encounters

I moved to Seattle in 1992. In those days my name did not have an “a” at the end. I lived, worked and did ministry as a guy. I got to know a lot of people and a lot of people got to know me.

In 1999 my life fell apart and came crashing down. I had to deal with my gender issues or I wasn’t going to survive. So I began my transition.

I still live, work and do ministry in the Seattle area. And so every now and then I encounter someone I knew in my days as Nice Guy in Seattle. Sometimes these encounters are intentional. Someone has sought me out or come to a place where I am known to hang out (church). But most of the time the encounters are random.

In most of these encounters I have the advantage. I recognize them but they don’t reorganize me. In these encounters I never approach the person. I steer clear of them. Why should I approach them and force them into an uncomfortable situation?

However on rare occasions someone from those days recognizes me before I recognize them in a chance encounter. Most of the time those have been pleasant encounters. One of them was not. The person caught me off guard and launched into a speech about how much I had disappointed her by “disappearing” and not having ‘The decency to say why.” It hurt to hear those words. I wanted to tell her why it went down that way but that was not the time for it.

To this day, my favorite story of meeting someone who knew me was a case in which I was recognized but not really. I was at a bus stop and a guy was staring at me. I was getting nervous. He came over and said, “Excuse me, ma’am but do you have a brother who is a Lutheran minister?”

When I said that I did, he said, “I thought so. You look just like him.” He went on to tell me about how much he liked my brother’s preaching and wished he was still in Seattle.

At that point I realized that he was not talking about my brother Richard, who is a Lutheran minister. He was talking about Nice Guy. He was actually referring to me. As his bus pulled up he said, “Next time you talk to your brother, tell him hello from me.” I promised I would. When he got on the bus, I laughed so loudly that everyone remaining at the bus stop just stared at me.

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Chance Meeting by George Segal

 

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