I remember the day I claimed my pronouns. It is a snapshot in my mind. Vivid and clear. I sit there in a metal folding chair thinking: this is it. The first day of a new life.
In some ways, it was. A wellspring of new growth. The emerging of fuzzy young buds. The first flush of green on a long, thin branch whipped endlessly by the wind. A new chance to live.
In others, it was just the start of the fall. The coloring of the leaves, crimson red, to match my wind burned cheeks. In alleyways, I hid from drum beats. Around corners, I ducked from police. There was コーヒー I drank and basement rooms of foreign buildings with stranger friends I sat in. There was rain, but no snow. It was not yet that cold.
I left because I could see no other choice. I did only what I thought I should. In the air, I hit terminal velocity and stretched my arms into nothing. I reached, I guess, for the stars. They did not show through the haze.
Winter, then, blew in with a flurry of blows. Tear gas canisters thrown. I was far away in another world watching the happenstance occur on a screen too small. Sparrow, small and flightly, was one of the few names that stuck with me. I’ll never know where you flew away to. I hope it was a warmer place than where I went at the end of that night.
I packed my life and moved. Chased a dream that didn’t stand a chance. A plan without a shape or map. I wandered ever south to try and find the warmth. Instead, sadness and confusion settled in my bones, I lost track of plans I’d never drawn up. Letters where I bared my heart saved me from freezing through.
I moved north to get away. There, I buried my head in a different cold. A physical, exterior chill I could wrap my face against. I bent my back and bowed my head to the unforgiving, unbending, unyielding northern land. There, I tripped and stumbled in the dark. I misstepped and slipped on patches of black ice frozen in invisible rivulets. I split my lip and cracked my head, and finally told myself — that’s enough.
Then, I grew up.
In the quiet of last winter, I made myself a secret plan. I kept it quiet, close to my chest. I did not say a word. I withstood flurries and rainstorms and dry arid stretches where nothing seemed to grow. But in these things I did not hope. I was waiting for something else.
A new way to arrange myself. New words and new things to brace against. New tools to craft sentences I’d never spoken through. New sounds in my mouth. New shapes for my tongue to make. A new dance to feel the rhythm of.
I sit across the ocean from my old home and feel the hum of change vibrating the strings I’m made of. I am melding into another being. Bones are gathering from a stew of blank cells. Structures, piece by piece, are beginning to emerge. I am being born from a collection of activated imaginal buds. I have no consciousness of what I will become. Potentiality is a pathway my mind cannot run. I only wonder if I’ll remember, at the end, what I once was.
Either way. I trust whatever comes of this cocoon I’m in. And I trust the world to know exactly what to do with me. Eager, ready, waiting to emerge, to stretch new wings — and for the first time, realize my life was a journey toward the edge of the world where the sky meets the sea.