This is the post excerpt.


journeys….. we all take them… could i ask, can life be considered one long journey or just a multitude of small journeys… and at the end of a journey always lies the destination… is that what we seek in these journeys, in our life, this so-called destination….
over the past hundreds of years thousands of voyagers have walked the “Camino de Santiago”, a pilgrimage also known as “The Way of St. James”… is the sole purpose of this pilgrimage to reach the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain…. no for a pilgrimage can be defined as a journey or more importantly a search of moral or spiritual significance….. what we find and gain everyday of this journey, that is the reward we carry with us for the rest of life, not the final steps to our destination…

this blog i will write will be about journeys… the journey i take this summer in Alaska… but also about a journey i waited a lifetime to take in life…. i invite you to walk with me… the pages that follow will be my thoughts, lessons i learned, my hopes and also my disappointments, my happiness and my pain….
it’s once been said a journey begins with the first step taken… this is my first step


“i miss you my friend”

Mar 17

i miss you my friend… i miss the solitude of those early mornings hours that we spent together… i would sit in my chair alone in the new day, still hours before the dawn, with just my thoughts…. if it wasn’t my dysphoria, it was the confusion and uncertainty of this new journey that i was on… i needed you then to help me and today i miss you… i miss the time we spent together… you my friend became the journal that i still write in, Songs of the Sirens….

now, for the most part, my nights are peaceful, i can sleep, when before my mind was awake, struggling with where i was heading… in those early morning hours you brought me answers to the thousands of questions i was asking… was i really transgender… i “came out” and with those words my whole world and Joanne’s world changed forever….. i could never take those words back again… the hours and days i cried before i began my therapy, before i really even knew what all this pain meant…. my tears, pain and frustration was endless…. i was emotionally falling apart and i needed answers and i needed help… you gave me a person who would hold my hand, and still holds my hand… you gave me Mary, my therapist…. i searched and found psychological testing sites that would give me the answers that i wanted… yes there really was a feminine side deep within me as Mary told me there was… i took those tests time and time again to reassure myself that yes i was transgender… i remember, early in my therapy when i had to go in for psychological testing with a psychiatrist… i was so afraid that the test would not confirm what i wanted it to say… each question i answered, i answered carefully as it might lead to the final conclusion in any number of ways… i felt so fragile… i wanted the answer to be that i was transgender… being transgender then was the reason for this dysphoria, it wasn’t in my mind…

i found a site, “The Transgender Channel”… how many times did i listen to the words that really confirmed to me that i was transgender… i began to find out more about this journey i was embarking on…. yes it was one thing now to be transgender, but the really hard part would be how do i present myself in my assigned gender… there was so much i had to learn, simple things as just how to fold my hands, how to sit with my legs…. hour after hour i would sit in our silence and practice these new tasks… how does a woman walk… my shoulders, arms, hands, hips, my new gait, all this i had to learn, and you my friend were always there to help me… and the funny thing, i am now in my fourth year of my journey and i still look for these answers… my eyes are restless as every woman i see might have another answer i’m searching for…

HRT… i wanted this so bad… with this, my journey would really begin…. would my marriage even allow me to really take the journey i so desperately wanted, so desperately  nee4ded…. our marriage was falling apart…. my world was in total disarray… i was transgender and i wanted to to take the steps of being transgender… arguments… silence as i sat with my anger… silence as i would not talk to her as i was so afraid my world was collapsing all around me… and all i had was you my friend and those quiet morning hours to keep me sane…. i knew HRT would be a direction i had to take…

and friend you helped me discover what it meant to be this new label that i would wear for the rest of my life….

and with this label i now had to learn to be the entity  that i really was…. there was so much i needed to know, and in those quite morning hours you held my hand and gave me my answers….i had and still have a folder, with all the internet links, links that gave me the knowledge that i so desperately needed…. and in those quiet hours of the morning that folder and all those links w2ere my lifeline…

i sat with you and shared all the first steps that i took, for i wanted to remember everything, i promised myself i would write all my thoughts so i would remember all of it, the pain, the tears and all the joys…

beginning HRT and how it silenced my life-long dysphoria only to bring on countless of other problems that i didn’t know i had to fight… but you were there with me, my friend, and we fought each battle together and celebrated every step we took…

besides you my friend, with every step i took i bought something to physically remind me of the steps i took… today i still wear my silver chain with three simple charms on them, a pearl, a heart and a disc with the letter “t” etched on it… this was my first gift to this beautiful person i wanted, no i needed to be, the person who i called tess… it was the first Thanksgiving in my journey when in the early hours of that dawn i searched for “her” name with you my friend, a name i wanted for the rest of my life…. i still love to wear my very first bracelet, a bracelet filled with pearls, for pearls is the birthstone of both jules and tess…. and you my friend were there to help me find that gift….  and when i began my HRT i bought a Brighton bracelet with the words “Embrace the Journey” that i wear everyday to remind me never to take this journey or any day within it for granted… and when “her” name became official, Joanne bought me a simple bracelet with a heart and the name “tess” on it… these are things that are dear to me and i carry them with me everyday of this journey…

and you were with me friend as i searched for all the answers… the books we looked for in those quiet morning hours that i prayed would have more answers for my journey…. 

i’ll never forget my first summer in this journey, alone on the Coral Princess, 5 months into my HRT but everyday i had to be “him”…. the tears i cried that summer and all i had was you my friend to listen to my tears… i recorded every tear on the pages that we spent together…. that was the summer when “the Poetry of Songs of the Sirens” really came to be….

when i began this journey all i knew was that i really was a female…i didn’t even have the faintest idea of everything this journey would involve…. i searched for every answer and every step i thought i had to take and i did it all with you my friend… as my body slowly healed after countless surgeries you were always there as a witness for the pain, and the joy of each of those steps…

and now today… 4 years within this journey, and with all my surgeries and procedures behind me i miss the time we spent together every morning… i still need you though… my demons are still with me, with me everyday as is the joy of being tess…. but rarely now do i share with you all of this… i can sleep good at night and because of that my peaceful nights have stolen the time we spent together…

have i grown that much that i don’t need your hand anymore… i hope not, for i love you and i loved all that time we spent together… so all i can say now is that i love and miss you my friend but never think you are forgotten

tess julianna  3/17/20

thoughts written to a dear friend…. my journal…
thank you Mary for telling me to journal through this journey… my journal has helped me so much with my journey… it has been read often, always showing me the gains i made in my journey but also reminding me of all my tears…

the pages were empty..
without ones hands to gently turn
to stop and linger in thoughts
be they of pain or happiness…
you were unfilled
alone and empty like my broken spirit…
and then came my words

you didn’t care if they were words of pain or love
you never judged
but always accepted…
you knew my words were honest
the pain it was real,
for the tears would stain your pages…..
you taught me to hold on tight
when i was falling
being broken by ugly thoughts….
pain was all i felt for many of your pages
but you said “hold on tight you must”
for there was always another page
waiting for that smile
you promised….. just write one more page

all those words…..
pages and pages of silent words
never felt, but by your soul
and of those countless pages of words
you taught me to believe
that tears could be wiped from crying eyes
and my broken heart could mend….
you told my hand
never tire,
you must go on
find those words amongst the many
for the words can heal,
they have that magic, if you believe,
and so the words continued to come….
you told me honesty can hurt,
it will stain these pages with painful tears
but write the truth
with all its pain for then the words can change
and the tears can dry
and words of joy can start to fill these pages.

today i looked at the words
and like always tears were felt…
my heart it ached
but as the words continued to fall
i realized you were right,
you promised me,
you never lied…
today these pages had joy,
joy i never knew
and as i write my tears they rain
tears of joy
tears that wash away the pain
tears that know that the many empty waiting pages
can and will be filled,
filled with beautiful words….
oh my friend
with this tired pen
and all my words,
pages and pages of words,
you hold them dear…
never oh never let them fade
but let them rest in peace
if you will,
i love those words
because with them you showed me how to smile
so i write….
thank you my dear friend
jtalarico 4/13/2016

“always the question”

i was subbing… a student was looking at me… trying to figure it all out… i felt his eyes as i walked around the classroom…. there was a conversation.. misgendered… an apology.. misgendered… i softly told my secret… he smiled as it now made sense….
but i think no matter where i go there will always be that question….
it can bury you…. steal your happiness, time and time again… and will i ever not care…
that’s the question i’ll always ask

“the question”

i felt your eyes
with always that question,
that question in your eyes….
there was not the hate
just the question
always the question
always the question….

your smile was warm
but it was your eyes,
your eyes that captured my soul
and i felt your question
always that question…
and in that room were others
and did we share the same reflection
no for my reflection carried that question
always that question
always that question

and as i weaved my way through that day
i saw so many eyes
but many of those eyes
lost within their private world
lost within their world…
and because of that
did i even exist
for it could of been anyone standing there….
and anybody standing there
anybody standing there
would of never felt
never felt the question
always the question

at times the day was flooded
flooded with laughter
flooded with smiles
but in that frame of time
it didn’t matter if you had that question
always that question
for i like to think you saw her spirit
her joy of “just being”
and because of that joy
and because of her joy
the question really didn’t matter
bit i still wonder
i will always wonder
was the question there
was the question there

tess julianna 3/9/19

“a dream unfolds”

March 15, 2019

these were the words written as a dream i held began to unfold right before my eyes… i also include the words that i write now trying to have those days back again…

March 14, 2018


i want to remember every moment of today…. going in for my pre-op appointment today i really knew that this wasn’t just another broken dream, no this was my miracle actually taking place…  i walked through the door into Dr. Meltzer and Dr. Ley’s office wanting to remember my feelings and my thoughts, every detail…. i remembered the first time i walked into this office, i was going for a consultation just for my testicles to be removed… this surgery was just a dream i felt i never could achieve, Joanne could never accept… but the feelings of being in this office, a place where dreams and miracles would happen held me in awl…. and since that day i have walked through these door many times and aways with this day in mind…. 

after Joanne and i checked into her hotel we went to Fashion Plaza, i went because i wanted to get something so that i would always remember today and there was a Brighton store to help me remember today… i bought two charms for my charm bracelet, one saying “Dream Big” and another saying “Life is Beautiful”, both will always remind me of this dream and how beautiful life is….. 

my thoughts today brought many tears of joy, moments when all this would really hit me…. my mind flies from one thought to the next, always with tomorrow in mind…. i laid out my clothes for tomorrow when i will report for my surgery…. i will wear an outfit of sweats, and i bought these in mind just for tomorrow.. i have read and reread my directions for tonight, i’ve examined everything in my big black bag given to me with everything i will need after my surgery… and yes in there were my dilators, something that i will hold in my hands doing a procedure i must do now everyday for the rest of my life……  and with all this i keep thinking how beautifully my body will have changed after tomorrow…. and in all honesty i am amazed at how excited i am that i will really have my new and beautiful breast…

and i think of the amazing circle of friends that i have standing with me and sharing in my miracle… i’ve never felt this much love from so many people before… to know that so many people feel that i am special, that i may have touched their life in some special way… “he” was a beautiful person and i only wish “he” could of felt all this love that i feel today…. in a way it’s so sad that transition causes these feelings… i know that jules will always be a part of me, but i know also that am no longer jules… and i wonder does Joanne still feel “his” essence as much as i do at times…. and i know with this surgery a physical part of “him” will be taken away forever… a face that Joanne once loved so dearly is being taken apart piece by piece…. “his” body is losing the reflection that Joanne loved to see, only to be replaced with a dream “he” held for a lifetime… once again i keep taking and Joanne silently loses…..

Mar 13

if i could have those days back, i would take them back in a minute…. without a doubt they were the most beautiful days in my life…. a dream i held for so long was really going to happen…. for the past month all i could think of was my upcoming surgery and the days that would follow… it didn’t matter what i was doing, i had only one thing on my mind…. but it’s a year later and those special days are now gone… they will never come back again, just like your youth, they are gone forever…. 

a year ago tonight my bags were packed and all i had to do was wait till the morning…. i had carefully picked out the outfit i would wear for my pre-op appointment with Dr. Ley… i wanted everything to be just right…

and today a year later i once again picked out a special outfit for my appointment with Dr. Ley….. today my appointment wasn’t a pre-op appointment but my first annual internal exam with Dr. Ley…. 

there are moments in life that are so special and beautiful… i cry because i want them all back again and i can never have them back…  i don’t even think about the pain that i felt in the days, and even months that would follow….  the healing process was slow and long but the miracles i ask Dr. Ley to do in those two days of surgery i knew would be worth the pain….

and today a year later my body has healed….. there is no more swelling on my face…. the swelling and soreness in my newly created vagina is gone and now instead of dilating 4 times a day, as i did those last few days in the hospital, i dilate every other day and without any pain or discomfort….. and i love my smile and the sparkle in my eyes and i guess it’s just because finally i really love the entity that i am…. 

March 15,2018  (3AM)

today is really here, a day i prayed for and waited for, i waited for a lifetime, actually it was two lifetimes…”he” had this dream, but it was always just a broken dream, a dream that caused “his” heart to break a thousand times over every time “he” looked at “his” reflection in the mirror”, it” was always there, there to remind “him” that prayers and dreams are useless, your fate was cast and you never had a chance to scream no… a thousand times you crossdressed behind locked doors just trying to get a second of happiness, a second without the pain and frustration but all you ever got was just more pain and tears…. and how many times did i stand in a shower to cleanse my soul and my hand would grab my fate and try to erase that image, tucking it behind my legs, hiding it so that as i looked down all i saw was a reflection that i would never have……. 

“….and every night I lied in bed. the brightest colors would fill my head with a million dreams but all they were, were just dreams….and i would think of what MY WORLD COULD BE……. but i learned early in life that dreams were just made to be broken…..

but tonight i could not sleep because dreams do happen and prayers are answered and yes there are fairy godmothers that grant little girl all their dreams and wishes….  

and how many mornings have i sat in these early hours of each new day writing words, words to heal my soul and dry my tears…. always this day was there in my mind, but it was just a dream i was trying to believe in, trying to believe that dreams are not always broken… many mornings i sat with tears as i tried so hard to believe in my journey… i learned that i had to shed a thousand tears to wash away my pain, but in the end i did just that…. every tear i cried now has allowed my dream to grow, to grow so today i can cry out to the world that yes “this is me” and no you did not break me down or wash my dreams away and yes “today” will happen, it’s not just another dream… 

in two hours i will finally walk into that hospital and prep for my dream to be granted… and how many countless smiles and hugs will i carry with me, friends that believe in who i am, that helped me dry my tears and wash away my pain, friends that have me in their thoughts and prayers for this day…. and i walk into this dream with my God, believing and not questioning, filled with prayers of praise and thanks…

and holding a hand that i have held for a beautiful 46 years, a hand that has shown me what unconditional love really means….

Mar 15, 2019

i don’t know how this story will end… i remember a beginning… and there are chapters within this story that i could read time and time again… and in one of those chapters there are the most beautiful pages in this story…

March 15, 2018… i could relive moments in that day forever, forever because never have i’ve felt such a happiness,  such an excitement for the hours ahead… and within these pages are the moments when a dream i held for a lifetime unfolded right before my eyes…. i capture this moment, this paragraph just a few hours before my gender reassignment surgery… i was in our hotel and we were getting ready to ride over to the hospital….the smile, the happiness in my eyes are worth a million words and to this day ,


IMG_1440 - 2018-03-15 at 05-04-29.jpg



 this photo will always be my favorite.  the days that followed i can remember, i remember laying in my hospital bed wrapped in a celebration, yes there was pain as my body had just been through over 10 hours of surgery… two facial procedures, my reassignment surgery and only 3 days later i would have my breast augmentation surgery… all the pain really wasn’t a factor for my happiness overshadowed all that pain….

and today i cry, i cry because i want those moments back… moments that had the most joyful happiness i will ever experience…. letting go of these moments is hard for me… it always has been… and that why today i’m crying… but the tears are for those beautiful pages.. pages in what is a beautiful story… 

and so i struggle… these are my demons today

tess julianna   3/15/19


i’m so sorry

Feb 25

i was sitting down getting ready to play my guitar… my eyes were captured by a photo on a shelf of my bookcase right where i was sitting… the shelves of my bookcases are filled with golden moments that were captured by my camera… and the photo that caught my eyes had “him” sitting on the tailgate of his truck… he loved that truck…  his smile was framed by his salt and pepper beard… sunglasses hid his eyes… his arms tense by his side showed the muscular definition that he always carried with him… he exercised continuously throughout his life to maintain that definition… he looked happy… why wouldn’t he… he was sitting in his truck and it was loaded for one of his countless adventures he pursued…..

today i look at many of these photos and they all brings sadness to my heart… in so many ways i loved being jules but there was always that dysphoria that ripped that happiness apart… i can look at any of these photos and even though they all show his smile, none of these photos were able to capture the pain and endless frustration he always carried with him… i often wonder what “his” life would of been like if gender dysphoria was not his cross to bear…. and the sad thing is i will never know…

today, as tess, i have never been happier in my life… living without that constant dysphoria is a blessing only a transgender will know…. today i am living a dream i carried in my heart all my life,  and every time i stand naked and smile at my reflection in the mirror, it’s confirmation that yes i am a woman…. today i can not even imagine living my life other than being tess…. being tess is being complete… it’s feeling beautiful.. it’s living with a constant parade of emotions that men have know idea what they are missing… 

once again my thoughts drift to that photo and my heart cries out, “why did i have to be jules only to become tess… both of their lives were raped of treasured moments because of my dysphoria….. i’m so sorry jules… i’m so sorry that you had to carry that pain…. that you had to live with that ”lost angel” crying to be set free….

and i can never thank you enough for letting her wings finally open and fly and letting g me find true happiness…

but it’s today, and i can never bring back or change the past

Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 7.42.17 AM

“2018… a year in reflection”

Jan 1

i am a little over 3 years old (from my “coming out”) yet i’m not even a year old (from my rebirth) and in this time span i’ve transitioned, struggled, cried more tears than ever before and felt an incredible sense of joy and happiness… i now know the joy of being the woman i always dreamed and prayed i would be…. i look in the mirror everyday now and see the smile and reflection i always prayed i would see…. yet there are times and days that my tears continue to flow….. so where am i today…. who am i today….

there is not a day that passes that i do not give thanks for the gift of being tess yet there is never a day that passes that i’m reminded of what i am, transgender.. do we all live within this chaotic rhythm of trying to maintain a balance in our new life and the gender assigned to us at birth…

i sit alone in a my chair, a chair that i sat in for countless mornings struggling to understand, learning how not to cry but instead to smile…. and today i sit and reflect over this past year, a year filled with growth and dreams fulfilled…. 

i have a photo on my dresser that i look at everyday and smile at… i took that photo on the morning of my gender reassignment surgery…. it’s my favorite photo i’ve ever taken of myself because i will never forget the joy i held in my heart, at that moment, knowing that in just a few hours a dream i held all my life would be fulfilled… it’s all there in that smile and the look in my eyes…. how many times do i lose myself in thought reliving the excitement i felt as i was being prepped for my surgery….. those nine days that i spent in Greenbaum Surgical Hospital were so beautiful, and often i wish i could return to my hospital bed so that i could relive the joy i felt during my stay there…. After that surgery, for the first time, i really not only felt, but believed my body was that of a woman…. and now that all my surgeries are over my body can finally heal… and in these past three years i’ve put an incredible amount of stress on my body while i transitioned….  emotionally and physically this has been so hard on my body…. i often think, is the hardest part of transitioning over, or does it really never end…. i always felt that transitioning literally sucked the life out of me and now i just want to live the life i’ve always dreamed of living…. finally i am doing that in so many ways and in that sense i believe there is an end to your transition….

if i was to pick a favorite part of each and every day in my new life it would have to be standing in front of my bathroom mirror every morning doing my makeup….  i not only love these moments but i also treasure this simple process, for it’s a process that validates that yes i am a woman… it’s mo longer the act that i did countless times behind a locked door with shame and fear…. i did that for a lifetime in my youth as i sat on that little wooden chair in front of my mother’s vanity or i stood before a bathroom mirror… i smile because today that vanity sits in “my” bedroom and i’m allowed to sit there any time i want without feeling any guilt or frustration…. this ritual of doing my makeup i love… i love the scent of my powder as i apply it to my face, the feel of my makeup brushes on my now feminine complexion…. i treasure every single bit of this… these are the precious moments that i cried just to be able to enjoy and i pray,  i pray i never take this gift for granted because i will never let myself forget all those countless times i silently walked by cosmetic counters in my life time, feeling my heart ache with a pain and frustration that simply ripped me apart… 

sometimes when i’m out running my daily errands i will find myself looking at a certain storefront…. the store is
“Ultra” and i remember when the first store opened in our area…. i would silently, and in a forest of guilt, walk by their display windows crying and wishing i could just open those doors and walk through them without a moments thought… the thousand of stolen glances i would steal hoping and praying no one saw the secret in my eyes…. today i will wear the most beautiful smile and simply walk through those doors because now i can and it’s a part of being a woman that i love….  it’s these simple moments that i hold so dear in my new life and there are simply no words that can express this joy… 

but today i know, and i hope i never forget that all this took time and patience… early in my transition, presenting myself in my desired gender was so hard…. a man of 66 years simply doesn’t, in a blink of an eye, appear feminine… what i felt in my heart i knew others couldn’t see in my reflection…. how many times i prayed that i could just silently bleed into this world as the woman i was trying to be… people will never realize the thousand of eyes that i looked at, that any transgender will look at, hoping and praying they know not our secret…. even today, at times i find myself looking at a girl walking by…. there’s an innocence and a sense of freedom that i still struggle to hold and it’s in these broken minutes that my heart knows that yes i am a woman but unlike you i am trans…. these are the moments that the cis-gendered world is totally unaware of… how these moments still break our hearts or at least mine 

i smile as i think of the endless hours that i stood in front of mirrors practicing a whole new body language… i had to master those movements because if i didn’t, i knew the whole world would know my secret and i didn’t want to see the look in their eyes at that moment or feel the pain in my heart again… today, so much of this is just natural, i don’t even have to think about my hand gestures or maybe how i’m sitting or standing… now it just happens and i love to believe it happens so naturally now because that is what my soul always felt… 

yet i still struggle with facial expressions that are purely feminine… were these expressions learned as those young girls were feeling the joy of being in love for the first time and were slowly learning the subtle ways to show their sexuality…. this past summer i would watch Tori, one of the dancers for Princess’s production shows, for endless hours, as she had the rare ability to express so much emotion with just a certain smile, the tilt of her head or the look in her eyes… i think that these are some of the subdued things about being female that i may never know.. 

     and just in the last 14 months of my transition i laid on an operating table for almost 30 hours… i subjected my body to the trauma and risk of all those hours of surgery for what…..   was the reflection i saw in a mirror that painful that i was willing to endure 4 different facial procedures… a complete gender reassignment and a breast augmentation..

the answer without a doubt is yes….

the proof can simply be seen in how i felt this past summer……  once again i was aboard the Grand Princess working as the ship’s Alaskan Naturalist, and thought out the summer i stood before literally thousands of people giving my talks…. i was engaged in countless one on one conversations with passengers and appeared frequently on the ship’s televised Morning Wake Show…. and for the first time in my transition i felt such an incredible sense of being the woman i always dreamed i wanted to be…. how many times did i stand in front of a mirror and just smile… i felt not only confident in my role of being a woman, but more importantly it just felt very relaxed, natural and comfortable… yes my first summer working as the Alaskan Naturalist after all my surgeries and my gender reassignment proved to me all those surgeries were well worth it…

and my year ended with me standing in a classroom being the teacher i always dreamt of being… for my whole teaching career, of over 30 years, i always wondered what it would be like to have my own classroom as Ms. T….. was it the daily interaction with “my” students or  colleagues, yes that was definitely a huge part that brought me this unbelievable joy, but was it just simply dressing everyday and going to work as the woman i always wanted to be…. and for the four weeks i stood in front of that classroom i really believe, to all my students, i was just another a female teacher… yes, some of them had to know my secret, and i often wondered if i was being “read” and by whom… these are the little things of “being transgender” that i think i will always have to fight but the happiness i felt every single moment during that month was worth those minutes that i fought my demons…

so was 2018 a good year?  to answer that just look at that photo i took the morning of my gender reassignment surgery… that smile will tell you it was a beautiful year filled with incredible happiness and dreams fulfilled

tess julianna   

“my thoughts from a classroom that was never mine”

Dec 21
i thought today would be different…. a day without tears but it seems i always have my tears and it’s hard, so hard because i’m so tired of crying…
yesterday i received the official word that Pinnacle High School was in the process of hiring somebody to take the position that i was temporarily filling… i sat in the Principal’s Conference room as i was notified and i just couldn’t hide my tears or my disappointment … you would think that by now i would be used to crying…
for 30 plus years i taught students, in some capacity or another, and as jules i always wondered and even fantasied what it would be like to teach as a woman… well for just about a month i found that out and it was beautiful… yes i had to deal with a lot of frustrations, as the teacher i was filling in for had not yet been officially dismissed and he was still providing lesson plans and was doing the grading… his presence was always there with the students and haunting me reminding me i was just filling in until…. and because of that i really wasn’t the teacher in those student’s eyes…. i didn’t have the credibility as their teacher, no i was just “filling in” until..
but that didn’t matter in so many ways …. to me i was getting up early every morning and going to work… i was going to work as their teacher and as the person i always wanted to be…. i loved picking out my outfit everyday, doing my makeup, fixing my hair and hurrying off to work… i was a working woman and i loved it even more than i do in the summer as the Alaskan Naturalist for Princess… i guess i did enjoy it more because now i was interacting with students, something i loved doing all my life and something i learned i was meant to do with this life of mine…. and i just can’t describe how beautiful this was….

in so many ways i really felt i was overcoming some of my demons that i fight with everyday just because i’m transgender… i always wanted to be seen as just another woman… but at times it’s so hard because i carry the secrets of what i really am… i battle everyday with the fact that to me and to many the voice that they hear is that of a man’s…. that alone causes me to be mis-gendered time and time again, and even with people who know that i’m now tess and no longer jules… i don’t think the “straight” world will ever really know or understand how that breaks a transgender’s heart time and time again… but in my heart i know i will always be mis-gendered….

but in many of my past days i would walk the halls of the school and other female teachers would give me a casual compliment on something i was wearing… those few words would always fill my heart with joy… and now and then a girl in my class would compliment me on my earrings or my manicured nails and once again my heart would burst with joy… i can’t even count the prayers i offered up in thanks….. and as jules i was never comfortable interacting with many of the girls i taught… i just didn’t know how to interact , it felt too uncomfortable and i was always on guard trying to hide my secret thoughts and desires… in all my years of teaching, i rarely was able to interact with the other female teachers in our school….. it was too hard as i just wanted to be them so i didn’t know how to interact as just a male colleague… but in these short few weeks that i was Ms. Talarico everything just seemed to fall into place….. and in the end many of these students won my heart…. i loved hearing my name, Ms. Talarico being echoed in that classroom… it’s strange but now as a woman interacting with these students, everything just seemed so much more natural and easier, even with my new female colleagues…. i had my little group of students that were dancers and i loved talking with them before class…. they loved the fact that at my age i was taking ballet lessons…..
everything was perfect…
but now i sit in an empty classroom… it’s no longer my classroom although now that i think about it, this never was officially my classroom…. i look at the teacher’s desk that i wanted so badly to be mine… i would of had all my little things on that desk that told the students who Ms. Talarico was…. no longer will i stand in the front of that room, hell i never really got a chance to do what i was born to do, teach…
so you wonder why my heart aches so much, it’s because i will never have this opportunity again… my teaching certification expires in July and it would be too hard to get all the requirements to renew that certificate, so now i will never have my own classroom as Ms. Talarico and it hurts so bad….
in these past few years my life has been in so much turmoil, first “coming out” and then transitioning…. i’ve done so much just to put my life back together the way it should of been… but it will never be completely the way it should of been… and today i’ll walk out of this empty classroom, a classroom that i wanted so much to be mine, but it wasn’t….
later that night…
i lay in my bed, curled up tight with my broken heart…. my tears just came pouring out and i couldn’t stop crying

thoughts from my first ballet class

my first ballet class is now behind me…
but it all started as once again i sat in my car convincing myself i could do this, that everything would be alright, but i knew not what tonight would bring… i walked into the lobby of Ballet Arizona and was greeted by a lobby-full of little ballerinas, all dressed in their leotards with their hair tied into a little ballerina bun….. i smiled but i cried as usual, why couldn’t this have been me…. all these little ballerinas were probably doing their first of maybe a lifetime of ballet classes and so i said a silent prayer for each of them, a prayer that they will grab this gift and hold on to it for a lifetime, for i never was able to….. i found an empty seat across from the studio i would meet in… it was empty but i didn’t want to be the first to enter so i sat in silence and just thought about what i was about to do, my first ballet class, yes at the age of 69 but who cares for i just want to feel what it’s like to dance, to be graceful, to be beautiful

prior to the class starting i quietly entered the studio not really knowing what to expect but i was very nervous, oh was i nervous… as i looked around the studio several girls were already there and stretching out…. in my eyes they were so beautiful with their hair tied in a bun and dressed in their dancer’s attire as they put their slippers on and began a ritual of stretching that they must of done a hundred times before… i looked down at my new slippers and i felt so embarrassed as i didn’t even know how to tie them… it was awkward, but i hesitantly asked the dancer next to me how to tie my slippers… she smiled with a beautiful smile and asked if this was my first class… i smiled back and said yes….. and now with my slippers on i began to stretch as i did a hundred times before, but now i wasn’t stretching before a run or a hike, no now i was in a ballet studio prior to a ballet class and i knew not what or how to stretch… and as the time for the class to begin approached, the studio slowly filled with more and more dancers and they all found a spot under the barre that extended around the studio…. i watched them all silently wishing i was them….
the dance instructor spotted me and knew instantly that this was my first class, probably from my desire to just fade or melt into the background and disappear but her smile welcomed me….. i quietly told her of my lack of experience and really what i was trying to accomplish… i wanted to improve my posture, feel more graceful and feminine and yes, maybe just for a moment, feel like a beautiful ballerina dancing… she smiled and positioned me between two dancers so i could watch them as i tried to learn the fundamental exercises they would do at the barre..

the session began and slowly and very awkwardly i tried to imitate each and every position that was called out… my heart would soar at what i was actually doing, i was positioned on a barre and, well in my mind, learning ballet… but at other times i was so frustrated as i wanted to know more of the basic mechanics behind each movement… i was clumsy and i wanted to be graceful, graceful as the dancers on either side of me…. at times i just wanted to cry, cry because just maybe this wasn’t a good idea but then i would steal a glance at my reflection in a mirror and i would feel a beautiful smile forming…. yes that’s me in my leotards with my hair tied up and i’m learning ballet… i kept thinking of the smiles that i knew all my dancers would have on their beautiful faces knowing that i was here pursuing my dream of dancing… their smiles were the encouragement that kept me dancing…. and as the dancers moved through the various feet positions, their arms flowed so gracefully, their hands and fingers so feminine… i couldn’t even begin to imitate these movements and the instructor just told me to keep one hand on the barre and the other on my hip so i could keep my balance… so much i want to learn and i kept thinking can this woman with her little “teenage heart” ever dance….

and soon the first half of the class was over and now they began their floor exercises…. at once i knew this was where i would just stand, watch and yes dream…. the piano sounded and i just watch wave after wave of dancers float across the floor… they were so beautiful, so very beautiful…. at times i wanted to cry with frustration but i kept looking at my reflection in that mirror and then i couldn’t help but smile, smile because yes i was here… eventually the class ended and the room slowly emptied… i sat on the dance floor with my slippers in my hand and tears in my eyes for i did what i dreamed of doing, i took my first ballet class… as i sat in my quiet solitude a beautiful dancer sat next to me and asked me how my first class went…. i smiled and she said you did great and please come back…. i thanked the instructor and asked if there was a ballet manual that would help me as i will return….
i walked to my car with a beautiful smile and a heart that was dancing
tess julianna 11/12/18