Overlapping

All I have to do is figure out where my interests overlap with other people and I can find a new group of potential acquaintances.

That sounds so simple.  After all, communities form around shared interests, shared concerns and shared values, so why not just find a community where I can share in the focus?

“Don’t concern yourself with me,” I used to tell people.  “I’ll just sit with the other transpeople and blend in.”

Of course, there were never any other transpeople.  The group was almost always composed of women and men and me.  This puts me in a difficult place; do I try and blend in nicely, or is that just being arrogant and asking for trouble?  How much noise should I attenuate, trying to stay silent and within expectations?  What happens when someone decides who I “really” am and makes a stink?

The truth is that I couldn’t blend in if I tried.   Big body, expressive face, sharp mind, strong emotions, effective voice, well, it’s me.

In a world where most people operate at the level of symbol, I learned early that I had to operate at the level of meaning.   Instead of taking anything at face value, accepting the surface of it, I needed to look deeper and understand what is going on underneath.    Moving beyond convention, to embrace trans, has made much of the world transparent, as it is to any shaman who walks through walls others see as real.

Worse, I do this very quickly.   I am a live television kind of girl, operating in real time, so fast that it can seem incomprehensible to other people.   They often assume that I am just spouting old routines rather than responding in the moment, at least until they really watch me surf on intellectual waves for a bit.

This is my most annoying attribute, by far.  People can quickly see in my eyes that I’m not buying their polished pitch, rather I am looking deeper to understand the truths that underlie their fancy words.   Small talk is never small when it inadvertently reveals too much meaning that you intended to hide, maybe even from yourself.

When people are trying to placate me, to fob me off with a polite response, it is very clear in my eyes.   Their manipulations show brightly, even as they try to dismiss me or silence me with meaningless affirmations.

Salespeople hate this facet of me as they look for a way to get past my analysis and appeal right to my emotions.   How can they get me to do what they want, to comply with their wishes, to respond to their power, if they can’t sweet talk me at all?

Those committed to healing, though, find this x-ray vision my most compelling quality.   Seeing the divine surprise inside helps clear away the ego’s neediness and deceptive comfort to reveal deeper, more profound and more beautiful truth.   I offer my vision with wit and compassion, always connecting notions that seem separate, but even then, it is often overwhelming to those who need to maintain their own strain rather than engage something bigger.

Somehow, finding a group of queer theologians who value meaning over doctrine, who really want to engage the divine surprise, has not been easy.  I try churches, but most people who belong to a formal religious structure are looking for affirmation of their current beliefs, not to be challenged to think deeper.

Finding people who are committed to caring — I was thrown out of two different caretaker support groups because my problems were too big — or who understand the challenges of being raised by Aspergers parents, well, that hasn’t been simple either.

Most people want to dance the dance they know, to have the same conversations over and over again.   If they feel challenged or frightened, they assume someone is attacking them, not that they have just left their own walled off comfort zone.  Their discomfort is someone else’s fault, especially if that other person won’t be satisfied with canned responses that elegantly dismiss rather than engaging what is offered.

Do I hide my vision, letting people get to know and like me first, or do I just show myself right up front, letting the chips fall where they may?   Sure, a soft entry may offer some benefits, but it also takes hard work and can even create a bigger fall when others find the need to walk away even after that energy is expended.

There must be people out there who would find me intriguing, compelling and attractive, but if I don’t show myself — don’t take the time to find our overlapping interests — I will never build relationships with them.  My lifemyth, that I am too hip for the room, will trounce me again.

That story wasn’t built by accident, though.   It contains the seeds of truth.   Worse, the longer I have to be the sole guardian & protector of the Callan knowledge, the heavier that burden becomes.   There isn’t much room for play when your own playfulness and sparkle is not engaged and affirmed.

I’m pretty burned out and attenuated at this point, so my tolerance for even the slight bruising of social interaction is quite limited.   I avoid because I know that the odds are people are just going to fob me off, push me away, try and manipulate me in some way.

All I have to do is figure out where my interests overlap with other people and I can find a new group of potential acquaintances.

That process, though, well, isn’t so easy for a very queer and very sharp gal with a very fast view of actual meaning.

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