FIRST EVENT DIARY – 2018
Emily Jo Donatello
(call me “Em”)
Please open the audio below in another window and listen while reading this entry:
There are more than a dozen major conferences for trans-people this year. The first is called (without a hint of archness) “First Event.” It occurs this week in Marlboro, MA.
Last year the organizing committee at First Event announced that during the five days of formal activities more than twelve hundred people officially attended: an impressive number, even if, as crowd estimates always are, it was “padded.” In attendance myself I never saw anywhere near that number of people. But, as the event’s location is so close to Boston, I know many come for a day or half a day; some don’t register and merely sightsee or mingle along the edges. However one calculates attendance, First Event is a most impressive convocation of congeniality.
To refer to this group, or any other group of trans-people, I don’t use the word community, although many do. One reads or hears “the community” or “our community” as if everyone within it were like-minded or like-driven. I’ve never understood that. And when I am attending an event with hundreds of people, whatever the event’s purpose, I see myself there to fulfill personal goals, salve personal needs. Around me are others — some are friends; others I’ll never meet — each of whom has her/his own personal goals.
I merely enjoy the opportunity to express myself as I wish, as I see myself when I look deeply. I tend to be somewhat introspective, for sure. But I also look to enjoy myself for the time an “event” provides. I don’t expect anything more — or less. Last year I came close to success.
Attending is, in so many ways, a privilege and a luxury. I don’t live close enough that I can merely “drop in.” I need to plan a trip; arrange the days to be away from my other, daily responsibilities of family and work; set aside a large sum of “disposable” money to pay for the time (gas, tolls, hotel, conference fees, meals, oh, and a special new outfit or two, you know); make reservations and registrations, accept (or decline) invitations, overcome frustrations, devise permutations. Enough!
Can I go? Yes! (I’m fortunate to have the flexibility and resources to do so.) Should I go? Yes! (I have promises — to myself — to keep.) Will I go? Yes! (I want once more to live a few days within myself and feel whatever I shall feel in doing so.)
Last year two other members of my support group — “Pathways” in Teaneck, NJ — also attended First Event.
Although we didn’t “hang” together, it was nice having them around. We’d check in during the course of each day, share a story or two, and go our separate ways.
This year I’m the only member of the support group who is attending. I’m a bit sad about that.
I’ve been wondering how could I recreate the camaraderie I felt with them last year? How could I feel the secure comfort of having my sisters about? My answer: write a daily diary. Therapeutic, I think. Fun, I hope.
This is the entry for day one, Monday, January 29th. I’m striving to explore the boundaries of diary creation; so multimedia is a technique. (Audio will be involved.) Seven more entries will follow. Whoever you are, reading this, for whatever reason(s). Thank you. Please let me know your thoughts and (gentle) criticisms. I’ll try to improve each day.
email: email@example.com (mind the underscores, or you’ll — like me — trip in writing)