A year ago, I was climbing what seemed like an unending mountain. With the distance of time, I now know I was climbing a false summit because the mountain was so close to me that I couldn’t see anything else.
Today, I’m plodding across a high desert plateau, eyeing even higher mountains in the distance. There are cairns irregularly spaced, and I cannot tell if I am walking in a line or a crazy zigzag. There is not enough parallax with the distant peaks to know.
When I turn to look behind, I can no longer make out where I came from. The arc of the Earth hides everything beyond the horizon. It was a different life down there, lifetimes ago.
I have converted to a spirit, flickering in and out of three worlds, and the ground tilts crazily each time I pass through the aether to each.
There is the world of men, from whence I came and where I began this journey. Most of the world still sees me here, but even when I feel connected to it, it feels tenuous. I am a beardless transgressor, enrobed with garments of another world, and occasionally adorned with jewels and baubles, marking me as some strange interloper.
My eyes see the men and boys, straight lines straightjacketed into their drab hues. There is a manifest, clenched field that wraps about many of them, keeping them restrained from exposing joy – or much else except control and dominance.
I have become the fool, forgetting the feel of some of those restraints, making them manifest for others who didn’t know they wore them, drawing surprise and sometimes ire. But I chafe until I’m raw against the unseen manacles that ground me to this world – my calcite and meaty shapes grown from plan, but not accordingly.
It’s a dull, low-oxygen world for me, and makes the plateau a tiring slog.
I rest, I close my eyes, and I awake in the world of women.
It’s sunny here, and there’s a prismatic quality in costume and effect that dazzles me, causing me to blink.
Being here feels magical, unreal. The desert is in spring bloom and I walk with a bounce in my step. The mountains may not be closer, but I think they are now. Words come easier. I feel safer.
But sometimes I feel like a dandelion growing from the crack between a cinderblock wall and crazed sidewalk next to a field of wildflowers. I’m an interloper, shunned as a weed, laughed at for growing towards the riot of color so tantalizingly close, but so far away.
Other times I am an exotic. The birds, bees, and butterflies that flit from flower to flower, talking to each, taking a little bit here, giving a little bit there, take my pollen and deposit others’. This random talk causes us to smile at each other, for we share packets of life among ourselves. While we know we will go to seed, shrivel, and die, there’s a happiness and serenity in knowing our own, unique beauties.
Awaking with a jerk, I slump, realizing it was the same dream again, and I am in back my ground state, the world of trans. It’s a lonely place, crowded with throngs slipstreaming past each other: up, down, sideways, circling, sitting, sprinting, shuffling, loitering.
In knots we move about, asking news of each other of lands afar and afield. We exchange tips, and warnings, and atta-boys and atta-girls, counsel each other as best we can on the lands we are ignorant of and might have only heard of by rumor, and soldier on, soldier on.
Like Napoleon back from Moscow, many fall from exposure and marauders. Others slip away in the night and blend in best they can with the local countryfolk when their chance arises. The remainder of us huddle, for there are no reinforcements on the way to deliver us, and precious little supplies for a journey that seems never-ending.
We creep, we trot, we weep. And with tears flowing, we claw at the sand, the soil, the mud, curse the sky, shout at the the vultures, and walk on with grim determination, resolved to avoid mummification by desiccation should we linger too long in one place.
My time here is not yet done, something is yet undone, undiscovered, un-enraptured. I sometime pause at night and look up into the swallowing silence in order to tune out the thundering, segregated herds.
Some bellow with rage at their pains, which were either delivered cruelly or were blindingly self-inflicted. There are the chatterers, the whisperers, the wailers, the shouters, the crazies, the emotional black holes that suck life and light from any in their orbit. Meteors and comets whizz by, effervescing the crowds and illuminating their ways, but the friction of their passages thunder by in sonic booms that simultaneously exhilarate and terrify.
We all secretly hope for spontaneous combustion, a kindling of ignition for passage to another planet. We frequently look to others for that spark, but none too often inward for it. Some arc and crash, bruised, battered but more determined.
I am steeled for this passage. I am patient. The journey is the point.
Though I may never reach the summits of the mountains, I have at least transcended a little bit to this place, however uncomfortable it may be. It is still better than from where I came, even though I am scared.