There is a perfectly lovely woman at a local shop who always greets me warmly, and makes genuine, caring conversation with my husband and I when she sees us. She is a homeschooler and so that, I feel, is why she reaches out to connect. But she is a very different type of homeschooler than we: she uses a strict curriculum (for her several children), and the family is an evangelical Christian. Today I got to have that conversation I’ve had so many times in the last few years:
Her: “‘Boys’? I thought you had a boy and a girl?”
Me, smiling: “We thought so too! But we were wrong.”
I wait a beat. It takes most people a second to process what I might be saying.
Me: “Phoenix transitioned this last year.”
Her smile remains, but who knows. It’s funny as in these transactoins I feel a tightness in my chest, a tiny pulse of trepidation. I have become more sensitive to just how fragile community living is. Each person has their own thoughtlife, their own heartaches. People are far more tolerant and loving than they might sometimes appear; I have no idea how this woman feels about a trans child and I won’t ask her, either. I simply smile and hold my head up and radiate the warmth and affection I feel toward her and hope her heart is soft, too.
Every day, besides all this work, I try to relax a little, to spend a little downtime. If I can relax even five minutes, I figure I’ve done okay. Errands are lovely because they get me “out of the office” (out of my workspace that is) and I can practice breathing mantras and sing along to music, or have one of those incredibly valuable conversations with my teens. The boys come with me on these errands, because I make them come with me. We get groceries or a lunch, or perhaps coffee. I arrive home and maybe sit down and watch a little of some serial killer fictional drama, or read a bit. I light a candle; I find a little deeper breath on the yoga mat. (“Do I contradict myself? …” and so on).
Our dryer broke today but only after I had about eight loads of wet laundry waiting. I search online and find a heating element but in the meantime, we need towels and clean sheets. So at 10 PM I’m sitting on my mother’s couch waiting for a single load to finish; the rest of our wet clothing and linens are bundled into large black garbage bags and rest on her tidy laundry room floor. We always talk about world events and cultural phenomena when I visit with my mother. Tonight I mention the disturbing, disgusting tax breaks our country’s mega-rich receive and my mom interrupts me to angrily hold aloft her popsicle, “Like these! These are half as big as they used to be, and they cost twice as much! It makes me so angry!” I look down at my popsicle – lime flavor, duh! – and I realize, Sonofabitch, this damn thing is smaller. Life’s a bitch.