Monthly Archives: March 2015

Natividade Part 1

Different shades of blue. Of course, they were. Every soldier at the airport had a uniform that was a slightly different shade of Royal Blue. Jerry guessed it depended on who was doing their laundry and how much bleach they used. Of course each of the “Federales” carried matching automatic weapons.  He wondered if they had the correct ammunition or if the guns were for show only.  Ahh, Mexico! He loved it! Always just slightly askew like the light switches in the hotels or the strange unfinished structures that lined the coastal highway. Jerry had never been to the airport in Ensenada. In fact he never even knew there was one. Not that he knew much about the fishing town other than they had a large tuna fleet anchored at the embarcadero and of course there was Hussong’s Cantina. Hussong’s, was the favored Ensenda watering hole for dirt-bikers, weekend Gringo partiers , turistas, hookers and escaping California surfers like himself. At 21, tall, lean and tan with shaggy sun-kissed brown hair he fit the patron profile well. Hussong’s was a rustic bar at the edge of town, It had been a mandatory destination in this part of Baja for decades. Jerry had been coming down here since he was 15 to surf and drink. Most of his first drinking experiences had been here or at a few dozen other bars, strip-clubs, restaurants and hotels along the coast or in TJ.  He’d become familiar with many in the last 6 years having made frequent trips with his friends and brothers. The Mexican bar owners were happy to let anyone in who could purchase a drink. Since the cost was significantly less than  back in California many groups of young travelers both male and female could be encountered doing the same. A memorable night had been spent with a young woman at the Grande Rosarito Beach Hotel where the best suite overlooking the Ocean had cost just $40.

Jerry remembered his first drink in Baja at the age of 15 when he went into a steak house after surfing with his older brother Kelly. Kelly was only a year and a half older but was significantly more worldly. Jerry was the “good” boy, over-achiever at school and sports and 3″ taller than Kelly. Kelly was the rebel and habitual truant. Equally tanned, more muscular with curly blonde ringlets and gray-blue eyes, women loved his bad boy ways. Kelly rarely bothered with school and had spent many of those delinquent days exploring Northern Baja with his equally feral friends. Jerry, the rule follower and straight A student had only begun getting high a few months after their mother had died. He saw no more reason to over-achieve since the person he had been trying to impress was gone. Jerry had been surprised when Kelly ordered beer for them all including their younger brother Brendan who was only 14 but already as big as both older boys. Brendan followed a similar lifestyle to Kelly but was not as regularly absent. He was known as a quiet but dangerous fighter and highly regarded in any size surf. The Mexican waiter hadn’t batted an eye but returned promptly with a cold beer for each of them at the table. The steaks had been tough and chewy but the beers were strong and cold so they’d had a few rounds and walked out with a good buzz. Afterwards Kelly led them back into his VW bug. They jumped in and zoomed off down the rough winding coastal road to the next adventure with Black Sabbath blasting and a freshly lit joint. That had been 6 years before.

This time there were 8 of them. Jerry, his brother Kelly and 6 others. It was their good friend Mike’s 28th birthday and he had gathered some of his favorite misfits for this “all inclusive” surf trip to Isla Natividade. $300 each for a week on the very small island about 20 miles off the coast of Guerrero Negro. The price was right and they just needed to bring boards, wetsuits, alcohol and anything else they required besides the 2 meals the local fisherman would be providing daily. According to Mike they would be flying to Natividade on an old DC-3 military transport plane from the airport here in Ensenada. The radial-engine Douglas airplanes had been flying cargo all over the world since World War II and were the mostly highly produced aircraft ever. Still, that hadn’t made these things for more than 30 years and it was Mexico after all.

Mike was originally from New England and although he’d been in San Diego for the last 14 years he still carried the attitude and confrontational ways of his original coast. Mike was shorter than the two brothers but made up for it with impressive strength and considerable wrestling skills. He rarely backed away from a fight and would frequently get into heated debates over trivial philosophical issues. His long straight hair often gained women’s attention and his lack of discrimination made him perhaps the most frequently bedded member of the group. Mike waved and grinned conspiratorially at the Federale in the slightly lighter blue uniform as they drove through the gate. The guard never cracked a smile himself but stood at attention grim faced holding his automatic weapon out in front of him. Maybe it was Mike’s long blonde streaked hair or the surfboards strapped to the roof of the dilapidated 1970 Fleetwood that rubbed him wrong or maybe he just hated all Gringos. Jerry surmised it was more likely the latter. Mike navigated the big car onto the Tarmac. Another Federale a little ways down along the edge of the pavement waved them into a parking spot near some other vehicles. Mike nodded acknowledgement as he pulled in. Once again the soldier only glowered back and returned back to his place by the gate. “There it is” Mike chuckled seeing the large DC-3 tail dragger parked 20 yards away. “That’s our ride!” The other 3 passengers leaned forward to see an olive drab twin-engine plane surrounded by a half dozen Mexicans in overalls. “Woo-hoo!” said Blake who along with Kelly and Jerry had driven with Mike in the Cadillac. Blake had been a cook at the Mexican restaurant along with Mike when Jerry first began working there at 16. Kelly and Brendan were already there as busboys. Blake was 25 now and a waiter. He had arrived in L Jolla from South Florida, crossing the country to cook at another restaurant with his good friend Dave Shiplet who had made the crossing before him. He had gone to the Ringling School of Art back in Sarasota and had acquired a slightly more cultivated taste in music and Art than the straight metal popular in La Jolla at the time. Music from The Clash, Talking Heads, English Beat, Sid Vicious and others blasted behind the line during his restaurant shifts providing something of a music appreciation lesson for the more provincial employees. His short roundish stature, tousled brown hair, sharp wit and perpetual grin gave him an impish charm. “Do sum Blow!” He chortled as all 4 stepped out of the Caddy.

The other car in the convoy that had made the hour and a half drive from La Jolla pulled up next to them. Ken Sproul was driving the Gold and white Centurion. He looked over with his elbow resting on the window sill as Blake handed him a freshly opened Pacifico beer. “Neuman had to puke just as we were crossing the border.” Ken said with a wry grin. Kenny was the tallest member of the group at 6’5″. Tall and lanky with curly brown hair he could have almost been another one of Jerry’s brothers. The same Anglo-Irish look but more heavily boned, he was a 10 year undergrad at UCSD. Apparently he had not quite been able to settle on any particular specialty. At 10 years undergrad  he was some sort of unofficial record holder there. It probably didn’t hurt that his father was a tenured professor. He and Mike had gone to high school together and then college. He was generally quiet and intellectual, but was always up for a new adventure. Ken stepped out with beer in hand along with the 3 passengers of the large Buick. Jim Neuman the oldest member of the group stepped out of the rear driver side door. At 30 he had tightly curled black hair he wore in a short afro style. His grin and tanned face spoke of many wild adventures. “‘Sup Homos?!” He laughed downing his beer. Jim or “Neuman” as he was known to the group was about 6 feet and 210 lbs. with a developing beer belly. He wasn’t particularly athletic and was known for being the wildest member present. Like a harmless perpetual adolescent he would often surprise fellow revelers with some completely unanticipated misstep or prank like the time he got his car high-centered on 2 cement parking barriers. Luckily it was smaller car and the 4 revelers had been able to lift it off. Next to Jim getting our of the back seat passenger side was John Soutar. John was slightly taller than Neuman at 6’1″ but significantly leaner. John and Jerry were the same age and had gone to Junior-High and High School together. They were from opposite sides of town but were both surfers and aspiring artists. John had bushy blonde hair and striking blue-green eyes but seemed perpetually stoned. Jerry could never be sure if he was in fact always stoned or if that was just his normal demeanor. To be sure he got high like the rest of them, but there were those Jerry knew like his brothers who were high more often than sober. John had a twin brother David and a younger brother Garvin who was also an artist. Jerry had created a comic book with the 2 brothers which they had distributed on campus. When the Vice-Principal found out who was responsible for the booklet filled with stories about sex, drugs, music and surfing they had each been suspended for 3 days.  No one was too concerned and had spent their suspension surfing every day and hanging out at the beach. The 3 Soutar brothers were similar to Jerry and his two brothers Kelly and Brendan. All 3 surfed and hung out together as friends. Both groups knew each other from traveling in the same circles and breaks in the small town. The last to get out of the car was Jim Neery aka “Neery.” “Neery” had been in the front passenger side of the Centurion. He was built similarly to “Neuman” but with blonde curly hair. He was 29 but more athletic than “the other” Jim. He was also quite a bit more serious. Neery was just finishing up his Architectural degree at UCSD and was married. He was the most rational and mature member of the group and was often called upon to bail out different friends from difficult situations much to his bride’s chagrin. Jerry marveled that he had even come along on such an ill-advised adventure at all with this group, but was glad for his company in case something should go South. “Let’s go Fatso!” Blake said looking at each reveler in turn as he began handing out another round of beers from the cooler now sitting between the two cars. They all toasted Mike and the upcoming adventure drinking the Pacificos down in unison.

The Proposal

She was acting weird all day. So many probing questions. What do you want your future to look like? Do you ever see us living together? Do you need indoor plumbing to find happiness? Honestly I wondered if her meds were off again. Normally our morning conversations over coffee were lighter. We celebrated just being together and the wonder of actually finding each other in the first place. The view from my place was incredible, a stunning 180 degree view of the canyon and ocean from my deck was often the focus of our evening toasts “The Queendom” as we called it. Well, really She had coined that term, like so many others. There was no end to her nicknames for situations, people or locations. We usually laughed easily over all this joy and goofiness, but tonight was different, more serious. Her eyes were darker green, with that outline of blue, steady and intense like a predator waiting to pounce. I could probably read her moods by the color change in her eyes. I knew a few variations now. Passion was deep green with a bit of firey yellow in the center. Her eyes went a light ice green when her desire was satiated like the color of the local ocean underwater, cool and calming. I hadn’t really seen much anger yet except that one night at the bar in San Francisco when that gross guy wouldn’t leave us alone. Then they had gone like green slate. Dark gray green, ominous like a severe thunderhead. But today, today dark green with that clean blue outline. Were these her serious eyes?

Form. Maybe that was it. We had been “storming” as she put it. All fun and passion, desire and joy, reckless and care free. We’d gone to balls, clubs, parties, and on romantic road trips for the last 6 months somewhat neglecting our “real” lives. Maybe the time had come to ‘form.” Maybe. “Come sit down.” she said pointing to the couch. “Okay.” I said. “What’s up?” I asked as I sat where she pointed on my couch. Maybe we were going to have one of our “difficult” conversations. She liked to confront any issue early and head off misunderstandings before they got up steam. I must say I appreciated the concept as unfamiliar as this practice was for me personally. This didn’t really feel like  one of these “difficult” conversations though. She seemed…nervous. Yeah, she was actually nervous! I hadn’t seen nervous before. She was solid like a rock. Unshakeable as a granite mountain. Were her lips trembling? My mind raced. What could be going on here?

I thought back now. How long had we been dating?  We started last may and now it was March. 11 months. I do remember her saying something strange to me after our second date. ” I’ll be asking you a question in 11 and 1/2 months. I want you to be ready when I do.” Had it been that long? She would occasionally remind me. “I’ll be asking you a question in 10 months, 9 months etc.” She quit doing that about 3 months ago. I had sort of forgotten about that. Maybe this was that moment. She was acting really strange. She sat down on the coach next to me and looked at me with those direct serious eyes. “If I ask you to say “yes” or “no” without a question, what’s your intuitive answer?”  she said with a slight smile. I was a bit confused by the question. “What do you mean?” I asked.” “It’s simple” she replied. “Just answer the universe, yes or no?” “Okay” I replied. “Yes! I like to say yes more than no, so, Yes!” She smiled and stood up from the couch. “‘l’ll be back in 20 minutes.” she said. “What?” I asked. “Where are you going?” “I’ll be right back.” she said as she gathered her purse and car keys. “I say yes and you leave?” I complained as she walked out the open french doors to my small deck. “I’ll be back!’ She said now exiting the gate as I followed onto the deck. The Dark blue Mercedes SUV backed down my steep driveway then made the quick turn downhill and was gone.

I  finished the last few sips of wine watching the sky change from red orange to maroon and dusty purple. It had been a beautiful Winter day in Summerland. Coffee and a hike together in the morning after making love, we had parted ways in the middle of the day and I’d gone for a swim in the local pool 10 minutes away. She had returned with appetizers, a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a beautiful bouquet of orange and purple stargazers with green palm fronds. I had arranged the appetizers and flowers and we had brought it all outside to enjoy the sunset. It was something we’d done many many times in the “Queendom.” I loved it. Life was perfect. Better than I could have ever imagined. After my transition last October from male to female I had fulfilled a lifelong dream. My world had become instantly simpler without living the “dual” life as a man and part-time woman.

I never imagined what might happen after I transitioned. It had been the end of my plan, the “zero” moment. I had thought I may have to leave town to transition, even thinking of moving to South America or somewhere remote so I would be able to start over without judgement or embarrassing my children. I can see now that would have been insane even impossible for me.  Very extreme, but then, nothing about my life had been average. She had arrived even as I was setting the date for my transition surgery. She seemed like a gift from the Gods. My perfect mirrored soul in a female “earth suit” as she called her body. So many similarities in our lives I couldn’t imagine life now without her.

I heard the neighbors Golden start barking and then the engine noise of her SUV coming up the road. In a minute she had parked and came walking back onto the deck. “Welcome back!” I said “Thank You” she said  giving me a light kiss on the lips. “Come back inside.” she said grabbing my hand. “Can you sit down again?” She asked pointing to the couch. “Okay…” I said with a little emphasis so she knew I was really beginning to wonder what was going on.  “Do you remember how I told you I’d have a question to ask you when we first started dating?” She asked as she sat down next to me. “Yes.” I responded stating to get a little nervous myself now. “Well.” she said now sliding off the couch and onto one knee on the carpet. My heart began to pound. This was unbelievable I thought to myself. “Is she doing what I think she’s doing?” Realistically I knew it would be coming, but thought I wold have another month or so before it happened.

I had struggled with how to handle this moment should it arrive ever since she first mentioned “the question” 11 months before. At the time I was somewhat fresh out of a 3 year relationship in which I had proposed to someone else. That relationship was seriously flawed from the beginning but she had accepted. Fortunately we had broken it off and gone our separate ways. That along with a failed marriage 18 years ago had definitely soured me on the idea of doing it again, but neither had started as this relationship had. This time I had started as a woman.

And now I was having that quintessential female moment. She pulled the small black jewel box from out of her pocket. “I knew I wanted to ask you this from that first time you came over to my house.” she said looking at me with the most intense eyes I’d seen yet. They were green and gold and blue all at once. I felt like they were boring into me. My hair began to stand on end and I could feel waves of goosebumps sweeping across my skin. “Genivieve” she said, “Will you marry me?” She asked opening the box to reveal a beautiful round cut 1 carat diamond ring. Tears began to run down my cheeks. I was shocked. Was I really feeling like this? It was startling, unexpected and overwhelming. “Yes.” I said leaning forward and holding out my hand. There was no other possible answer. I wanted to always be with her. My eyes began to blur with tears as she slid the ring on my left hand. It fit perfectly. I looked at my hand with the long pink nails and diamond ring and thought, “whose hand IS that?” It seemed so strange to be in this position after having been on the other side before. I looked up and kissed her as the tears came down.  This is what I was always supposed to feel during a proposal I thought as the kiss went on with beautiful intensity. “This is honest unreserved love.” I thought. “This is what I’ve always wanted.” I never felt so sure about anything before. This was right.