Today I’m ripping off a title from Robert Silverberg, only because when you steal, you should always steal from the best. But only the title here: the rest is all me.
Yesterday was a pretty good day, and a long one, too, as I was up until midnight watching Sunset Boulevard and Ace in the Hole, both great, classic movies. And before that–well, during much of Sunset Boulevard–I wrote my next to last Season 4 recap for Orphan Black. But before that I was at my job, which is where I program computer for the State of Pennsylvania. That’s the job that pays the bills, at least for now. Who knows in the future? I certainly don’t.
Since I live in the city of Harrisburg I walk to work. It’s about a mile/1.6 kilometers, and takes me about twenty to twenty-five minutes, depending on how I hit the lights. A nice thing about my walk is that I go right through what is known as the Capitol Complex, which is what we call the area where all the state business gets done.
So I come in at the bottom right of the picture, walk through the park and across the front of the capitol building, then head off somewhere to the upper left. That’s my usual walk, and with minor variations, I’ve done that for about two and a half years, some shine, rain, or snow. I always walk alone, and until yesterday, I figured no one ever noticed me–though of late I’ve had a few catcalls from guys, which really sucks.
Yesterday I also had my camera with me, because I wanted to get a picture of myself in a particular outfit so I could show a friend, who had just picked up the same skirt and wondered what it looked like with brown flats. (And if you really want to know, that person was The Real Annie. See? I even help her out.) As yesterday after work was nice as hell, I decided to get a picture on the way home–
And about a minute after snapping that picture I started on my way home. I’d walked a pretty short distance when this guy, who was approaching me, asked for a moment. At first I thought he was going to ask for directions, but as a few of my friends pointed out, it’s a guy: they don’t ask for directions.
What he did tell me was something completely unexpected.
He told me that he’s actually seen me walking back and forth to work for a couple of years–and given that he was dressed in pretty sharp suit, I figure he worked somewhere in the complex as well–and that he’s noticed my, well, changes during that time. As the conversation at that point went:
Him: “For a while there was this one person walking, and then one day you were–“
Him (Both laughing at this point): “Yes.”
He told me that he applauded me for being true and brave, and I thanked him for his word, and we went our separate ways. I didn’t want to say that, no, I don’t consider myself brave because I’m just being me, but maybe that’s really all there is to being brave: just be yourself in the face of possible adversity. I know the stats on violence to transwomen, so whenever I’m out I am aware that things might go sideways on me for any number of reasons.
But it’s something incredible to think that someone has actually noticed me. There are a few people I’ve seen going to and from work every day, and I have never thought of stopping them and telling them something personal. You never imagine that people see you, that people notice you.
You get used to spending your life being invisible.
Before I arrived home I decided to snap a few more pictures, because why not? And because it’s one more chance not to remain unseen by others.