She walked through the doors of her job for the last time on that cool, breezy autumn day. The sun peeked just above the horizon, and birds chirped their songs of greeting like a welcoming party for anyone walking across the newly paved asphalt parking lot. Coworkers cheerily greeted her, same as every other morning, and she waved in return.
She made her way to her desk, going through the motions of booting up her computer and adjusting her chair, same as she always did. Today, however, was different. Today was the day everything would change. She knew something that others in the office did not know. She was going to disappear. The person her coworkers had come to know during the past two years would walk out that day, never to return.
The two women who shared her workspace had invited her to lunch. “Lunch with the Ladies” had been on her calendar for a week now. The conversations were certain to include husbands, kids’ soccer games, and day care. She could seldom relate to it, yet the lunches seemed to be an unspoken obligation. It was understood at the office that women went to lunch with women and men with men. Who wished to be the odd man out? She supposed she liked the women well enough, but that really wasn’t the point. They had no knowledge of her impending disappearance.
With an hour left in her workday, she returned to her desk to find an email summoning her to an appointment in the Human Resources Department, just as she had planned. That email was about to help change her life. The time had arrived. Heart racing, palms sweating, she knocked on HR’s door and entered. It was then, by changing her name in the official personnel records, that she officially disappeared.
Two years later …
The sun brightly announced itself on his morning commute to work. He scratched at the scruff of beard growing on his chin, wishing he’d taken the extra time to shave that morning.
Greeted as usual by his coworkers, who had offered support and acceptance during his transition (including some former Marines), he made his way to his desk and booted up his computer. A notice on the screen let him know the computer’s memory was nearly full, prompting him to sort through unused documents or programs. It was then he came across her story, taking him back to that last day behind the female façade. He felt a bit unnerved. It had been so long since she had entered his mind.
He felt himself propelled back to the day of her disappearance as if he had entered a time machine. How frightened she must have felt. He remembered watching her hands tremble as she opened the door to HR, where the journey began, and her secret was revealed to everyone.
He remembered that moment so vividly because he had been she. She had disappeared to bring him forth. She sacrificed herself so he could live.
I know this so well because this is my story. I lived in the world cloaked in skin I always knew was not my own, worn like a suit that never quite seemed to fit. Until the day she disappeared, I spent my life in hiding, much like a scared, shy child, arms wrapped tightly around the legs of a protective parent.
The Native Americans have a term for people like me: two-spirit. I have learned many things since the day she disappeared, things I wish I had known and could have shared with her when she was so frightened.
I would tell her not to worry about finding someone who would love her because in the end it would all be okay. I would tell her not to worry about being accepted by others because the people who counted would continue to show unconditional love, even in the face of adversity.
I would tell her just how much of a gift it is to be two-spirited, to be able to see the world through this wonderful lens. I would tell her what a privilege it is to exist within a community that bonds together even when others attempt to break it apart.
I would tell her she is loved and divine, regardless of what others may say. I would tell her about the wonderful, joyous freedom that awaits at the end of that dark tunnel.
Most of all, I would tell her quite simply to live her truth, to live life in the most authentic way possible. For it is through authenticity that we become strong. The day she disappeared was the day I was born.
Rev. Evin Wilkins (he, him) is the minister Unity Center Of Divine Love & Light, Spokane, WA