Today I met Carol and she changed my life..

I wish I had taken my picture with her, her vitality and joy would have come at you through the screen. I know that meeting her changed my life today. 

Mom and I had gone to town to get some medications filled and decided to eat at the local Chinese Buffet while we waited. We saw her when we walked in. I will be honest, I was kind of taken aback, not sure I was seeing what I thought I was. Keep in mind I live in a small town, meaning small minded, sadly. But she was real and unashamed, laughing and smiling as if it were as normal as anything. You might ask why I would say that, what would she be ashamed about and this is where I must admit I instantly became ashamed of myself. 

You see Carol was not born Carol. I don't know what her name was when she was a man, I didn't ask. My first thought was it was a man in women's clothing. Which is not a typical sight in this small town. Ever. Backwoods, southern mentality prevails. Big trucks, big guns all man. When we took our seats at our table 3 behind her, I heard the whispers of others. I got angry, then realized that I had done the same thing. Not out of malice or meaning harm, but because it was something I was unaccustomed to seeing around here. Which if you know anything about my youth you would find surprising that I would even have that thought. See I moved to Virginia Beach when I was 10, when I was 16 I performed in a bar geared towards the homosexual community. The headliners were all transvestite men, dressed like the female stars they adored. Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, Liza and some more modern singers. I sang there without hesitation. It was not unusual in Virginia Beach. But here it is, and I let that small town mentality suck me in. 

As I sat at the table with my mom, she talked about the reactions of people at other tables. How they looked twice or snarled their faces. As if Carol was some sort of mutant that shouldn't be there. The guilt overwhelmed me. Carol was polite and laughing with her dinner partner, oblivious to what others were saying or doing. I sat there thinking that Carol was not the one with the problem we were. Carol had went after her happiness. Without shame, or guilt or the need to feel like she owed someone something for choosing to live her life the way she wanted. I felt sadness for me and for everyone else there because it was then I realized we had the thoughts out of jealousy. We go day to day living our lives to society's definition of normal, rather then living our lives in the joy that we are supposed to have. We have exchanged love for greed, joy for jealousy and happiness for hate. 

When they got up to leave I excused myself and ran outside to smoke * yeah I haven't quit yet I know I know*.. 

Her dinner companion came out first and I stopped him. I asked him , stumbling over my words, not wanting to come across as crass or plain rude. 

"Pardon me, I have a question, and please don't think I am asking out of rudeness, but I noticed that your dinner companion was umm well how can I put this.. Was your companion born a male and had a sex change??"

He laughed at my question. I am sure it had been posed a million times before. He was not offended. He nodded and said, "Carol, yeah she made the change at the age of 64. You know what I don't even see that. I see her, a person, with happiness and happy with herself"

I lowered my head and nodded. 

" I saw that and I will be honest at first I was taken aback, not sure if she had completed the surgery or if she was a he dressed as a woman. But the more I thought about it and heard her talk, I realized she is simply a person, who is far braver then me. I also now know that no one should have to wait 64 years to be who they were meant to be and find their happiness. Would she be offended if I told her how honored I was to have seen her today?"

He replied, " Here she comes you tell her"

She came through the door, pushing it hard because it tends to stick, her long silver gray hair falling in her face. She wore a peach sweater and a tan skirt, ending with a pair of comfortable tennis shoes. When she walked out her friend said " This little girl wants to talk to you."

She turned to face me and I felt flustered all over again. 

" I , I just wanted to say how blessed I have been to meet you today ma'am", I finally got it out.

" Carol , hun, I am Carol"

" I know but I also know you weren't born Carol at least not body wise and I just think it is awesome that in this hick town you made a choice to find and grab your happiness." 

She smiled at me, " I was Carol long before the outside fit that is true. I was Carol inside my whole life, and I finally  said why am I living like this.. I have to do something to have the outside match who I am inside. So I just did it. Was it hard? Absolutely. But not as hard as living in a body that wasn't mine to begin with, that was much harder. I have learned a lot of things about me that I never knew. I have found compassion as Carol that I was always afraid to show, I cry openly now, I feel things now that I couldn't before. All the things I couldn't do because my body said I was male. It feels wonderful."

I could not help but get teary eyed hearing her tell how her life was before the change. I am tearing up even now. 

" I lived most of my life being miserable in my body, I made the decision I was NOT going to die miserable as well."

I smiled at her and said, " I cannot tell you how much I admire you. I know I don't know you but I do. I think that you saved your own life and I think everyone should be able to be who they are without feeling ashamed. No one should have to wait 64 years to grab their happiness. No one. I am so blessed to have met you and so glad you talked to me. I think you needed to know that I for one want to be like you. To go after my happiness, regardless of what others think of what I should do."

Carol walked over, grabbed my hand in hers, leaned over and whispered in my ear, " Thank you for blessing me. You have given me the hope that one day no one will have to wait 64 years to be who they are, whatever that may be, because it will not be considered abnormal. God bless you sweetie." And she kissed me on the cheek. They went their way and I went mine. Changed forever, for the better. With a lot less of the small town mentality. With the knowledge that a person is a person. Period. It is who we are INSIDE that makes us, not what we see outside. Sometimes we overlook that, we think differently. But Carol taught me today a lesson I needed to learn. I hope in sharing it she teaches you too.




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