(18 Oct 17)
‘Storyscope: My Story About Home’
My friend is ill.
Wai, sahwdee khaf, and here’s hoping that you will be feeling better soon.
I told my evening nurse at Cottonwood Hospital (Salt Lake City, Utah; May 1983) that I like apples, so he brought extra apples to me after dinner and we talked. I told my story to him.
My ill friend and I reside too distant for me to bring an apple to her personally, so here are apples in song to share with you to get you feeling better.
- (1) Al Stewart
- (2) Cat Stevens
I thought of other songs, but I forgot them by the time I could write them.
Bless my Obama-phone, but its Internet was useless trying to do a search for the other ‘apple’ songs.
We had a good Tuesday Trans Spectrum meeting. Josef scheduled two people who facilitate topical meetings. Tonight’s topic was ‘Home’:
- What is home?
- What does home mean to each of us?
We each took turns telling our concept of home. I presented my perspective when it came my turn.
Here I share with you an extended version of my thoughts about home.
Here’s another song:
- Ides of March
I was born at New Jersey in 1956. I know from the pictures and postal mail that our home was an urban apartment.
Our family moved west in 1958. I recall that we stayed at a motel for some time; I was too young to have had the concept of time to know how long and family refuses to tell me.
We moved to my next home, a nice suburban home with three bedrooms, two living rooms, front and back yards where Kathy and I played; our dad installed a swing-set in our back yard.
I still feel Kathy’s pain when I think about that swing-set. Kathy and I were playing on the glider one day. For whatever reason – the likely curiosity of a child – she stuck her finger into the cap mechanism; she let out a blood-curdling scream as it crushed her finger.
I had my own serious injury at our back yard. We pitched a tent to the northeast corner. On this fatefull day, I was running as any toddler does. That day I ran toward the tent and stept on a stake. I suffered a serious gash to my foot.
Kathy and I pooled water on the front driveway and played ‘Slip and Slide’.
Those were the physical elements of this home. Violence was an essence of my family, our relationships were not going well. I recognised at my young age how my parents’ marriage was failing as I began 1st Grade. Of course, I was outing my self, demonstrated in my episodes of ‘feminine protesting’ that must have caused a strain on my family during the late-1950s and early-1960s.
The legal system of that time allowed my mother to retain full, absolute custody of both Kathy and me. How could this be? Our mom was an abusive parent. She frequently beat both of us. She used whatever was handy – be it a leather belt, an electric cord, a wire coat hanger, a stick. Our physical wounds remained raw for several days; we applied Vaseline to prevent our clothing from sticking to our oozing sores.
Our dad was part of the abuse. He threatened Kathy to beat me or else he would beat her – ‘Hit Nickie!’ he commanded to her.
There is this current ‘Me, too’ tag going around. People are identifying that they were sexually harassed – more specifically at a workplace environment.
Is this now where I write ‘Me. too’?
Maybe it better applies to being fired twice because I am transsexual rather than for Kathy molesting me as a child. Or both?
I shall refer to this in my latest post about ‘home’ as this is the topic here. You can read elsewhere where I have recounted when and where I was the target of my workplace abuse.
Kathy tormented me. She (at age 5) began sexually molesting me (at age 3), though i did not know it that way. She pulled and grabbed me til i hurt, she locked me in her bedroom and forced me to do what no child of our age did – acts taught to her by an adult.
But from whom?
I learned her truth 15 years ago when I read the list of Catholic paederast priests; there was the name of our parish’s childrens’ priest. Our dad worked with him during the many years when he was our parish’s lay director of religious education. I connected those dots and concluded that our father molested Kathy who then molested me. Thus this home was not safe for me.
That would not be the first time when home was danger to me.
Our father successfully petitioned the court to take full custody of both Kathy and me by Summer 1963. We all moved together to another home that would be the scene where my experience of security at home would be further destroyed.
Kathy continued bullying me.
Now it was my father’s turn to be the parent who beat me.
I recall when I was in 2nd Grade and I could not find my arithmetic workbook; my dad beat me for it. There it was, he found it 10 years later, where likely Kathy hid it at the bottom of our stack of fireplace wood.
Another of my worst experiences was 7th Grade when I missed submitting one homework assignment. I was in such fear for my dad’s wrath that I consumed several of his prescription pills trying to commit suicide. During that entire month of October, I endured being extremely ill, instead of dying, yet not once did my dad ever take me to a physician. That teacher, a nun, called my dad in early-November; she told him that I missed that one homework assignment in October. My dad took me to his room and beat me; Kathy told me that he had me for more than a half-hour. My dad took delight in what he did to me – he made jokes and laughed about it for many years, talking nostalgically how he broke his hair brush during his assault.
I previously wrote about when, in my 9th Grade, my dad beat me when I was wearing Kathy’s clothes. My family thought it was cute for me as a young child to wear Kathy’s clothes or put on my teen cousins’ makeup – ‘Oh, Nickie, what a cute girl!’. By the time I got into my early teens, they no longer could deal with me.
During Summer vacations, my dad and I made temporary homes at distant locations:
- New Jersey (1967)
- Saint Anthony, Idaho (1968)
- Grambling, Louisiana (1969)
- Ashland, Oregon (1970).
Home was not a sense of safety during the two years when my dad and I resided at Greece. My dad told me within our first week of getting settled at our initial residence that I’d better behave ‘or else’. I was not the sort to challenge his ‘or else’; I kept my mouth shut, did my best to control my feminine protesting tantrums, and focused on the greater experience of international travel.
Many parents toss their children to their own devices when they reach age 18; I told you how Clint went into the Navy. I have come to know people in my support groups and among our community whose parents kicked them out at age 18 or sooner; they asserted their self-identification – Gay, Lesbian, transsexual – to their family and paid a dangerous price. I knew that threat was hanging over my head, but I lacked their courage.
I also got lucky.
It was my dad who left home when I graduated high school and turned 18; he took his two-years contract to teach at an American international school at Brasil (1974 – 1976). His two-years departure enabled me to officially begin my transition in stealth at age 18: I read, studied, thought through my life, planned my future. I completed nearly 30 semester credits in psychology and sociology; I took advantage of my first opportunity to comprehend my inner being in the safety of home. Denise was there to encourage me. My parents’ abuses and Kathy’s bullying were gone. I was safe at home during those two years, but lost that sense when my dad returned home.
Advance to the school year when my dad and I lived at New Mexico (1977 – 1978). I read books from the Public Library to support my continuing stealth transition that I began in 1974: psychology, sociology, feminism, Christine Jorgensen’s autobiography (gawd forbid!). My dad knew that I had these books – he snooped and found them where I hid them in my room, he beat me when I came home from work.
- ‘What are you doing with this trash?’
He surely saw postal mail addressed to Sharon, but as far as he knew (pretended to know?), there was no one who received mail at our school postal box with that name. Who knows what he did with whatever arrived for me Sharon that I could not intercept? Who knows if he stole tell-tale male addressed to me Nick?
The curious comparison was nearing – living with my dad under his roof, under his authority, under his thumb, and then that power suddenly removed by late-1978. I received my appointment to a position with the Forest Service. I moved to my own home the first time December 1978. Did my dear ol’ dad howl and beg and cry at my departure!
- ‘Dont go!’
His tears of abandonment were false. I did not know it in November when I received my appointment that my dear ol’ dad made flight reservations to New Jersey – himself only – leaving me home alone had I not otherwise moved to my new job.
I moved to Utah (October 1980) and made my home there for five years. I could not obtain any medical services for my transition at Utah – my recent counsellor told me two years ago that I might have been the only reported transsexual at Utah during the time of my residency (1980 – 1985); if you were trans there during that same time, then let’s start a club.
Though I did not actually reside at Costa Mesa, California, I consider that home. I came in contact with a wonderfull physician who welcomed me and restored my prescription. I returned for a few days each year for my annual check-up and renewal. I learned two years ago that my doctor was among the first doctors to work with AIDS / HIV patients. My great big thank you goes to him.
I was diagnosed female inter-sex and post-op, my circumstances were limiting myself to presenting female only part-time while I resided at Utah. I departed my Forest Service position by May 1985 – eager to get on with my life female full-time.
Nevertheless, my brief homecoming of May 1985 proved dear ol’ dad remained in charge at his home (no longer ‘our’ home). I previously posted how I did not feel safe arriving at his home as Sharon if I had no escape to my own home if something went wrong, horribly wrong. I sat my dad down that first Saturday when we had time to talk – really, finally talk, just the two of us, adults with no worry of a time limit. That went bad, terribly bad. He disrupted me because he did not want to hear what I was planning to tell him; I knew it and he knew that I knew it. My visit was rough on both of us; for me, it was another delay disrupting my final step to full-time.
I went apartment hunting and found my own home during those two weeks.
I briefly returned to my departing home of Utah to pack my belongings in the moving truck and make my way to my arriving home at Arizona.
I had an idea to move to Oregon after I departed my employment as a public assistance case manager at Arizona DES (June 1993). I drove to California and Oregon on a job-hunting and home-hunting excursion. I liked Salem, Oregon, and Santa Rosa, California; I also considered King City, California. I visited Kathy on my way outbound, but that went badly; I considered making up with her on my way home, but decided against that. I also realised that Arizona is my home and decided to remain.
I moved from Tucson to Phoenix in 1993. I had to let go of two former homes:
- my home at Sierra Vista where my dad and I lived, what my dad gave to me at his death
- my home at Tucson that was my first home that I bought.
I could neither afford nor manage my past homes from Phoenix.
In a curious way, I consider my Baan Siri cottage ‘home’. Sure, I was always going to return to my Phoenix home, but Cottage #4085 was my home during my three calendar months at Bangkok, Thailand. I want to return someday. Maybe next Songkran 2018, eh?
(to be continued and finished at another wi-fi day at the Public Library)
Thank you for coming today.
Please return in a few days when I hope to have this essay completed and posted.