Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Transformation

Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute the one who shapes it, saying, “Stop, you are doing it wrong!” Does the pot exclaim, “How clumsy can you be!” How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father and mother, “Why was I born? Why did you make me this way?” ~Isaiah 45:9-10

It’s hard to determine, but I can see patterns of my niece Sonya becoming more and more familiar to me. My entire family thinks my niece shares traits much like myself, in fact she’s a repeat of me when I was her age. My sister ends up blurting out my name while calling for her. She’s reminded of the days when I was that age, when my sister would baby sit me. I always poke fun at my sis and say, “You’re totally reliving my youth!”

Sis claims that I touched her stomach and put some spell on her, making her unborn child a ‘spawn’ of me. We laugh and joke about it, but in reality we find it oddly amusing that Sonya is a replica of what I used to be at her age. Not only does she resemble me in childhood features, but she’s also experiencing everything I did when I was her age.

For instance, I never wanted to be a ‘girl’ when I was four years old. This phase lasted until I was about twelve. She refuses to wear girl clothes and tells her mom that she wants to be a boy. She’s offended if you call her pretty or refer to her as a girl. When forced to wear a dress for a special event, she looks angry and disturbed. She becomes introverted and shy.

Going back to my childhood, I could remember how different I felt. I wasn’t like the other girls. They were all into their little ‘girly’ world, while I whizzed by on my three-wheeler motorcycle with the boys in our neighborhood. I started riding motorcycles when I was only eight years old. All the other girls rode their pink Huffy’s and gravitated in a small group planning their next slumber party.

When I was ten years old, the prettiest girl on the block befriended me. She saw how much fun I was having with all the other boys and wanted to be included. She rode on the back of my four-wheeler motorcycle (quad), and let me tell you how proud I was! She was my little biker babe! We would travel all over the paths behind our yard and hide out on some cliff with a waterfall smoking our cigarettes. (Which both of us are health freaks today & don’t smoke.)

Little by little, I noticed myself impatiently waiting for my new friend’s phone call. If she didn’t call, my mood would change and I didn’t want to bother with anyone. I didn’t know why this girl affected me in such a way. She’s just a friend – why would I get so upset about this? I had so many other friends to hang out with. My day was ruined if she made other plans to hang out with another girl from another neighborhood. It even killed me more if she stayed in the neighborhood, yet hung out with another friend and not with me. To me, it meant she was there ‘choosing’ not to hang out with me. I always wondered why I felt so strongly about her.

Then when I turned twelve, she and I would hang out all the time practically. She would try new things with her hair, while my hair was still too short. You really couldn’t do much with it. I still wore flannel shirts with jeans along with a pair of boy’s Nike high tops or a pair of work boots. Some people would mistake me for a ‘boy’. That didn’t bother me at all though. I knew I looked more like a boy than I did a girl. It was a compliment. As my friend and I were getting older (heading towards middle school) she started drifting away from our friendship. Her new friends were so pretty and feminine. I was an outcast. I was the boy- wait- the girl who looked like a boy. None of the popular and cool girls wanted to hang out with me because I was seen as a freak. The funny thing about this was, I had more little boyfriends than they had. The boys loved me because I was ‘one of them’. (Maybe they were gay too—who knows!)

As time went on and we were graduating from the twelve year old awkwardness into our teen years, I can remember my “friend” making comments about my clothes and my boyish ways. She said it in a derogatory tone and it made me feel really bad. I felt ugly. I remember thinking, “Oh…she doesn’t like the way I look!” It hit me – she wanted me to look like a girl. I was desperate to get her friendship back and wanted to be included in her circle of friends. I wanted to be the main focus though.

After a long summer, the first day of school was finally approaching us. We would all gather at the bus stop every morning and the girls would evaluate how everyone was dressed, what styles were being worn and how unfashionable some of the other kids were. It was more like a dress contest. I kept thinking about it weeks before the first day of school. That was it. I was going femme. I decided that if my friend, (which now I realized I had a major crush on), liked girls who looked like “girls”, then that’s what I’m going to be. I wanted to impress her. My hair got longer and my entire wardrobe changed from flannels, jeans and sneakers to blouses, long skirts and pumps. I practiced walking in these awkward and uncomfortable shoes. I looked like a drag queen gone wrong. But I kept at it.

7am I walked out to the bus stop with my feminine attire all gussied up. My hair was long and feathered back like everyone else’s. I had my little ‘80’s poof’, which was thought of as ‘cool’ back then. I wore eyeliner, blush and a little lip-gloss. The palms of my hands were sweating and my heart was racing as I slowly approached them, hoping I wouldn’t be made fun of. They all knew me as “Deb” the tomboy. I was more masculine than any other boy on the block. I had a total transformation.

“Oh…muy….GAWD!!! I neva’ thought I’d see the day! You are GORGEOUS!” My friend said, as she quickly ran over to me primping and fixing my blouse and touching my newly grown-out stylish hair. I could feel my heart thumping as her interest went from the other girls and focused straight onto me. We were back to being friends again and started hanging out like we used to. She would do my hair after school and we would have little ‘girly’ parties on the weekends. I still felt a bit awkward because I was still ‘me’ inside. I wanted to be out riding my quads with the other boys and planning our next bonfire party.

High school was a bit of a blur. Before I knew it, the boys started liking me more and I started dating. I dated the boys to show ‘my friend’ that they thought I was cute too. But what happened was, competition came into play. I was her enemy now. Totally not the way I wanted this to go. Back then, not one person was ‘out’, or known as gay. They would call people ‘gay’, but in terms of ‘not being cool’. If one was thought to be a lesbian, it was the most disgusting thought they could fathom up! “Ewww, she’s a lesbo!” That’s how they said it. Being gay or being a lesbian meant that you weren’t cool enough to date the opposite gender, so you resorted to being with a person of the same gender. A lot of closed-minded people still think like that today.

I didn’t come out of the closet until I was nineteen years old. I didn’t want to still be in school and have the kids shun me because of my orientation. I wanted to be on my own and separate from all of them. Hiding myself behind dating boys left me feeling empty and more insecure about myself. I knew this was wrong for me. Regardless what anyone said or how people emphasized that a girl should be with a boy, for me it wasn’t so. I resented the fact that people assumed I should be dating a guy. I loved all my guy friends because we had so much in common. We all played guitar, rode motorcycles and loved girls! I related to them.

Getting back to my niece Sonya though, I can see what she’s going through. I’m not saying she’s going to turn gay or anything like that, but it reminds me of what I went through. What saved me through my ‘butch days’ was the fact that someone saw me as beautiful once they saw me as a girl and not a boy. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. I wasn’t an outcast or seen as a freak anymore. Some would say that it was influenced - and that’s okay. Maybe it was, but I’m so glad that it happened, or I wouldn’t have looked like “me” today. I know that my girlfriend wouldn’t have dated me if I still looked boyish. She likes feminine women. So because of my friend back in my childhood – I want to thank her for changing me. I still see ‘my friend’ occasionally because we still live close to one another. We always say, “Call me and lets get together sometime”, and never do. But one day, I’m going to let her know what happened. One day, I’m going to let her read this. One day…maybe.