Stoke Factor: 8
Miserableness Factor: 5
Snot Rockets Blown: 0
Avg Speed: 0mph
In the morning, Billy Ray (William) and I overslept through his 6am alarm. The idea was to be at the diner by 7, so he could get to work by 8. The diner was on the east side of town, on my route, and was going to make for a perfect landing point for me to begin a push from North Platte to Lexington so I could stay with a host I met on Warm Showers. Of course, because we neglected to be up in time, that idea went right out the window. He still offered to take me to the diner.
On the ride there, nothing was awkward. We had a calm and quiet morning. I wondered how many Tinder dates let their meetups stay overnight, and beyond that, how many of them would drive them so far in the morning. We talked about famous transgender porn stars- I named a few of my favorites: Sarina Valentina, Jane Marie, Natalie Mars, and of course Kimber James. He seemed to have an affinity for Christy Mack, a star whose name I didn’t recognize. He said I reminded her of him because of the shaved side of my head. Although my breasts were merely a small B cup, she had a vagina when I didn’t, and I had no idea how to do anything in the sack besides sleep, the comparison was appreciated. At some point, seeing transgender porn stars made me jealous. Just for once in my life it would be awesome to know I was desirable.
The world seems to tolerate me. I watch as people fumble over calling me “he” or “she” and look back as if I owe them a thank you when they get it right. I feel the awkward tension when a stranger calls me a “he” and nobody corrects them. I’m the subject of a million and one different arguments on Facebook by people who have never met me. It amazes me how people will gladly watch transgender porn and call the stars females even though their dicks flop against their thighs in a close-angled high definition shot, yet will call me “he” even though they have no idea what I’m packing. The double standards are ever present in my every day life.
Billy Ray didn’t have a problem with my gender, not even from the moment we met. Part of me thinks it was because he had it in his mind he wanted to hook up with a woman, but the optimist in me said that he was just a genuine human. After hearing his stories of his past, the latter had to be true- didn’t it?
We showed up to the Lincoln Highway Diner and he walked me inside. He wasnt going to be eating with me, but had the decency to shiw me inside and make sure I was safe. I told him that being at a local place alone made me uncomfortable, but he assured me I would be fine. Part of me wanted to kiss him goodbye, I so badly wanted to. That magnetic feeling you get in a departing sequence wasn’t there- he was handing off his one night stand to the world. As someone with no plans to revisit Nebraska, he had the ultimate situation, minus the fact that in the grand scheme of everything his existence was cemented in the words of my blog and eventual book. When people meet me, or research my adventure before they do, I wondered what kinds of mental preparations they had to go through knowing that at some point I was going to write about them. Even in the most innocent of occasions, I could point out a wrinkle in their shirt or a fingernail that neglected to be cut- I could write about their undying generosity and still find an obscure fact to relate to a horrifying segment in my past. I never planned or took notes, I just wrote at the end of a day and as I reflected in my brain the thoughts pour out in my typing. Rest assured, any negativity perceived by me is merely a fabrication of my own negative entity. The positivity I share is a post mortem effect of living each day depressed on my own being and choosing not to dwell on it.
CNN had an issue with my writing as well. Even though I meant well, my snobbish and hilarious-only-to-me way of writing revealed to be too much, and too close. Though I was told it was a money issue that my story was dropped, I couldn’t help but to believe that the bonded friendship ran sour because of the words I made public. I could never be a journalist- given any sort of stage I could make a fundraiser for 8 year old terminal cancer patients look like a slaughter house for neglected bovine.
I was never good at sex. The idea of using what the universe decided would be my reproductive parts disgusted me in most aspects. I spent a lot of my time in college snuggling with women and telling my friends I fucked their brains stupid. The first time I was ever with a man was rape and that set a precedent for how I wound treat it in the future: on my back and wailing. Being a transgender female and being with women was infinitely more comfortable. The soft touch of their fingers and the million places to lay my hands while we explored each other was always more exciting. Nothing was ever expected of me with women- I sought women who would not only take care of me like they would a child on a sick day, but would act in their most comfortable sexual manner while I learned the ropes. For all intents and purposes, beyond 3rd base, I was a dead fish.
I snapped a selfie with Billy Ray to commemorate a first: I successfully used 2017 technology to meet a stranger, stay at their house, and recharge everything I needed when the plan was to camp behind a department store. What an amazing world. The waitress asked me, “how many in your party?”
“Calleigh Little: Party of One.”
I looked over the menu. I wasn’t even hungry. I didn’t want to spend money on food. My Warm Showers host offered to pick me up in North Platte and I accepted. A rest day was always welcome. Since I couldnt justify sitting at a diner for an indefinite amount of time while only drinking coffee, I decided to order the first thing on the menu that was under $10: a “loaded” ham and cheese omelette. I asked what the difference between a loaded omelette and a normal one was, but even though she told me, I wasn’t sure I understood. I ordered it anyways. Staring at my phone, I listened as a group of older men enjoyed each other’s company a few tables away. “Probably talking about me,” I thought. Why else would they be laughing?
Across my own table sat my backpack. It was taller than I was while sitting at the booth. After a night of completely misguided intercourse, I took the only thing that has ridden my back out for a date. I found it to be poetic. “She’ll have the marmalade with her pancakes,” I joked to myself. Since I had all the time in the world while I waited for my host to drive an hour west towards me, I took my time on breakfast.
Somehow I managed to fit in that I was skateboarding across the country into conversation with my waitress. Once I told her that, she kept coming back to make sure I had everything I needed. She told me Lexington was about 50 miles away. I already knew that, but it was a fantastic segue that worked in the past to arbitrarily bring up why I was carrying a 40 pound backpack and a skateboard into a diner.
The food was great. To date, I had never been disappointed by a breakfast meal. That statistic still stood. Every diner was different in their own quirky way, but that particular diner took the cake for the most presentable. In fact, since it was attached to an airport (a regional airport- the first lighted airfield in history), it really stood out. Any passenger who landed their must have stopped in. It was too attractive not to.
Once I felt like my time holding a table for 4 was up, I packed my things and headed outside. I had no idea where to go- my host wasnt going to arrive until noon. It was 10am. I chose to visit the North Platte library. I figured they would have computers I could use to catch up on blog posts. Truthfully, I just wanted to apply for health insurance. I wished I could put in words the torture it was to not have my hormones. Maybe later.
I successfully passed the part of the process my phone wouldn’t allow me to do, but both the language and messiness of the site map had me confused. I put it on hold for the time being. I had to go to the bathroom, but was tasked with choosing whether to go into the right bathroom (women’s) or the wrong one (men’s) because of my grotesque appearance. In truth, over the course of the time I spent at the library, I went into both.
Gendering bathrooms will never cease to amaze me. Both bathrooms were exactly the same, save the fact that the men’s toilet was on the left of the room and the women’s was on the right. It made no sense to me- if it was a single toilet room, why bother gendering it at all? If a man shit in there, and then a woman, it would still smell like shit.
Eventually my host, Bryan, came up the stairs and introduced himself to me. I wrapped up my activities on the internet and walked with him to his car. The air was brisk, but the day was good. I had ahead of me a solid rest day. Bryan started by taking me to a local fast food chain called Runza. I had no idea what culture Runza was, the food was wildly obscure compared to anything I had ever eaten. I had the original sandwich, and Bryan paid for it.
First, we visited an old train station, but it was closed. There was a zoo in the same park. Zoos often confused me- especially that one. In it were baby bison, elk, and deer. There was no suggestions as to why they were caged up. I questioned whether a coyote or other predator could jump in and kill any of the animals because it was an unmanned zoo, but Bryan assured me that any of those animals could whoop a coyote into oblivion. I thought long and hard about my previous experience with a coyote- I fed it right out of my hand. Over all, after traveling 4 states completely alone, my general summation of coyotes was that they were essentially the worst predators ever.
The tour continued. We visited the golden spike or whatever it was called at the railroad station and it was wildly underwhelming. In fact, it was neither golden nor a spike. Railroads and how they were managed was such a complicated procedure, yet somehow with minimal men seemingly working outside everything ran smoothly. The sounds screeched into my ears. Bryan was mostly quiet when not explaining the intricacies of the railroad system. He had a vast knowledge of the going-ons and I was happy to learn. More interesting than his knowledge of the area we were in, was his story of how he had a stroke just 5 years prior. In truth, I never met anybody who ever had a stroke. I knew nothing about what they even were. It was curious to me how easy it was to fall into my own bubble of knowledge- the adventure so far had taught me that even with everything I knew, I didn’t know it all.
We went to Bryan’s favorite Chinese buffet restaurant. Such a sight, being so far north and seeing Mexicans working at a Chinese buffet making sushi. Nebraska was a weird melting pot of cultures that never had any business matching. The Catholic Mexicans existed in their own world behind the Mormon influence that stained everything in sight. Religion was lost on me. I saw myself as the reason to continue pushing, I had no interest in thanking anyone besides my mother for my life, and no entity ever granted me anything I hadn’t worked for. I supposed that when you looked out your window in the morning and saw nothing for miles in any direction, it would be easier to look up and see God. In my experience, the only thing I ever saw was the person on the subway nudging me to close my legs so they could have extra room.
The food at the buffet was okay-at-best. No matter where I was in America, all Asian food seemed to taste the same unless it was a special hot pot or Pho restaurant. I tried the sushi and cringed to think that the nearest ocean was back home in San Diego or Boston. I wondered how anyone could market fish as “fresh” or sell it raw when the only fish that could be reasonable would have been a catfish. I ate it anyways. I ate a lot of it. I missed sushi with all of my heart. The last girl I dated and I always went out for Pho or sushi, and sometimes even lobster or crab. It became obvious to me that no matter who my next date was, we would have to live somewhere where the fishing was good- a life without sushi was no life at all.
Bryan took me an hour’s drive back to his home in Lexington. I carefully stared over the ground as we drove so I could see what kind of skate I was missing out on. It was no different than the days before- long, straight, and flat with wide shoulders and choppy pavement in the towns. Though I could have done the skate with no issue, my knee had begun to act up. All those miles pushing on one leg and holding myself (and a 40 pound bag) up with the other caused a bruising in my knee. A glutton for pain, I had ignored it until the very last second, along with the fact that my shoes wore down to my sock. I was essentially using an awkward pushing technique as to not land the ball of my foot on the pavement, which onset the knee pain. I was grateful for a day off.
He drove me to his work, an ethanol plant. Basically they would take corn, turn it into ethanol, ship it off, and then sell the corn as feed. Most of his explanation was lost on me, but it was a cool tour. He used to do the hands on work and knew the plant inside and out. Nowadays he worked in the lab, which was not his favorite place to be. You could hear the excitement in his voice as he took me around- he was a man dedicated to everything around him.
Bryan and I got back to his home in Lexington, Nebraska and I got comfortable. He asked me what movie I wanted to watch but it didn’t matter to me. After a long night with Billy Ray and a long day of standing and sitting, I was struggling to keep my eyes open. Bryan offered to let me stay until Tuesday and drive me to Grand Island. I couldn’t stay until Tuesday. If I did, it would have set me back on days of skating. However, one more day of rest couldn’t hurt.
On the TV was The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. I couldn’t believe I never heard of it before. It came out decades ago, featuring famous Australian actors I had no idea had earlier careers than anything I saw before. It was about two drag queens and a transgender woman, driving a bus (Priscilla) over the indigenous lands and conquering bigotry with their flamboyant showmanship. I was enthralled to watch it. It was part musical and part coming-of-age story. Though Bryan put it on because of my own transness, I appreciated the sentiment to let me know that he was accepting. He revealed to me his own bisexuality- something I never expected out in cornfield-full Nebraska, but I was beginning to gather that people of all walks of life existed everywhere. He told me that I made him feel comfortable. That made me happy. Being a person others feel they can be themselves around was important to me.
The movie kept me awake and I felt like a better person for having watched it. Bryan had to work in the morning, and stayed up with me to watch it. After agreeing that it was a great movie, he said goodnight and I passed out on the couch. I rested well knowing I had another day of rest ahead of me.
Waking up in the morning, Bryan had already gone out and walked his dog, Dixie. Dixie was a stray that he took in. It was obvious how much love there was between them. Since Bryan lived alone (minus the squatter living upstairs) he put his emotional stock into his dog. Being a stroke survivor and losing the mobility of most of his left side, the dog was patient with him. I loved watching their bond.
For my rest day, Bryan wanted company to go see Thor: Ragnarok in theaters. Though I figured sometime in the future I could watch it from the comfort of my own bed, I was happy to do more on my rest day than lay around. It was the first day in a long time I did anything besides lay around or skate insane distances. Prior to the movie, we ate gyros at a place in Kearney. It never ceased to humor me that the town was pronounced “carnie,” and the students there attended Kearney College. In my head I amused myself by thinking that the biggest majors there were acrobatics and being a rodeo clown. Or, how to properly manipulate a person walking to a ferris wheel into popping 3 ballons with a dart to win the big stuffed animal prize.
The movie was humorous. We shared a popcorn and a root beer over the movie. Since it was my first time in a theater literally since Aliens: Covenant came out, I felt the strain of being in a seat for too long. Part way through I had to get up and stretch my legs. That same pain tortured me on my bus ride to Cheyenne- my body hated being in a sitting position. I wondered how I was ever able to handle the driving job I used to have. Not only was I prone to being narcoleptic if not constantly amused, but the action of sitting strained me more than skating a 50 mile day did.
Bryan toured me around Kearney after the movie. We went to the Nebraska Museum of Art, a new installation that replaced the post office since it had moved down the street, and the Classic Car Museum. Both were entertaining. We also visited the Nebraska Stage Stop- a very different Stage Stop than the one in Boise. I fell in love at the one in Boise, but at the one in Nebraska I got showered in “he” pronouns by the women working.
I enjoyed the museums, but all of the standing strained my knee. I wondered how much worse it could get. We visited a local pizza place and ordered two personal pizzas. Bryan’s had much more flavor than my own. I wanted to be back on his couch watching a movie, in truth. Though I was entertained by how much we did that day, I couldn’t stand being in society anymore. Bryan even used “he” a few times when talking to other people about me. I wondered how ambiguous my gender truly was. I dreamed of the day I got to wear a dress again.
Back at Bryan’s after the drive back, he told me he would pay me to do some yard work for him and I agreed. That meant I signed up for another day of not skating. Since my knee was giving me issues, I didn’t think it would hurt. Besides, it was merely Friday and other than trying to make it to Boston before it got bitterly cold, I had all the time in the world. Bryan put. We put the new Ghostbusters movie on TV. Bryan thought I would like it because of the obvious feminist tones throughout the film, but I just enjoyed it face value. It was a well put together movie and was funny. Regardless, we repeated the same process of watching the tube and going to sleep. I iced my knee overnight, and the soothing feeling felt great. I dozed off after a long day of sight seeing Nebraska.
Waking up even later on the third day, I knew I had to get some work done. I was happy to know I wouls get to leave with some cash in my pocket- funds essentially started running low when I left Wyoming, because of the horrible days I needed a stay at a motel. My phone bill was coming up, and any extra cash in hand would enable me to make everything go just that much smoother.
We began by getting me on the roof. Bryan told me that water coming in through his chimney and needed to caulk it again and place a cover over the top. When I saw it with my own eyes, it was in complete disrepair. The brick was cracked and the mortar was chipping all over. Originally black, it was in a poor grey state. It came off with little energy using a putty knife, which was a poor sign. Instead of having all of the necessary materials, I sealed what I could with the roofing caulk to ensure that water wasn’t going to run inside of it. He didn’t even have a cover over it before- it was no wonder that water was getting inside. I screwed down the new piece on top. Looking at it, I was proud of my work. I also reminded myself of two things: 1) I had no interest in being a homeowner. The trivial pursuit of maintaining a dwelling space was lost on me. It was easier to carry my home on my back and use the kindness of others to take advantage of theirs. I would rather be homeless than throw money into things that weren’t built to last. 2) I had no interest in manual labor. To the same effect, I had no interest in white collar labor either. Working for other people just seemed like a waste of time. It was a big world out there, and to spend every day working for someone else’s dream was a waste of life.
I took to cleaning out the gutters after I finished the chimney. They were full of leaves and sediment. How sediment made its way to the gutter was lost on me. How the fuck did rocks get on the roof! My only assumption was that it was loosened bits of the shingles, but even still, the shingles seemed fine so it made no sense. With two pairs of vinyl gloves, I dumped the build up onto the grass and washed it out with the hose. They looked like new by the time I was done. I tried to fashion a bit of vinyl siding into a rain stop for the corner of his roof, but it proved to be difficult. I did my best by slicing and bending it, then struggled to screw it in place. Though it wasn’t my finest work, I was way over it and was happy with what I did. Bryan agreed.
We ate leftover pizza once I was finished. I wanted to spend some time writing blog posts but my entire being was exhausted. All of the days I spent freezing on the road caught up to my bones and the exhaustion was inescapable. Instead, I wrote some post cards to those that supported me. No matter what I said about when I planned to send them out, I truthfully had no plans to accomplish it. The knick knacks I bought at the stage stop seemed tacky when I wrote out the heart filled messages. I had no idea if I would ever actually give the gifts. Perhaps my words would just be enough.
Bryan watched college football while I wrote. Football was so unimportant to me. Watching other people do greatness while I sat in pain from my journey hurt my mind. I wanted to be back on the board, but that one additional day of rest was necessary. We ate leftover pizza from the night before, and chatted amongst ourselves. It was obvious Bryan had taken a liking to me. One thing he said stuck with me: “If I was 20 years younger I would take you just as you were.” He was talking about getting genital surgery, otherwise known in transgender circles as “confirmation surgery.” Of course, I had no desire to make use of my penis and every day it was a constant reminder that I was stuck somewhere between genders. I decided right then and there that if I was going to date men seriously, it would need to be with a man who had no desire of a penis on my person, and would instead see me entirely as a female. That person doesn’t exist.
My knee was feeling better; I was able to stand up straight without feeling the bruise. However, even if it wasn’t perget, that had to be my last rest day. The clocks were set back an hour and I lost daylight in the process. My days would have to begin earlier and end earlier as well. Before planning the adventure, I hadn’t counted on daylight savings whatsoever- nobody even warned me of it. Everyone was so focused on me being cold (which was the least of my issues, honestly) when the threat was how much time I could spend actually skating. Those days I anticipated 100 miles of board time were far off- I was wearing myself thin and tempting fate against the political entity called Daylight Savings Time.
Another movie played while I laid on my back, soaking in the final hours of rest before making a push to Grand Island. We watched Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Bryan was really into Marvel movies. Typically I was a movie person, but since I started spending every day outdoors my desire to stay up to date on films left me. I intently watched- it was my last day as a human of consumption, and back to the great outdoors I was summoned.
Mid-movie, we stepped out for dinner. The pizza had filled me up, but if I didn’t eat right then and there I wouldn’t get to eat at all for the rest of the night. Bryan paid for everything over the weekend. I felt lucky to have met him. He was a genuine man and really cared about making sure I was taken care of. Part of it felt like an attraction he had, but he was easily the most respectful person I ran into. Meeting Bryan was a sign that as I moved east, the acceptance of transgender people would change from none to some. We ate at “Los Jalapenos” and for whatever reason I took Bryan’s suggestion to get the hamburger. In all senses of the word, it was literally a burger and some ham on a him, with lettuce, avocado, cheese and mayonnaise. It reminded me of the “Hog” I ate back in Shoshone, Idaho. I was unable to finish my meal. The restaurant had one authentic Mexican working there, and when I tried to speak Spanish to another employee she didn’t understand me. I wondered if it was my bad Spanish, or if she didn’t speak it. Back in San Diego, I would always speak Spanish- it was a relevant tool to have to order food because of the proximity to Mexico. In Nebraska, it was useless. Everybody spoke English and there was minimal cultural influence to speak anything else.
Back to the movie, I zoned in and out as I dozed off. It was my final rest before setting back out into the cold. I was comfortable for the last time, halfway through my journey, and ready to move on to the rest of my adventure.