I can pinpoint the exact minute my day changed from the low key- chilling with baby Beej day to the off-kilter not quite right day it ended up being.
I was giving Beej his bottle. He was sprawled across my lap, his one hand beating rhythmically against the bottle as his eyes wandered around the room, looking for new and fascinating things. He occasionally made an approving sound around the nipple in his mouth.
Kris was preparing to leave for a job interview. He was looking sharp, having carefully coordinated his jacket, shirt and tie. I heard a beep-beep, which I assumed was Kris checking to see if the car was locked or unlocked. He had walked out of the room just seconds before.
I heard a knock at the side door. Then I received a text from him.
‘Some guys are at the dooooooor’
I leaned over since the door was within my line of sight. It was open.
THERE- that was the exact minute when the day changed.
I stood up, still feeding the baby, and talked as I walked to the door. At this point, I thought Kris had left. “I don’t understand why the door is open right now. I don’t think it’s warm enough for it to be open.” (Beej didn’t seem too concerned. He was focusing on his bottle, and the fact that we were walking and eating at the same time.)
I didn’t know what to expect when I reached the open door. It could have been anyone from door-to-door salesmen to Jehovah Witnesses. I did not expect to see two Navy Seals recruiters on my doorstep.
“Is Miss Kerri Carpita home?” one young man asked politely.
Kerri’s name sounded foreign and strange coming from this stranger. I was used to the unexpected person asking about Kerri by that name. But they were people that knew Kerri and possibly did not know about Kris. That was to be expected. This was not.
At this point, I went numb. I forgot that I was holding Beej in my arms, giving him a bottle. I stared at these two men and answered, “No.” It didn’t even feel like the word had come from me. That was how disconnected I felt.
“Does she live here?”
I paused. “No.” I was sure that I sounded wooden.
“Do you have a forwarding address for her?”
Another hesitation on my part. “No.”
One of the men nodded slightly and they wished me a good day. As they walked down the driveway, I turned from the door, not quite sure how I felt. The numbness seemed to be slipping away and I was left with an indescribable feeling.
And as I turned to walk back into the family room, still not fully aware of Beej in my arms, I froze as I saw Kris standing just out of line of sight past the open door.
We stared at each other, wide eyed and speechless. I tried desperately to read the expression on his face, or to get a feeling for his emotional state. All I got was scrambled waves of confusion and I wasn’t sure if I was reading him or me. I quickly surmised that my expression most likely matched his.
And then the emotion that I felt began as a distant ache that blossomed into a stabbing pain in my heart. I felt the beginning of tears welling up in my eyes and I quickly turned away, walking to look out the front window.
“They are getting into their Navy-Seals mobile,” I reported to Kris, who rushed over to see. Yes, it was a Navy-Seals mobile. You’ve seen those cars, vans and trucks which are advertisements for their business- not just a panel on the side but a full work of art that covers every inch of the vehicle. Well, that’s what these two uniformed men climbed into. And if I hadn’t read it on their chests, there it was on their vehicle- “NAVY-SEALS”.
“Why?” Kris’s voice was soft and hesitant.
“I don’t know.” My response was slow and honest.
We stared at each other in silence. Then I felt those tears fighting their way out again. Probably in response to Kris’s eyes which were looking suspiciously moist behind his glasses. Beej’s slight squirming brought him back on my radar and I looked down, grateful for the distraction.
“Even if I filled something out in high school-” Kris’s voice trailed off.
“That was four years ago,” I responded. “And did you?”
Kris shook his head.
“Even if you did, it sure took them a long time to get here.”
We both smiled.
“But why?” he asked again.
We were treading lightly. Very very lightly.
In that split second after they men had left and I had turned from the door, I had a suspicion. Something that I buried when I realized that Kris was there. Right there.
After Kris left for his job interview, I pulled out that thought. Had someone played a mean joke on Kris? What else could it be? Although Kris occasionally got mail addressed to Kerri, it was usually credit card offers….never Navy recruiters. And never recruiters coming to the door. And if it was a prank, it was cruel. So incredibly cruel.
Kris reported that he wasn’t sure how the job interview went, which was out of character for him. He usually felt it went really well or that he bombed. When I saw him a few hours later, he seemed to be moving as if in slow motion. Since I was fighting my own emotions, I think I probably appeared the same.
Hours later I’m not sure what I feel. Was it shock and sadness at hearing Kerri’s name spoken by someone I didn’t know? Or just hearing Kerri’s name? Sometimes when I hear someone else called by Kerri’s name, it causes a twinge in my heart. I still have so many mixed emotions tied to that name. Was it my fear that someone was playing a cruel joke on Kris? Was I worried that Kris felt it too? Did I feel that Kris was not as safe as I thought? I don’t know. I just don’t know. And I really don’t like feeling this way.
This is an example of the odd things with which we deal with Kris being transgender. Sometimes these things make us laugh. And sometimes they do not. Maybe that’s the hardest part of all- it’s not the not knowing when something is going to pop up… it’s the not knowing how we are going to to take it. Or are we going to react the same way? Is something that’s funny to Kris going to be painful for me? Or the reverse?
And then there are people who will think that this was no big deal. But for us, today, it was. And for those that don’t understand, THAT’s kind of a big deal, too. It’s symbolic of how some people in our lives just don’t get it. I was all ready to go on about how this is never going to end as long as people who have transgender people in their lives choose to turn their backs on them and not at least TRY to understand what their person is going through. I was getting myself worked up to a pretty good rant. I’ve got it in me. See, I’ve been so flipping busy “letting things go” all over the place I feel like Elsa waving my arms this way and that with icicles forming beautiful frozen sculptures and buildings all over the place. Something tells me that until those frozen masterpieces appear, I’m going to be like a ticking time bomb. These days I’m letting go of A LOT. (And I mean A LOT!!!) There is a limit.
And tomorrow, there had better be NO recruiters knocking on my door or else the encounter will go very differently because this time I won’t be caught off guard.