It was 11 pm, and as I was tidying up before going to bed, I decided to let the dog out the front door rather than letting him take his evening pee in the backyard. As I was setting the dishwasher, I could hear him barking frantically in the side yard. I grabbed a flashlight and went to investigate. As I shined the light into the side yard, I could see Benny, my 22 lb dachshund mix up the hill trying to climb the tree and as I swung my light up there were two eyes surrounded by a black furred mask staring back at me. The raccoon brought its attention back to the dog, hissing and spitting at him. Even though I live on the fringes of a rural area, I am still a city girl at heart. Spitting raccoons are not my forte.
Usually, I would have wakened my husband to have him battle the wilderness. But this time, there is no husband. My husband was transitioning into a woman, and nothing in my world was familiar. My ordinary life was no longer. I could have gotten my partner up and out of bed, and she totally would have dealt with the situation at hand but instead I broke through the protective bubble that I as a wife, as a woman, had always placed myself. I'm going to do this I thought. I pulled on some sweatpants and laced up my sneakers, with the flashlight in one hand, and a right size stick in the other, I climbed the hill towards the ruckus. I kept chanting the raccoon is more afraid of you than you are of it, bullshit, the raccoon is more scared of you than you are of it, bullshit, the raccoon is more afraid of you.. you get the idea. With one lunge I scooped up Benny, turned and slid down the hill on my rear with a squirming dog in my lap. When I hit the bottom of the hill, I leaped up and ran for our lives into the house. I set the dog down, and I sat on the floor next to him as I let my heart rate get back to its normal rhythm.
This story seems like a little thing, cute even, but it was a big moment for me. I broke through the familiar into the unfamiliar. I did something very unfamiliar to me. I stepped forward rather than step back. I stepped forward into the darkness, climbed the hill to get the dog, and slid back down to safety and got back up on my feet.
In the weeks and months that followed, I had many moments when I had to break through the familiar into the unfamiliar. My familiar and comfortable place in our marriage were that I let my husband, the man of the house take care of traditional male roles. I was conditioned that way. Now it was changing. I grew into my new place. I figured out how to fix a leaky toilet by watching Youtube and asking questions at Home Depot. I carried the yearly load of firewood that gets delivered and dumped on the driveway to the rear of our house. I started making sure the oil was changed regularly in all the cars. All things I was capable of doing before, it just wasn't familiar to me. I've learned that I could step forward and do these things, rather than step back and let my husband do it. Today I don't have a husband; I have a partner, and we are in this together.