Waiting for the Birds

Originally performed for The Femme Show, 20114



Jack cleared her throat when she entered my bedroom; a wide grin circled her face and an old sailor tattoo of a sparrow curved around her left bicep. The wings of the bird flexed as she slid off her boxer briefs; she was magnificent; solid, steady, confident, kind, and handsome. She had just spent the last hour fucking me with all of her might and only looked mildly fatigued. It was approaching 2am and it was now my turn to use my biceps. This was not going to be the kind of sex where we’d head to home depot in the morning and pick out matching Adirondack chairs. No, this was going to be the kind of sex that was destined to replenish me.

I have always loved fucking masculine people: engaging my muscles, dripping sweat, the endurance juxtaposed with my delicate lace, femme tattoos, and lady boots. This scene is the epitome of my femme desire. Sometimes it’s challenging to find a masculine person who gets it, who really gets the gender play, and how hot it is, but when you finally find them, even if it is on ok Cupid, it is simply glorious. …And Jack? Oh, she got it. She really got it. Understood gender and my cravings… It was I, rather, the one who couldn’t get it together that night…

My dresser was a clown car stuffed with colorful scarves, little garter belts, lacey panties, but no cock. Suddenly I'd dawned on me that I had no idea where my dick was. I started to panic. Did I leave it someplace? No, this can't happen now. We couldn’t stop now. The best was yet to come! The grand finale, the big finish. My hip flexors were meant to smash up against her sweet ass over and over until she came. I became frantic as I flapped and fluttered around my apartment searching for a piece of silicone anything would do the trick really. I needed it. I needed to fuck her as if my life depended on it. Now, I know what you’re thinking, why not just use my hand? Well, to be honest, I wanted my dick! A loud exhale escaped my mouth.

I sat beside Jack on the bed defeated.  I don’t know what to say, this has never happened to me before. I’ve always been able to… you know, provide for desires like yours… (I’ve always been able to get it up.) ...Perhaps you should just go. No, it’s ok, it’s not you, it’s me… We said awkward goodbyes. I was left in my empty apartment with twisted sheets, lube stains, and hollow air.

That was the moment I realized it. I was fighting the most severe and swirling depression I had ever experienced. It wasn’t just my dick that went missing… it was everything. Everything I had worked so hard to define since coming out at age 17. An undertow had swallowed me back in September and now that it was February, I was drowning. I was engulfed in a foggy underworld; a beast had wrapped itself around my body and started squeezing the life out of me. Fucking Jack was my last desperate attempt to bring the femme I once embodied back to shore. I was lost, beyond sorrow, and living in a foreign, genderless body just hovering above the earth.


waiting for the birds

My mom used to call it waiting for the birds. While I was growing up her depression was always more severe in the winter months. I would parent myself until late spring, when the geese flew back to make nests and hatch their goslings. It was the early 80’s and way before the term “seasonal affective disorder” became common language. Prozac wasn’t even on the market yet. Protecting herself from the cold clinical label of depressive disorder my mom fiercely protested doctors and meds and insisted she was simply waiting for the birds.

In March before my 7th birthday she returned home from the hospital and we took early morning walks down to the lake in silence. I was a scrappy little femme back then; wearing pink corduroy overalls and pigtails. I’d scruff my sneakers on the dirt roads, kick rocks, and watch them roll down-hill into the ditch. We’d sit by the shore; waiting and listening; waiting for the snow to melt; waiting for the days to become longer; waiting for her happiness to return; waiting for the birds. Eventually the ground did thaw and as the sun hit her face, she’d whisper: Finally, Finally the sun’s out. 



My adult self was now tied to a warped treadmill, day in and day out I moved to a mechanical rhythm that seemed pointless. There was no color, no lace, no lady boots, no passion, no feeling, no gender. My identity no longer  grounded me on this planet although I had the distant memory of it. If I stopped at any moment, the beast would surely devour me, but to continue on seemed impossible.

The winter months went by in darkness and in cold. And then, I recall the moment femme finally came back to me. It was an afternoon in May. The moment was simple, mundane even, but ghostly; a divine act beyond me set into motion by perhaps queer lineage or genetics, ormaybe just luck.


morning circle

I was sitting in front of 23 fourth graders doing a read aloud at circle time. The students were antsy all day and their little prepubescent bodies were just hanging on by a thread until June. I was reading the words from the book and turning the pages, but I couldn’t actually hear the story anymore. Depression had exhausted me. It was the opposite of elevation. I placed my elbow on my knee to make it easier to hold up the book. I needed to conserve energy for the impending daily dismissal routine.

My vision seemed blurry and my brain in a hazy mess. Zach was in the back sneaking the coveted legos out of the plastic bins. Iseyic was folding a paper airplane deviously getting ready for flight. Any normal teacher would address these behaviors immediately, but I simply stopped caring. All I could care about was tapping. The tapping. It’s all I could hear: taping tapping. Sam was sitting criss cross apple sauce tapping his pencil incessantly on the floor.. Tapping tapping… I wondered if I was actually going crazy; actually cracking up because the tapping just kept getting louder and louder in my head. I turned the page and took a breath.

My girls, Lauren, Charlie, and Kelly were at my feet, lying on their bellies listening intently to the story ignoring Sam and his stupid pencil. Their sweetness made me nostalgic for girlhood. The sun peered in through the windows and hit Lauren’s little face. “Ms. Raina!” Her voice called out. She broke into my hazy brain. “Ms. Raina a floaty!” Huh? “A floaty! A feather floaty! Look! It’s a floaty!” What are you talking about? “A floaty!” She was insistent. I dipped into the feeling people get right before they go crazy. “A feather floaty! Look! It’s a floaty! A bird feather!! Ms. Raina!!” She pointed up at this tiny white feather floating in the air. The girls started blowing air up at it so it would hover right in front of my face so I’d see it. Finally, finally…the sweet relief of winter. I started to feel my feet inside my boots, and my boots firmly planted on the ground; and my hand on my skirt, and my body rooted to the earth beneath me.