Worthy of Love?
“You’re trans right?”
I freeze, my breath is caught mid-intake. I deliberate my response while continuing to stare up at the bright blue summer sky. I’m exhausted from last night’s celebrations, or poor beverage choices, depending on your perspective. Two consecutive days of Pride celebrations was never going to work out well but it turns out my head probably is one of the sourest of the revellers. An achievement I’m not proud of, more so now because of this fresh exchange. It’s been six hours since I had my face buried in my own rucksack. Apologising profusely to the Uber driver, whilst trying to keep his upholstery clean.
“How did she know?”, I think to myself through the groggy haze. My mannerisms are more masculine, true, but I am still technically a girl. I recall the purity of the last few days while we lay together on the bank of the lake, the quiet is only briefly interrupted by bicycle bells and swans trumpeting. We met a week before at a bar. I flirted with her as I poured her a beer, noticing how her Swedish mother tongue wrapped itself around her words with a sweet twang. The chilling air conditioning of the basement bar wasn’t enough to stop the flush of red hitting her cheeks when I told her she was beautiful. Strong curves, old spirited brown eyes and a plume of ochre afro framing her face. I kiss her lightly on the cheek as we agree to meet again.
She recites poems and plays by heart, as her mind whirlwinds through thoughts, moments and scripture like a desert storm. On close inspection you can see how each individual sand grains turn in her mind as it creates the whirls. Graduated top of her class, and I can tell. She tells me how her black features aren’t beautiful in her country, so I tell her I will remind her she’s gorgeous constantly. We discuss the comfort of my chosen name. Her name means ‘worthy of love’. To this I say nothing. We rise to explore the city more, and I briefly scowl at the heckling teenagers we’d ignored over the past hour. I have my arms wrapped around her to watch the parade. The sequins of her new face paint transfer to my cheek as I nussle her mane of hair out of my line of sight. The procession reminds us both that we are not alone, that our community and allies are there in all walks of life.
Twirling her around backstage at Black Pride, I introduce her to the film crew I work with as my ‘temporary girlfriend’, which was an appropriate title for a Swedish tourist. By chance, she’s volunteering also so I arrived with a vegan patty. A group of trans men are introduced on stage to cheers from the ten thousand strong spectators, it’s hard for me to suppress my smile. It was by chance that we were both working here, some paths were meant to cross it seems. It was that night in the middle of the dance floor that I told her I loved her, to no response. So the shots started, bad habits die hard it seems.
I respond “yes”, speaking softly, a deep breath takes me from my thoughts, back to the lakeside. Trusting her with the truth but still hesitant to admit it, even to myself.
“Ahh.. I thought so”, spoken with a slight curve at the corner of her lips. She touches my
shoulder reassuringly. It’s too hot for anything closer. I swallow deeply, holding words back, a habit that’s become all too familiar these past few years. She squeezes my shoulder again turning my vision into a kaleidoscope of tears. And there it is, acceptance. That reassurance that you are unquestionably enough. Shoulders heaving I suppress tears because I’m aware of how lucky I am that the first person to realise my true identity was also so accepting. This is a rarity afforded to too few trans folk.
“It’s okay for men to cry”, she says. The beauty of that statement pushes me over. I cry. I
haven’t cried like this in years, the joy of the moment mixed in with flickers of past spiteful
encounters. Ignoring the scorching heat of the midday sun she hugs me. I bury my face in the warmth of her chest, muffling the last few sobs. Her homely bronze eyes are still on me, patiently waiting for me to collect myself so I can begin to speak.
I start to tell my story. Not the polished version I mention to curious probes but the raw unfiltered account. I can’t recall if I began at the beginning but it didn’t matter to her, I was only interrupted to clarify or to soothe. The booming career, the transphobic coworkers, the daily jeering, the shaking hands, the daily fight against the blurred vision from the fear and eventually being fired. The aftermath, the disability benefits, losing the ability to read and write, the acceptance and the therapy. Now I mention it, it’s a miracle I’m writing this.
I lay next to her in the park and I am at peace. We shared a bed at the youth hostel this week, ate Tesco’s sandwiches in parks and opt for buses when possible. We had nothing but yet everything seemed perfect and I had never been happier. Amanda bursts out laughing, “You were so concerned about the Uber driver’s car you destroyed all of your possessions. Even when you’re wasted you’re kind”. My hand pulls the Sainsbury’s bag of recovered items closer, not wanting to be robbed as we bask with our eyes closed in the sun.
“I love you”, she says. “Not in the way you want but it’s there… but it’s time for me to go now.” Her eyes are still kind so I know she speaks the truth. We’ve made it to a late breakfast near my workplace. After the longest bus journey I’ve ever experienced, with each speed hump feeling like an assault to my already fragile gut, we arrived at Leicester Square.
“Where would you go?”, I ask curiously hiding my disappointment behind the menu, my mind
already painting images of us in various locations but knowing it was not meant to pass.
“Edinburgh or Bath…? I’m not sure yet but I like that.”
My shift is about to start, not the commitment I want to make today. A block away we say our
goodbyes. She kisses me on the lips deeply. I pull back recalling the mess of the last 24 hours but with a laugh she draws me closer saying she couldn’t care less.
And that’s it. That’s the moment of euphoria but it’s not a moment. A feeling does not know time.
This was a beautiful encounter that ended when it needed to, but both of us will grow from its spirit for years to come. While I polish glasses on my shift I’m bemused that I’ve come full
circle. Everything is where it was before I met her, I line up the wine glasses at the same spot I always did, and the regulars come in like clockwork but my day has a new sheen to it. It’s as if she had taken a cloth and wiped away the watermarks from my life.
For months after I imagined her fondly: exploring a castle, basking rays by the sea or with a new lover in a field. We didn’t speak for months after she left because I didn’t need to be certain of her story. It wasn’t important. She came into the bar with her warmth, love and joy; and I’m glad that she left with more of it. A free spirit gliding in the wind, letting people know they are in-fact
worthy of love.
– Rico Jacob Chace
- Name: Rico Jacob Chace
- Age: 28
- Location: London, UK
- Industry: Producer, Videography & Activism
- Heritage: Black British Caribbean
- What does being Black mean to you? To be black is to be a born fighter and not having a choice in the matter. I’m proud of the strength of my ancestors and how they endured because it means whatever I encounter I can survive. But the time for merely surviving has ended, now is our time to thrive.