This was a hugely emotional victory and I've been trying to contemplate the meaning behind it, not only what it means for my future, but also what it meant for everyone who became a part of what felt, for a moment, like a movement.
There were a lot of incredible circumstances surrounding the end of the campaign. I had chosen May 31st as a deadline so I would have 6 months to plan my trip to Thailand, which I was thinking would take place in November. When KickStartHer got down to the wire on the last day I was still several thousand dollars away from my goal. YouCaring is not like other crowd funding sights; whatever is donated goes to the benefactor, regardless of whether or not the ultimate goal is met. On the 31st I still had quite distance to cover. I just tried to focus my energy on being grateful for the support already pledged, which had put me far closer to my dreams than I ever could have gotten on my own.
Then something amazing happened. I went online to check the status at about 10pm on the last night, and for some reason YouCaring had given me until 8pm the next day to complete the campaign. It was like some sort of unexpected grace period. And by grace period I truly mean a kind of divine intervention, because what followed was the most unbelievable outpouring of love and unmerited favor from my friends, family, friends of friends, and even strangers. It felt like God had given me one more shot, and with that small window of time and a renewed sense of possibility an entire community of friends past, present, and future mobilized to help me soar past the mark.
The most moving aspect was the sentiment that seemed to echo through the whole thing. There was a moment on June 1st in the late afternoon when I checked my Facebook timeline and literally every post was about KickStartHer. Not my profile, my timeline. Like, what other people were posting about. I scrolled down the page and it was post after post of friends sharing the KickStartHer link, and there was this common thread in the description. I'll paraphrase, but it was something like this: "Shakina helps other people make their dreams come true, let's make this dream come true for her."
Seeing that message reflected by so many different people was honestly a greater gift than any sum of money could ever be.
In ONE WOMAN SHOW I talk about the ever-present issue of pronouns in the lives of trans people and those around them, and I break it down like this: "When you meet someone you have a basic decision to make: 'Am i going to agree with this person's dream of themselves, affirm it, and reflect it back to them? Or am I going to challenge their dream, or worse, ignore it?'"
I continue in the show by saying, "Well, I live to affirm people's dreams."
And it's true, I do. And even though I say it in my show, it's not something I feel the need to broadcast regularly, it's just sort of a life practice, a modus operandi, because why not? Dream affirmation is very fulfilling for the soul. But when I looked on facebook and saw all these messages my heart nearly exploded. Because you always hope that people will see and interpret what you're putting out into the word the way you intend for it to be seen and interpreted, but you rarely get that kind of feedback, you know, that it's working.
So thank you. A thousand times thank you. For recognizing me, for honoring me with your generosity and humbling me with your support and encouragement.
Plans have been in the works for a while, and now, as the ones who made it happen, I want you to be the first to know when it's all going down.
On September 5th, a little less than 9 weeks from now, I will fly out to Thailand. I'll be spending my first week there living on the grounds of a Buddhist temple off the eastern gulf, volunteering for a wildlife rescue program that works to reintroduce abused and exploited elephants to the wild without severing their relationship with their long-term care givers. I want the last of my male bodied actions to be directed at offering compassion to the largest mammals on land. It feels poetic and right. From there I will spend a few days in and around Bangkok, hopefully taking a couple Thai massage classes, preparing for surgery with the cultivation and exchange of healing touch. On Sept. 19th I will check in at the Suporn Clinic in Chonburi, and on Monday, September 22nd, my life will change forever.
I'll be spending almost 4 weeks there afterwards, for the initial recovery; one week in the hospital and 19 more days at a hotel next door to the clinic, where the nursing staff visits multiple times a day and will arrange for me to visit nearby temples and tourist sites once I'm able to get up and around.
I'll return to New York a newly self-realized being on October 20th.
If you're in New York City, or would like to be, I plan on having an epic send off party on Thursday, September 4th at the Musical Theatre Factory (another dream I'm in the middle of making real). Please come, or trust that you'll be there in spirit and that I'll carry you with me to Thailand in my heart, and bring you back home in my vagina.
With eternal love and appreciation for all that you are.