Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rainbow Fields

When I was a college freshman, I spent a semester in therapy. For the first session, the counselor handed me a pad of paper and some crayons. "Draw a picture of your childhood," she said.

That was easy. Without hesitation, I drew a large circle, for the horizon. I drew a line intersecting the southern edge of the circle - that was the road. Most of the circle I colored green, pink and blue. The fields were green - they were never actually pink and blue, but that's the way I remember them: magical colors. In the summer they turned orange and yellow (for real!) with Indian paintbrush flowers. I should have drawn the woods too but I can't remember if I did.

I put a dot out in the field to represent myself. Where our house was I put a large black dot. It was concentrated: thick, black, ugly. I put four dots next to it to represent my family. I put one more dot outside of the circle to represent my father. Then I was done.

The counselor and I looked at the picture. "What do you see?" she asked. I started to explain it to her and then I stopped.

"That's strange," I said. "I didn't intend to do that."

"What?" she asked (no doubt with a certain professional satisfaction.)

"That dot out in the field is me," I said. "That's where I was happy. I put four dots to represent my family . . . my mother, my two brothers . . . and me, again. I didn't realize I was putting myself twice."

"There are two of you," she said.

"Yeah. There are two of me."

I don't recall that we talked about that very much. I needed time to assimilate this new idea, and there were more specific things that I wanted to talk about. But it's certainly true that I spent a lot of time - then, and right up to now - trying to find my real self. Not the self that everybody else saw, or failed to see.

I told her I was queer, but I had not yet excavated the fact that I was also transgendered. There were other issues I had to deal with first. But obviously, the existence of my "two selves" suggests that I had things to hide.

My mother said to me recently that she interprets my change of name as a reference to my maturity. My new name is my adult name; my old name belongs to the child I was, "out in the fields." I don't see it that way at all. I know that I'm still the child I was then. I have the same secrets. I must have the same gender.

It's certainly true that the lessons I learned as a child in the rainbow fields are what have kept me alive. To summarize: the human world is not the only world, thank goodness. Human beings (including myself) are selfish, narrow-minded, and scared.

There's a whole universe out there, much bigger than humanity. It provides beauty, nourishment, and a certain amount of danger, too. It is constantly changing. Constantly alive. Humans build their little structures and push their little buttons. Many of them don't seem to realize that the universe is alive. Life goes on without them. I was stifling inside that little box. I had to get out.

Sometimes I still forget those lessons. But I have to remember, because I can't survive without them. Nor have I learned everything I need to know, remembered everything I need to remember. I kept secrets even from myself.

The universe is still out there.