people who are unapologetically kind and soft and good at their very core are like………so important to me. the era of broody white man antiheroes is over, give me someone who braids flowers into their hair and cooks breakfast for their mom every morning
When my youngest child started pointing at little boys in picture books, saying, “That’s me,” I was surprised. At first, we corrected her. “You’re a girl, but you can pretend to be this boy if you want to.” Then, after discussing it, we decided to take it at face value. We stopped correcting her. Yet I didn’t change pronouns or toss out dresses and pink shorts and other articles of clothing which were passed down from my older child.
If anyone was equipped to deal with a transgender child, it was us. When the time was right, we would change pronouns. We’d let him start hormone therapy as soon as he was ready. We would refinance the house to pay for top surgery. We would do almost anything to ensure that the transition was smooth.
When I cut Phoebe’s hair, I used clippers, using a YouTube tutorial as a guide. I left some length on top, skater boi style. The difference was pretty striking. She really did look like a boy. After the haircut, I noticed that I felt some loss around my perception of my child as female. I felt fear about how my child might be treated. My child attends a Montessori school filled with people who are like-minded in terms of empathy and rejecting cultural stereotypes, but kindergarten at a public school is only two years away. And what then?
That said, her hair looked adorable. The very next day, she wore her favorite sundress. After a few days, Shea pointed out that her sister’s old pictures didn’t look like her anymore. “Phoebe looks weird in pictures with long hair now,” she said. “I like her short hair better.” More importantly, so did Phoebe. She reveled in the fact that she no longer needed the tangles brushed out of her hair.
Strangers made comments like, “So why the short hair? Did her sister cut it?” They would give me a knowing look, as if to say, “I’ve been there!” Or this gem: “Did she have lice?” I shrugged and said, “She wanted it. And we all love it.” One stranger at the swimming pool asked why my son was wearing a girl’s swimsuit. I can understand people being curious, but the questions point to one thing — if your child deviates from gender norms, be ready to explain why.
The other day, when we were driving, Phoebe revealed that she didn’t want to wear “girls” clothes anymore. I asked her: “Tell me about the clothes you like. What kind of shirt do you want to wear?”
"What does a boys’ shirt look like?"
"Blue. Black. With cars on it or dinosaurs or sharks."
"So you want a shirt with cars or dinosaurs on it. Maybe even a shark!"
"Yeah, and blue!"
We went to the thrift store that week. The boys and girls clothes were all on the same rack. She picked out a gray shirt with a red 1965 Mustang on it, and a brown Diego shirt. Some khaki shorts “like Daddy’s.” She couldn’t have been happier.
Hear me out. There’s this philosopher from the 1890s named William James, and he coined this theory about “the multiverse” which suggests that a hypothetical set of multiple universes comprises everything that can possibly exist simultaneously.
Are you following? The entirety of space, time, matter and energy is all happening at once in different timelines: It’s the idea of parallel universes. Right? So okay, let’s presume the multiverse is real.
Well then, maybe somewhere in those infinite universes is one, or several, where I deserve you.
Maybe there’s a universe out there — happening now — where we end up together and when I close my eyes at night, I’m not dreaming the way a normal person would. Instead I’m seeing flashes of our lives in the multiverse. They’re not simple dreams because I miss you, right? They’re scientific, anachronistic visions.
In this universe, I don’t want a family, but maybe in another, I’m more of the type to settle down. Maybe there’s a universe where you hold my hand while I give birth to our daughter in a white hospital room with pink flowers and fuzzy teddy bears on the window sill. Where we take family vacations and pose for dorky pictures in our neon bathing suits on the sands of a Florida beach. Where we curl up to watch a cheesy movie at the end of a long day in our big, green, suburban house once the kids have fallen asleep.
Maybe there’s a universe where we are middle-aged and taking our child to college and bickering over where to put her dresser or what posters she should hang up. Where you kiss her on the forehead ‘goodbye’ and we drive home in contented, proud silence, your fingers grazing my knuckles, our wedding rings glistening. Where we both have gray hair and we laugh and smile and hug and drink lemonade on the porch.
Maybe there’s a universe where that’s the life I want. Where I don’t second guess everything and I’m not afraid of commitment and of the future and of love. Maybe there’s a universe without all the noise in my head and the pride that makes me so fiercely independent and the coldness in my heart that I can turn on and off like a security fence.
Maybe there’s a universe where I’m the right person for you. Where I adore every nice thing you did for me without starting to resent you. A universe where you actually end up with someone who appreciates you. Where no one becomes a doormat. Where both of us can shed our baggage and curiosity and issues. A universe where we’re happy — without wondering if that happiness is some messed-up Jenga game ready to topple at the slightest quiver. A universe where we’re comfortable and sure, and we have cats.
Maybe there’s a universe where we fall asleep next to each other every night like spoons, like two innocent bunnies — my face buried in your neck, hugging your warmth — and we both don’t want anything or anybody else. Where we don’t want more, we just want each other.
Maybe there’s a universe where I don’t covet so much all the time and where I’m content and where I don’t wonder about picking up and moving to Japan without saying anything to anyone and where at this very juncture, I can just know I’ll always want to come home and cook dinner with you.
If you think of it all this way, then it’s like neither of us did anything wrong.
You just found me in the wrong universe. That’s all. This is, as they say, the darkest timeline. Everywhere else, nay, “everywhen” else — us in the Civil War, us in Ancient Egypt, us in the swinging ’60s — we are happy.
If this theory holds, well, by the law of averages, there had to be one universe — just this one — where we don’t end up together. Here and now just happens to be it. If you think of it this way, nothing is our fault.
So see, that explains everything. We’re not together anymore because of the multiverse.
Well, isn’t that comforting?
If you’re sad, do like I do and just think of the other ‘verses. The ones where I believe in love and where I don’t hate myself and where I never feel the need to kamikaze relationships. A universe where we can have nice things. It’s helpful, right?
Because you could have loved me forever. And maybe in another universe, I let you.
Dunni Oduyemi talks to Janet Mock about black feminism, finding her voice, and her favorite things to do in NYC.
"Feminism, to me, is about enabling us to define ourselves, to have all of the choices that we want, and then to help one another have even more choices—whether that’s bodily autonomy, whether that’s choosing who you want to have sex with and who you want to be with, what you want to wear, how you want to present yourself, what your gender expression is, what your sexuality is—all of those things. This coalition of women, men, and nonbinary people, to figure out and create more and more spaces where we can all show up as ourselves and feel liberated and be liberated."
“You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough. When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize that. Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you — it’s something inherent. You exist, and therefore, you matter. You’re allowed to voice your thoughts and feelings. You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space. You’re allowed to hold onto the truth that who you are is exactly enough. And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who makes you feel otherwise.”—Daniell Koepke (via cyber-butterfly)