In your laugh, I search for my smile. In your voice, I search for a memory. In your eyes, I search for myself.
I’m 20. My girlfriend is sleeping in my twin bed of our college dorm. Her arms are wrapped around mine like the sweetness of the sun cradling the world. I do everything in my power not to wake her as I decide it’s time for me to get up. I head towards my mirror. As a daily practice, I look in my mirror, tragically searching for something my own reflection is unable to tell me.
I start with my eyes. My eyes tell a story. My eyes take me on a journey to the center of my heart, but not all of the spaces of my heart are filled with lightness. My eyes are deep, loving and resilient. How can eyes be resilient? They’ve seen a lot of tragedy, but still insist on staying open and witnessing more. That’s a strong quality. I admire my eyes.
I continue to stare at the person reflected back at me. Is this who I am? Is this what I’ll always look like? Is this what she looks like?
I hear a sleepy voice call out: “Afraid you’re going to disappear?”
My inner dialogue says: No, I’m afraid she will.
My reply to her: “Haha, something like that.” I crawl back into bed, fingertips tracing over my features in an attempt to memorize myself.
The next morning, I’m searching for her again. My impossibly thin eyebrows and small forehead. My almond shaped eyes. Is this what she looks like?
I had always imagined my biological mother to have sensitive eyes, a sorrowful smile and a heavy heart — or maybe, I’m just imagining a version of me. Maybe I cling to a thought of what I’d want her to be. I try to reach her. I try to search for her. But she only comes to me in my dreams. Once upon a dream her voice hollow and profound pulsated into my bones like a sonar but she never finds me. Night after night I dream of oceans upon oceans complete with bountiful love that would sweep up the broken pieces of my heart.
Eyes fixated on myself in the mirror. Is this what she looks like?
I know that my physical being presents as being feminine. The gut-wrenching feelings of dysphoria weave in and out like waves, but they are manageable (sometimes). I ID as nonbinary — this existence between existences. An in-between feeling. My transition has been more of a social transition. My pronouns are they/them/their. I go by a name that feels right to me. I wear clothes that feel good to me, and so on.
But my face — the one that I am searching for, the one that belongs to her, I’ll never change its appearance. Because it’s the only thing I have that connects me to my birth mother. I’ll use my face as a map to find her. People will look at me and lead me to her. I’ll use my hair as a compass to find her. Each strand of my hair has its place, each curl, and wave pattern, belong. I’ll use my hair as my guiding star to lead me to her, surely she’ll know it’s me at first glance. She’ll know that I’m the one. I’m the one she loved and had to leave behind.
So, I won’t change anything about me, but until then I live inside this body of singing despair. I don’t really belong to this body (I don’t know what it means to belong). I go from not feeling I belong to this body to feeling this is my miracle of existence, but I know that I will always belong to her, eternally.
In her eyes, I search for myself.
medina is a Honduran nonbinary trans adoptee with Cerebral Palsy who lives in NYC. They will be receiving an MFA in Writing for Children at The New School. As a New School Impact Entrepreneur Graduate Fellow, their venture is to create inclusive youth-led safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ POC.