After an afternoon at work, I got home, practiced, and went to my room to call the Parkers. They didn’t answer, so I set my phone down on my bed and read for a bit. After a couple chapters, my phone rang. I picked it up and answered it.
“Hey Cam,” Mr. Parker said. “Sorry, I left my phone upstairs after my shower.”
“It’s okay,” I said.
I talked to him and Mrs. Parker for a bit. I told them about my appointment with the therapist and they told me that Jerico and Melodie were dating. I admitted that I had known for a while and they laughed and said that Terin had told them the same thing.
After a bit, Mr. Parker took the phone upstairs, where Terin was in his room painting. When he saw his dad, he pulled out his headphones and put down his brush. “Is it Cameron?”
“Sure is,” Mr. Parker said. Terin took the phone and Mr. Parker left.
“You had that therapist appointment today, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I had to tell her pretty much everything.”
“Did she agree to write you a letter?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I don’t think she was ever really going to say no, she just had to do her job before she agreed to it.”
“Think you’ll ever go to a therapist again?” “I don’t know,” I said, running my hand through my hair. “She was really nice, but I don’t really think it’s something I need.”
“Yeah, makes sense.” Terin said.
We talked for a while longer about the books we were reading and the painting he was working on. I told him about some funny things that happened at work, and then we were both yawning.
“I filled out some job applications today,” he said.
He laughed. “I just hope I get an interview or two.”
“Where’d you apply?”
“Roderick and Oliver’s store, a sub shop, a library, a bookstore.”
“Working at a grocery store is super boring.”
“At least I’d know someone.”
“I’m sure one of them will hire you.”
“I hope so.” Terin yawned again. “I think it’s almost my bedtime.”
“Me too,” I agreed. “I work all day tomorrow.”
“Let me know how it goes.” “I will.”
After a couple weeks, I had my recommendation letter from Mr. Cayman, and Dr. Foster had sent her letter to my insurance. While I waited for them to approve the surgery, I tried to distract myself with work, practicing, and my family, but it became increasingly hard. Now that I knew what was possible for my transition in the future, I wanted it all.
I did exercises to strengthen my chest muscles every day. Gray noticed me doing it once, and even though I was incredibly embarrassed that he had seen me, he stepped in and asked if I wanted to go for a run with him.
“I’m not very good at running,” I said.
“Neither was I when I started,” he said. “I’ll go at your pace, and we don’t have to go very far the first couple times.”
I eventually agreed to it. I ran with him for the first time on a Thursday afternoon. He had just gotten home from school and I had only worked that morning. Gray led me to the trail in the back and stood behind me. “Whenever you’re ready.”
My heart was already racing. I knew how I looked when I ran. Did I really need one more person seeing that?
“I don’t think I can,” I said.
“Of course you can,” Gray said. “It’ll be easier once you start.”
I doubted that, but after a few deep breaths, I started jogging. I actually felt kind of okay for a little bit because the first part of the trail was downhill, but before we even got halfway through a lap, I thought I was going to throw up. I made myself keep going a little longer, until I couldn’t take it anymore, and then I stopped and sat down, my head in my hands. I willed my heart to slow down, but it kept pounding.
“Stand up,” Gray said, touching my shoulder. “I’m not going to make you run again if you don’t want to, but sitting right after that is a bad idea.”
I pushed myself up and stood next to him, avoiding letting him see my face. Once my breathing and my heart rate slowed down, I looked at him. “That was terrible.”
“No one ever said getting in shape was fun,” he said, smiling. “But once you are, working out feels better.”
I wanted to protest that I was in shape, because I walked at least ten miles a week and I stood all day at the grocery store, but I stopped. I couldn’t even jog a lap, and I was pretty sure that one lap on this trail wasn’t quite a mile.
We walked back to the house as Gray told me about when he and Weston had started running. I tried to picture Gray as a little kid, which wasn’t difficult, but picturing Weston as a high schooler who didn’t wear work clothes all the time or have a beard was much more difficult.
When we got back to the house, I went and took a shower. It was the best shower of my life, and I decided that, even if running sucked while I was doing it, the shower afterwards almost made it worth it.