A Mother’s Take: Beautiful

September 21, 2017 • Aizumi, Columnists

By Marsha Aizumi

Last month, I was in New York City to celebrate reaching another decade with four of my friends. Three of these friends I have known since high school, and we were roommates at one time or another in college. So, we have known each other for a long time. Aiden calls them his “aunties” because they have loved him through his transition and love him the same today.

We decided on New York because it got the most votes from all of us, and there is so much to do there. For me, it was a chance to spend time with my college friends, and they gave me the flexibility to do some advocacy work with groups in NYC, which I was so grateful for. As I returned home, I realized I learned a lot because I was open to new experiences. Here are my reflections …

At the Statue of Liberty, I reflected on how my grandparents came to this country to find a better life for their family. They taught us to be kind, work hard and live a life of honesty and responsibility. As I looked up at Lady Liberty and saw her torch lighting the way, the shackles laying at her feet and her holding a tablet with July 4 inscribed on it, I felt she truly was a beacon of hope to all of those who come to our country for a better life. It certainly was for our family. I also thought how sad she must be at what our country is going through presently. Yet, liberty to me means having the ability to choose. And in times of adversity, there are so many who choose greater humanity. I saw it in New York, Texas after Hurricane Harvey and Florida with Irma. And so, I look to the future with hope …

I thought that New York was too busy to care about others, and yet I found this city to have people filled with compassion and kindness. On the bustling streets of New York, there were people who took the time to help us find our way. One man carried my suitcase down the steps to the subway platform as he saw me struggle with my luggage. One lady, walking her dog, overheard us talking about our destination and turned us around so we weren’t walking the wrong way. Finally, another person realized that we were going to JFK airport but that we were on the wrong subway (yikes!) chatting away like we knew where we were going. He reached out to help us get on the correct line. There was kindness wherever we turned …

At Central Park, we walked through Strawberry Fields and took a moment to stop and see the mosaic created with only one word: “Imagine.” I wondered what people thought when they saw those words. What did they imagine? For me, I took a moment to imagine peace, harmony and love. And I imagined a country led by wisdom, equality and hopeful leaders.

Sitting in the Stephen Sondheim Theatre waiting for the musical “Beautiful” to begin, I anticipated hearing songs that I loved and sang to when I was young. At the end of the musical, all I could think about was how Carole King did not let adversity stop her from sharing her gifts with the world, how she listened to her heart and found greater success as a young, single mother living in a new place. I know she was afraid, but she did not let fear stop her. I hope I can continue to listen to my heart, ask for support when I need it and trust those around me when moving into new and perhaps intimidating places in my activism.

Finally, I am not a public transit person, I would rather take a taxi or Lyft my way around a city. My family calls me a bit high maintenance (who, me?), but they indulge me. My girlfriends felt that the subway was part of the NYC experience and was considerably cheaper to utilize. Initially, I thought I was in for a long week, but once I saw it as an adventure, it became more fun. We laughed together when we scrambled onto the wrong subway, realized we were going the wrong way and had to jump off before the doors closed on us. The longer rides gave me an opportunity to catch up with my friends, and those are precious moments I might never have had. In the end, I learned that attitude is everything.

I believe that no matter where we are, who we are or how old we are, we can learn things that make us better human beings. And as that thought entered my mind, I heard Carole King singing, “You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile in your face and show the world all the love in your heart. Then people gonna treat you better … You’re gonna find, yes you will, that you’re beautiful, as you feel …”

Marsha Aizumi is an advocate in the LGBT community and the author of the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”

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