The Flux of Time
I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’. So, I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.
Recently, I attended and spoke at the inaugural NewYorkComingOut Transgender Conference in Manhattan. During that conference, I sat in on one of the “I’m From Driftwood” workshop sessions to hear about the work and vision of Nathan Manske and his team as they traveled the country to record and share stories of members of the LGBTQ+ community. During that session, Nathan mentioned that they had their equipment, lights and cameras set-up for anyone who wanted to share a story. I spontaneously volunteered to share… a terrifying idea to think Savannah would be captured on film. My story involved the recent experience of moving from a diverse and progressive New York City to the more traditional and conservative South Carolina, and how I found an LGBTQ community more expansive than I had known previously. You can watch my story at ImFromDriftwood.org or on YouTube.com.
When Nathan and Damian emailed that the video had been published, I couldn’t bring myself to click on the embedded link to watch it. I was excited to see how they edited and flowed my story, of course, but I couldn’t face seeing my… well… face (and voice and mannerisms). I forwarded the link to the people I loved the most and asked them to watch it first. Their praise or criticism would tell me, in no uncertain terms, whether I should bother watching the video for myself. After everyone had watched the video and responded with kind and supportive words about the story and my telling of it, I was able to screw up the courage to view it.
Before receiving any responses, I confided with my friend, Lindsey—as we carpooled home from work—about my irrational fear of seeing myself. In her wisdom, she told me, “Think about Savannah in terms of how long you have actually been ‘her’. If you are forty-eight and have been dressing once a week for a few hours since you were twenty-five, you are barely out of your teenage years in terms of Savannah’s actual lifetime.” My mind was blown! As a result, of course, I had to do the math!
The following are my calculations for Savannah’s physical age. This does not count any time spent doing social media on ‘her’ behalf, or any time where I have worn feminine clothing under my male clothes. Otherwise, I am being very generous about the hours I am using to make my calculations.
Savannah was “born” in 1996.
2020-1996 = 24 years
I am going to assume I have “gone out” as Savannah once a week—every week—in those 24 years. I am also going to be super generous and say that every outing was 12 hours long. It is absurd, but should take into account any lengthy conferences (and the aforementioned wearing of panties in everyday life).
24 years x 52 weeks = 1,248 weeks
1,248 weeks = 1,238 days (out once a week)
1,238 days x 12 hours = 14,976 Savannah hours
Taking those Savannah hours and making it more understanding in terms of years:
14,976 hours / 24 hours = 624 days = 1.71 years
I will check my math again, but from these calculations it seems that Savannah has lived a public and out-loud life for less than two years. Savannah is barely out of her Terrible Twos!! No wonder she is always so whiny, demanding and cranky!! Sure, we could add a formulaic factor for the fact that I have matured as a human being in “real-time”, but Lindsey’s words made me realize that it is possible that my, sometimes, lack of esteem and self-confidence—in my voice, my mannerisms, and my look—could be attributed to the fact that Savannah has only experienced two years of actual “out-loud” life.
I have been able to rationalize, learn and understand how Savannah fits in as my feminine expression and, as part of, my dual gender expression for a couple decades now. I knew she was there since I was a child, whispering to me and drawing me to my mom and sister’s clothes and shoes. I can’t explain the attraction. To this day, I still can’t recall any specific catalyst that would have triggered the birth and eventual growth of my feminine side. Was it when I saw my mom folding her underwear on her bed that one time? I grew up in a typical baby boomer nuclear family dynamic, so there was no lack of paternal influence. Some might say that my older sister and mother could have influenced my behavior. If that was the case, wouldn’t more boys have grown up with a need for a more pronounced feminine expression?
Who knows what resides in the heart of me? As Lady Gaga sings, “… baby, I was born this way.”
I know this article started off talking about fear of watching a video—for fear of seeing myself immortalized in a manner that would reinforce my less-than-stellar opinion of my looks and demeanor. But, I hope, I also brought to the surface a possible reason why someone like me can still have moments of doubt and struggling self-image.
After explaining the above idea to my girlfriend, Judy, she also raised a very good point supporting an opposite view. I told her about the less-than-two-years Savannah has existed in the real world, and she replied with the concept that anyone who has spent a year or more performing a specific task or vocation would be considered an expert after immersing themselves with such pursuits. What she did say, to empathize with my feelings, was that my isolation and subjugation to social stigma and intolerance were possible reasons why my feminine development and confidence might be still somewhat stunted—regardless of the progress I have made and practice I have logged in.
Such are the plights and problems that I have endured. I believe I am destined for a more loud and proud path as Savannah. Understanding where I am and where I have come from has given me a solid foundation in which to operate. Maybe, for me, the future will hold a life where I can live “out loud” whenever I choose to—not just on designated Sundays or for events or conferences. Maybe, the problem that holds me back is the word “maybe”. My friend, Stephanie, told me “for a fact – lol” that I’ll get there—that I would, eventually, be able to express myself as Savannah whenever I felt like (even at work – LOL). My friend, Kristin, told me to be careful… that even my outings for #SavannahStarbucksSunday may become a rut and too routine. I realized that I could still find myself living life in a bubble, even as a result of my best intentions.
I am, in terms of years, both an infant and an expert. But, I have come farther than I recognize, regardless of Savannah’s age or maturity. Every day I present my feminine expression is another day where I have the chance to practice my craft in makeup and comportment. My confidence in Savannah will come from self-acceptance and continued improvement. Be beautiful and be brave, my friends.