I’ll tell you how an RBMK reactor explodes

“Sex” by Cheat Codes
Do it on the counter, we’ll fuck for hours (let’s talk about sex)
Any way you want it, you can have it
Talk about sex, baby
Do it in the shower, pussy power

“This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush
I should be crying, but I just can’t let it show
I should be hoping, but I can’t stop thinking
Of all the things I should’ve said
That I never said
All the things we should’ve done
That we never did
All the things I should’ve given
But I didn’t
Oh, darling, make it go
Make it go away

I was holding my breath for a week.

I still acted like I had a dick. I wouldn’t let myself look at my vagina. The packing felt like it was just tucked, I was just in “too long of a tuck” and I was sure the instant the packing was gone, my dick would be back.

The packing came out. Oh my god it was like a clown-car. Just kept going and going and going. And then it was out. And then the catheter was out. And then I peed, with my junk in the configuration it should have been in for 43 years. And it was amazing. I didn’t cry yet. Then the PT person came in, and we dilated. I had a mirror to hold up to my vagina. Seeing it, that was intense.

In the car on the way home from the hospital, I drove. I felt so good. I felt like me, a new me, in a way I had never imagined. Mental barriers that I didn’t know existed came crashing down left and right. Certain behaviors that were “wrong” when I was a boy, I started to realize that they were right, they were default, they were “just how it is for a girl.” Wearing a bikini. Wanting to be seen, wanting guys to want me, wanting to be a mom. I don’t want to be essentialist, but girl let me tell you.

To have these mental loops in your head playing for your entire life, suppressing things, even when you have transitioned, still suppressing things and behaviors. I couldn’t talk like me before. All of a sudden, without effort, I started to be able to talk like me, how I knew I always should have talked. To have that mental bandwidth suddenly freed up by this situation. My mind grasped for an analogy.

The only thing I could see was technicians trying to avert some crisis. Desperately flipping switches to try to save the situation. And they can’t, because some of the switches are too small for their fingers to flip, little dip switches. So they get out the tweezers, but it’s not fast enough. And then in walks the doctor, with a giant flat piece of plastic, and just flips all those switches from “off” to “on” with one motion. And then the day is saved. More than that. A day that has never existed before in the history of the earth now exists for me.

This torture loop of “this thing I’m doing right now is not what a woman would be doing” is gone. I don’t have to think that any more. I don’t have to metathink about the thing that I have to hide any more. This is the biggest gift anyone could ever receive. Is this what it feels like to be a human being? Oh my god. I have been missing out.

I cried so much. This could have happened years ago and I would have been pain-free. Girl, let me tell you that it couldn’t. It took the length of time it needed to take and not a second more or less.

Dreams

I woke at 3 a.m. a few nights ago, in terror. My mom was screaming to be let into the house. Pounding on the front door. I woke and sat bolt upright in bed, listening, my heart pounding furiously in the quiet dark. The AC had turned off, the house was completely silent. I reached for my phone. The security camera showed no one at the front door. I drank some water and went back to sleep. An hour later, I awoke in the same way. Same dream. A woman was screaming at the front door. Was she afraid and running from danger? Hoping to be let in to safety? I couldn’t tell. I almost woke my wife Jill up, but thought better of it. I got out of bed and went down to the front door. Unbolted the deadbolt, cracked the door. No one was there.

I stepped out into the warm darkness of a Colorado early morning, the birds starting to make noise, the sky an inky blue in the East. I breathed deeply – scent of pine and smoke carried on the air. I went back inside and went to bed.

At dawn, in the half-light, I rolled over in bed, facing away from Jill. There was a beautiful woman there, floating in mid-air, seemingly on an extension of the bed that wasn’t really there. I could swear I was awake. I felt awake. This woman was familiar, gorgeous, blonde, dark eyes, striking features. I was in love with her. She told me it was OK to love her. Again I awoke, and went about my day, ashamed to tell Jill about this dream. I thought it was a dream about infidelity.

Now, I realize that she was me, telling me it was OK to love myself, as a woman. She had been screaming to get in the house. Full of rage and anger. I let her in. I’m glad I did. When I finally figured out what these dreams meant, I wept.

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When I was a child, I was enamored of the babysitter. I wanted to be the babysitter. Specifically, I wanted to be a girl. I felt a strong affinity for the feminine. As I grew older, I learned to suppress this feeling. There was no way to change who I was, and I thought “nature doesn’t make mistakes like that”, and “you’re a boy, be happy being a boy.”

As I got older, the girls started changing and I was jealous of them. I hated my body. I rejected my body, first dressing in baggy sweatpants and sweatshirts to hide it. I was depressed. I had no idea why. I saw a child psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with seasonal depression. I’m sure there’s a seasonal component to it, but I was depressed all the time to some extent. Now I realize it is because I hated who I was – physically. I started to over-eat as a self-medication for the depression, but also because I hated my body. I was punishing the body I hated.

After college, I decided I needed to stop being depressed and overweight, and I started eating better and exercising. I lost 140 pounds. I started dating girls for the first time in my life. I started really loving my life. I felt good.

Fast forward 15 years… I’m married, I love my wife, I love my job, I love where we live and our life together.

But.. I had fallen back into a severe depression after a particularly traumatic job experience, and the horrifying and soul-crushing experience of losing my dad to cancer. I started dressing all in black, every day. A uniform of grief. I gained a bunch of weight again. I started vaping. And then the fucking Coronavirus hit. I needed to do something to kick myself out of my funk and get healthy again, so I started running again in March, 2020. Colorado is such a great place to run, there is sun nearly every day. Even in the winter, it doesn’t stay cloudy or cold for very long. I started running along the trails in our neighborhood, and started to feel happy again. I stopped vaping.

And then one day in April, I was running along the High Line Canal trail and started to remember my wish to be a gender other than the one I became. I thought, “maybe my name is Lisa.” I started wearing women’s running clothes, and I felt good in them. Outstanding, actually. Confident. Feminine. I started to think about other appearance changes. I cut my hair in a specific way, with the intent to grow it out. I started dying it – first, gray. Then gray and blue. Then all sorts of fun color combinations. I started wearing brighter colored clothing. Running further and faster every day.

I came out to my wife as genderfluid and non-binary. I was terrified of doing this, but I had to. I am extremely thankful that she took it quite well. I am definitely still attracted to women. I also am at least partly a woman!

I started painting my nails – this was a big deal for me, because you can kind of explain away hair color, but there are certain gender signifiers that are less easy to explain away, and makeup is one of those things. Painting my nails felt liberating. I felt closer to who I actually am. I am slowly coming out to people at work, and they have also all been supportive. I love where I work, and I love my colleagues. I started wearing eyeliner and mascara. I am not sure where it goes from here. I feel like a tomboy. I am athletic, I like camping, knives, motorcycles, shooting guns, but also makeup, and I’m starting to care a bit about fashion. This is quite a change for me, I always rejected fashion, much as I rejected my body. Now I’m rejecting less of myself, and I’m only sorry that it took me 40 years to get there.

Today, I went to Costco with painted nails and eye makeup. I got compliments. I have gotten probably 20 compliments from random people over the course of this journey so far. I think this is because I’m confident, and people see that. I never, not once, got a compliment about my appearance from anyone other than my wife or family in the preceding 40+ years of my life. This is interesting, and maybe it’s because I’m letting the real me be seen.

The Sky in Colorado

Deep purple sky

The sky in Colorado is different from many other places. I think it’s a combination of the low humidity, high altitude and normally clean atmosphere. Every few minutes of every day, the sky changes, even when it is cloudless. Near noon in the winter, you get these amazing deep azure blue skies in the north, opposite the low sun. It’s reminiscent of noon in the summer in the high latitudes of the Baltic. Storms, sunsets, changes in pressure and mountain waves all produce amazing colors and forms that I will never get tired of looking at.