Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Autumn Awakening

On Sunday, walking around Lagunita after dinner, I felt awake.

I had a good weekend. On Saturday I finally went thrift shopping with a friend. Going off campus was excellent. Though I love my university and I love my dorm, I need to get away sometimes. I need to remember that I'm not defined by college and the person I've become since coming to college.

I made a big deal last year about my transformation, about how I didn't recognize myself after a year of college. This summer, I think I rolled back some of the changes, and this oscillation is bringing me back to who I really am.

Autumn has arrived, though my east coast friends would and do scoff at what passes for autumn in California. Overcast skies and leaves beginning to fall. Halloween. This season used to seem utterly magical to me, because of the cooler weather and the magic of a night where you could be anything, anyone else. 

Magic and sorcery and doors to other worlds. Things that have been missing from my life. Classical over romantic, Roman over medieval, but we all need some mystery in our lives. Man muss noch Chaos in sich haben.

I'm here to learn how to be a good engineer, how to solve problems that are important in the world and communicate effectively with others. I have felt my respect for the fantasy authors I used to read decrease as I realize how consistently and overwhelmingly white and straight they all are. What I've been fighting with and for since coming to college is my identity: no longer seeing myself as smart, realizing my race is actually a big deal, awakening to the reality of being asexual and agender.

Halloween lets you escape your identity. Halloween also says that it is not bad, that it is even okay, to be a freak.

I am quieter and calmer and more disciplined than I was at the end of freshman year. I no longer wear dresses or bandanas or flats on a regular basis. In these ways I am more similar to the person I was in high school.

The Peninsula is suburban sprawl from the City down. Biking to the thrift store, I could have been biking through my hometown. The air tasted the way it did in elementary school. The leaves crunched under my bike wheels the way I remembered.

I felt the way I did the summer before college: as if I could, under my own power, go someplace different.

At the thrift store, I got myself a sweater from the men's section. I put it on over a men's shirt I got in Indonesia, and felt, for perhaps the first time since I found out the term exists, gender euphoria.

In elementary school, whenever we played we made up characters for ourselves. I was always a male big cat: Tom the Tiger, John the Jaguar, etc. 

I put on the sweater and felt: this is not pretend, this is not a costume, this is who I am.

I biked back, feeling campus slowly close its arms around me, as the leaves fell and everything, liminal, changed back, transformed.

The wind was cold. I was awake.

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