Friday, July 11, 2014

Secrets (Part 1)

I was on a long vacation of sorts this previous summer before this and visited my brothers with the final stage being a Texas visit to my late husband's family ranch. I was in what locals like to call "God's Country", Montana, which fits weather wise, in the summer,  since we had warm days and very cool nights, for most of July and the part of August I was there.

I had been fighting a balky back that I gave myself by driving the "wrong" car back to New England to visit my younger brother and other friends in June. I remedied that by driving back to North Carolina through 900 miles of construction and other delays and picked up my "fast" car, 2005 Z06 Corvette, which has more comfortable seats with better back support and is lethal fast. I then drove to the Northwest to visit my older brother in Montana.

If you have read anything on this blog you would know my older brother is very special in my life. He accepted me and tried to protect me as a child and young adult. We both lived in Southern California at the same time so I had him for support when my first marriage disintegrated. Along with my Uncle Don I had plenty of family support and friendship in California. It went from Orange County to Pasadena to Hollywood and it helped me through the odd bad times and provided plenty of good times.

While in Montana my back felt well enough so one day I agreed to a horseback ride with my brother up higher into the Rockies. My brother was someone and is someone I could and do confide in. He moved here from Southern California to get his children away from the drugs and culture of Southern California. The kids fell in love with their new home and all has gone well. He married late in life but he married a great woman and the happiness in this home and semi-working cattle ranch is undeniable. I love it here but you would need a gun to keep me here for the winters.

As we were riding we talked about family and Ray dropped a really good question on me. He simply asked and I paraphrase his question, "why do we never talk about the past"? It struck me he was talking about my past and what I or we went through during our childhood and early twenties until I had my SRS. I put my brothers and mother through a living hell with my silly suicide attempts and I am alive today because they found me and got me to the hospital on time to visit my friend the stomach pump along with Kevin pulling me off the rocks on my last suicide attempt which was my best plan.

I write about it in this blog, partially, because it is not easy to talk about it primarily because it was not a lot of fun, most of the times. It is personal therapy in some ways and it helped that I let go of the anger when I was young when I forgave everyone. It is a past I did not forget about but neither did I brood about. It is the past because I am no longer transsexual, I was just a girl, and then a woman as the years passed by. It was my secret but raising a daughter, running a business, going back to Grad School in California and again in Massachusetts, and just living took over and life became as I wished it would be, never boring, very interesting, but relatively "normal". Balancing raising a daughter, running a large business, and attending very rigorous grad schools did not leave time for the past. That was a good thing.

There would be occasional reminders like when my Guitar God friend was in LA for shows and he would always send tickets and end up at the house, particularly after my divorce. Several times the entire band showed up at the house and we had the best pool parties ever but the only one who knew about my past was him and it was our little secret. It was never discussed or talked about because it was the past and a time when I was struggling to get over the divorce and become the me I was at that moment. The other reason is simple, it was never an issue between us. There was no need to talk about it. He was a clear example of both my attraction to bad boys and my seeming lack of fear of playing with bad boys, although I did not realize that in that moment. Never once did we mention or discuss the past other than a smile when something was mentioned, by his lead singer, about the hilarious manner in which we met. I might be the only person that ever sobered him up at a party he was drunk at.

Even as a child I was good at keeping secrets. I did tell my parents and grandfather that I was a girl but I think they had an inkling even when I was very young. When you are a kid like me you get called a lot of ugly names and there were many a time when I was called some gay slur that I wanted to scream,"I am a girl", but I never did. They did not have the right to know the truth. Even my many Psychiatrists had to drag it out of me because I quickly learned to not trust them because of their reaction to my secret. The concept that I really was a girl was like pouring gasoline on a fire in my mind. Once I did scream I am a girl all but one of those Psychiatrists became somewhat agitated and then hurt me verbally.

If a kid said, "you are such a girl", I would run home tom my mother to tell her what was said but it never went over well because I then learned that they were making fun of me. Sometimes one cannot win. I was 5 years old when I started grammar school and after I skipped two grades and ended up in third grade a week into class I had a teacher that believed in corporal punishment and she hit me with a ruler one day quite viciously and when I went home my mom asked what had happened and she had said I needed to stop acting like a girl, like I had a clue on that one. My mom marched right down to that school and walked in with her cane from paralytic polio and told that teacher to mind her own business and the next time she hit me she was coming down there and beating the crap out of her.

I know how it feels to be a 12 1/2 year old kid and be several years ahead of others in school and feeling like a complete outcast because nobody could figure out if I was a boy or a girl. Well actually they all thought I was a girl entering High School and wondered why I was breaking the school dress code for girls by wearing pants and not a skirt, I wish. When word got around that "she" was really a "he" from the other side of town here for the advanced classes it got quickly uglier.

Even my younger brother said I should stop acting like a "girl", like I had a clue I was acting or somehow doing it on purpose. It took my brothers half a summer to teach me to throw a ball the way I gather I was "supposed to", so he should have known better. I was so distressed I thought of stepping in front of the train I took to school every day but I feared I might survive somehow. It is weird how the mind works at times.

I remember that first day like it was this morning and how scared I was. I was not in a good place mentally because I felt so lost and everything felt so hopeless in my life. I remember how frightened I was walking up the granite steps leading to the front door of my High School while I desperately clutched my books to my chest and kept my head looking down while praying nobody would notice me. The problem is I was always noticeable in those days and I heard the comments and the whispers as I tried to climb the 30 odd granite steps to the main entrance of the school.

I have really good training in keeping secrets. I was investigated and received a top security clearance in college because of what I worked on and helped develop with my friend and adviser in the Engineering School. That clearance moved with me to Houston along with a few upgrades of a special nature that were necessary for my position. One learns not to talk about what is not or should not be talked about. It is a bond of honor and not something to be taken lightly. The irony is until I was nearly 24 basically everyone around me knew about me and what I was. It was not something easily hidden nor unknown. They talked to everyone including Harry so what I was was known, by everyone I worked with. Kind of amazing they still hired me.

In fact when I left our Houston facility, for my home in Clear Lake, it was easier for people to think I was female. I never dated there because I had never looked for a boyfriend simply because I felt incomplete and my previous boyfriends knew the truth and knew that sex was absolutely out of the question and I had no intention of getting involved in something where I had to say something. Boys always came after me and kind of forced their way into my life, it wasn't that hard to be honest because most of us are very lonely before SRS.  So at work everyone close to me knew but away from work everyone thought I was what I knew I was in my soul but not what I was in one area. That little secret again.

In college I kept boys away with a fake engagement ring, a smile, and an "I am taken" comment. It worked and I should have done it in Houston but it really reminded me of who I had lost in May of 1963, so I did not. I could sortof hide the physical changes, I had undergone, most of the time at work because where I worked we did wear white lab coats which covered one well. It allowed my fellow workers to play practical jokes on visiting Engineers by letting them think I was a girl which usually led to them being embarrassed when they were told who they tried to flirt with. Sometimes it hurt and sometimes it was actually funny but it was something I could have done without. Away from work those physical changes worked to my advantage because it made people think I was who I wanted them to think I was. A way of keeping a different kind of secret. All those years on estrogen does wonderful things.Under different circumstances one would be flattered

I do not think anyone really understood transsexuals back then because I had this one flyboy that always accused me of being a girl pretending to be a boy, so I could work there, and I would remind him that I had a very high security clearance so I was not fooling anyone and besides it was usually after I had killed him in a simulation. They did not like that. He was not the only one that felt that way but of all the people there the flyboys were the kindest to me which is odd when you realize they were all Type A personalities. I had so many crushes on so many of them it drove me nuts at times. They might have had the Right Stuff but they were all bad boys at heart and that was a magnet for me.

I did have one bizarre incident away from work that shows the danger involved. I really did not cook a lot because usually I got home late so I would go to this drive thru BBQ restaurant and get takeout without leaving the car which was kind of a boy magnet which my brother Ray had insisted I buy, because I could get one where I worked. The drive thru was broken and I was starving so I decided to go inside and order food and after I got the food, for a reason I will never understand, I decided to eat there, so I grabbed a booth and started eating. A very big mistake.

Before long two quite cute Texas boys chatted me up about my Corvette and I got nervous, like I usually did, and I acted badly, I am sure, and was accused of being a "Yankee bitch" amongst a few comments. I had a nice B-cup by then so unless I wore something very loose they were quite visible and I was wearing a tee-shirt from work and shorts so I guess they thought they should hit on me which under normal circumstances would have been flattering but I was scared because they started getting pushy. It is what can happen. Pushy boys can get dangerous.

As I entered panic mode over these two boys, it was me and not them really, I heard a familiar voice ask them to leave his friend alone. It was one of the flyboys who had questions about me and lets just say we chatted idly but his eyes never left my breasts or it certainly seemed that way to me. That was a weird feeling because under normal circumstances, later in life, I wanted men to stare at me because it meant they were interested. This was not one of those times. He was gorgeous like most of them were.

He never said a word and he walked me to the car which because of the heat, along with the 12.5-1 compression, was vapor locked and would not start. He stayed there and those same Texas boys from inside got to look at the big block 427 engine and the single carb that told them what it was and the talk went to fast cars and away from me. All seemed forgiven. He even used female pronouns like those Texas boys and it was one of those surreal moments when you realize you just cannot keep this up much longer.

Once I got it started he leaned in the window and said, "You are not fooling me", and when I got home I cried most of the evening. If not for that fucking wart down there that gorgeous man was mine, not really but you can dream, and I had that thought and it was very painful. Life can throw a lot of curve balls at you when you are born transsexual and all I could think about was how good he smelled which is just plain weird. It is hard to get that mixture of man and aftershave out of your head sometimes.

I am sure he told others because there were stares as I assume people tried to confirm what he said but I never had any major issues with them or the other Engineers I worked with other than sometimes getting other Engineers or Technicians to do their job correctly. That was always a problem.

There are a lot of secrets from those days that a few of us will never be able to talk about but the thing I learned was to just go with the flow as my brother says. I was very uncomfortable as a boy while I was extremely comfortable as a girl. People see what you project and they can tell whether you are comfortable or not. It was a weird time and finally in August 1969 I resigned from the best job I have ever had in order to take the final steps towards SRS. In many ways it broke my heart but I needed to do what I had to do. Ironically my mentor told me years later they would have let me transition at NASA but that was something I just could not do.

I headed back to Massachusetts to meet with my Uncle, he wanted me to work for him, and in a moment of silliness I transitioned in a motel in Slidell Louisiana. It never dawned on me that driving a car with off the road side exhausts through the south, as me, was not my brightest idea. I made it to my hotel in Boston and my younger brother wanted to take his girlfriend for a ride in the Corvette so he gave me his Pontiac GTO and he took the Corvette and got a ticket for noise within 15 minutes. That car was loud because the muffler in the side pipes was simply 4 crinkles in the pipe which didn't quiet it but gave it a very distinct rumble.

I then moved to New York working for my Uncle as me and that was a really "big" secret because other than two secretaries in the construction trailer I was it as far as girls went. I was given a Company credit card in my new name along with a checking account in my name in Boston. It was easier back then in 1969. After some trials and tribulations in my first residence I ended up in late September in my new upscale residence in midtown Manhattan. It ate up a lot of my Per Diem but it was worth it.

The first scary secret I really had was when I realized I liked boys. Somehow I felt it was worse if my mom felt I was gay verses believing I was a girl. When I finally blurted it out I realized she had simply known that was how it would be. The same for my second secret which was a boyfriend. Everyone in both families knew but I really cherished that one until 6 months later when I learned both families knew along with half the high school. Some secrets are not so secret.

My secret that I thought I was a girl was broadcast by the boy I told on a rainy Saturday afternoon in 1959, the same as he did when we learned I was transsexual although it should be pointed out I think everyone kind of had the clue I was more girl than boy so it actually made sense to a lot of people. Boys cannot keep secrets any better than girls, actually I think we girls do a better job, sometimes.

Revealing a secret has always been difficult for me. Telling a guy is not something I have a clue about. The first guy I told was my neighbor across from me in NYC only because he asked me if I knew my friend Lana was a female impersonator. Oscar was and sometimes still is a big deal in the fashion world and I told him I was like her and for some reason I trusted this gay man and he liked me. My trust was well placed although he did say that my fashion sense was matching socks which was probably true. Oscar dressed me from then on.

When I met the Guitar player he did not know and I flirted with him and gave him my phone number because I never figured he would call. He claims I seduced him or at least tried to to this very day which I of course deny but he probably has a point. When he did call I made a mutual friend tell him because it might be less of a shock and I would be safe. We ended up being lifelong friends. We also dated when he was arguing with or between his latest girlfriend. Go figure.

Not telling took a big bite out of my ass with Enrique, the first man I fell for after SRS and my first sex partner. I fell for him very hard and he fell for me just as hard. He introduced me to Opera, the Ballet, and more culture than I thought existed. He taught me how amazing my body was and in many ways freed me from the past. I was quite terrified the first time I had sex with him because I was a virgin and he was amazing with me and for me.

His family had a home on Long Island, on the water, and we spent every weekend there and it was at that residence and on that beach I struggled with the big secret of telling him. I have usually denied it but I was quite madly in love with him. On a Wednesday evening in the late fall of 1971 he took me to our favorite secluded little Italian Restaurant in Brooklyn and got down on one knee and proposed to me and I heard someone telling him something like, "a thousand times yes", and this gorgeous ring being placed on my hand and that secret coming front and center in my mind.

After that I would venture out onto the beach when I could not sleep and sit there and cry on more than a few late evenings. It seemed I could not get away from that secret. Rico would eventually realize I was outside and would walk out to me and I tried multiple times to tell him but it never came out. He would find me crying and sobbing and like most men figured he must have done something wrong and I would tell him it was not his fault but we needed to talk. Men do not handle the girl they love crying very well and his idea of helping was seducing me which was never a problem he had.

My family loved him which was in itself odd. A bunch of conservative Republicans liking a Cuban Diplomat is just weird. Most straight girls and women want to be swept off their feet by a man whether they will admit it or not. I tried to tell him multiple times but it would invariably end up in a kiss and a well placed hand and all thoughts of talking ended. It was a much easier way out for me but it just left the problem and the secret still waiting in the wings.

In December of 1971 he simply seemed to vanish off the face of the Earth as far as I was concerned. I knew he was headed back to Cuba and I had spent Thanksgiving home in Massachusetts. I thought the worst and pestered everyone and even asked my Grandmother for help. His phone was disconnected and it felt like May of 1963 all over again because somebody I was madly in love with was gone. I had a difficult time thinking otherwise and I was quite frantic.

I was and am innately shy which may or may not be related to how I was born but that was and in many ways still is me. Enrique brought me out of the shell I had placed around myself. Whether it was true or not Enrique told me I was beautiful and amazing and challenging and sexy and silly and the love of his life. For a kid like me those words gave me confidence and I flourished as my mom said. That all ended on a Tuesday in midtown Manhattan when I turned a corner doing an errand and walked right into Enrique. The single look he gave me said it all. He knew and he refused to talk to me and at the insistence of a mutual friend we agreed to meet at Rockefeller Center and it was ugly.

I told him I had tried many times to tell him but he did not want to hear it and when he asked how could you agree to marry me the tears began flowing more freely. He said some pretty horrible things and I felt I deserved some of them but not all. It is something most of us that are heterosexual girls face sometime in our lives. I have no answers on the subject.

I told my first husband Robert about a month into our dating and he left for two weeks and came back and implied it was okay and bribed me with his baby daughter who had been abandoned by his first wife. He played me and used me because of his issues so telling him turned out to be a bad experience except for my stepdaughter who was and is a blessing. That was strike two so I decided then and there never to tell anyone I dated again and I have not.

I married Robert in Las Vegas because we eloped which was weird because I had dreamed of a really big wedding since I was a child. I sometimes think I just knew he was bad for me and he was. I caught him cross-dressing and attempting to access my hormone prescriptions and that was it. He was relegated to the Pool House which was comfy for him but except for dinner he was not allowed in the house. Yes I know it was a weird situation and I should never have let him stay in the pool house and eat dinner with us but I feared retribution from Robert which would come later.

We were divorced after less than two years of marriage and that was that and I decided since I had such a miserable track record telling men that that was done and crossed off my agenda. I was never telling anyone about my past again.

I had become close with my Uncle Don of Hollywood fame and was dating men I actually picked up or let them pick me up at a local bar which was a hot spot for younger girls and boys and I may have been approaching 30 but I looked 20 or so I was told. I was playing golf with my Uncle because he had gotten Robert a membership and I was his spousal member.

The bartender recognized how shy I was and he actually scrutinized the guys trying to pick me up and I would get a thumbs up or a thumbs down from him. I dated a biker who was a great guy until he told me I had to get his name tattooed on my body which was not about to happen. Any time some guy wanted to get serious I would mention Denise or simply drift away since that seemed more convenient. I dated a very famous surfer for quite a while until I caught him doing drugs in my living room which was a no go so I dumped him.

He taught me to surf and I am okay but not a world beater. I learned to scuba dive off the California Coast and my Uncle Don got me an invitation to dive with a rather famous or more aptly soon to be famous director. Diving is like walking in space except the medium is a liquid but I now understood the necessity of the big diving pool at NASA.

I kept my secret and continued to do so even when I attended Cal Tech for a Masters in Electrical Engineering. I can speak from personal experience when I say what is shown on "The Big Bang Theory" is more than accurate. I remember how they looked at me and I have to admit I enjoyed every second of it. My first day there was brilliant even if I do say so myself but I must admit my Uncle Don who had a home nearby told me to dress up and glam up and he was correct.

My first class was a lecture and the poor lecturer basically spit the bit when I walked in wearing something Dior designed and not exactly for an Electrical Engineering lecture. He knew who I was and regained his composure but the results of the mostly male audience was notable. When I showed up for class the next time I was wearing jeans and a tee-shirt which became my standard fair but the way I dressed that first day had a lasting result. Respect and awe as a female and a woman. Somehow my Uncle knew.

When they learned I was in my 30's and a prodigy from the 60's it did get weird but in a nice way. While I was there I soon realized I wanted a Masters in Computer Science but that got put on hold for a year when my husband fucked over me and somehow refinanced the house by forging my name and leaving California with half the value of my home and my stepdaughter. The more important thing was the loss of my stepdaughter and I got my Masters and sold my house and went East after my ex husband and most importantly my stepdaughter who was distraught that I was not going with them.

To be continued....

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