Do you know how it feels to love someone so deeply but they do not see you? They see the person that they want to see, but not you for who you are. They have known you your whole life, given you your identity made you from their own flesh, and yet can't seem to see. It's like being trapped inside of a box.
I want to scream to the top of my lungs and break out of this perfect navy blue gift-wrapped box. I have tried to break through the wrapping time and time again, but I just ended up being shoved back into this cramped space, hoping my time will come. One day I will be unwrapped, unraveled, and I will find my forever home, but in this home, I am the shiny trophy, the prized possession, the son of all sons. I excel in sports and academics, while also being sweet and charismatic; the perfect trifecta. Any father would be proud, boast and brag, and any mother would be glad to pawn me off to the highest bidder. Might I add, I wasn’t bad-looking either. Though, despite the perfect image, I didn't feel like I belonged. They didn’t see me. I brought the trophies and awards home to keep my father from questioning, and I kept a slow trickle of girls so suspicions wouldn’t be raised, but it never felt right. Sometimes, I think the girls knew, in some kind of odd way, I think they could see me, but even if they didn't, they played along well.
Despite being dripped in male masculinity, I stood at 6’4 and medium built, the star forward on my high school's basketball team, I knew I wasn’t meant to be this person. Oftentimes, I felt trapped in a stranger's body. I knew I was meant to be someone else.
I tried to talk to my mother, we were close, shared some of my darkest secrets, but this? She knew nothing about. I would take this secret to the grave. I wanted to tell her, tell her the secrets remaining behind my deep brown eyes, but she wouldn’t understand. Part of me felt like she knew, but she never acknowledged it. She knew I was holding something back, I was different, but she dismissed her thoughts. I wish she would have opened up to me, then maybe I would have found some strength, but who really knows. I was terrified of the truth, of who I really was.
I was always eager to go shopping or take trips to the beauty salon. Playing basketball, and then soccer in the off-seasons was to keep my dad off my back. But a guy that likes to shop? Hang around the beauty salon? Critique moms fashion? I was the cause of a lot of disputes.
I would reassure my dad it was just my mother and I’s way of bonding. He and I had our thing, so this was me and moms. Besides, my mother never minded me tagging along, she thoroughly enjoyed the company. Anything to keep her out of the house, and away from his agonizing antics. Although their marriage was ideal on the surface, I secretly think they hated each other. The love died many years ago but stuck together like glue, dare not break their union, for being outcast from their plush society, they wouldn’t stand a chance.
While we shopped and paraded around town, I got a glimpse of what life could be. I was happy as my fingers combed through the racks of clothing. My soul would sing at the beauty shop, cackling with the other girls in their comic banter. I felt at home, I felt seen. My trances quickly came to an end when the slurs came out, the women always questioned my love for hair and fashion. People from the outside always saw the fire burning in my eyes, the person wanting to break free, but mother always had an excuse for me. It was the way she coddled me, how she endlessly cared for the baby boy, she wanted me right by her side. She kept me wrapped tightly in that blue box.
In our home, we dare not disturb the skeletons that are laid in our closets. If it ain't broke, don't break it as the saying goes. If it didn’t fit the standards of our plush suburban lifestyle, it had no place in our home. We were bound by the thoughts of others, and I dreaded every minute of it. I just wanted to be someplace where I can embrace myself and live in my truth. I loved my family, don't get me wrong, but I wanted to be as far away from them as possible. I wanted to break free.
The weight became unbearable. My shoulders began to slouch, and depression began to settle in. I got cast for a part I never wanted to play. I was good at it, I played my role well, sometimes I believed that I wasn't even acting. That this was who I am, this blue box I was in was home for me. Yet, I knew it was all a lie. The pill I swallowed makes everything seem okay. It’s crazy what people tell themselves to live in a lie, rather than facing the ugly truth.
Then, the time came and I was off to college. I graduated high school in the spring but quickly picked up summer classes so I could get a head start. Mother praised me for my ambitions, but deep down I knew; I was running away. I was going to a place where I could be seen, where the world would accept me. However, my experience was quite the opposite. I was playing the role for so long, it was almost second nature. My own fear grippled me; I dare not crack open that box. I laced the blue box in glitter and gold and tried to make it more comfortable. Breaking the status quo, wearing the skimpiest clothes in the men's department. Yet, the reaction that I expected was quite the opposite. The girls threw themselves at me, for being different, for being so handsome, for being so daring and showing too much skin. The men scoffed and scolded me, thinking I was mocking them and their character. All this time, I applauded them and praised them for their boldness, their identity, but they resented me.
I was out of my element. I belonged nowhere. Fear kept me locked away in my room, I was up late into the night. I waited for the apartment I shared with my female roommate to go quiet.
She worked the night shift at the library, and being that it was open 24/7, I knew she wouldn't be home for a while. She took on the later shift, and during that shift, is when I came alive. It was my time to shine. I would sneak into her closet, slip on her silver strapless shimmer a-line body con dress, I’ve been eying it for some time. I wanted nothing more than to see myself in a dress like that. Shuffling some more through her closet, I found a pair of Fashion Nova translucent pumps to match. Fully dressed I would sit at her vanity, undo the messy bun I kept at the top of my head to contain my now back-length locs, and smear on a coat of her brightest rouge. I stood tall in the mirror and took a look at myself and smiled. I came alive in the night. I sashayed through the hallway and into the living room. I dreamed of what it would be like to be seen, to go out into the world and to be accepted, to be free from my blue box. Yet it was only a dream, a dream I dare not pursue.
I wanted so bad to be in control, in charge of my own story, and tell the world who I really am. But then I would have to face the hurt, the pain, and my biggest fear of rejection. I have always been accepted and loved, so why would I throw that all away to confess my deepest desires. One thing I learned from my family, we keep our skeletons buried deep. So deep, too deep, and even if we have to bleed, our skeletons could never be set free. We would be buried with our secrets. Besides, they wouldn't even know how to handle me coming out. Being gay is one thing, seemingly more acceptable, but transgender? Born a man but identifying as a woman? It was taboo.
The clock turned from 12 am to 1 am, 1 am to 2 am, and before long the clock began to sing. My roommate would be home soon, and I had to clean up before she got home. I took off the dress, put back her shoes, and took out a moist wipe from the box on her vanity to remove the rouge from my lips. Back to the basics. I tied my hair up into that messy bun, and climbed into bed, into my darkness. Hot tears rolled down my cheeks. One day I'll face reality, and I’ll be free. Something I told myself daily, but today wouldn't be that day. Until then, I would just have to wait to reunite with the queen. Every night we danced and sang, and played our happy game until the clock struck 2 am, and it was all over.