Maybe, if I roll this letter up, seal it tightly in a bottle and set it out to sea, my words will find your sun kissed, bare form.
You never really existed and maybe it's the nicotine running through my system, the years of hiding my true self to please others, or the way your life was carefully crafted, each word intentional, that lets me see myself in you.
Your struggles were fictional but reflected a painful reality for women in your time. Struggles that still haven't gone away.
You got married to a man you never loved. You had kids you never wanted. But you never realized any of this until it was too late, all of these expectations shoved onto you by society. You regretted everything until the very last moment, the moment you chose to end it all. You floated away on peaceful waves as you found yourself, far too late.
I would like to think you could have been helped. You could have fixed things and loved a man who would love you back. You could have learned to care for your children, be a mother everyone wanted you to be. You could have learned to love yourself in an authentic way. The haze of expectations was leaving and you were starting to open your eyes.
But what you saw scared you. You saw your self in a way that was unthinkable. You saw how society would see you; a harlot, damaged, unfaithful, unfit for polite society.
You knew there was no way out of your old self. You knew your husband would likely take to beating you and outsiders would join in.
You were never able to see yourself happy outside of a fantasy and even though, in the last few moments, you started to live that fantasy, it wasn't enough.
Having a small taste of what could have been, you were hit with the stark reality of what was. You thought of the children, and it was too much to bare.
With your only solace on her death bed, you sought to join her.
And sometimes, I find myself wishing the same. I see all the things I am told to be: A perfect daughter, the first of my family to graduate high school and go on to collage. I'm expected to marry a man who will treat me like a princess and provide me with heirs of my own to guide through high school and college and life with love and discipline.
I'm 19, a trans man, two years out of high school and still finding a trade that works for me as I think about my girlfriend and my three miscarriages to date.
Expectations have left me, for the most part. On the bad days, they weigh me down, drag me deeper into the sea as my terror rises and my limbs grow tired from the exertion.
But unlike you, I am not afraid of my own happiness. For me, the things I want, the happiness I crave is attainable. It's terrifying, change always is. But if you want something bad enough, nothing can stop you.
I think of your unclothed form, slowly sinking under licks of pale sea foam, and a part of me wants to throw myself in, join you in letting go of all pressures and just sinking.
But I think of what you could have had. I think of what I will have. And the thought of giving that up is worse than anything.
Your story is a tragedy, but mine doesn't have to be that way. I will live boldly and proudly. I will keep my head up, women like you, and their stories, cheering me on. You paved the way. It would be a disgrace not to live genuinely for you. Edna Pontellier, Kate Chopin, you are visionaries. Society wasn't ready for you and they sure as hell aren't ready for me, but I don't care.
I will not do the brave souls before me a disservice. My name is Tavian Thay Gonzalez One day, I will transition. I will be the man I was meant to be and when people ask me why I did it, how I did it, I will stand a little straighter, hold myself with a little more confidence, and I will tell them.
I will tell them your story. The story of Edna Pontellier, the woman who never even knew herself. I will tell them you allowed me to know myself. You suffered, and for that I will be eternally angry. I will tell them the great injustice that your story isn't one of fiction, but one that many people still are going through today. And before they go, I will tell them that I refuse to think of the children.
Because I owe nothing to anyone but myself.