Two men come to mind when I read this statement. If you have been following my blog you know I don’t believe in accidental encounters. Every experience we have and every person we meet comes to show us possibilities.
Approximately 9 months after my husband passed I saw a news clip that the Phillies were playing in Los Angeles in the playoffs. I thought of an old friend and colleague from my Navy days. I decided to call him and as we were talking I asked him who he was going to the game with and his reply surprised me. He stated he was not going with anyone and that any dating he had done since his divorce did not work because he always compared them to me. He referred to me as “The Gold Standard.” We talked for a while longer, but after I hung up I wondered of the possibility of being with him. After a series of emails, and calls we decided I should come to California for a visit. We set our sights on New Year’s Eve. The night before I was to leave I received a disturbing email from him begging me not to come and confessing who he truly was.
His entire life he had been keeping a secret and living a tortured life. He confessed he was transgender and had been lying to me about us and the possibility of any relationship. I convinced him that I was still coming and I did not think less of him. We enjoyed a wonderful week together and I even brought him his first dress. He cried when he put it on and could not believe I was still his friend and still cared about him. He was so afraid of rejection of his family, especially his adult daughter. I explained to him that people who truly love him will love him regardless of his gender because he was still the same person.
Over the next few years he struggled back and forth about living his authentic self and kept pushing who he truly was back in the closet. Every time this happened he was depressed and even contemplated suicide. Thankfully, each time he called me and I was able to calm his fears and offer my support. I knew this man for 30 years and considered him a dear friend, even though we did not see or talk to each other often. I am happy to report she is still a dear friend. She looks beautiful and happy and lives as a woman. Her daughter accepted the news and was not surprised, but rather relieved to learn what she suspected was wrong all along. Her job is also secure and her co-workers embraced the change as they see the true person, the authentic, more content happy person.
The second man I met online for the sole purpose of companionship. Not a relationship, but merely companionship. He wanted the same. However, after getting to know him I found he was also searching. His professional reputation as a journalist had been tarnished through no fault of his own and he accepted a transfer to Philadelphia. During the next few months as he started to trust me, he opened up about his life and how he was suffering inside and he did not know who he was anymore. Our relationship blossomed into a friendship. He sought therapy and decided to take a leap of faith. He quit his job and decided to travel the country with no particular plan. We only knew each other a few months, but he entrusted me with a key to his apartment to pick up mail and check on it while he was gone. He was gone 6 weeks and called most days. He sent me beautiful pictures and I had an idea for a book for him when he arrived back home. The title of the book is “In Search of a Place Called Home.” Since he is a journalist I had him write some stories for the book and I designed and placed his photos appropriately with the stories. He loved the book and I am sure it still means a great deal to him. This trip gave him the courage to go back to Alaska, where he felt more himself. What I think he discovered is a place called home is not a place, but a state of being. I am happy to report he seems to have found a good life for himself. We only keep in touch via Facebook, but I think our time together was supposed to be brief as there were lessons to be learned by both of us.
Both these men taught me that sometimes you need to make a decision even if the decision is the scariest thing you may have done with fear of the unknown. I believe our meeting and sharing of time together was instrumental in leading me to George and my new life.
Both these men and I were not our circumstances, but our possibilities. I know I became a better person for my experiences with them and I know they feel the same. Our encounter was not an accident, but another life lesson.