Thursday, February 18, 2016

And So, Here We Are

Many years ago, I created a blog on LiveJournal. I updated it fairly regularly for long time, but after a while the updates became less and less. Finally, in the spring of last year, I just stopped updating it altogether. I'd begun working for The Advocate and felt it was time to put blogging aside, at least for a while.

I didn't do much personal writing during the time I was working for The Advocate, but once that job ended and I'd begun writing a column, the urge to do some personal blogging returned. I didn't really want to go back to LiveJournal and I didn't really feel the need to start a personal blog at that point, so I compromised and began doing some personal blogging on Facebook.

The advantage to blogging on Facebook, of course, is that there's a lot more potential readers there than on a separate personal blog, even when you promote it on social media. So, I've been pretty happy with doing that for about a year or so, but now my life has changed significantly and I feel it's time to do something different and to exhibit some of that change in my writing, and in my blogging specifically.

When I was five years old, in June of 1967, my family moved from a tiny duplex in Canarsie, Brooklyn to a much larger two-story colonial house in suburban North Brunswick, New Jersey. Not counting two years of residential school, I lived in that house until I was 18, when my mother threw me out for being an asshole and sent me to live with my father in Manhattan.

I lived with Dad for a couple of years, during which time I got seriously into punk rock and hard drugs, becoming an even bigger asshole than I'd been previously. Eventually, Dad had finally had enough and also threw me out, after he came home one night with a date to find me breaking up a quarter-pound of herb for sale on the kitchen table.

Having no other options at the time, I took a room at a cheap and shabby SRO hotel on the Upper West Side ala Sid Vicious and spent the summer of 1982 there. In September of that year, I got my Mom to agree to let me return to the house in North Brunswick, where I immediately went through a week of hell detoxing from all the hard drugs I'd been doing in New York.

Once I dried out, I did basically nothing for about a year and a half other than work occasionally as a warehouse rat throwing boxes around for about nine bucks an hour. Then I moved in with a friend in Atlantic City where I made piles of money as a parking lot attendant and got back into hard drugs, particularly meth. At the end of that summer, I lost that job and found myself driving the two and a half hours north, back to the house in North Brunswick.

That was September of 1984. Until last week, I'd lived in that house ever since, 31 and a half years. And then last Saturday, everything changed.

It was May of last year when Mom got sick. She bounced around from hospital to nursing home and back again for a while, with Medicare and her insurance covering the costs of her care. Eventually, both ran out and wouldn't pay anymore. Mom had money in the bank that would cover her immediate costs, but long-term was a different story. She had only one major asset, and my brothers and I had to turn it into cash as quickly as possible, before her cash ran out: The house.

We put the house on the market, but I was still living there at the time. Knowing that the housing market was not great and that real estate sales tended to be slow in the colder months, I took my time deciding my next step. At first, I'd decided that I wanted to try to stay in New Jersey if possible, mainly to be close to friends and family, but after a while I decided I wanted more.

One of the things I'd always hated about living in the suburbs was that there's really very little to do there socially if you're an LGBT person and particularly if you're trans. Also, with rents being as high as they are in New Jersey, and downright astronomical in New York City, I came to the conclusion that only one place had everything I wanted and was affordable on my limited budget: Philadelphia.

I started seriously investigating the possibility of moving to Philly in December, and after an abortive attempt at getting a place with a roommate, I came across an apartment that was affordable, in a relatively safe neighborhood, with easy access to public transportation. I looked at the place, decided it fit my needs, if not all of my wants, and put down a deposit.

This past Saturday, I showed up with a U-Haul van full of my stuff and my brothers and a couple of helpers in tow, paid the rest of the security and first and last month's rent, signed a lease, and moved in.

Now, I'm a 53 year-old post-op trans woman, a suburban transplant living in Philadelphia, in my very own actual apartment for the first time in my life. It's all new, it's all real, and it's all completely different.

This is where the story of this blog begins.