Today. Today was supposed to be so normal, so typical. Just another Monday.
I woke up, stood up; put on my music, picked out some clothes, and stepped into the shower. I fed the rabbits, the dog, and filled up my water bottle; grabbed a granola bar for lunch, slipped on my black leather jacket (and, over it, the world’s coolest backpack) and then dipped into my ’99 Neon.
I drove to work.
On a Monday.
I love Mondays.
I was in a meeting for 2 hours; I love meetings. I watched through the windows as, for the first time this year, the wind rustled the trees outside of the corporate office and their leaves fell majestically to the ground. The first real day of fall.
The meeting ended.
I walked down a hallway, into the front of a classroom, and greeted each of my new hires (who I’ll be training for the next 2 weeks). We moved around the room, vocally… laughing and introducing ourselves; each of them was spectacular, stellar. I introduced myself as Rose — cringing a little as the name left my mouth, swallowing the bitter taste of bile, and ignoring the gentle petitioning of my lonely, injured soul. I smiled on the outside and whispered – on the inside – “Soon. It’s okay. You’re okay. Wait.”
It was a great day.
I clocked out at 5:07 and paused in the parking lot for a solid 30 minutes, listening to my best friend recount her first day working in her new position. I felt so happy for her; I was so proud of her. I smiled. She left, and I dipped back into the Neon. I stopped, on the way home, to fill the car up with gas. I arrived home ten minutes later, and as I closed the driver’s seat door, my eyes moved across my skateboard (lying on its side in the backseat). I jotted down a quick mental note to go skate after work one night this week.
So normal, so typical.
I took a few steps forward, my backpack hanging off of my left shoulder, and tugged on the mailbox, feeling – like every other day for the last 17 days – hopeful but not expectant. A thick envelope from Judge Alan King was sitting on top of the regular round of rubbish (credit card application invites, ‘competitive’ insurance offerings, and coupons for merchants whose stores I would never, ever shop at). My heart stopped. The world stopped. My heart started. The world resumed spinning. I gingerly removed the envelope from the mailbox — pulling it towards me, and pressing it close to my chest — and then I closed the lid to the mailbox. Breathe in, breathe out.
I climbed the driveway, unlocked the front door, and entered the house, feeling numb, and feeling tingly. I placed the envelope on the table. Not ready yet.
I walked upstairs slowly, removing my work clothes as I moved from the hallway into the bedroom. I slipped my favorite NASA t-shirt on over my head and relished, once again, in how ridiculously comfortable men’s boxers are, thinking: This really won’t ever get old.
I let the dog outside. I threw the sheets and the comforter into the dryer; 80 minutes, tumble dry high.
I returned to the table. I picked up the envelope. I opened it carefully, making sure to not tear the edges (usually, I wouldn’t care if that happened). There was a letter encircling other letters. This packet is so thick. My heart raced. I felt like vomiting. I felt like running into the street and screaming. I thought about fainting and pictured falling suddenly, abruptly, onto the cold tile floor.
I held the letter with both hands. I found my answer in less than 10 seconds.
The first line:
“We’ve received your written request for your name to be changed. After careful review of the file and all documents presented, Judge Friday has granted your name change.”
I couldn’t breathe. No hearing? I was gasping. Is this really happening? I was wailing. IS THIS REAL? Hot tears streamed down my face. I was heaving; I still couldn’t breathe. My arms, and my chest, were trembling; my hands and my wrists were shaking; my legs felt truly weak. I braced myself against the table with my right hand, struggling to continue reading through the tears.
“As of the date the order is signed, your name has been permanently changed.”
“Permanently.” “The date signed” (eyes racing across the sheet of paper).. September 17th. Last week? Oh my god.
“Upon hearing of the petition, the court is of the opinion that the petition should be granted and the petitioner is entitled to the relief therein prayed for.”
RELIEF. Yes; they KNOW. They understand!
“It is hereby ORDERED and DECREED by the court that Amber Rose Yarbrough be hereafter known by the name of Jace Yarbrough.”
Oh my heart. Oh, my soul.
When dreams meet reality.
When you finally accept yourself, after 23 years, 11 months, and 26 days, only to find that it took the world a mere 6 days to recognize, accept, and validate you. Is it irony?
When, in passing, you see your soul in the mirror, and you reach into the glass, and you catch him, or her, or IT, and you’re able to pull it out — softly, quickly.. gently, closer; it’s scared, and then it’s relaxing — it’s hysterical and so vulnerable, but after constant coaxing, and quiet reassurances, and genuine, trusted whispers of love, you pull it into you. And now it’s inside of you. And now it is you. You are you. You did it, and you’re here. You’re whole, and you’re still here. And you’re okay.