I laid on their chest, still. I usually have nightmares, but in this dream I was being saved by them like the romance-action movie in which I’m starring. I’ve never felt more safe than in that moment. I think that’s the most I’ve seen them—like, actually seen them. They were gentle, calm, cool, collected, strong, smart, and most of all, loving. I think what was magical about that moment was that I woke up and felt like I was still in that dream. They were the real deal. We were real. Our transness is an energy that we don’t need to verbally and strictly communicate. It’s felt. It’s an energy. This energy has outgrown our image and is understood far past a material body.
We spent one night just holding each other, and I couldn’t have felt more at peace. It’s sometimes hard, being held. I used to become so aware of my chest. I would become so aware of my thin body, the result of my metabolism, and the dysphoria of not having the body frame that more traditionally masculine people have. Our togetherness silences all of that. It’s this understanding, this mutual celebration of each other.
As an image-maker I never document them enough. I never document myself or us enough. On this day we soaked our bedsheets with tears communicating our anxieties to each other. We had this utter and complete openness. This was the day I dedicated to them but got swept up in work I was doing. I wanted to plan out this perfect day for them. We met up later after I finished what I needed to do, and we ran through the rain, being soaked by an NYC summer storm, to our favorite nighttime brunch place. It reminded me about what the most beautiful and important relationship dynamic is. Not everything is a ray of sunshine like in those romance movies. Not everything is a love poem. It’s a partnership. It’s going through the hustle of the day, learning how to address and reaffirm each other, finding moments together and really treasuring them. It’s longing, it’s overcoming hardship, it’s love.
I know that they are still searching for comfort. I know that they are still walking past mirrors and getting lost in what they see, trying to paste it together to find their self in it. I want to make an image one day that captures them at peace in the moment and for them to see it and to recognize a glimpse of their authentic self. The image they want to celebrate. I want them to celebrate them. I feel like I will try my whole life to capture that image. And I’m okay with that. Because that means I will be spending my entire life with them.
Ting Ting Chen