Friday, December 17, 2010

On Coffee, Family, and Names.

Here I am, sitting in my favourite coffee shop, across an antique table from my roommate and T-Sister, Leslie. I met her here this afternoon after work. We had both racked up a full punchcard, and felt like indulging in a nice, free, latte. In this case, an Anise Latté with my sister was just what I needed. 

I don't like coffee. At least, not just plain coffee. Coffee, too me, is just the canvas. A bitter, caustic, canvas. It needs layers to make it enjoyable.

A friend of mine once said, working on art at this same table, "This would be a whole lot easier if the table wasn't breathing..." I first met this friend about two years ago under the name "Persephone". She had been on oestrogen for about three months when I met her, and was a shy, demure girl of six feet two inches and size thirteen shoes. She wore a beret and covered her shoulders with a shawl and smiled in an odd way. She was the first tranny I had met, and I found her beautiful and fascinating. At this point, I still had no idea that I myself was Trans. Exposure to miss Persephone would change my life. 

In the time that I have known her, she has changed her name two more times. From Persephone, given because she failed to eat a whole pomegranate and left the remainder in her fridge for a month, she became Elissa, (Or perhaps Elyssa, or Elysa, I never was clear on the spelling), and from there became Layla. Right now, living in India, she is going by Leila, mostly because "Layla" is a Muslem name, which might garner the wrong type of attention. 

The spring of the year that I met her, we both found ourselves in visual arts classes. She elected to work in Printmaking, specifically engraving, while I ended up starting work on a comic. We foudn ourselves spending most of our money on art supplies, and the remainder on coffee at Olympia's only 24-hour coffee shop. It has an unpronounceable name, a gothic atmosphere, doorknobs on the ceiling, and plants that try to eat your hair. We would sit at the table in the corner, often till two or three in the morning on weekends, sipping flavoured coffee, eating penny candy, and working feverishly on art. My frantic erasure one night prompted her to accuse me of making the table breathe. Without fail, she would order a flower-flavoured latté, often jasmine or rose, while I would elect for anise. We were so regular that the barista would get down the syrops and the right size cups when we walked in the door. 

And then, one afternoon, I walked in without her. 

"Oh hi. Where's your girlfriend?" asked Inga the barista, pulling down the Anise and hovering over the rose.

All I could do was blink. It took me a minute to kick my brain back in gear and answer that we weren't dating, just good friends. Two days later, when we were back to work together at the table in the corner, under the plant that was trying to eat her hair, we giggled over that, and I drew an explanatory picture, intending to put it into the guestbook. Of course, it never made it, and I ended up with it tucked into my notebook, on our way back to the late night bus, with another page of comic book drawn. 

It's been a year and a half. My friend became my sister one evening, after making me laugh so hard I peed my pants. No one is allowed to do that but my little sisters, therefore, she must be so. 

I am only child. I was raised alone, wishing I wasn't. My father has three older daughters, but they all lived hundreds of miles away, and their mother prevented contact. Not only that, but I was home-schooled, which made the loneliness all the more acute. I had friends on and off, but few of them stuck around. That is, until I was fourteen, and was dragged by my father to the eleventh birthday party of one of his best friend's grandaughters. It was there that I met the girl in question, Zoie, and her cousin, Camie. We hated each other. Absolutely hated. I was crazy, manish, and arrogant, they were childish, girly, and stupid, and to this day I have met no one who could rival Camie in a Battle of the Pink. 

With so much hatred on all fronts, it took only until the end of the summer and my fifteenth birthday party to cement a friendship that has lasted beyond maturity, differing interests, moving away, and going away to college. As of right now, the Pagan Trinity are spread in a lovely triangle over two states. Camie and I live on opposite sides of Washington, while Zoie is in Oregon. However, when the three of us come together, civilisations fall and warlords quake in their furry studded boots. Me and my Little Sisters wreak havoc on the physics of those around us, and evil plots abound. 

It should be fear inspiring that this event will probably occur right after Christmas.  

Which brings me back around to Leslie, who is sitting across from me, having finished her Anise Latté, glaring at her own blog. There is nothing quite like a middle-aged tattoo artist going back to school and realizing that he is, in fact, a she...

1 comment:

  1. Layla and Leila are just two transliterations of the same Arabic word. ليلى It's interesting that the different spellings have differing connotations in India.

    It is a lovely name though.