I’m crying with relief, but also for the loss of never having this moment with my mom. I shouldn’t have doubted her. And I shouldn’t have doubted Aylen either. She’s known me since we were both in preschool, her parents are like an aunt and uncle to me and all of them are the kindest people I’ve ever known. But our town is so small that transgender people seem to be entirely absent, both in body and in theory. I have no idea how anyone will react because I can’t remember anyone mentioning the subject.
My tears subside; I feel comfortable and safe in a way I haven’t in a long time. I glance sideways at Aylen, she smiles and so do I, and I feel embarrassed and cover the lower half my face with my hands.
“Have you chosen a new name?” she asks. “Or will you go against the grain and keep the one you have?”
“I thought…I’d just drop the S.”
“Luca? I love it.”
She laughs. “I understand why you feel like you need to be guarded and skeptical. But I promise, Luca, there are people who love you for who you are. And the people who don’t, they’re not worth your effort.”
I feel strangely reassured and even more embarrassed. Her use of my name causes a buzz of excitement and focus that I haven’t felt in years. “So how did you know? Am I that obvious? Does everyone know?”