My trans body is my palace, built up from the rubble I myself created out of necessity because my soul had outgrown the one chosen for me, perhaps before it ever entered this world.
The wisest people I knew told me that I’d both grow out of it and grow into it. So I unpacked.
I painted the walls, but I was told they were the wrong color.
I trimmed the garden, but I was told it was too short.
I solidified the foundation, but I was told it was too much.
Each exciting, uplifting renovation only further confirmed my home to be the eyesore of the neighborhood.
So I put up a fence.
I locked the door.
I turned out the lights.
I let the paint fade and the walls crumble.
And then one day,
I just didn’t come home.
It would be years before I could return—before I could force myself to look at the damage that had been done.
The decay and the vandalism and even the emptiness.
I didn’t even recognize it anymore.
I stared. And I cried. I tried to see the beauty I’d been told was always there. I must have sat there for ages, utterly still, tuning out the world around me in order to visualize that perfect home—the palace of my dreams.
And when I found it, there I stayed.
In my dreams. I closed my eyes and built this palace brick by brick. And the more I built in my dreams, the further the actual structure decayed. Pieces began to fall all around me. This home was no longer safe, but I could not yet open my eyes. I was afraid that I would never see it so beautiful again.
Then you found me sitting there, my back towards the world. You spoke as if you already knew me, but that was not the strangest thing. You asked me why I couldn’t move, and I was too afraid to tell you that I was afraid I wouldn’t see it anymore. So you stayed. We talked for what seemed an eternity. You weren’t afraid of the broken beams or the dirt or the bugs or the smell or the darkness. You would have waited forever.
At first, maybe it was curiosity that made me open my eyes and turn to you. Why aren’t you running away?
“Because it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
You didn’t seem to see this dilapidated shack that had long since been abandoned. You didn’t see the overgrown lawn or the graffiti or the poison in the walls.
“Because that’s not real.”
But it’s all I’ve ever had. It’s all I’ve ever known.
“That doesn’t make it real.”
And so it began.