A Life Less Lived

Sometimes, the Internet is a painful place.

Actually, it isn’t the ‘net’s fault for holding onto things I’d forgotten about. But it hurts all the same. I’d like to tell you the story, since it’s fairly complicated.

About twenty years ago (so this is way before I transitioned), I was in graduate school. It was the Golden time of my love for tech and the wonders of the Internet. I was participating in an online community that spoke to my love of fantasy literature and gaming. Over the course of about a year, a handful of us decided to make an online ‘zine devoted to bringing the interesting things from the bulletin board system we used out onto the web so that others could see and experience it.

By the time the first issue was ready for publication, there were only two of us left at the helm; co-editors-in-chief. It ran for six issues over a two year span and was truly a labor of love.

It was also where I self-published a couple of short stories and a few articles.

I tend to forget about the thing. It was a long time ago, I stopped paying for the hosting site, and I’d thought it gone. But about ten years later, one of the more vocal members of the original community offered to archive it and save it permanently. I was touched. I gave permissions for the things I’d done and the overall permission to reprint. And, for a moment, I glowed with a little pride that something I had helped bring about was being taken seriously.

Fast forward to the other day. I was telling a writing friend about some of my older writing and dug around for the archive. Only to find an Error 404 where it used to be. “Permanent,” in the land of the Interwebs, ain’t a very long time. I found it indexed in a fairly prestigious place, my deadname listed as the publisher and producer, as well as information about the articles and stories I’d contributed. And, with a little help, I found some backup copies still floating where I could reach them.

Joy! I could resurrect the thing and use it for my writing portfolio! After all, it had been taken seriously until the archive hosting place went away.

…but that was my old life. Yes, I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember, but this was so firmly entrenched in my old life that it had to stay there.

I may have mentioned that my transition has not been met with universal approval. In fact, it has directly or indirectly severed any connection I had to my past life, my family of origin, and any friends or contacts I had before. It isn’t safe for me to make the link between my new life and my old one.

So here I sit, my own creation in my hand, ready to be used to help this writing career go…and I can’t use it.

It’s infuriating. And sad. I almost feel like I’ve done something morally wrong in here, somewhere. Maybe someday it will be safe to make the link between my old life and my new one, but that day is not today. In the meantime, I have a lovely little memento of when I was just starting my career as both a librarian and a writer. A tiny piece of heaven, when the world felt right and the future boundless.

Maybe someday I can have that feeling back too.

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