I was at the Queen Mary replacement (AKA, club Lodge) in September of 2003. I had just broke up with my partner, and was living in LA again. I was going out as myself, presenting as a woman, consistently for the first time in my life, and it felt good. The Lodge was every Saturday night. Since I wasn’t working, I decided to go out every night, as there were club events for Tgirls every night of the week.
That Sunday, I noticed the same attractive skinny white girl that I had seen the previous night at the Lodge. I still didn’t talk to her, but I made it a mission to go out on Monday night, thinking there’s no way someone can go out 3 nights in a row if they had to work.
I saw her the remainder of the week, all the way up to Friday night at Ms. Kitty’s, a fetish club.
I approached her. I will never forget that ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love On Me” was playing, when I walked over to her. She said “I’ve seen you every night this week, but we’ve never said hi. I’m Sarah.”
And it turned out Sarah was visiting from Italy. She took an entire suitcase of girl clothes, no boy clothes at all. And she planned a 2 month trip to the USA, to visit San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the east coast.
She was going to be here for another 3 weeks, so we exchanged contact information and agreed to meet at her hotel for Saturday night. The following evening, when I got to her hotel, her door was cracked open a smidge. I knocked, and I heard a distressed voice say “come in.” I slowly pushed the door open.
There she was, sitting on her bed, with stubble all over her face, unshaven, clothes strewn all over the place. She looked like she had been crying for a few hours.
I sat down, and asked her gently, “are you okay?”
She put her arms around me and broke into a sob. It’s as if she waited for me to show up before she dared to let her waterfall of tears rupture the dam…the dam of fighting all of her depression and self loathing.
She divulged to me that she had been struggling with internalized transphobia, depression, and suicidal tendencies for many years…that this trip was meant to cleanse her soul and help her embrace herself…and that she had really thought of committing suicide before I showed up.
I just held her, not sure what to say or do.
Then she picked up a coin off the dresser. She stared at me square in the eyes, and said “I will flip this coin. If it lands heads, we will go out tonight and have a good time, and forget about all this emotional mess. If it lands tails, you should leave me be and I will find a way to end things.”
She flipped the coin.
I held my breath.
The sounds of our high heels clicking on the sidewalk and smell of our fabulous perfume filled the air as we walked from the parking lot to Club Lodge. Dolling up with her in the hotel was so much fun, she was so happy. I was so happy, when we put on makeup and connected as ourselves, as women.
Even though only one hour had passed since she flipped the coin, it seemed like much more time had gone by from the time we had started putting on our makeup to the moment we were approaching the club.
I can still clearly recall how time felt like it stood still when we were getting ready. The best moments of my life up to that point were always the times when I was getting ready with a girlfriend to go out to the transgender clubs. Something about the transformation in front of the mirror, the shared intimacy and dialogue that ensued during the preparation. The closeness and ownership of individual power from looking our best, bringing forth the inner potency by fusing the outer look with the inner strength that seemed to be so lost prior to dolling up. We woke up our inner divas.
While we were at the club, I was mesmerized by her confidence. The sobbing, depressed girl from an hour ago had not a trace in her aura. She was completely in the moment, potent and powerful. We felt the vibe from each other, resonating with each other and taking our confidence to another level. I felt so secure next to her, as if I knew somehow that she would be a pillar I could lean on if something happened at the club. It was an amazing transformation of interior energy by exterior presentation.
We danced all night and stayed out late. My friend Kimmie met us at the club, and she even had a convertible as a rental, since her regular car was in the service shop. The three of us girls left the club at 2:30 AM, and were driving down Santa Monica Blvd when we stopped at a red light.
A jeep pulled up next to us, with 3 men inside. They were kind of cute, and Kimmie put her legs up in the air and flirted with them, and Sarah and I followed her lead.
It was so much fun as we zoomed off into the night, with the wind almost tearing our wigs off.
I took her all over town the next few nights and also drove her in my BMW along the coastline. We had some deep conversations and we really emotionally bonded intimately. We talked about everything from clothes to closets and fashion to fantasies.
I took her to the airport, hugged and kissed her goodbye, and felt so sad that she was leaving. I promised her I’d visit her in Italy someday.
Her eyes glimmered and she said she hoped that I would sometime soon.
I got so much out of that weekend. She gave me a huge dose of encouragement before I ever even got a chance to speak to her. Just seeing her out every night gave me enough confidence that I would see someone at the clubs that I had seen before, a familiar face. And during those days as a beginner, that’s all the reassurance I needed to push me to go further.
I also felt for the first time in my entire life, the largest dose of acceptance that I had ever allowed myself to feel, regarding being trans. I narrated it as “well, if there exists other girls like Sarah out there, then I’m not so weird or alone.”
She furthered my courage and brought my date of transition years closer to the surface without even knowing it.
And I was able to encourage and console her, which felt really good, as during those days, I rarely went outside of my own self-centered ways to help others. Often times, I was still unable to prioritize someone else’s pain because I was still in too much pain myself.
I received a postcard and picture of us together at the clubs, with a heartfelt letter written to me a few months after she returned to Italy. In the letter, the line “you saved my life, thanks for being there for me” really made everything so special and rewarding.
I’ve thought about her a lot recently, and to see how much and how far I’ve come is such a whirlwind of emotions. It’s amazing.
I thought about her a lot today, specifically, because I had the same ABBA song playing on my iPhone as I worked at my cubicle, and the entire story of SARAH MORGAN ran through my head.
I miss you, my little sister…