Despite my apprehension about my new job, I have begun to feel progressively better about being in Minnesota. Or rather, as I began and ended this week (Monday and now today), I was — and currently am — feeling positive.
For all that visiting Chicago has made me desperately miss it and wish I were still/already living there, my brief time back has also, perhaps counterintuitively, made me feel better about spending the next year in Minnesota. Let me be clear: I miss Chicago; I miss my friends; I wish more than I can articulate that I were living there now. And yet, the fear that I’m going to be forgotten if I stay away is slowly ebbing. That fear was really fueling the need to get back now — the feeling that not only do I not want to wait, I can’t wait, or else I’ll lose everything and everyone I miss so much. It’s a stupid, irrational fear, but it was strong.
And now I’m working on mastering that fear. I think my few days in Chicago have only strengthened my friendships. I miss my friends already, and I can hardly stand the idea that I’ll be away for over a year, but I don’t think I’ll have to start over when I come back.
I went to the 2011 Minnesota Trans Health and Wellness Conference today. When I went in 2009, it was a really influential event because I had only recently started questioning my gender, and it was the first time I’d experienced being around so many trans and gender-variant people — especially people who weren’t fellow Mawrtyrs (people of a variety of ages, backgrounds, and experiences).
It was different today because I have so many trans and genderqueer friends (community outside the conference), and my own concept of myself as a trans-identified individual has grown a great deal. I’ve learned more, and I’ve become more comfortable in who I am. Being in a big group of transfolks is not unfamiliar.
At the same time, it was still a good experience. There were several really interesting workshops, and I thought the keynote speaker was excellent. I saw a close friend briefly; I recognized a number of acquaintances; I made new friends. We had post-conference fried green tomatoes with macaroni and cheese. I feel like I might be gaining connections and roots into the community, and it’s a good feeling.
I got back home about half an hour ago and was greeted by a package from a Chicago friend. It contained a book and an amazing card with a really inspiring and sweet message that just about made me cry (in a “I feel cared about and believed in” sort of way) and makes me feel as though I can, and will, get through this job without giving in, or selling out, or losing an essential part of who I am.
I still miss my friends in Chicago, and Chicago itself, more than I can say. I’m still not ready to say that the Twin Cities is where I’m meant to be for now. But I do think that my time here will be good for me, in the long run, and things are really starting to look up.