My family and I got back from a two-week long road trip last night. It was so great. I feel like everyone in our family has been a little stressed, and some time away from home was exactly what we needed.
Leading up to the trip, I was pretty curious. How would K handle it? Would it help K to get away from all things that reminded her of her previous life? This was a chance for her to go somewhere where no one ever knew her as A. No one would question her gender. No one would mess up her name. No one would use the wrong pronouns. She would just be K, my daughter.
At the half-way point in our road trip, we were going to a wedding for some college friends in Boston. I spoke with them ahead of time and they were incredibly supportive of K’s transition. We moved away from there when K was only 3 months old, so they never really knew her as A and K doesn’t remember them at all. The wedding went awesome. Not only did no one slip up, but no one even talked to me about it. It was a non-conversation. K was K, and that was that. No one needed more information, no one hounded me with questions about how we were doing or what it all means. They were accepting, supportive, and loving.
Because of the treatment at the wedding (and the fact that the rest of our two weeks was spent with strangers) we had two weeks where we weren’t constantly bombarded with reminders that we used to call K a boy. As I mentioned, I wondered how this was going to affect K. What I hadn’t thought of was how it would affect me.
It was the second day of our road trip and we were driving in the car. K was wearing a new green and blue dress that my mom had gotten her. I looked back from the passenger seat and I saw her. I didn’t see the the son that I used to have, I saw K… my daughter. It was different than usual. I used to look at her and see a mix of two children: my son A and my daughter K. Depending on what K was wearing, somedays I would see more of A and sometimes more of K, but always a mix. This day changed it though. I saw her. She was just K. I stared at her for I don’t know how long, and I kept staring throughout that day and the next. Once I escaped from my daily reminders of A, he was gone. I didn’t see him at all for the next 12 days of our trip. It was surreal.
I wish that I could have held onto those feelings forever. I wish that when we got back home, the confusion didn’t come back. But it did. Not to the degree that it was there before, but it came back. This morning when we were outside, one of our neighbors approached us and stared telling me how A “looks just like his dad.” One sentence was all it took remind me that I used to have a son. K heard it too. She just looked at my neighbor, turned on her heels, and walked away. She refused to even say hi. After that, I started seeing both kids again, trying to reconcile my memories with the present. At least now, K’s identity in my mind is so much stronger and I see A even less than before. I’m sure with time, A will fade further and further from my mind. The road trip showed me that I can do it, I can see her in her entirety without desperately trying to cling to her identity as my son. One day this ache in my chest will go. If it can disappear for two weeks, it can disappear for longer than that too.