I definitely gambled what I shouldn’t have—while I could gamble on getting a new job (I had the savings), my housing definitely not something I really should have.

My life has gotten so toxic, to the point I was no longer motivated. Depression was never ending, and talking with a therapist wouldn’t help because my life was a constant cycle of toxicity, dead ends, hypocrisy, inconsistency. Constant dealing with spite, bigotry, increased Trumpism since Biden took office. Anxiety occurring so regularly I had to take aspirin daily to keep the inflammation it was causing minimized. Ulcers. Insomnia. Worsening mood swings.

A sunset I managed to capture from days when I worked with a better team before management and other serious changes fucked things up for me.

Things needed to change.

After completing another overnight shift, I had a last-second video interview that I managed to negotiate because the job offer was in another state. I don’t like using Microsoft or Google services at all, given the Apple fanboy this I am, but whatever. I could conduct the interview via Safari on my iPad, that’s all that mattered.

Never had I had an interview about three days after submitting my résumé before. I was expecting about 2-3 weeks to pass, if I even got the chance. This position was located in Missoula, MT; I’m a redneck hailing from across the country in a small Jersey town—I figured like hell they’d take me in.

Shit, this brother got the job.

Maybe you’ve heard about “The Great Resignation”, of millennials and many younger Gen Xers quitting their job because this pandemic finally pushed us over the edge—we are tired of poor management, being taken for granted, of increasing workloads but not being compensated for it. I got denied a promotion twice because I wasn’t being trained and certified by a coworker like they should’ve been doing; because I wasn’t “qualified”, the opening to be given to some shmuck off the street because they had family already working there. (Two notes: I didn’t hate the person who got the job, I just hate that I got passed over for them. Also, if you know who I worked for, go ahead and enjoy your snacks, it means nothing to me.) I got denied another position because I wasn’t allowed to switch teams, shifts, or departments. My training was put on hold because I made a harassment claim; even higher management wasn’t returning my emails when I followed up! (And, they thought I was confusing my training with being taken advantage of, fuck no I did not!)

The apathy I eventually developed just cut not to the bone, but also poisoned my bone marrow. I did the barest amount that was required of my job, instead of giving it my all and then some. I called out sick frequently, went home early if it was convenient for me. I bitched, I griped, I complained, I gossiped. Motivation was officially nil; I had no desire to even perform overtime to cover for others because I was more emotionally than physically drained at the end of a rotation (my job was physically demanding, btw!) and saw no point burning myself to the ground for a position I could easily be replaced with.

For the people in my life who contributed to my worsening depression… I even had one coworker who didn’t take me seriously as a man, who didn’t consider me “straight” because I’m a trans man attracted to women, who said I would not be considered a “real” man in the military because I have no penis. Says they weren’t racist when they made several remarks each rotation. Made remarks whenever we had to undergo sensitivity, diversity, harassment trainings. Always trashed the fact I use Apple products. All this on top of that person who was supposed to train me but kept blaming me for their inability to do their job.

Since Biden became President, the surprisingly increasing Trumpism my own family was portraying. Being belittled as a child in public. The trash talk about my Apple products, despite their cheap products always needing fixing and troubleshooting. How I couldn’t bring someone of color home. When a remark was and I couldn’t openly object (“It was just a comment; I don’t a response”). The constant snooping into my personal property. Being blamed for something that I didn’t do and offering proof of it, only for the constant ”yea, sure” to linger not just for hours, but days. Old photos of myself pre-op hanging around that I wished would disappear but held onto for the ”daughter” that I never was. Hearing about grudges or embarrassing moments I didn’t need to recall.

Since Biden became President, people were using my progressive and leftist leanings against me, instead of at least an ”agreeing to disagree“ stance.

Home no longer was home.

So … I asked to start a week late because I would be driving across the country, not taking the plane. During those few days, the elation of escaping a toxic 24/7 life felt not just liberating and elating, but euphoric. Cherishing the little things like music, the flora at truck stops, any music I could listen to without hearing passive aggressive remarks.

I made a right turn northward into Minnesota to meet an online friend. Don’t tell me online friendships are not equivalent of IRL friendships. My life has changed, improved tremendously since joining Discord and Twitch last year—maybe I’ve only known them a year now, but they’re not just pixels on the screen that I can easily discard if things went south. These are living, breathing people whom I have shared memories with, who share theirs with me and others. And to meet, or soon to meet, them IRL, it’s like meeting a pen pal for the first time. Online friendships are just a post-modern descendant of them, and our parents, grandparents will tell you that those friendships have often felt just as real as the friendships they had face-to-face.

However, a few days I got settled in while staying at a local motel, I threw in the towel and was ready to give up, Housing was worse than expected, and checking ads for roommates showed few rooms being offered, and people who want a roommate but didn’t have a place yet to offer. While I was willing to work hard to find an apartment, put down more for a deposit or for a few months upfront (as I got bad credit) … I was not willing to go homeless for this with the temperature beginning to dip. Yea, this meant possibly returning to Jersey and pick up a few part time jobs and move to the Tampa Bay area—at least if I couldn’t secure housing, it’s warm year round and I could easily sleep in my car if I were to go homeless, while getting a membership to a chain gym and just shower at one on the daily to make up for it. I have hookup stuff to warm up food and make up coffee in my car.

An off-campus location that caters primarily to students was willing to work with me, but needed proof of employment. Their monthly rent was way more than I wanted to pay for as a roommate. Um … took a few days before I could forward the proof. I didn’t admit it was seasonal, I didn’t admit it was hourly and could vary. I just needed somewhere to move into. I still had enough savings to tighten my belt and live month to month.

A few nights after moving in … it’s a weird setup. I share a 2-bedroom apartment, but we are each responsible for our own leases; if I’m late or they are, the other is not effected. We share a kitchen and den, but our own bathrooms and bedrooms we can keep locked while away. I live in the bougie part of town, how the hell did I get so lucky?! I almost wrestled about the parking situation, but I only have to pay during the weekdays—while I’m at work. (Just means remembering where the hell I parked my car each morning, and hunting extra hard on Friday nights when everyone else is on the town.)

Even if I don’t secure a permanent position at my new gig, it was the chance of a lifetime to get out of the corner I was being backed into. I saw the window I could jump out of, and did. I hoped someone noticed and could grab me before I crash landed, and they did.

This would have been something 18-year-old me would’ve done. Having gone through ”second puberty” for almost 5-6 years, it’s like coming out of adolescence all over again, only this time I do have the life experience necessary to make sure I don’t make a stupid decision that could leave me a desperate or abusive situation like last time.

There are trails, daily and weekend local events, all kinds of things to do and see. I live, work, and shop in the same area now. I have and am already am making new friends. There’s a local LGBT center I don’t have to drive far to visit. I can get HRT locally, not travel two hours away or do entirely telemedically. There’s also new things I have to learn—reservation policies and politics, Mexican-American culture (unlike the Caribbean-descended people who dominate back in Jersey), dealing with country music as the most popular genre, a different mix of ethnicities compared to what I’m used to.

There are sidewalks around town to enjoy a nice after-dinner walk. I have a gym in my complex. I am not around candy all day. Responsible for my own shopping, it’s easier to stick to a budget by just getting foods I need. No way I can’t lose weight for good this time!

It’s the start of a whole new adventure—one that’s positive and looking upward. It won’t be like last time; I won’t let that happen. I won’t forget how to be awesome again.

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