Donna and I are about to embark on a three-week vacation to Guatemala. The vacation will be og-less. No dog, no blog. Donna will have me all to herself. You will get a three-week break in posts. Gracie will spend three weeks with our dog walker.
I am hesitant to go on vacation. I like to travel. I know I am lucky. It is a luxury to have a job and vacation time and a partner who likes to travel. I have a bunch of books I’ve stockpiled to read. I’ve been reading up on Guatemalan history and Mayan culture. I am hesitant because my dysphoria increases when I am out of my comfort zone. Guatemala is out of my comfort zone.
This is my first time traveling as Jamie. My new passport says Jamie, my driver’s license says Jamie, my credit cards say Jamie, my tickets say Jamie. Donna even says Jamie 95% of the time. Last year when we went to India, I went as Amy. I waited to change my name until Donna was comfortable with me taking on a new name; I did not want to jeopardize the relationship anymore than I already had by saying I was transgender. It has been a rough year.
When Donna met me I was a baby butch. Now I am a middle-aged butch who also identifies as transgender. The process has been hard for her. She has had to wrap her brain around a lot of concepts she didn’t expect to be thinking about. She has had to consider whether she wants to go through this with me (whatever the “this” is). A lot of women go running in the other direction. She is standing her ground.
I never traveled before I met Donna. I don’t come from a traveling family unless you consider running from a pogrom traveling. I was raised to think that travel was what ostentatious rich people did to show off their jewelry. And, since we lived in the greatest city on earth (New York), with the greatest museum in the world (The Met), there was no reason to go anywhere else. You could see all the world’s wonders for free, right here. Donna changed that. She got me going.
I need to remember that I travel to get out of my rut. To shake up my queer New York centric view of the world. To think about other people’s history instead of my own.
Three weeks of traveling independently is a lot of time together. A lot of time to talk about our relationship and my butch-trans*-iness. Donna has always wanted to go to Guatemala. She is interested in Mayan indigenous culture and textiles. I am interested in Mayan ruins and colonial architecture. Donna will be open and charming; she will chat up other travelers and any locals who speak English. What will I be?
Donna taught me to travel light. I wish I could do it spiritually, but I will settle for the physical part. I need to winnow my stuff down so that it fits in my pack. I have sudden urges to buy new items for a trip, as if a new shirt or new sneakers will magically make everything OK, and my anxiety and dysphoria will disappear. I know the opposite is true; to reduce my dysphoria I should take old, proven, comfortable, favorites. There is a pile of clothing on my bed. I can only fit a quarter of it in the pack. A worn black T-shirt and broken-in jeans are my equivalent of a blankie. They are probably all I will wear no matter what else I bring.
Lastly, there is how I will be seen on vacation, and the tension that arises in our relationship when I am with Donna and I am read as male (Donna is not amused by this at all). From her vantage point we are an obvious butch/femme couple and she wants to keep it that way. Donna will be standing her ground in Guatemala; but I feel it shifting subtly under me.