I often feel like the elephant in the room. So, let’s get it out of the way so I can share what I am feeling these days.
I am trans; I will be turning seventy-three years old, this summer, but don’t look it; I transitioned 9 years ago when I underwent eleven hours of facial feminization surgery — which accounts for me not looking my age. I am pretty active at the gym and bicycling on a regular basis — over 2K miles last year, although I have moved up to an electric bike; my best friends who I hang with are all younger than me and quite active.
This Covid-19 pandemic is scaring me to the core, as I know I am part of the vulnerable population and my sense is the world that I have been an active participant in, may never, ever be the same.
In the middle of 2018, I reached the point that I could no longer bike as long or as hard, as I used to be able to do. Even small grades created challenges for my legs and my lungs. I thought my biking days were near the end, and my mind extended that to the thoughts that perhaps my life too was reaching that inevitable place.
It was time to move up to an e-bike and my life in some manner was returned to me as with the assist I could still be out and about with my friends without the physical challenges that were catching up with me. The smile was back on my face as I would easily be going out for 30-miles, 40-miles and more, and be ready to recharge, the bike and me to go right out and do it again.
But I knew that my body was getting older and slowing down, and there was no battery assist that I could get to keep it going as easy as it appeared by the biking. I could no longer go hiking up even small hills without stopping to get some mere air. Even carrying my groceries up my one flight of stairs became more challenging. When I sat on the floor it became harder and harder to lift myself up with just my legs.
I have been trying to deny, even hide these facts from myself that these obvious signs of aging are now ever present for me. Yet, I am playing this game when I meet people when I ask them to guess how old I am, and they are usually off by well over a decade. There is certainly a part of me that is getting great joy from this as there are a few parts of me watching and just shaking their heads and mumbling that I am only fooling myself. I know they are right, yet I have not found I can stop playing this game.
As many others, I find my apartment has become my hermitage. Physical distancing is the only path known now to avoid transmission of the virus. Virtual and emotional connection is what we have today, to try to keep us sane. The hardwired human need for touch, for a hug is off limits in order to be safe and secure as we are taught that isolation is required. No one can say for sure when it ends.
My thoughts make this question even more complicated, as I consider myself vulnerable even if it may not appear like that to the outside world. Like many I now use Zoom to see my kids and grandkids. This is new and pretty wonderful, yet, there is something missing.
This isolation, this physical seclusion is only in the beginning. Perhaps for me, until there is a successful vaccine, I wonder and weigh if I can come out of it. I am not sure how I can weigh the risks and the rewards of reentering the world. I will be biking soon, both alone and even meet up — at a safe distance -with my friends, but I am worrying even about this activity.
This virus is, for the first time in my life making me accept that I am older than I look.
I am working hard on keeping my balance.
Traveling as much as I can on two wheels helps.