Telling My Stories

A life lived outside

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Memorial Day Memories

Posted by catkisser on June 1, 2010

For most of my adult life, Memorial Day Weekend was the “Rolling Rock Festival” held by Tom Nagel every year from shortly after I left college.  Every year a core group of us who knew each other in college and mostly were active in the Cockroach Coffeehouse off campus during that time got together with our families and newer friends to barbecue, play “jungle crochet”, reconnect and finally, in the evening, pull out the instruments and jam all those old folksongs we performed at the coffeehouse as well as the one’s we’d written since then.

Others from that core group hostessed other yearly get togethers, my family did the Wino Festival around Halloween because it was near the time last year’s wine was ready to drink and that year’s wine had just been put up.  Midsummer Ed and Betsy Burke had an un-named gettogether at their farm near Lake Erie, midwinter Terry and Carol Hartley held the Ham Fest.  At all of them the Folk Music Jam was the central attraction.  But Tom’s Rolling Rock Festival was the longest and most consistent and thus the primary event of the year for my old college friends.

When Tom and Judy divorced, Judy was no longer there even though she was one of our college crowd.  Later she and I ran into each other occasionally, I wish it had been more often.  These get togethers kept us connected and I expended a lot of personal effort to get as many as possible to attend all the events.  It was also where the annual fishing trip was planned.  Some of those trips were incredible adventures, most just camping and fishing and good times.  My function for those trips was organizing, planning, cooking, cleaning up camp etc.  Years later I realized I was functioning as the group wife for them.

Before I transitioned I considered Tom and Glenn my best friends in the world.  Tom and I would often take off for a weekend fishing trip or canoe trip or even both combined.  Every year it was a given that I would be with Tom on opening day of hunting season.  Tom and I shared very similar political points of view, Glenn was our political opposite but that never seemed to matter that much.  Robin, Ed and Betsy were all very very Christian, me a lifelong Pagan.  That didn’t ever seem to matter either.  Often they would joke that if I entered a church it was even money whether the church or I would burst into flames, but I did occasionally support some church activity important to them.  I would have done almost anything for this circle of friends and in fact often dropped whatever I was doing to come help them in some project or emergency.  When I transitioned, I died in their eyes.

I attended exactly one Rolling Rock Festival after I transitioned, then I was no longer welcome, no longer invited while my daughter and my ex continued to go and would tell me I was mourned as if I had died.  They still attend them.

Most transsexuals try to erase the lives they had prior to transition because of a mental disconnect between seeing themselves as male and then female.  I was different.  I always saw myself as female, did male as an act but among my friends, I was myself so I was hurt more deeply than words can express that my entire circle of friends cast me out just because the exterior changed.  Nothing else drove home the nature of the differences in social interactions between the sexes more than that did.

There is no happy ending to this story.  Fourteen years later I am still estranged from the circle of friends I maintained for over thirty years and even acted as “social secretary” for.  Glenn died a number of years ago.  Apparently without me pushing him to stay in contact, he had dropped out of the events shortly after I “died”.  Terry and Carol, whom I’d introduced to each other in college and intervened many times to keep their marriage together, just divorced recently after more than thirty five years of marriage.  Of all the get togethers, the Rolling Rock Festival was the first and now the last.  I try to stay very busy on Memorial Day weekends but still those memories at some point come back.  And it still hurts.

When someone asks me what the hardest thing about transitioning one’s life from “male” to female my answer is learning the true nature of the relationships you are in.  Most live an entire life without having to do that and that is a blessing.


2 Responses to “Memorial Day Memories”

  1. Viktoria said

    BIG Hugs!((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((())))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  2. dianakat said

    Thank you for sharing a very moving story.

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