It is Christmas Eve.
To me this day used to mean waking up to snow, and wrapping all the presents I still hadn’t, and loving my family, and in the evening going to the Carlsons’ for grab bag and a plentiful feast. It meant coming home late and falling asleep in the car on the way, no longer counting how many houses and apartments sported Christmas lights with my brother (though one year we broke one thousand), finally going to bed with the promise of morning.
Last year, on Christmas Eve, I landed in Miami in the morning, where I got a voicemail from my parents that due to a false bomb threat they would not be joining me back in Chicago for an additional twelve hours. I took a second flight back to the city where I grew up, marveling at the snow I had missed, and hailed a taxi home, where only our dog awaited. In the evening I got drunk with my aunt and my cousins and I tried not to think about who I now was in the place I now was, and I tried not to miss my new and now faraway home.
On this Christmas Eve, therefore, it has officially been an entire year since my last step on Argentine soil, although, and as I have written about previously, the last year and a half of my life feels much more like a decade in the immensity of change that it has brought (wrought?) upon me.
Y recientemente he extrañado el país que me transformó y su ciudad principal: las avenidas, el subte, el tango, los cafés, el ritmo, los Andes, mi familia trans, sus avisos, la promesa de un nuevo comienzo sin idea de cómo lo iba a pasarme. Quiero volver constantemente, y estar segura otra vez, afuera de la porquería que comprenden estos Estados Unidos, donde temo cada bus, cada tren, cada calle por la noche, y realmente por el día. En Argentina nos dijeron que el peor crimen que nos podría haber pasado era un robo, nada más. Acá, tengo miedo de que alguien, en cualquier lugar, me vaya a abordar, a pegar, a matar. Las aprensiones no tienen sentido—bueno, la mayoría—pero ¿por qué no puedo vivir allí, en Buenos Aires, irónicamente llenada con el fumo de un millón de cigarillos?
It is funny, in the way without humor, how much a place where you have spent over two decades of your life—remember the summers poorly playing tennis with Christian? the music you made? the first kind-of kiss onstage and the first real one by the lake?—can suddenly feel like a cold war, waiting for the cannons to just fucking fire already.
Which is why, in this snowless Christmas season, I have had the hardest time yet getting into the spirit of it all (and most of last year’s spent in 90+ degree weather). Even if I don’t buy into the consumerist version of this holiday that our culture economically propagates into oblivion, which I don’t, how could I, really, as a Christian, embrace this narrative of a savior in the form of a lowly baby as the bloodthirsty king hungers ominously in the background, this optimistic ideal for a new and better beginning in a time of unparalleled adversity?
I’m running out of hope. My new and better beginning is getting older and less novel. After the first moment of revelation in a Buenos Aires bedroom, and the second atop one of the innumerable, beautiful Andes, life continued cruelly onward. And if the state of race in this country has taught us anything, it is that progress is slow. I do not expect to have equal rights and opportunities as a transgender person in this lifetime, however long that may be.
It is Christmas Eve.
And I would dearly like to believe in something bigger, that the blog posts that I’ve written and the poems that I’ve slammed have made a kind of difference, somehow, that the world already sees us differently—and since they couldn’t have seen us as any worse before, any kind of different must be better—that laws are changing and people too, and have been, that maybe someday soon I won’t need to feel so fucking terrified just to step outside. And I am trying to. For the sake of this holiday season and for the sake of my personal sanity I am trying to believe in a future that looks prettier than this porquería of a present, and that isn’t so contingent on the country that I’m living in but rather the people that I’m with, and the things I can do there, and write, and change, and the degree to which one day, it will make me want to go back.