Ode to Self

Do you remember how you felt? I remember you saying “I wish I were a boy” out loud and proud almost every day, every single day, and yet never thinking to verbalise it.

I know you remember him.

Standing before you in the changing room. Blazer and tie, sleeves too long and shoulders too wide. Pants cuffed three times over and shoes in the smallest men’s size. Crawling out of the mirror as your mother came up behind you; “no, sweetheart, suits are only for boys.”

Do you remember roughhousing with the boys at school? Raising your voice. Being louder. Bigger. Stronger. Your classmates circled around you, ropes of the fighting ring, banging the floor and cheering as you faced your opponent. Three-two-one they cried as your fingers intertwined and the main event began – knuckles white as they hit the floor and you destroyed yet another opponent in the arm wrestling tournament. Top of the leaderboard as every single one wondered how on earth you beat them.

Do you remember how you felt? I remember you saying “I wish I were a boy” out loud and proud almost every day, every single day, and yet never thinking to verbalise it. Never a whisper beyond your mind. The words tangled in your vocal cords, clawing at your throat even as your voice never deepened.

I remember the day you stopped swimming. 

I remember the day you looked down at yourself when you were eight wondering why you were growing breasts and what that meant. What the word woman meant. Wo-man. The first question a child asks is why and yet you never thought to ask it — an overwhelming calamity on the tip of your tongue that clattered between your teeth and wriggled between your fingers; never once curling the question mark around why at the age of four you thought about why you did not have ‘boy parts’. Why you could never look in the mirror and see yourself. Not once. Not ever. 

Why did you seem to recoil?

It heaved in your periphery, saturated with a melancholy that left an ebony trail in its wake. Caustic below your feet. But you knew better than to tread in the poison, tip-toeing about a realisation that perpetually threatened to climax, leaping over deltas that threaded between the letters that floated in your lexicon but never seemed to conjugate.

Do you remember the day it all clicked?

Wrong turn down a rabbit-hole and you were fallingfallingfalling, fingers scraping against the walls as you are thrust to the bottom on your bedroom floor. No clothes, no skin, nowhere to hide. Googling what transgender meant on the cusp of thirteen clawing at the moments where you bathed in your ignorance. Now drowning in the potentials of the years to come.

You tell your friends, but they did not understand. Then your parents did not understand, then your peers, relatives and then, the world. Enigma for another time, cast aside for them to gawk and jive. You are a carousel that never seems to stop for passengers, poised upon a petri dish for all the world to inspect. 

Then suddenly you had filled the prescription and the moment the testosterone cleansed your blood it was all a blur. Suits that fit and a familiar face in the mirror. Rewriting the deepest parts of yourself as you cleared the poison from the petri dish and the contamination from the slide. Into the cerulean ambrosia of the sea, an old friend welcoming you once again – reimagined but not forgotten. Sun that kissed the scars that made you human.

Runrunrun and you were almost 20 years old and alive. No hips, no breasts, no “that’s such a pretty name”, no hiding, no fear.

You would be so proud of yourself.