T & A

| Sep 30, 2019
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I’m now here In State College, Pa. — home of the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). As those of you who read this column know, I graduated from this very place in 1989. Thirty years ago.

Not that that makes me feel old or anything.

I’ve done my best to come up once or twice a year since then, as PSU is my “happy place.” I would come here and relax for a short time, either lost in memories or creating new ones (such as seeing Bob Dylan at Rec Hall in 1990.)

Sophie at the Nittany Lion Shrine

With an old friend

Why do I love PSU so much?  Someone asked me that the other day actually.  I thought for a moment and said “I wrote a book about that very topic some years ago, and still couldn’t put my finger on it.”  Was it because it was my first time truly away from home and “independent?”  Or was it because that’s when I had my first real “adult” relationship?  Or maybe because for the first time I really felt like I was PART of something special?  Or is it all of these reasons?

In any case, “meesa back.”

Of course, after thirty years, things at PSU have changed — a lot. There are many new buildings. Almost all of the businesses downtown have changed (what?  No more “United Colors of Benetton” store?) For that matter, the entire character of the town and campus has changed. There are so many high rise apartment buildings now dominating the landscape — and many more being built. The “small town” feel of the place is quickly disappearing.  PSU seemed like an isolated “self-sufficient oasis” in the middle of nowhere back then. Well, it’s still in the middle of nowhere, but thanks to the internet, it’s not so isolated.

Some things haven’t changed. The Nittany Mall is still all but dead. The campus is still an oasis of tolerance in the middle of Trump country — but it’s become far more enlightened since the ’80s. For example, LGBT (especially gay men and transgender women) had to hide or face beatings.  For that matter, I don’t remember seeing any transgender people back then at all. There was a rumor about a “gay guy” who dressed as a woman for Halloween, and was “picked up” at a party by a football player . . . with the assumption that violence was the end result. There was and still is a “gay bar” at PSU called Chumleys. It’s small, but fun the few times I’ve been there — all since re-discovering myself.

So, it’s so very different, but then again. . . so am I. I’m now over fifty, and living my Truth. The co-eds wear their yoga pants (it’s like a uniform up here!  They all wear them!) while I wear a skirt. No need to “compete” with girls young enough to be my daughter.

It’s now fall, yet the temperatures are still over 80. I’m guessing it’ll be a mild winter, so I’m guessing I won’t be listening to the hissing snow as I walk to class.

Things change. I hope I can keep up.

Be well.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul

Sophie Lynne

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