“The Second Time Around, First Time”

There was a time in the not too distant past when I found myself remembering an old movie made in 1961 starring Debbie Reynolds. The recording of the tune “The Second Time Around” is what I remember most and on this particular day I found myself humming the melody. The next thing I know I’m thinking of all the things George had done for the first time, that I was now doing the “second time around” … as Georgia.
Do you remember the first time you drove a car on the street, in the traffic, actually going somewhere to do something ordinary, but you were out there alone. You were actually by yourself, no Mom, no Dad, nobody but you in the car. You were a real person, a real adult, finally arrived at going someplace … in the car alone. As a teenager taking that first drive and subsequent drives at that stage of life I wanted everybody to notice me; to notice that handsome young brute behind the wheel of that white ’59 Ford station wagon; window down, left elbow out the window, steering wheel casually held between thumb and forefinger of the left hand and right arm over the back of the seat as I imagined a tender beauty snuggled up next to me. I was sure they were thinking “What a stud!” I don’t actually remember specifics of that first time alone as a teenager other than those emotions. However, I can tell you that I do remember that first time as Georgia. My heart was pounding and racing so that among all the other fears of being “out there” I feared I would have a heart attack….”dressed”!!!
My “second time around ‘first time out’ ” as Georgia I just knew that everybody noticed that “wierdo guy in the wig” behind the wheel of that red pickup. I had a death grip on the steering wheel that was so tight I popped half of my stick on nails off. I was sure that in every car that passed me, the people were pointing and laughing. Each little sound from my truck seemed to be a harbinger of disaster that would find me on the side of the freeway with a fleet of patrol cars surrounding me and a helicopter over head shining a spotlight on me while the 10:00 news highlighted my predicament for all to see.
With all these differences in “first time” emotions there were two common threads. The first was the overwhelming thrill and exhilaration of a kind of freedom; a sense of having finally “arrived” that can hardly be expressed in words. The second common thread was the later realization that not one person, nobody at all, paid the slightest bit of attention to me. It had never occurred to me that with the acceptance I desired also comes ignorance of my existence. In other words, if George pays a visit to the mall the only people that are going to be aware of his existence are the clerks at the stores he visits and their awareness only lasts as long as he’s a potential sales commission. The minute he walks out the door of their store he ceases to exist in their world. He becomes just another one of the people walking the mall. That is the world most people feel as part of their normal everyday lives.
These are experiences which don’t rate a “first time experience” thrill for the average person, but they are times to be cherished by people who are moving out of the cloistered world that the average trans- or dual-gendered individual exists in for so much of their lives. It’s a world commonly called “the closet”, and for us it usually is just exactly that … a closet.
Another “Second time around ‘first time’ ” experience was my first road trip. George’s first solo road trip as a teenage driver was to our parents cabin in Montana. He was a real adult now. He was out there on his own free to do as he wished (within limits). As a teenager he had arrived. My first road trip as Georgia was from Phoenix to Ely Nevada not long after our bride passed away. What a fright that first one hundred miles were. I had barely had time to get used to driving to the meetings dressed and there I was, miles from the security of my “closet”. Was it exciting? Oh I should say so. Georgia was experiencing one of the things that George enjoyed the most. I was driving cross-country alone, in a way that I had only dreamed of doing.
Of course there were those tense moments, like asking if I needed a key to the restroom at a service station and having the attendant hand me the key to the “Ladies” restroom without hesitation. I thought I was going to fall apart at the seams when it came time for me to check into the motel that first night, but other than a brief look of curiosity from the clerk there was no problem. The common first-time thread for Georgia and George was the desire for the trip to never end.
The list of “Second time around ‘first time’ ” experiences grows longer with each passing year and with each one comes an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunity to live life over. There was the first time getting gas, the first time grocery shopping, the first time washing the car, the first time getting mail addressed to just me and the one first time that is Georgia’s alone; just being called by my name.
The blessings that have come from accepting this “second self”, which too few in our society embrace, are too numerous to mention. One Sunday after Easter was another “Second time around ‘first time’ ” and for me the most important one. I was baptized again, this time as Georgia, to give my life the complete sense of balance that my Christian beliefs require. I’m sure that there will be other “Second time around ‘first times’ ” but for now I will leave you with the knowledge that you know a little more of the blessings that come from accepting oneself as God intended.

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