Once Again, Always -The Toast

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$T2eC16VHJHEE9ny2rTbkBQznDv17wg~~60_35When I was a girl, I dreamt, often, of putting my hand to my face and feeling the roughness of stubble. When I was an even younger girl, so young that I might have even been genderless, those years when all is permitted, no top at the beach, no difference between us (no, even then I was a girl), my father would let us shave with him. A puffy handful of Barbasol. My brother and I would dab it on our cheeks until we had beards of soft white nothing. Our father would remove the cartridges from two razors, the old kind, the kind they do not sell anymore, the kind even he does not use anymore, silver metal, round handle, single blade. Then my brother and I would sit on the counter, our father between us, the mirror barely big enough for our three faces, and proceed to shave. My empty swipes taking away lines of foam. The serious skrtch skrtch of my father’s strokes. Gradually, gradually, our faces would emerge.

Now I am a guy, and I dream, sometimes, of tucking my hair behind my ear. There is comfort in that gesture, though it has been many years since my hair was long. There is the feeling of securing, of tidiness, as well as the knowledge that it will come loose again, fall, brushing against my cheek, swinging into the line of my vision, and I will tuck it back once more, my fingers coaxing the strands to stay put. I wake from these dreams, a guy. If I wanted, I could put my hand to my cheek and feel the stubble there, remember that I need to shave the next morning. Wonder whether and how dreams reflect back to us what we are as surely as what we have been.

Alex Myers's debut novel, Revolutionary, was released by Simon & Schuster in January 2014. In addition to writing and teaching, he speaks frequently at schools and works as an educator and advocate around transgender identity.

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