I have a client in my makeup chair. She has her eyes closed. My makeup brush gently caresses her eyelid. The dark pigment slowly turns her pale skin into a smoky shade of midnight. Her shoulders descend as she releases the stresses of the day. She takes a deep breath. It's clear to me that she is going through an internal transformation as I transform her outward appearance from male-to-female.
Her lips part as if to say something. She pauses. Still with eyes shut. She inhales and says "so, I had a weird dream the other night." She pauses yet again. I say "mmmhmm?" She finds reassurance in my utterance, and is off on her story telling adventure.
I am walking home from work one Autumn evening, she says. Both hands are holding grocery bags. These aren't any ordinary grocery bags. If you ask me, I would not be able to describe the physical objects inside the bags; however, I have a knowing of what each item inside the bags represent. I am carrying my youth, my responsibilities, my expectations, my aspirations, my social status, everything that I have accumulated over the years, THAT which makes me believe I am, and need to continue being, the person that I am.
It is a long walk home and the bags start to get really heavy. I begin to talk to myself. I ask myself why am I doing this? I tell myself this is ridiculous. Wouldn't it be easier to hail a cab? This way someone else can help me ease the burden of carrying all these things home with me. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other, as if I am on autopilot. Old habits die hard.
That's when I hear a stern voice. This time the voice doesn't come from within me. In front of me is a shadowy figure holding a gun to my face. "This is a stick-up" he says with a desperate tone in his voice. I freeze. My heart starts to race. My hands clench the bags even tighter. I feel as if my world is about to change.
The voice demands that I put my hands up. I hesitate. I don't want to give up everything I've worked so hard to attain. How would I ever regain everything which meant so much to me?
I feel time slow down to a crawl. I know now that if I don't surrender it may be the end of me. I gently lower the heavy bags to the ground, and I gracefully raise my hands over my head. In an instant the shadowy figure is gone, and with it my bags.
Instantly I feel a great sense of loss. I beat myself up for not putting up a fight. I am distraught. The sadness turns into anger and when my heart reaches a point where it can no longer beat any faster I begin to sob.
I lower my hands to my side. I draw my gaze to the ground where my bags were once sitting. I look at my feet that are still there and plea them to please take me home.
I blink and realize that once again one foot is going in front of the other. I don't know how I find myself still walking home. This time my hands are empty. I start to feel lighter. Although I mourn my loss with every step my feet take I know that the unfortunate event that happened to me is now in the past.
I reach the twelve steps to my front door. I climb them one by one. I stick my key in the lock, turn my wrist, and slowly push the door open. I am home. That's when I woke up, feeling grateful for still being alive.
By the time my client is done telling her dream saga I have finished her makeover. She no longer resembles the burly man who had walked into my studio. She opens her eyes and stares into the mirror. She sees a beautiful woman that is very happy to be alive. She is home.