Burning Daylight

A friend’s comments about burning daylight* are circling around my head.

I’m sitting with my drag mother, Nikki, for what may well be the last time. More than six decades of a hard life are coming to a head. She’s been ill health for a couple years — AIDS, diabetes, kidney problems, a couple of mild strokes and a mild heart attack a couple week ago. She just beat pneumonia, but now she’s not eating and it looks like her body is just shutting down. (Postscript: Nikki died the following morning.)

It’s been a complicated relationship. Like a number of artists she’s been of a bit of a manic pixie dream girl — self-absorbed and self-centered, and generous to a fault. Street smart and oddly (and often charmingly) naive about the larger world — when I went to Antarctica last year, she wanted me to be sure to take my drag along in case there was a club where I could drop in and perform.

Pretty soon I’m going to leave so I can pack to go down to the OC straight from work tomorrow night, so I can celebrate Mom’s birthday. Off will come the nail polish, off will come the earrings. My hair that’s growing longer and longer, well that’s going to be hard to hide.

Many things will be left unsaid. ‘Tis our Scandinavian-German heritage at work. But I also won’t mention that I’ve got a second wardrobe crammed in my suitcase. That I’m not actually going to the airport Sunday night. That I’m doing my first facial feminization surgery consultation on Monday, since there’s a surgeon in Beverly Hills who looks promising. That I’m in far different place then when I came out to her a couple years ago as “just a cross-dresser.”

I tell myself that I don’t want to raise where I am today until I know myself where I’m going. That it’s harder for people to see the real me if I tell them that I’m more comfortable as a women, but then spend at least another year or two living as a man (at least as far as they see).

There’s truth in that. But it’s also true I’m a bit afraid to update her. She was supportive after my initial coming out — but it’s always felt like there’s a bit of an undercurrent of don’t ask don’t tell. She’s 82, from a different generation. She may be supportive but worried about what her friends will think.

I want to be patient, I need to be patient. Things are going to take time. No way around that. But damn I wish I were past them, that I was starting a new life in the off-world colonies, instead of watching the daylight burn.

* A film industry slang term. Used as a way to tell actors and crew to hurry up as natural daylight wanes. Since the sun’s position and quality changes throughout the day, sunlit shoots can be challenging to match later in editing, so it’s important to get scenes done efficiently.