The End: An Introduction

This is the end of our story. I think about it a lot. I also think a lot about how it began, eight years ago, asking you out at the end of our freshman homecoming dance.

I don’t think either of us could have predicted how our ending would come. All of the signs were there from the beginning, incubating like dormant cicada, waiting to emerge in an overwhelming swarm. My nonchalance was perhaps my first mistake. My second, and perhaps largest, was thinking that love would be enough. There were others, less significant, and too numerous to mention.

On August 19th, 2019, I was away on a work-related trip and staying with a relative. That evening, laying on an air-mattress illuminated in the glow of my phone, I told you something that would change our lives forever. If there was a single moment that I could look back on and point to as the beginning of the end, it is this one: a single cicada emerging early. On August 19th, I did the hardest thing I had ever done until that point. I told you that I enjoyed wearing women’s clothing.

Making that admission to you was shining a spotlight on every insecurity, every private thought I buried deep inside myself, everything I was terrified to face. A tremor below as the brood grew restless, knowing their time would soon come. I took a tremendous leap of faith, not knowing what lay ahead or the series of events I had set in motion. I had assumed that our love would be enough.

I think that learning that sometimes love is not enough has been the hardest, and the most essential, thing I ever to learn.

You told me that you did not want to discuss my feelings, that you had nothing to say regarding them. Needless to say, because of this you were not prepared when on November 28th of that same year, I told you I thought I was transgender. I will never forget the feeling of vulnerability and the tightness in my chest when I stepped into the light with that admission. And I will never forget how you reacted, how just a few words could change us.

“I hate you,” you told me three days later on December 1st. “I actually hate you right now.” That should have been our end. I cannot describe how much pain those words have brought me, and how much it hurt me to realize that I had hurt you to the point of such bristling anger. For eight years, I had been the silly idiot you made plans with to say “I do” on an anxiety-filled day in front of your family. It was a dream that had been so real, so tangible, you could picture it perfectly. And I had told you to take that image of your life and throw it in the shredder. In your mind, all those years and little moments—prom, sneaking in visits to each other’s respective college, laughing at Thin Mints at 1:00 in the morning, making each other a stuffed animal at Build-a-Bear—had been for nothing. I had pulled the rug out from under you.

But I didn’t believe it would be the end; I thought our love would be enough. But on January 20th, 2020, you made me make the hardest choice ever in our story. You made me pick between your dream and my true self.

Over four months later, after dealing with the heartbreak and feelings of guilt over who I am, I am ready for these to be the final words in our story. I like to think that it has been one filled with laughter and love, but it is not the happy ending either of us anticipated. I have learned so much that I would not have without you or the last eight years. I would never have gotten here without you. And for that, I will be forever grateful. These have also been the first words in a new story, my first clumsy steps into a new world. It is a story that I hope to record here, for myself and anyone else who needs it. It is my hope that others who are in situations like mine can find wisdom in my previous and inevitable failings, and that I can spread hope and love to those who don’t have enough.

It is time for the cicadas to emerge.