Exhausted. Defeated. Depressed. There’s no way else to describe how I felt in the days following my last post. Returning to work after that haircut was way freaking harder than I wanted to admit. My head couldn’t have hung that low had I tried and there was absolutely no more pep in my step. Thank goodness for my friend at CG legal who had moved mountains by getting me officially transferred to Los Angeles / Long Beach. I mean, I just couldn’t take it anymore, so thankfully I was moving soon. It is common on peoples’ last day at their unit to bring their spouses or children to the office as they say their farewells. So naturally, I brought my puppy with me, since she is obviously my daughter! Very professional, right? I thought so!
With my last day at work in Texas behind me, I packed up my things up into my Mini Cooper and began my slow trip across country. Well, before I could really start I had to stop by the wonderful State Capitol- Austin, Texas to see some old friends. This was first time in Austin to actually see the sites and visit, and as a 26-year-old native Texan, I think I almost lost my “Texas Card”. I checked into the 5 star resort – The Roadway Inn near the highway (not all of us are made of money okay?). Once my friends showed up, we were off to the creek! (Or, if you are a good Texan, you say “off to the ole waterin’ hole”.) With the day spent tanning, enjoying my last bikini day in Texas and watching the puppy swim, it was time to go out and (obviously) drink!
For those of you who don’t know, Austin is a college town. In fact, it is one of the biggest in the country. As an alumni of the mighty Coast Guard Academy, I absolutely did not have anywhere even remotely close to a “college” kind of experience. After we pried ourselves up from our almost inevitable nap, my friends Hailey and Zach were going to show me Austin’s infamous 6th street. So, cute dress on, makeup did, I was ready to go out and take on the freaking town… UNTIL WE WALKED INTO THE FIRST BAR.
A very large portion of my classmates from our small town moved south to Austin so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when the QUARTERBACK OF MY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM was the freaking bartender! Oh yeah, since I was the captain of the team, so you could say we knew each other. Can I say MY WORST NIGHTMARE?! (Rhetorical question, obvi I can, since I just did). I thought about what it would be like to meet up with people form High School since before I even started hormones. I wasn’t quite expecting it to be on a random night passing through Austin so it really threw me off that night. He was actually pretty cool about it and just asked what I had been up to, and my awkward, anxious and overwhelmed brain spit out “Oh you know, just becoming a woman”. (What the heck brain?! FOOT IN THE MOUTH MUCH?) Steven awkwardly smirked and replied “I know, I heard” and I walked very quickly and quietly away. (Very quickly).
After one drink at Quarterbacks bar, I figured there was no way that could happen again I mean, Austin is a big town, so what are the chances?? Gosh darn you Murphy and your so-called “Law”! Of course the running back was the bar tender at the next bar. OF FREAKING COURSE. This was not what I wanted to be doing tonight. Zach and Hailey were super supportive and pep-talked me through it. I was pretty shaken up, not because they had treated me badly, but because I was just not ready for these random “coming outs”. I mean, who ever is? Luckily Bryce and Steven were so nice about it. The next morning, I said my good-byes to to Hailey and Zach and headed out for the rest of my trip with the puppy!
Sunny and I had basically done the whole “camp across America” thing before (when we were moving from Cali to Texas in the first place), but things are slightly different when you are a single woman camping by yourself. My first time across I was still presenting as a “male” so this was my first time really experiencing the fear that most women have faced their entire lives. I was about to be alone in the woods camping my way across the country and you know what my biggest fear was? It wasn’t lions. It wasn’t tigers. Heck, it wasn’t even BEARS. It was MEN.
I was downright terrified that a man (or a multitude of those darned knuckle draggers) would break down my heavily fortified TENT in the middle of the night and attack me. It was actually all I could think about at the time. I could have driven across the country quickly and passed up all the sights to be safe, butttt I swore to myself that I would not let my anxiety negatively effect my trip so I came freaking prepared. Two hatchets, pepper spray and my big scary yellow lab-pitbull mix puppy (actually a huge baby, but they wouldn’t know that)- and my fingers were crossed that I wouldn’t have to use any of those things. I act tough and strong, but I don’t think I had it in me to hatchet someone’s face off…
Fear and all, I left Austin to CAMP. My first stop was out in West Texas at the Davis Mountain State Park. It was absolutely beautiful. We bounced from campsite / terrible motel as we made our way across country to C-A-L-F-O-R-N-I-A!! We even saw the White Sands National Park! (I swear that my dog has seen more things in this country than most people who live here. You could say that I spoil her a LITTLE.) Anyways… It really felt amazing to be back!
I may have made it back to Cali, but I still kinda had to do that whole “adult” thing and find a place to live and prepare to go to a new unit as a legal female who has to be a man at work. Whew! Same story different place I suppose? Before I even reported into my new unit I was informed that the Coast Guard still wasn’t ready for my awesome trans-ness yet. My new office had an “all hands” meeting to discuss me coming to the unit and answer any questions that my soon-to-be new co-workers had. I mean, I understand why they did it, but it was just like being publically outed to a bunch of people all at once. Kind of hurts. Bottom line was that I was going to have to report in as a man with the entire unit knowing that “the Coast Guard’s trans person” was coming. Whew!
As they say in the military: “Stand by to stand by” to see how it went!