The different ways one can travel down Route 4

We have enjoyed our stay in Vermont the past few days and are preparing to start our journey home. Everything has been great- the food, the weather, and seeing old friends. Traveling through former stomping grounds have stirred up the expected emotions of feeling nostalgic and regret. I have made numerous attempts at navigating through these moments by reminding myself of the positive choices in my life, and how exciting new opportunities are waiting for me. This works during acute moments of panic and until last night I didn’t have anything more than that. It was manageable. It was until about 9:00 pm. 

On our way into Castleton to visit my friend and her husband, we rode Route 4 while listening to the Joshua Tree. The green mountains rose up all around us, and the familiar view of Birdseye mountain and its compadres tugged at my nostalgic heart. I thought about the first time I saw them, the first moment I realized that I was going to be in this place for at least four years of my life and my happiness at the idea of being far away from Plymouth. Vermont was to be a new beginning for me. It was going to be a place where I could start over and not be the drunk girl people were ashamed to be around. Little did I know that she followed me through those mountains. 

As we went through the center of town I felt remnants of those emotions from long ago. It was like holding a fading photograph that is in bright full color when you first see it, and then it slowly fades as the memory is processed. Faded corners, vivid center. I had my entire life ahead of me in 1990 when I first came to Castleton on route 4. Entire life. So much hope for better things had replaced the feelings of being a total screw up. I could still feel that hope, faded as it was. Bittersweet. 

After a few turnarounds we finally found my friends house and enjoyed a nice afternoon sitting by the lake in their backyard. We talked about sobriety, meetings, different people we have known and what was going on in our lives. It was great seeing them and we left during a downpour thanks to a thunderstorm that decided to hang out in that area. There were moments we had no visibility which made the ride even more exciting. We pulled into Castleton and went to Birdseye (formerly known as The Jims Diner) diner for supper. 

The road back was not sunny. It was foggy, wet, and poor visibility at times which matched my insides as the car made its way up the mountain. I had to enter my info for unemployment, which brought up thoughts of “how much time do I have left? What am I going to do when it runs out? Is this User Experience class right for me and do I really think I will be able to get work after the class?” It was a tough road back, my chest felt heavy and I became quiet as the fear settled into me. Things didn’t improve when I attempted to feel better by contacting the girls to say goodnight. I ended up not talking to them and instead struggled through the immense emotional that turned me into a puddle.

I feel bad for Melissa, as she had gone downstairs to get a snack and came back to find me sobbing. Even this morning I am still in pain and snapped when she was trying to be light with me. I just feel completely lost, unsure of myself and what I feel myself gravitating towards as a career isn’t what others have in mind as a good plan. It’s a bad place for me to stay so we are going to pack up, head to Rutland, maybe make a meeting and head home. I need to get some hope because right now I can’t generate any by myself. Many years ago someone taught me how I can get hope back in my life, and I think I will follow her suggestions to get some. 



At my Bat Mitzvah, I saw one of my grandmothers sitting and I didn’t see her often so. I went over to give her a hug. In spite of Hurricane Gloria and the lovely power outages that came with her, my party was in full swing and everyone was having a good time. I had been thinking about what was to happen next for me in my Jewish journey as a Levin, so I asked her a serious question.

“Nana, do you think instead of sending me to Israel like everyone else, could you send me to Hawaii?” 

She turned to look at me, was silent for a second and then laughed like I had never heard her laugh before. She laughed and laughed. I could tell that perhaps I had made a mistake and moved on. According to my other grandmother, whom she grabbed right after to share my question with, she thought it was hilarious. That was one of the last good belly laughs she had, and she passed that following November. 

I have yet to make that trip to Israel. Never made it to Hawaii either, but I would take Israel over Hawaii any day. The passion and love my grandmother Helen Levin had for the state of Israel was so immense, I still can feel it even now, thirty years later. She traveled there often, and did a lot of work to help implement humanitarian efforts. She and both of my grandfathers- Bob Levin, then Max Moskow, donated to Hadassah hospital. When the State was just beginning she sold bonds to raise money to support the efforts. She told me stories of the children there, and of the places that she hoped I would see one day. She told me how lucky I was to be born in a world where there was an Israel, a homeland for Jews.

To me, she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and I remember telling her she could have been a movie star like Bette Davis. She thought that was pretty funny too. Because I didn’t see her often, the moments I did spend with her are even more special. They are so precious to me and as each day passes,  as I start to forget the sound of her voice, they become even more. I will never forget is her passion for Israel and her determination that every grandchild will see the country she loved so much.

Nana,  I know that if you were here with me today that you probably would be shaking your head or maybe disappointed in the decisions I have made. I know that many in our family look at me very differently these days and there are days I struggle with that. What I do know is that in spite of my failings you would be immensely proud of this incredible young woman who is traveling to your favorite place tomorrow morning. She will lay her eyes on the same places you held dear to your heart, and I know you will be beside her standing in the desert. I may not have been able to get there but my daughter will, and hopefully the other two after her when they get old enough. Izzie already has a heart sister in Jerusalem whom we cannot wait to meet someday. This heart sister named Tehilla, who is thriving because of that hospital you helped fund so many years ago. You are still touching my life in ways I could never have imagined.

I love you Nana Helen, I was so blessed to have had you in my life for those short 13 years. Thank you for passing this incredible love to me for a place I have yet to see, so I could pass this on to my daughters. 


Various ways to hope

When I first began this blog the purpose was a singular one: to write and express my feelings about having a baby with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. I needed it to be a safe place where I could vent my anger at why we were chosen to have this burden, express my grief at the loss of a normal pregnancy, and to explore what I really was feeling since I tend to have so many. It started out with the purpose being congenital heart disease-driven and all about Izzie.

A few months ago I took a blogging class to see how I could make the most out of my writing. As it turns out, not much! Two blogs was getting really complicated. I realized that my life had split into two branches- one centered around congenital heart disease, and the other around all things transgender. I didn’t want to taint this blog with personal demons, so I thought. Problem is, I already wrote about my demons so that cat was let out of the bag. Why not change the focus from Izzie’s condition to hope itself. Both branches of my life required it to keep moving forward regardless of what was happening around me. Hope is what gets me up on the morning, so why not?

I was told today that everyone sees everything on Facebook. Groundbreaking.  If I wasn’t aware of this, I wouldn’t have pulled the other blog down. I use Facebook to extend my contact to people, not just be my method of contact. For example, I may comment on a post with my opinion, maybe run into you downtown, and then reiterate my opinion if the occasion deems necessary. Whatever I write on here I will most definitely say to your face. I don’t hide behind the UI and pretend I am someone else. If anything, I have been too honest on here with who I am. And that’s okay. It’s ok that I am being me, being true to who I really am, and accepting the consequences.

Some of the consequences are justified, others not so much. I don’t consider losing as many friends as I have since Melissa came out was a consequence that is justified. I understand it, but it still hurts. It hurts when I get an invitation in the mail with just my name on it, even though I have been in a relationship with someone for two years. Since when have I been hiding? I am not the one hiding this time. Ironically, this has been one of the most healthy relationships I have ever had. We argue and disagree, but it doesn’t grow into additional resentments like in other relationships. We do our best not to go to bed angry. Most of the time we are pretty successful. When we share joyful moments such as Liz seeing Suffolk for the first time or having a nice dinner outside under the stars, it is shared on every level. I feel content. I finally feel like I have found the happiness I have been missing for so long, but it is still at arm’s length because my children have no idea who she is.

Here is where the hope comes in. As in all relationships, there are roles people have. Male/female, dominant/submissive, shy/outgoing. Since Scott has officially left the building and Melissa is in the house, things have changed dramatically. I am not talking about the clothing. The way we deal with each other, communicate with each other has changed a lot since we have begun living as two women in the house. It’s different and we are still trying to see where we fit in to each other’s lives. It’s hard, and sometimes overwhelming. Some days I feel like she will never get me like Scott did, and other days I have never felt like someone understood me as much. My hope is that we keep going, that circumstances will get better, and that people will be more accepting of us as days go on.

My immediate family is a good example of acceptance, my extended family not so much. Other people who have hurt me are friends with whom suddenly I needed a friend request to talk to because this whole situation is overwhelming for them (say whaaat??). Friends that I have asked to be cool and then they post a derogatory image of a bearded man in a dress for laughs. It all hurts and maybe they think I am asking for it by being in this type of relationship. I don’t understand. We aren’t hurting anyone. If anything, Melissa is finally living the way she should have for the past 43 years. She isn’t dying on the inside anymore and I am not wondering what Scott is hiding from me. I hope that the G-d who placed these circumstances in my life that also saved hers, will bring us to a better place. He certainly brought us this far.