Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 49: Reflection

(I’m sitting alone at a pond as koi swim past a few feet from me. Behind me is a large Japanese building and beside the shrine, an impressively kept garden featuring an impressive topiary in the shape of a dragon. Rather than regarding the building or the dragon, I’m facing out at the water, contemplating my life.)

Mom (Present me): I’ve been writing this series for a while, haven’t I? When I first started all of this, I was only hoping to write something moving and feel a little less dysphoric. I didn’t consider it a serial yet — heck, I wasn’t even planning to write a second scene, let alone four dozen more. I thought producing any sort of serial content was impossible for me, and yet… My growth as a writer is probably the least interesting thing about this entire journey.

(I wave my hand over the pond and it shimmers for a moment, an image appearing on the pond’s surface. Bloom is walking through a suburban town, looking at yard after immaculately maintained yard. Once upon a time this might have been considered an upper-middle-class suburb, but in the current economic climate the families living here could only be called wealthy. Bloom appears to be contemplating her life as she walks along the empty streets of her hometown.)

Mom: Before this started, I couldn’t help but think like you sometimes. It wasn’t something I had control over — you’d show up when I felt powerless. I would get scared, and I would try to wait you out; wait until I felt like I was in control again. I spent years and years trying to push you away. But then I brought you here, and gave you a name, and now we’re friends. Now you don’t have to feel alone anymore.

(Bloom stops and looks up at her high school, its sprawling campus filling her field of vision. She takes a deep breath and sits there on the grass, resting and thinking. A tear appears at the corner of her eye, which she brushes away without a second thought.)

Mom: No, that’s not fair to you. I don’t have to feel alone anymore either. It’s not the same as a relationship with a living, breathing person, sure. You don’t have a clear voice beyond the one I give you, and when I “hear” from you at all, it’s through mental models and emotional impressions. And yet, when I’m with you, I’m not alone. We’re together, even though I’m both of us. I guess I need to step it up a bit, huh? It’s up to me to care for you and make sure your wishes are known and respected. It’s up to me to stand up for the child I once was; the child that still lives inside of me.

(I wave a hand over the pond again and the image of Bloom shimmers and transforms into another person. Libra sits patiently on the grass of the campus Quad as myriad students wander around her, criss-crossing the grounds as they make their way to one class or another. Libra scans the crowd as if looking for something, but whether or not she sees an inkling of what she’s looking for is anyone’s guess.)

Mom: It was Bloom’s idea to go looking for you — or rather, the idea didn’t come to me until I was writing the New Year’s Eve scene and I started to think about whether she had sisters. After all, if Bloom was me in high school, wouldn’t she have older siblings? At the time, looking for you felt like a solution in search of a problem, but as soon as I found you the problem presented itself readily. Finding and naming you allowed me to process more of my life, and view my transition through a new lens. Like Bloom, you only “speak” with me through feelings and well-worn mental pathways, but you still have a distinct voice all your own.

(Libra stands up and brushes herself off, suddenly disinterested in the students milling about the Quad. She walks the short distance to the Student Union and approaches the friendly cafe that occupies a corner of the ground floor. A minute later, ice cream cone in hand, she takes a seat at a nearby table and lazily licks her ice cream as people wander through the building.)

Mom: I guess it’s not enough to just exist with you, is it? I need to listen to you too. It’s taken me some practice to learn how, but I think I’m getting better at it. Instead of feeling vaguely uneasy about life or having strong feelings without understanding why, my brain fills in the reason for my feelings as soon as I ask myself why I feel them — sometimes even before. Learning to listen has helped me become a more mindful person, and I’m glad I went looking for you.

(I wave my hand over the pond a third time, and just as before, Libra shimmers and shifts into another inner child. Lark sits at a desk, pencil in hand, staring down at a spiral notebook lying on the surface in front of her. Half the page is full of text, and a couple of diagrams are drawn roughly into the margins. Lark taps her pencil idly on her opposite arm while she contemplates what to write about next.)

Mom: When I went looking for you, I decided to tell the story of my transition. I remember worrying about how it would feel to blend events from the year or two before my transition with yours, who lived over a decade earlier. I suppose I shouldn’t have been concerned; those events fit you naturally; so resistant was I to anything outside of mainstream heteronormative life at the time. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Even though some of our conversations were technically anachronistic, they still fit us like a glove.

(Lark seems to come to a conclusion about her notes, and lowers her pencil towards the notebook. She dashes off line after line of text, making a list of something, writing out short descriptions, and scribbling another picture into the margin. When the page is full, she only pauses for a moment before flipping the notebook over and starting anew on the blank page.)

Mom: I used to worry that I’d never have enough material to write about myself with any regularity. But there’s plenty inside me to write about, isn’t there? As long as I listen to my thoughts and pay attention to how I’m feeling, I can write to my heart’s content. I just have to be honest about who I am and what my story is. I can reframe or reorganize or embellish events — my story will still be authentic, because I’m still representing myself. 

(I wave my hand over the pond one final time. The image shimmers for a second before vanishing, leaving behind the calming pond. The koi still swim beneath the surface, sharing the water with my reflection.)

Mom: You kids were me once. You’re also still here with me today, in your own way. You’re all various parts of me, even now, and I think it’s time I acknowledged that a little more deliberately.

(I stand up and look down, contemplating the koi for a moment.)

Mom: I think I understand what I need to do now.

(I turn and walk away from the pond, leaving the koi alone.)