January 30, 2012
We all have different social circles that we traverse: childhood friends, college friends, neighborhood friends, the parents of our kids’ friends, church/synagogue friends, and friends from clubs or committees or, perhaps gyms that we have joined. We meet through commonalities of one sort or another and decided whether or not to pursue the relationship. I have friends that I met as a kid who (in part, thanks to Facebook) are back in my life, at least virtually. Along the way I have collected other parents that I care about (and, I think, care about me) from daycares, preschools, camps, elementary and high schools that my children attended. Sometimes we met through our kids, other times we found each other. Regardless of how we initially met we are all in a club of sorts. Some of them we chose. Some of them chose us.
The first one that chose me was “The Breast Cancer Club”. Now there’s a club that no one ever wants to be admitted (invited?) to. It is also one that I joined (was recruited?) to which, odd as it may sound, I wouldn’t necessarily want to be kicked out of. Would I want to go through the whole experience again? No. But the people I met along the way from the doctors (whom I consider friends), to the patients I met while in the process, to the friends who supported me in more ways that I ever thought possible and finally to my ability (responsibility) to hold the hands of the women who travelled the road after me altered and effected my life forever. In fact, I recall hearing an interview with a newscaster who was back on the air for the first time since his own cancer diagnosis and treatment in which he said that it had been “the best year of his life.” I knew exactly what he meant.
Next club to which I have recently been indoctrinated is the “parent of a transgender kid”. This one, while not life threatening or physically (for the most part) challenging, is not one that was ever on my or any of my other many circles of friends’ radar. I mean that not as a judgement, merely a reality. (The BCC always lurked in the recesses of my mind, since my mother had also been a member, but it never really occurred to me that I would secure a spot there.) So, here I am, quickly and fully immersed in this whole other circle of friends who have already become hugely important in my life. Which brings me to yesterday.
Yesterday morning, Jessie and I actually set the alarm so as not to oversleep. We had a party to go to and we were both looking forward to it, despite the fact that it meant we had to be up, bathed, dressed and presentable on a Sunday morning. We were going to a brunch at the home of a mom I met at the local support group for parents of transgender children. (Aside: the first meeting I ever went to, this woman brought her adult trans-male son. I fell in love with this kid. He was articulate, kind, comfortable in his own skin and, yup, adorable. Their united comfort with and honesty regarding their journey made it clearer to me that we would make it through this. I have since told her that she, like it or not, is now my mentor.)
I wore my signature outfit of jeans, a sweater, a cool belt and boots. Jessie stepped things up a bit and wore a dress, tights and her favorite black boots (yeah, the same boots that she iniitally rejected when I pointed them out…girls!). We worked together to make sure that her hair looked it’s best and off we went. The car ride there was overtly smooth, but we both felt anxious, each for our own reasons. Jessie, as is her way, bombarded me with questions for the entire thirty minute ride. “How many kids will be there?”, “will everyone be older than me?”, “are there going to be other transgirls?”, “will there be good food?”, “how are mountains formed?”. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I hope so and, what?!?!
We arrived at the house and were both relieved to see tons of cars out front. We were fashionably late (it was called for 10:30 but I left a little late for fear of being the first people there) and walked into a house full of club members – several of which I have started to get to know, some of which were newbies and some of which were part of the original group that found one another about ten years ago. As I entered I, fortunately, immediately caught the eye of one of the women who I had met prior to even attending a meeting through a mutual friend. A got a warm hello and hug and no sooner had I introduced Jessie did she ask, “where are all the kids?”. She was directed to the basement and my query as to whether she wanted me to accompany her was met with an eye roll, a toss of her bright pink jacket in my general direction and a “nope!” and off she went. I did not see her again until two hours later when it was time to leave.
In my mind, at least, this gathering was at least as much for the parents as it was for the kids. For me, it was wonderful. Here I was in a room full of self selected people who are all on the same journey as I am. We all have stories that are both eerily similar and vastly different fron one another. Yet we are all in the same club. One to which we have lifetime memberships…