I’m tempted to write “It has been a week” but as it is only Monday night, that’s not adequate to explain where my head is right now.
Here’s the quick and dirty version – I broke my toe Saturday night. Ouch. This morning, one of our foster kittens had a temperature of 105.4 (very high) so we rushed him to the Urgent Care. He has a mouth ulcer that might be from ingesting a caustic substance and the vet scared the crap out of us by talking about amputating his tongue. He needs constant supervision and care to make sure he’s eating. This means we will not be going to Harrisburg this week.
What’s in Harrisburg? I was invited to Governor Wolf’s LGBTQ History Month Reception so we were going to spent two nights in the Capitol enjoying that and some much needed down time. I bought a new purse, got my hair done, and Laura requested time off from work. We had the pet sitter ready to go and I found a great deal at a B&B with a river view.
I was excited, to put it mildly, to be invited. It is one of those moments when this girl from West Mifflin did something special, something worthy of that invitation. Me going to the Governor’s resident for a formal event is not something I ever anticipated happening. It is something I wish I could have shared with my mother. Or someone in my family. It is validation and acknowledgment, but also an opportunity to meet other LGBTQ folx from around the Commonwealth. To make the relationships and connections necessary to do this work.
During my growing up years, no one I knew went to these types of receptions or events. It just wasn’t our world. So I had no sense that I could one day be invited because I had no sense that they happened. I know people had fancy events and recognitions, but it was sort of like a John Hughes movie – the plot and the wardrobe were completely unfamiliar, but the soundtrack was good.
We didn’t do fancy or elegant or formal. I remember the first time I ate in a restaurant where the staff kept the water glass always full – I was a college sophomore and went out to dinner with my roommate’s family. I was so intrigued by this perpetual water filling, I put my hand over my glass to see if I could outwit him. I was also shocked when visiting her family to realize we each had our own steak. In my house, a steak was broiled and divided between us. Restaurants didn’t provide bread plates unless you asked.
Now I wasn’t a complete ignoramus. I understood how silverware worked and how to use a napkin and the soup spoon. I did not know how to stand around at a reception with a bag and actually consume food and/or beverages. I never encountered a coat check until college and still find them overwhelming. It was the social graces that were alien to me. So I could limp along, but I always felt like a +1 or a charity guest.
So being invited by the Governor was a big deal for me. Even with a broken toe – I had planned to let them know I would need a seat as an accommodation (that’s how accommodations work.) In a perhaps very odd way, I felt like the Governor was saying “I’m proud of you, Sue Kerr.” And that’s not something I hear very often. It is probably the thing I want to hear the most from my family and close friends. I want them to acknowledge that I am trying to be the adult I needed in my childhood. And they pretty much don’t. Some because they aren’t emotional touchy people. And some because they aren’t proud of me at all and have zero idea what I’m doing or why.
This is a real issue for people living with complex trauma. It wasn’t about being poor. It was about being neglected and having no opportunity to imagine something different for myself. About being programmed by a sexual predator to doubt everything my intuition told me and listen only to external sources. I know that I relentlessly seek validation because I am fundamentally programmed to please people. I just can please people for good instead of sick twisted ways. That’s probably the most I’ll be able to heal. So, yes, a big deal.
It was also special because the event was two days before my birthday. That added a festive twist. And I was going to deliver some #ProtectTransKids signs to Harrisburg.
However when asked to choose between my LGBTQ work and my foster kittens, I didn’t hesitate for even a minute. I wasn’t leaving him in someone else’s hands while he was in crisis. Yes, I have regrets that it happened, but I know I made the right decision.
It is a costly one though. The B&B held 50% of the payment as a non-refundable deposit so I’m out $150. Plus, the money I spent on my purse, hair, etc. Thus all of the money I might get for my birthday will be paying off a trip I didn’t take. I also didn’t get to call my doctor so I’m really hobbling now.
Maybe next year Governor Shapiro will invite me to his reception. Maybe one year I’ll be appointed to the statewide LGBTQ Commission. Or a committed with a national LGBTQ organization. Or who knows – I’ve certainly learned that new exciting things can happen even to middle aged disabled queer ladies.
The good news is that 12 hours after his vet visit, Taggert is perky and eating. He does not want to be syringe fed tonight, but he ate dry adult food. Now he’s still under the effects of the medication that they gave him so we’ll see if he loses a little ground tomorrow.
That’s worth everything.
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