My dad used to always tell me, “Everyone is the first person to discover fire, at least in their own world.”
For most of my life, I largely brushed it off as one of those things your parents say to you—you know, the little pseudo-epigrams they make up to sound wiser and maybe even a little world-wearier. Parental ethos, or something.
I realized, though, once I was in my 20s, that this was more than one of those nonsense jeu d’esprits. Granted, I never asked what my father intended by it, but I don’t think my own working analysis of that statement is what he meant at all. Regardless of what his intention was, I know what it means to me. I know that the first time my friends called me Daniel to my face, the first time I cut all my hair off, I could feel that I’d rubbed two twigs together and struck a flame of my own.
That’s one of the things they don’t tell you about coming out of the closet—the little rushes of sparks you feel over each step that brings you closer to lighting your own personal fire. No one told me that getting called “Sir” in public never gets less exhilarating, no matter how regular it becomes. No one told me I’d be able to take pictures of myself making silly faces after I transitioned because I feel at home enough with myself to not have to make an uber-stoic Calvin Klein model expression. No one told me I would cry happy tears after filing my name change paperwork.
All of those things are little factors, little branches that contribute to the fire I’ve found. I’ve uncovered all those facts of my transness myself, and I, for the first time, discovered my fire in the process.
Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to find out when new stories are published.
Learn how to join our Writers Cohort here.