A Dwali Story

The local Interfaith story circle had a meeting at the Hindu temple tonight. To celebrate Dwali, they wanted stories about light, and finding light. (Remember, in India, this is the time of the year when days start getting longer).

I wrote the following story this afternoon, though I didn’t end up going. The parking lot was enough for me tonight.

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One thing that most hotel rooms share is darkness. Between the tiny windows, the blackout drapes and the light bulbs chosen by accountants, most American hotel rooms are just plain dark.

To me, darkness seemed appropriate. This was my first transgender conference. Sure, I’d crept through the darkness to a gay bar in Schenectady where one of the oldest transgender clubs met, but that bar was designed to be dark and secretive, the old style gay bar set up for clandestine assignations.

This darkness was different. At 7:30 AM the sun was up outside as I stood in from of the mirror trying to smear on my makeup.

I was scared as I opened the door to the corridor, my hear pounding. Luckily, the hall was as dark and as dank as any other Ramada Inn anywhere.

A name tag clipped to my blouse, I slipped into the back of a dark meeting room where an introductory session had just started. A few people were up front talking about their experience and choices. These weren’t people like me — these were people who had been outside in the daylight on a day other than Halloween. I listened and asked question — How do you take power in the world as a transperson who moves between? — and eventually the session ended.

I walked out into the lobby again, wondering if I needed to go back to my room to use the facilities. Instead I turned towards the curtains keeping the sun out.

One of the people from the session stepped over to talk with me. Sabrina Marcus-Taraboletti, a big tranny with an open heart and a thick Noo Yawk accent told me “I really liked the question you asked. You really got an understanding.”

I smiled, pleased to be in the spotlight for a moment.

“Come on,” Sabrina said.

“Where are we going?” I asked

“I need some air. Come with me out to the parking lot,” Sabrina said as she cruised towards the wall of glass doors.

I stopped. In here was a lovely, dingy hotel, but out there was a sunny September day. Sabrina may have simply stepped through the glass, but for me, well. . . .

I tried to breathe as the sun continued to rise in the sky, and there, as I stood in that cheezy convention center lobby, it found a crack in the faded draperies. A beam of sunlight came down and hit me smack in the face. I blinked and blinked, but couldn’t turn away.

Apparently, no matter how much I wanted to stay in the shadows, this place, a shabby hotel just off the perimeter now full of hundreds of trannys was my place to meet the sun. I walked forward and passed though the door, cheap wig, bad makeup and all.

It was a beautiful September day. The crisp air filled my lungs and the sun warmed my face. I went over to chat with Sabrina.

For me, staying in the darkness was staying in the shadows. staying hidden Now, everyday I face the same battle. You can’t both be scared of the sun and proud of who God created you. Now, when I feel the fear creep in, feel the desire to hide, to avoid upsetting other people, I remember the smiling face that pulled me into that parking lot, the spirit that helped lead me into the light for the first time.

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One thought on “A Dwali Story”

  1. Lovely story.

    I always feel somewhat conflicted, or maybe confused, about admiring your work.

    The subjects are so difficult and painful.

    But they also are about wisdom, and this is what makes them so broad, so strong a statement.

    I don’t think it’s my translife that makes them move me, it’s the inner truth.

    And they also are artful.

    How fine to take the subject of a story about light, and set it in the border between fear and joy.

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