It's funny how changing one part of yourself ultimately changes everything. 8 weeks ago I woke up into a new body. It was a passage I prepared for, in as much as one can prepare, and I thought I understood what I was getting myself into. I guess, on paper, I did. But there was really no experiential reference I could use to craft my expectations. I've undergone surgery before, I've survived sexual trauma, I've engaged in deep physical, emotional, and spiritual work...all these things were in some way a primer for what would be the big task.
I haven't written about my experience for a couple weeks because it's different being back home, working, living life. For some reason when I was laid up in a hotel in Thailand I felt more of a license to wax poetic about my process, but now that I'm here in New York trying to find my new normal, it doesn't seem as treacherous, romantic, or pivotal. What is there to say about a drawn out recovery, a rigorous dilation schedule, a solemn investigation into my newly claimed womanhood? Aren't things pretty much as they were before, only now I'm sitting down to pee?
No. No. Nothing is the same. Every conversation I have, every embrace I offer or receive, every email I write or stray thought that makes me forget where I'm at on the subway might seem familiar, but then I feel the ache and the pulse between my thighs and the taut grip of the wig around my skull and somewhere between my sex and my brain my heart sits in a cavity behind my right breast and doesn't know what to do with itself aside from beat, beat, and try to keep the blood flowing. Because if I think about what I've done or what it means or what could happen I might go crazy. Or start crying. Or scream. Or laugh until I do all three. And if I pay too much attention to how I feel, how I'm really feeling, I might vomit on myself or pass out or try to masturbate, which I'm not supposed to attempt for another month at least.
Half of me wishes I could slip into a coma and wake up 10 moths from now to a fully healed vagina. Half of me wants to do nothing but stare at it in the mirror, and commune with my repurposed flesh.
It's been eight weeks since I've had an orgasm. Let's just put that out there. This from someone who, apart from a few awkward weeks at Jewish summer camp and one self-imposed 30-day endurance test half a decade ago, came at least once daily since I was like, ten. I don't know, I'm a product of my culture and generation. The ability to climax is something I not only took for granted, but learned how to exploit for pretty much any personal need.
Before the surgery, one of my friends asked what I needed her to pray for. I told her to envision me having a healthy and loving sex life. Sometimes you need to ask your friends to have the faith you can't muster on your own. Because right now it's a project, right now it's somewhere between a wound and a shield, it's a dragon I have to slay three times a day, it's an endeavor. And God willing, someday it will be something else, something I waited my whole life for, something I can enjoy and share and rejoice in. But now it's the farthest thing from sexual. It's kitchen repairs.
I'm happy, but it's hard.
It's hard, but I'm happy.
I'm happy, and it's difficult.
It's difficult, and I'm happy?
The miracle is that it happened. The miracle is that, with so many people behind me, I went through it on my own. And that is still going on, even if I'm back in the city, even if I'm running the Factory, even if I'm back on stage singing or writing a Facebook post to share with the world, I'm going through it on my own. Not alone, but on my own. Because this process of healing and discovery, the fear and excitement and hope and agony, it's so fucking singular. No poem can capture the solitude, no prayer can capture the reverence, no song that I know can make you feel what I'm feeling.
We all have our own stuff. I get that. And anyway, loneliness without sadness is wisdom, truth, and peace.
So I'll keep banging it out by my lonesome in hopes that someday I'll reach enlightenment, or orgasm.