Moving cross-country in a uhaul with two cats is not a quiet experience. Especially given that one of the cats, Subarashii, was part Siamese, as best we could tell. Certainly something led her to be the noisiest cat I’ve ever been responsible for. She cried the whole way, but it’s not like we could have let her out of the carrier. A truck cab full of panic-scrambling cat is a terrible place to be.
Velcro took it a bit better, but she also hadn’t learned Subarashii’s tendency to talk constantly, as she would later. Instead, she pressed her face up against the grill constantly, leaving her red and swollen at the other end. That was painful to watch; Velcro was a very sweet cat. To see her put herself into that kind of suffering because her situation was worse was agonizing. Any attempt to comfort her ended with claws in flesh, though – not that she wanted to hurt me, but she was panicky and flailing.
I’ll be honest – losing Velcro was a brutal capper on the Hell Year, a time of my life that’s yet to come in this tale. Velcro came to me in Ohio when Theddie had to move from the back house in New Brighton to a place where he couldn’t keep any cats. She basically glued herself to me when she moved in with us, spending the majority of her time in my lap, or cuddled up under my blanket – she loved to be under covers.
She was also sick – eyes constantly watering, ever congested, and periodically she would emit some of the grossest sneezes. Usually while looking you in the face and radiating love. By Tir, I miss that little love-snot engine.
No lie, that cat kept me alive in some of the worst times. I’d think about how much pain I was in, and how much I wanted to it to stop, and then I’d think about how badly she’d take even being shut out of my room for a while and the thought of the pain she’d have if I ended myself broke my heart.
In any case, we went to Massachusetts with cats and possessions, and took them to Martina’s. While we were in Ohio I’d decided I was going to act on my desire to transition, and it was in Martina’s spare room that I decided that now was the time, that I just could not pretend to be a boy for any longer. That was the last day I intentionally wore anything that I didn’t intend to look feminine in – I went to the grocery store in a strappy top that day. I was nervous, almost shaking, but I knew that I had to start somewhere.
For a while, my life was just working for Martina, but at least in clothes I didn’t hate myself to be wearing, which was progress. That changed one day while I was out walking with her; I got a call from UMass inviting me to come meet with someone and discuss my reentry into the school. I was thrilled, and jumped at the chance. I felt like maybe I was getting my life on track.
I met with an advisor, and became a student in the electrical engineering track. I got work in the Office of Information Technology on work-study; it’s one of the jobs that I’ve claimed I got hired for because I talked about my MMO gaming career and my willingness to take on challenges, as well as my tendency to rise into middle management wherever I went. For any gaming guild I’ve spent real time in, I end up in the officers sooner or later, from Chaoss to The Final Frontier. Raiding, especially as a class leader / officer, makes a great way to claim experience in teamwork.
I did better, the second time around. Screwed around… less. Not none, but less than I had before. I went to classes. I tried to take notes. I was aware that homework existed, and I tried to do at least some of it. As I had left Martina’s employ, due to needing the time to student, we had to find new accomodations, which we did with Tad, in East Longmeadow. He had a very nice condo there, and as he also worked at the university, he could give me rides in. Eventually that fell through. I no longer recall the reason, but we needed to move on, and he helped us rent the townhouse a friend of his was putting on the market. It was expensive, but I was making okay money and had financial aid, and we brought my brother in, expecting him to get work and be able to contribute. Eventually we also brought in another partner of mine, who I was less of a partner than I should have been to. He at one point confronted me, stating that I was more into the idea of him, than him. I don’t, from my current perspective, think he was wrong, and I’m sorry for the pain I caused him there and then.
This was later, though; after months of he and my brother trying to get adequate income to pay their way, after months of me getting increasingly stressed about my inability to really keep up in school – it started okay but got worse and worse. Calculus, and Algorithms and Data Structures, we doing me in. At the same time, I was the primary income for the house, and I wasn’t enough. On top of that, Kierstal had gotten pregnant and we decided to keep the child, and with her medical situation, inability to work, and (I now feel valid) frustration at the way I was being, my stress level built and built. Finally, it came to a head in an argument that I capped with possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever said to a lover, and maybe to anyone: “Honestly, I think of you more as a friend anymore than a partner.” To my pregnant fiancee. Who I in fact still cared deeply about, but I needed the conversation to end, and I was mindkilled, and…
Gods, was I dumb.
That basically ended that relationship. Between where I was academically before that and the way I was wrecked after, I failed out of school again. Finally, since we couldn’t really afford the rent, we got evicted. So over the course of perhaps a month, I lost everything that gave me hope and stability, and I went back to working for Martina and living in her spare room. Kierstal went to Wisconsin to live with a friend, and I thought I’d never see her again. I had my work, my video games, and our cats. And even that didn’t last too long – Subarashii, with her endless crying, pissed off the neighbors, who complained to the landlord, who made us give her up as opposed to being evicted. So then I only had Velcro, and a load of guilt over what had happened to Subarashii.
This set the stage for my Lost Decade, which I’ll get into next week.