On our way back from Santa Barbara, Mary Jo and I landed at the halfway point to have lunch with Allyson, who you may recall from my December blog postings and to whom I link in the blogroll on the right of the screen.

At a restaurant appropriately called D-vine (wine bar and restaurant), we sat outside in the fresh February sun and the fresh air and talked about family and plans and blogs and transitions and all sorts of things. The three of us had wonderful lunches and a dessert that was almost good enough (three of us sharing one slice) to order another piece.

I found myself feeling large and loving and connected, and Allyson had a lot to do with it. Visiting her was a recharge, both for me and Mary Jo — we’re pretty stable and have good friends, but there is no substitute for a thoughtful person on the same trans* path.

But it’s odd to say “same trans path,” however, because the trans* journey takes as many forms as there are transsexuals, and the “same path” refers to moving in a generally similar direction, rather than walking in a well-worn and constrained rut.

For example, I myself seem to be on an “inside-out” path, meaning I’ve worked on my mind, emotions, social connections, and hormones while still not owning a stitch of clothing. I have only recently bought wigs and makeup and am still borrowing Mary Jo’s clothes when I go out. As my inner self gets more and more relaxed with my nature, and as my friends and colleagues begin trying on the idea of life with Joyce, I think the outer expression of Joyce will emerge, but not necessarily until that point arrives.

Some transsexuals, on the other hand, are on “outside-in” paths, and begin their transition with clothes and makeup and move to socializing in their new role, followed by therapy and hormones. It doesn’t matter which of the hundreds of paths one takes towards transsexual happiness, but meeting fellow travelers is worth the effort.

The path may be solitary, but it’s probably better if you travel with friends and loved ones. Allyson told us of her mother’s love and this story simply filled me with joy — My own mother and father are both dead, and while their deaths may have freed me to pursue this path, I also think they would have been loving, if not a bit perplexed, parents, and I would have enjoyed getting to know them as Joyce. Rather than dwell on their loss, I simply need to look around and recognize that on my own transsexual path, I have an extended academic family around me today — they’ve been supportive and inquisitive and fun to talk to about this transition. These colleagues make up, along with friends like Allyson and Gerald and Helena, the kind of family where I feel like I belong.