A woman’s voice from This American Life echoes through the CRV’s factory speakers, while I avoid turning off the engine. Cold air blows. The sun’s hidden behind clouds, but sweat is already beginning to pool at the small of my back and the underside of my skinny jeans. The soft crash of shifting ice can be heard from the boba-free plastic tea glass in the cup holder. The woman’s voice rambles on about the hardships about not telling the truth to your grandparents. And, it is almost too much. Almost.

I stare ahead at the gathering individuals. I hear a familiar refrain of  “Should I stay or should I go now” plays over in my head. I can’t place the song. Some sort of weird punk rock? Disco? I can’t remember. But, it is there. Just those words echoing over and over. The internal thoughts drown out the Asian girl describing her life story and her grandmother’s impending death.

Another minute.

This is not the life I envisioned.

I don’t turn off the car.

Another minute.

What am I doing here?

I don’t turn off the car.

I used to want to work in a comic book store in New York City. Midtown Comics. I used to want to be alone, far away from anyone. Alone in the woods. That is what I used to see. That is what I used to envision.

I don’t turn off the car.

Other cars begin to park near me, and I snap back into the present.

I turn off the car.

I watch the individuals exit their cars. They are certainly a motley crew. And as that thought scrolls through my consciousness, I hear the torrential downpour of family disappointment and anger call each one out as they walk pass me.

“Faggot.”

“Freak.”

“Faggot.”

“Freak.”

“This path is false. It will never bring you happiness.”

“Couldn’t you just try some funky socks?”

Another minute.

Among the swirling rhetoric, I remember, “Isn’t it sad that those freaks will love and accept (redacted) more than you?” But that seedling of hope is drowned in a sea of guilt, anger, and disappointment. Shame is peppered in there, too. Regret, but I don’t even know how to put that regret into words. Is it regret that this is my life; that this is who I am? Is it regret that I was honest? Is it regret that I lost my fiancee? That I lost my relationship with my father? Will lose it with my grandparents? Or, is it a combination of something that is beyond words?

Yeah, it is probably that last one.

I realize that I am gripping the steering wheel tightly, too tightly.

It hurts.

There are too many ghosts in this car with a phantom, lingering whisper of a new car smell.

I see these ghosts. I am kind of feeling that this – this sitting in the car trying to foster some courage is a poignant moment. One of those moments that I’ll eventually write about. Because, it’s all a bit . . . a bit something . . . a bridge too far?

I can see her in the passenger seat. She’s trying to catch her breath, choking down tears. I have just destroyed the life she was wanting. Why? Because, I was a coward. How? Because, I was honest with myself and her. I have lost the one person I loved most in the world, and now that I sit alone in the car, I know a part of me still does. And, it sucks because I feel such mixed emotions about it. But, mixed is realistic, it is not just a glowing green mental sad memory ball. It is multi-faceted, like a good character.

Another minute.

I can see him gripping the driver’s side door. I can hear his howl of pain. I hear that howl over and over again. His words echo and rattle my core.

“Don’t do this son.”

“It’s our fucked up society.”

“It’s the demons that got you.”

His words are a loop on a soundtrack called “Let’s Feel Bad About Ourself.” Why? Because, I was . . . was I brave because I was honest, or was I a coward because I didn’t end my life? How? Because, well, I was going for more poignancy. You know, some sort of parallel structure, but life isn’t structure. That’s not how the brain works . . . or at least this brain.

Another minute.

Even though his words are symbolically etched into the driver’s side window, tension releases. My death grip on the steering wheel lessens.

I am still here.

That is a decision that I made.

I can do this.

I really need to pee.

Like, bad.

I should not have had the smooch-sized boba tea before driving over.

Another minute.

I can’t do this. I’m not ready for it. I have no intention of letting my trans-pride fly. A) because I have no trans-flag to fly. And B), because it is more of a trans-it-is-what-it-is fly. Pride is certainly not the word that I am ready to use at this point.

I am more than uncomfortably sweating, now.

I really need to pee.

You know, if my life was a movie, this part would be one of those moments when a really encouraging song would play . . . or, maybe, it could be like a quick montage of the Rocky’s and the Rudy’s or some other heroic non-sports figure motivational montage that doesn’t begin with a R.

Reality isn’t that profound.

Another minute.

Another.

Another.

Another.

I get out of the car. Click the lock twice to hear the honk and quiet the paranoia and head into the unknown. The wild pink and blue and non-binary yonder.

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