Thursday, December 8, 2011

Catching Up Part I: The Trip

Recently I mentioned taking a trip down to Florida to spend some time with a very dear friend and her family.

I don't have many friends right now and worse still, other than my mom, I have lost my sense of family.

In addition to that, over the last four years I haven't really met many trans individuals that I would call close friends. About six or so that I talk to with any kind of regularity. Two that I would consider dear friends.

One of them, however means so much to me that the only way I can accurately explain our relationship is to describe her as my sister.

It is truly just that.

She appeared out of nowhere with an email.

I didn't know why at first.

Until I discovered she had been reading my blog.

Even stranger.

I realized I had been reading hers.

Even though I have talked to a number of people who contacted me through my blog and email address. For some reason(I can only think it was meant to be) her and I immediately identified with the other. We also realized that even though we have encountered a number of people during the course of this journey that here was finally someone we really and truly identified with.

We found a bit of ourself in each other.

From there the friendship blossomed even though we live nearly two thousand miles apart. The truly incredible part was that we were transitioning at nearly the same pace. Though I would always joke with her that I was about six months behind her. (This came true as she went full time June of this year and I am going full time in January, roughly six months later.)

When last year I decided at the last minute to attend a trans conference in Atlanta it was for two reason. One I needed a break from my home life and some of my distress. Two, and more importantly, was she was going to be there.

She had actually asked me weeks earlier if I was going. At that time I wasn't planning on it but after events leading up to it prompted the need for a bit of a getaway.

I really would have rather gone elsewhere but here was an opportunity to finally stand in front of each other face to face.

I took it.

Even though I was terrified that she would not like me as much in person.

That is the truth.

Far from it and even though we were constantly pulled in different directions for the course of that weekend we got to spend some time around each other and together.

I can only speak for myself but I know she was everything I thought she was and more.

Since then the friendship has done nothing but grown.

As I have said, she is my sister, in far more than just being trans, but it is the only word I can think of. Besides it is true.

She is.

So this summer as my family structure was eroding and after disclosing to a number of friends and loosing their friendship. She learned that I was mostly likely spending my holidays by myself (Remember this was before Brandon's cousin C extended an invite to her thanksgiving dinner).

Almost without hesitation she invited me down to Florida to spend it with her family. There were some logistical issues and such to work out but needless to say I was speechless at the invitation.

Her words: "You are more than my friend you are family. You shouldn't be alone for the holidays."

Thus after spending a few weeks sorting out my personal schedule. Clearing the idea with my mom(She was disappointed but also understanding of what this meant to me and encouraged it). Finding a decent fare for a plane ticket down. I accepted.

It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Even though I am still awaiting my court date for name change and working through the process to start working full time. I knew I was going to spend the week as me. Flying down to Florida. Cooking dinner with her family. Spending time with her kids and getting to know her parents. To attending a football game at her Alma mater(she is a undergrad and graduate there and a booster).

I had a wonderful time.

Even though I was pulled in many different directions. From accompanying them to work. (I think I failed to mention I was wrangled into working on three different computers there.) Getting to learn to cook a thanksgiving turkey (I had never had the opportunity to do so before). Playing games and teaching one to the kids. To meeting her co-workers(my sister has her own accounting firm) whom I bribed with shortbread cookies I baked the night before just in case my charming personality didn't win them over. Along with surprising her parents when they realized I was the Kelli that had been mentioned to them and that I wasn't living full time yet. They wanted to know how it was possible I was still going to work as a boy.

In all it was just a wonderful week to be myself. I enjoyed meeting new people playing, silly yard games while tailgating, to talking with my sisters oldest daughter. Who caught me totally of guard when she walked into the bathroom one morning when I was working on my hair. I, who was sharing one with the kids, naturally thought she needed to use it and asked her such.

She said no, proceed to close the lid on the commode and use it as a chair and opened up conversation with me. Talking about anything and everything. It was just nice to share that time with another girl(even if she is thirteen). Which just went along with the week I had with everyone.

The entire trip was worth every cent I paid for it with the experiences and growth I had a person and me. I never felt self conscious or out of place. My sister even told me how proud she was of me just being myself. That I came out very natural.

Though she did mention to me that I seemed a little awkward when greeting new people. I told her it was just a personality trait. That I really never know the right or wrong way to greet someone for the first time. It is something I have stumbled with my entire life regardless of my trans issues. Once I get past that though, I did find I was a lot quicker to talk to people and have a conversation in the past.

I wasn't quite as shy and quiet at I normally am. I had some great conversations with people because I was able to let myself go.

My favorite part of the who long weekend?

When I wasn't so much asked as I was told I needed to come back next year.

It may sound odd, but that time allowed me to regain some sense of family. I know they aren't mine by birth but I honestly felt a part of it. No one ever made me feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. Quite the opposite in fact.

So the answer to the question about next year?

It is already on my vacation schedule for that week.


Becca said...

I am envious - its hard sometimes to find friends without the complications we face so finding a sister mush be fab.

It's been a rubbish day but your post really made me smile


Cynthia Jane said...

Hi Kelli,

You have made me cry tears of sadness for the partial loss of your own family and tears of joy for your wonderful trip and your prospective new family. I told you I was praying for a terrific trip and look what happened.

I am continuing to pray for your father to realize he has a beautiful daughter now, and that both of you need each other. The Lord still makes miracles happen, we just have to believe.

If I don't get a chance between now and December 25 to say it, I pray you have a blessed Merry Christmas, and always remember, Jesus is the true reason for the season.

Hugs and Prayers,

Cynthia XX

Kelli Bennett said...

@Becca, I would never have imagined I could be so close to someone and not want or need anything more then the friendship we have. She really is my sister. She will tell you the same.

Oh I did forget to mention the "We have to convince Kelli to move to Florida" campaign. I got it from four of them no less. All weekend long.

I don't know if I am ready to give up my falls and winters just yet but having people who enjoy my company closer and more convenient is a compelling thought.

Becca said...

I am sure that as you live your life in future there will be many more who will want the pleasure of your company.

As you say though, a compelling thought to have so many wanting that pleasure sooner rather than later. Hard to leave mum behind though when she has just found a daughter?


Laura Bennett said...

I just saw this post! Wow your sister sure is lucky to have you as a sister ;)

I am happy you felt so comfortable on the trip. I'm sure it was nice to celebrate Thanksgiving with someone who loves you. I think that's important.


Kelli Bennett said...

@Laura, I am lucky I have my sister for a sister. She rocks!! You should really met her one day. ;)