of this at first by attempting to retreat into a fantasy world created by my OCD tendencies. The constantly ratcheting tension rendering that impossible to accomplish. I underwent what I will call a schism episode. I was there, and then I am here, without moving. What has changed in the meantime is a frame of mind. I took a step towards becoming the me who I am now. I didn't want to live with those people anymore, so I split. That part of my life was left behind. My friends became the people I used to know.
Where else should I go but San Francisco?
I wasn't born there perhaps I'll die there
there's no place left to go...San Francisco.
At the end of the Summer of Love, I found the Autumn of Turmoil and left during the Winter
of Despair, to Florida and on through Mexico back to California and the establishment of Alice
's, then across the country in buses, with hearts heavy after Martin's death, on the Poor People's March on Washington
, to Resurrection City (scroll down a bit). On I went to a hot couple of summer weeks on east 13th in Manhattan, then back westward, drawn once again to the Golden Gate. An autumn of depression was the prelude to the Nixon years:
What's right for Richard Nixon is what's right for the country and what's right for the country is right for the world
--Richard Milhouse Nixon
Oh why, oh why, was I not allowed to vote? And Reagan was governor and They® knew where we lived. Only the lame remained in the Haight. Left behind were memories of baking bread and cooking pancakes for the Diggers to feed the hungry, of occasional visits to work on communal farms, of protesting unfairness and the war, of riots and police actions, of working from time to time with the migrant workers picking strawberries or tomatoes. I took away with me the knowledge that one can and should be an altruist even if nobody understands what that means.
So how does all of this relate to my gender? When one is in full survival mode, some concerns have to be set aside. Snap decisions are made. Choices have consequences. Stuff happens. Too much of it seemed to be happening to me. All that I have outlined couldn't have happened in 14 or so months. I have at least three years worth of memories. I sometimes wonder if I didn't split two-for-one. Mostly, I was not well. That I survived was a series of accidents.
I've already linked to some of the incidents and memories I have above. As was pointed out there, I had an episode during the "Alice" time. I'm not sure what kind of episode that was. There were other episodes. My first day on Haight, I saw a group of longhairs (what we preferred to call ourselves) hassling a transgendered runaway, who was dressed in rags. My heart sank. Possibilities slammed shut around me. I made a choice to remain hiding within myself. I grew a beard to hide behind. Many people can't see your feelings if you have a beard. Choices have consequences.
One day a couple of months after I first arrived in the Haight, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye. I was sure it was an hallucination. I often wish it were. It was my First Love, absorbed in thought while taking a walk in Golden Gate Park. I knew that her family had moved to the Bay Area during our senior year. And there was I, a dirty, greasy bearded street person who was at that time sleeping in either Buena Vista Park or a crash pad. I regret to say I followed her. For over an hour I followed her, doing my best to stay just in touch, because all I wanted to do was to see her. Cue Elusive Butterfly.
I eventually watched her walk away, heartbroken. Then I went to meet a friend, with whom I went to visit a guy who took us to meet this guy who went by the name of Quinn the Eskimo. Or something like that (when your friends have names like Crusader Rabbit and Oh, Shit Bill, one is often through the Looking Glass). And the Quinn dude left us with 8 pounds of opium to do with as we wished. And I traded mine for some downers and speed hoping for a magnificent extinguishment...and woke up two or three days later when a guy fired a shotgun over my head as I walked through a private parking lot. Or I had a stroke. I'm not sure. But I think it was the gun thing.
On the Winter trip, I left out of that story (linked above) the night I had to spend with a gay man from a local support program, as he masturbated himself against my body, the alternative being that I freeze to death in a corner of a parking structure near Skid Row. I learned I was not gay.
After the last return to the Haight I met Linda. And Linda was the name of my sorrow. Linda had broken her leg, badly, and used crutches. She and her friend liked to watch people play chess and sometimes play themselves. I was one of the better chess players in the church basement coffee house (Hamilton House) and could hold my own at the I and Thou. Linda and I connected, I thought. Friends at the very least, but my mind was fragile and I thought it was more. After the next riot (at which we claimed a rock pile and sold stones to rioters), I escorted Linda back to her home, her exquisitely furnished flat, and her husband. I was crushed. I wanted to end it all once more, but fortunately got several hits of acid into myself first, causing me to be functionally incapable of figuring our how to actually commit the act. The best I could figure out to do was to break a window and slit my wrists, but I couldn't find a brick for the window (ironic). I ended up at the I and Thou playing chess once more where I met The Woman who would later become my wife. Choices have consequences.
I was a virgin before I met her. She asked me if I was one and I lied and said no. She told me she was bisexual. She lied as well. She was also a thief. And I accepted the role of her Fixer. Upon such beginnings was built a 24-year marriage. Schism time. Next stop, Joplin, Missouri.
Sun turnin' 'round with graceful motion
We're setting off with soft explosion
Bound for a star with fiery oceans
It's so very lonely, you're a hundred light years from home
And this appears to have very little to do with gender, except it had everything to do with it.