Old friend, New love - 1

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December 2016 Spirit of Giving Story Contest Entry
Old friend, New love
1. Fate?

Some would call it the hand of god, others the fickle finger of fate, I like to think of it as the unconscious leading me where the conscious wasn't wise enough to. In any case, it was a minor miracle that I would notice a picture of a friend I hadn't seen in over 20 years, in the obituaries (which I never read) in a paper 800 miles from home.

Of course the cynics would say “It's because you've seen the picture before”. In fact I was there when the picture was taken, and it was quite a memorable occasion, four girls (actually two young women and there TV husbands) out on the town. We had started the weekend getting glamour photos taken, and that was the source of the photo, I had recognized. This started strings of memory and motivated me to want to attend the memorial.

So I found myself meeting Kevin Greene again. “Bet you don't recognize me.”

He surprised me, “ Well it's been a long time, but I think you might be Chrissie, ah Chris Grey.”

“Boy you are good! Sorry about Barbara, you two were always such a joy to be around. You just radiated love for each other, and made the whole environment brighter.”

“Thanks in part to you and Grace, for helping us over one of the major hurdles in our marriage. How is Grace?”

“Dead, from ovarian cancer about 7 years ago.”

“That must have been hard on you.”

“Not really. We were divorced and estranged. I would only find out what was happening, belatedly though my daughter. I wasn't even invited to the funeral.”

“That's surprising, you were the model couple for the group, and helped so many others, like
Barbara and I. I can see we have a lot of catching up to do. But right now I have a lot of other people to greet. Do you have a card?”

I took out one of my, “Have motor home, Will travel” cards, and exchanged it for one of Kevin's business cards with his address, home phone and personal E-mail written on.

I didn't recognize anyone else at the wake and left soon thereafter.


2. Catching up

A couple months later, I answered the phone. “Hello.”

“Chris?”

“Yes.”

“Kevin Greene, I really appreciated seeing you, sorry we didn't have more time.”

“I understand. How are you doing?”

“ It's hard. I really miss Barbara. But lots of friends have been checking up on me. It almost get's intrusive at times.”

“ Be thankful. Grieving is hard, but it's harder alone.”

“What's up with you. I thought you were living down south.”

“ I'm off on new adventures. About three months ago I retired, sold my home and bought a 40 foot motor home. I was on my maiden voyage, visiting my Dad when I saw Barbara's picture in the obits.”

“That explains a lot. I was wondering about the business card. What's Chrissie up to?”

“Pretty much back in the closet. The Bible Belt, especially small town south were I was living, is not conducive to being out.”

“But traveling in a motor home would present all kinds of opportunities.”

“I don't even have a female wardrobe with me.”

“You did say, you were back in the closet. I find that surprising. You seemed to enjoy being out, and seemed comfortable as Chrissie.”

“I enjoyed being accepted as Chrissie. But I fear being rejected or worse as Chrissie, and the risks outweigh possible rewards.”

“For most of us it's a compulsion that is hard to suppress.”

“After my son, Mark was killed, I think both Grace and I went into depression. I really didn't have the energy for the transformation and Grace wasn't there for encouragement and emotional support.”

“Didn't you try to connect with a support group after your divorce?”

“I went to a few meetings, but I didn't really connect with anyone like you, and it didn't seem to fill a need.”

“ I think I remember you dropped out of our group for a while, with a similar explanation, but you came back.”

“It turned out I missed you and Barbara and a few of the others.”

“Thank you, I also wanted to thank you for the comment about Barbara and I radiating love.”

“You really did.”

“We always loved each other. But my transvestism was really threatening the marriage until you and Grace got us on the right track.”

“We were all groping for ways to cope. The interaction helped us all.”

“Back then it seemed to a lot of us you had found the magic formula in Grace. And we wanted a little of your Pixie dust.”

“I guess subsequent events have proved otherwise.”

“Death of a child is harder than transgender issues. Without Grace, Barbara would never have agreed to the picture weekend, and in retrospect, that weekend was pivotal to our marriage.”

“I have fond memories of that weekend. But, how was it pivotal to your marriage?”

“That was the turning point, in changing Barbara's view of Kate from rival and enemy, to friend and ally in keeping Kevin happy. Barbara was having real trouble accepting Kate, and I was feeling rejected and unacceptable. Having that part of me, cause Barbara so much pain, also weighed on me. Grace told Barbara that she had to find a way to cope with Kate. That she had to accept that Kate was part of the man she loved, and that Kate wasn't going to go away, unless she took Kevin with her. She knew how much it hurt to see the man she loved try to transform himself into a woman. But she had to find a way to accept that part of Kevin and integrate it into the marriage. She said that, for her taking the role of big sister/girl friend worked pretty well. She actually took some pride in helping create Chrissie's ladylike appearance and comportment. She suggested trying the role of girl friend to Kate for the weekend and see how it worked. She said she found Kate one of the nicest of the TV's and one she liked as a girlfriend. She said she found going out with Chrissie terrifying, but that there hadn't been any trouble in your previous outings, and that she felt Kate was more passable than Chrissie. She suggested that Barbara would find it much easier to cope if she regarded Kate as a friend and ally in keeping Kevin happy, rather than a rival. That talk is what got Barbara to agree to that weekend outing.”

“I didn't know she had done that. But it is the kind of thing she would do.”

“We agreed that was the best marriage counseling we ever got.”

“So, what are you going to do now?”

“I have started thinking about life after Barbara. It's the reason I called. I was thinking of the talks we had, and how helpful I found your judgment and perspective. I wanted to invite you to come visit when you are in this area again. Actually I would like to visit with Chrissie if you can get her out of the closet. But a visit with Chris would also be fine.”

“I don't have anything scheduled right now, but I want to accept your offer. Let me get back to you when I can schedule the visit.”

“ Can I expect Chris or Chrissie?”

“Let me think about that too.”

“I'm looking forward to it either way.”

“Me too!”

“This may be a good place to end this call.”

“Yeah.”

“Bye for now.”

“ Call any time. Goodbye.”

With what I sensed was some reluctance on both sides, the call ended.



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