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If I’m being honest, I couldn’t tell you how long I have been in this bus station. I couldn’t see any clocks on the walls, and I was too scared to talk to anyone. I was looking out at the world, watching everyone walk to and from the buses, entering and exiting an inbetween space, moving between worlds, guided by nothing more than a piece of metal on wheels.
It was a hot August evening, and I wore too many clothes. Starting a new life as a new person comes with a few challenges, and since everything was so fresh, I was still coming to terms with my body. My body. The same body it had always been, the same long, gnarled looking hands. The same stubby, a fat fingers. The same hairy knuckles, the same long, hairy arms. The exact same gangly teenage body I’d always had, and the same teenage body I feared I would always have.
Knowing this, I decided to cover up as much as possible. I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, a black hoodie, Black denim jeans, repair of boots my dad had loaned me, and too much makeup that I didn’t know how to put on. Because of this, everything and started to run at the first sight of sweat, and now I look like a melting wax figure, hair sticking to my face coming away with globs of foundation concealer. My mascara was running, a web of black lines running down my cheeks onto my chin, make had been crying ink. Honestly, I have been crying, but the sweat did a pretty good job of concealing that.
So I sat alone in the corner of a bus station in Austin, Texas, waiting for someone— anyone—to arrive and take me from this place. I have finally arrived as the person that I wanted to be, and there was no one there to help me enjoy it. I looked at my phone, that little flip thing, wished the battery would come alive again, and close it. Breathing a heavy sigh, I leaned back, fishing through my pockets for anything that I can use to pay for a payphone, I Came up with nothing, insight again. At this rate, I would have to use what little money and I left with to pay for a taxi, and that didn’t sit very well with me. Austin wasn’t a place it was very friendly the taxi cab usage. 2007 Austin, much less.
I suppose I’ve been rambling for little bit, and overloading you with my problems. I wonder about this particular piece that I’m telling you right now– Should I be telling it to you in the present tense, or the past tense? Do you really think it matters? I’ve always found that things, when spoken in present tense, always feel like they’re in slow motion. Things in the past tense seem to move a great deal closer great to our normal time. I think, for the sake of my sanity, and yours as well, and anyone else’s who might happened upon this bit, I’ll tell it as if it’s a story that has already happened—which, if you’re paying attention, in clearly has.
That’s a confusing little bit, isn’t it? Trying to narrate a story, getting every little bit of detail in it, trying to taken and process every piece of sensory information for you. I’ll probably get a little conversational from time to time, and I’ll make sure that you know what’s happening from now on. Right now, I’ll get back to the story.
Since I’ve been rambling on for probably a little too long now, I thought you should probably know my name. My name is Emily, and that is the name I’ve always given myself, even if I’ve never said it out loud. My name is Emily my name is Emily, my name is Emily, and any other name that you hear referring to me is false. Any other name that a person would use to talk to me, or talk about me, is a lie.
The short time before I decided to leave for my third year at college, I came to a very long set of realizations. I learned that I hadn’t been the person that I wanted to be, even though I was living a life that felt close enough to truth. I learned some things don’t make sense, and you have to work through them. I realize that was not as sentence stone because other people were.
So I went on one of those really long soul-searching journeys, the kind that involve a lot of walking, thinking silently and alone, and only a little bit of magic. I went deep into my own memories trying to figure out who I could possibly be, and if that really meant anything now. Obviously, it does mean something, because I’m human being, and human beings deserve to be able to live the truth that they want.
When I came out of it, I had a new perspective. A new way of looking at life and my own existence. I could see that I wasn’t entirely anything. I can see that life was going to be different for me now. I looked at myself and said I had a new name, and I will be going by that new name for as long as I possibly can.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am what you might call transgender. Well, what you would definitely call transgender. I made the decision right away to start living as the self that I had discovered, and to follow that path whatever it may lead.
Yeah, so I’m Emily. I am Emily, I’m wearing too many clothes, I’m sweating like an idiot, I have a phone that doesn’t work, I have no way to contact any of my friends, and I’m too terrified to talk to anyone who could help me. What a combination.
I sat on a hard plastic booth with the table bolted to the wall. It was tucked away in the corner of the station, in the cafeteria. The cafeteria that serves food that most school districts turn away. I spent some cash on a bland hamburger and a terrible salad that didn’t come with dressing. The harsh fluorescent lights loomed over me, and the lack of air conditioning in this building made the air stale. I’m far too warm for to sit inside, but there I sit, with my suitcases, my backpack, and the entirely too large laptop used for school, and I waited. I waited for someone that might be able to find me. I waited and waited and waited and waited, I waited. I was infinitely patient.
I didn’t have much else to do, so I turned my eyes to the crowds that came and went before me. Trying to see how I could make sense of their lives. What kind of people they were, what might they be doing in this between space, this not-destination and not-origin.
First, my eyes met a very tall elf, pacing frantically near the entrance to the bus station. He had up some kind of noise canceling ward to make sure no one could hear what he was saying, but most everyone who looked at him knew that things weren’t very good. He looked like he was wearing only the clothes that he traveled in, and that he didn’t have much else beyond that. His face was drawn in a mixture of confusion and anger, and he was looking down at his phone repeatedly, as if he was waiting for something. Like I said, that ward meant that no one could really hear him, but he was shouting enough and flailing his arms around enough that we knew that something wasn’t going well for him. I assumed hey I just had a run of bad luck and things are getting worse for him very quickly, but I don’t know everything.
My clothes were sticking to me now, so bad was the sweat. My body felt like it was steaming from within, in the stink of the body of water was starting to waft out of my very long sleeves. I debated taking at least some of this off, but being in public meant I have to tough it out. No one wanted to see a shirtless idiot in the middle of the bus station–well, maybe they did. But I decided that it wouldn’t be me specifically. Could get kicked out for that, and that would be embarrassing, right?
Did I tell you I live in a magical world? Yeah, it’s a magical world. It’s one of those places with elves, and dwarves, and weird animals that also talk, and weird animals are also part people. The magic is just kind of free-floating in the air. Second thing is that people draw pictures and make up spells on-the-fly. It’s all very organized though –requires a lot of drawing, and chanting, making sure the conditions for casting spelling correct. It’s not as exciting as it sounds, but it’s more interesting than my explanation would imply.
I live in a magical world, I go to a magical college, and I do magical things of this magical college. I’m a magical liberal arts student. Very exciting. And what, might you ask, is a magical liberal arts student? It’s looks like the regular kind but with a little bit of a twist.