She could have been me twenty years ago, no really, she is that age now. She wears the things I like to wear and some of the things I wish I could wear while running and, I hope, I would have had the confidence to present myself that way. To top it off, her name is Hannah as well.
We don’t get to talk much, she has a different circle of friends at the run, but I see in her what I see I could have been. I think I might have even looked a little like her, once hormones had kicked in. At least that’s what we all seem to wish when we find someone we can see ourselves in and admire as a sort of female role model.
But there is no need for me to dwell on what might have been. I’m not quite over the hill yet. If I’m taking Hannah as one of my internal images of myself in how I present to others then I’m not that far away, despite my age. My hair is as nearly as long as hers. Some of my running clothes are already very similar in style where our tastes already cross over before we even met.
Her voice is actually probably a little deeper than mine which was a surprise when we first spoke and I guess we both look tired after a week of work when we pull on our trainers on a Saturday morning and dig deep inside to run five kilometres. She also introspects and talks a lot; sound familiar?
There are the parts of her presentation that feel like the bits of myself that I have yet to complete. May be a certain style of top I just can’t pull off right now, wear my hair in a certain way she does some days and me getting my weight back down so I get back a bit of that slender.
But that all said, this doesn’t mean I want to be her. Sure sometimes I can look at another woman, and like most of us think, ‘I would want to be her in a heart beat.’ Do we really mean that? I don’t think so. There is being like her, or looking like her, but being her is something else. Imagine taking on everything she has, her friends, family, career or job, her likes and dislikes, anxieties and physical health.
When I was in my teens and probably my early twenties as well I would have said, in a heart beat, without even thinking any further whenever I had seen someone that I would like to be like, but that is the key, be like, not be.
There are parts of my life, my experiences and the people in my life that I wouldn’t want to trade. I remember way back in my childhood, may be 6 or 7 years old, I saw a film, Heaven Can Wait. A man gets taken from life ready to go to heaven but was taken by mistake. He was, for intents and purposes, taken by Death early.
The only way heaven could return him to life was to take the place of another, a professional American footballer whose life was about to end because it was just him time.
He would get his dream career and the girl, but as he was returned to Earth and entered into that players body his knowledge of who he was would fade and he became the footballer without knowledge of his previous life. I remember thinking, at the age I was, I don’t think I would want that. It very eternally sad he would forget.
That was the difference. I guess in that specific situation, with the choice of death or living as the person you want to be and forget your own life, well that’s a bit of a no-brainer, but the idea is there that changing everything for just one this isn’t necessarily the answer. This is, of course, about role models and not character appropriation.
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I guess this all applies in life and our choice of changing gender. How we might loose our past self. A death, like in the film, of our previous personality but I think that doesn’t have to be the case. We can choose to embrace who we were and remember that we are still the person we were we just have some outward amendments that express it better.
Then there is the death of our previous selves in the mind of others who see how they’ve lost the past you. That’s something we can’t change, it’s down to the other person who see us the way we were and now are. But may be that can be managed in some respect. None of us are who we were as children. We look different, we act different, we learn from our experiences; even many of our physical cells have changed, replenished, hair grown and lost; yet no one grieves for that part of us lost may be with the exception of parents who miss having their ‘children’ as they were to hold and teach.
My Mum once said to me that she can’t imagine me without my ponytail. May be given a change as slow as it took my pony tail to rise from the bottom of my head to the top or my running trousers to rise to three quarter length then the gender thing will be a celebration to be missed than grieved for.
Until next time.