Bizarre.  Disturbing.  Distressing.

I’m not sure if I am talking about the action, the message conveying the action or my response to the situation.

I guess you’d need to know what I’m talking about.

Sunday morning bright and early, I got a phone call from a college friend.  We don’t talk often, haven’t seen one another in 18 years and have been “trying” to connect for months.  We spoke on Friday when she had to cancel plans for Saturday because of machine malfunction at work.  Naturally, as we’ve spoken maybe twice in the last, oh, 5 years, I wondered immediately what was wrong…who died?

The answer to that question turned out to be more complex than I could have ever imagined.

“Margaret!” says H – in that heavy North Carolina accent so prevalent in the Carolinas.  Hers is more pronounced than many.  “You will NEVER believe who sent me a Facebook Friend Request!” (I may be paraphrasing the conversation, my memory of these moments is somewhat cloudy.)

“No, H, I can’t imagine…are you going to tell me?”

“Remember that guy – the one from Germany – the one you dated our senior year? What was his name?”

“Of course, I remember him, H.  His name is Fred Germany, why?”

“OMG, Margaret!  I just knew I had to call you!”

At this point, I think she’s discovered that Fred is dead.  Nope.  Originally, I didn’t think I even close; now, I think I might be closer than I thought.

“Margaret…now his name is…MICHELLE!”

This remark is met first with stunned silence.  I mean, what is there to say, after all?  When I began to regain my composure, I had some questions, of course…she told me that he’d messaged her asking if she remembered him and telling her that some things have changed in the last 20 years.  Apparently, he even messaged our old theatre director – who, agreed with him that, yes, things had changed.

The rest of the conversation happened quickly.  I remember H saying something about it being okay, to which I screamed “YOU DIDN’T SLEEP WITH HIM!!!” Then, as be both struggled with laughter, tears and shock, we hung up.

Monday morning when I logged onto Facebook, I get this message:  “Hi Maggy,” (mind you, he NEVER called me Maggy), “do you remember me? BAC? Abbey Players? We had a great time. Things changed in the past 20 years.  Greetings Michelle”

AS IF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT EXPERIENCE WE SHARED WAS THE ABBEY PLAYERS!!!!!

Let’s examine this situation, shall we?

What do I feel?  I feel…shock. dismay. distress. fear. anger. Anger?  Where’s the anger coming from? Stupidity.  How could I not have known?

Do I have a right to feel anything?  Hell, yes, I have a right to feel something!  We spent nearly my entire senior year as a couple.  So we weren’t in love, what does that matter?  Okay, I loved him.  Thought I did.  I would have married him to keep him.  Betrayed.  That’s how I feel.  Betrayed. He hid that whole part of himself from me for over a year.

But that’s stupid, right?  I mean, he didn’t have a sex change operation because of me.  I hope.  Did he?  Did I drive him to this action?  Was he running from me?  While on one level, I know that doesn’t make sense, that doesn’t keep me from feeling those feelings, having those thoughts.

Bizarre.  Disturbing.  Distressing.

I am talking about the action.  Sex reassignment surgery.

I am talking about the message.  Like we were just acquaintances.

I am talking about me. My response.  For all my talk of tolerance, acceptance and maintaining neutrality, refraining from judgement, I just keep thinking that it’s somehow wrong that someone I knew intimately would take such action!

I’m such a hypocrite!  It’s okay for everyone else, but “not in my house!”  Sheesh!

I have known, loved and lived with, people from everywhere in life.  I take pride in my ability to look beyond the surface and accept the person where they are…meet them there.  so what’s my struggle here? with him?

He must have been miserable then.  In 1991.  Why didn’t I see it?  Didn’t I want to?  Didn’t he want me to?  Maybe that’s why he acted like such a, [insert appropriate epithet here].

Judgement.  Maybe that’s what this is about.  My judgement.  Not of him, specifically but of people, situations.  It’s rarely been right.  Why is this lapse in judgement throwing me for such a loop?  I feel as if, with my history and connections and friendships of all types, that I should have seen it.  I should have seen the signs.  I should have been able to help him.

Which is silly, really, when you think about it.  How can I help him when I can’t help me?

So, maybe Fred is dead.  He is gone.  Michelle lives in his place.  If I could accept that about someone I don’t know then I have to learn to accept it from him.  Her.  Ugh.  Will I ever get this right?

(Names have been changed or initials used to protect the, sometimes, innocent)

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