I think that summer was when I learned about the meaning of bittersweet.
The victory of being able to appear to the world as girl was, if I look at it now, resplendent. It was a relief, and it was a vindication.
The pain, however, made it all bittersweet.
Dr. Greenberg's restrictions ended up being very necessary. I generally spent all my time in bed, lying on the couch, or sitting on my donut-shaped pillow. Walking barefoot across the floor with anything but feathery steps could cause me great pain on many days. I took showers only, as sitting in a bathtub would have been way too painful.
Dad's primary client, the one that made him quite success, asked him to handle their call-center in North Carolina as well. He flew out there for a week, and then came back to Seattle to get his team set up to handle the additional load. That meant even great commissions for Dad, but I hardly saw him all summer. In fact, the only time I really saw him was late at night when the pain kept me awake. He'd come home around 8pm or 9pm most nights, even on Sundays, and he'd find me awake in the living room playing video games. Usually, Mom was in Jenni's room reading a story and cuddling up with Jenni.
Jenni had become nervous about starting a new school in a month or so. At least, that's what she kept saying. I didn't know why that upset her. She'd only been in our old school for kindergarten. I suppose if I hadn't been in pain or living on cloud nine about being Julianna all summer, I think maybe I would have noticed that the "incident" at our last school scared her. Some kid said something negative about me, and we uprooted our lives. It probably scared her. I don't think Jenni remembers those years that well, but that's just how I look at it now. I could be wrong.
My days were filled with pain killers, daytime TV, reading books, playing video games, trying to draw (which I was not good at), taking naps, being sleepless at night and being waited on by my mother. For all of July and most of August, she brought me food, brought me drinks, got everything I needed and put everything away for me. She combed my hair (not sure why), helped me step in and out of shower and kept me on strict schedule with my painkillers. She also kept examining my crotch and made sure I kept the skin folds clean.
The worst part was that the tailbone pain also migrated to my hip joints. As my hips changed shape, the sockets my leg bones met the hips also changed. My legs bones, according to Dr. Greenberg and the three other MRI's I had that summer, were also changing. But, they weren't changing at the exact same rate as my hips. So, sometimes, it was like my legs were grinding in their sockets. I remember one day when, no matter what I did, the tops of my legs just hurt. There was no comfortable position that day.
By early August, if I remember correctly, things started to feel better. They weren't great, but they were better. I still couldn't do much, and was still on Dr. Greenberg's restrictions, but I wasn't in as much pain. I could walk around the house a little more. Mom even let me pick out a color for my new bedroom (I didn't go to store with her, I just picked from samples) and she painted it. I chose a magenta/raspberry color, and Mom did all the trim in a bright white. Mom also picked out a set of curtains, comforter and area rug that had magenta, purple, orange, pink and yellow stripes of varying widths. I didn't know she'd picked them out. When the room was shown to me for the first time, with the paint, the fabrics, and orange, yellow, pink and purple-painted wooden letters hung on the wall spelling out "JULIANNA," I cried. I'd been sleeping on the couch for a few days and had not allowed to see the progress, and seeing the completed room made it all seem real.
My furniture had been painted gloss white as well. And, in my closet were only some of the girl clothes that I'd had from playing dress-up. My boy clothes were not in sight. I had been wearing sweatpants, sweatshorts and t-shirts all summer. They'd been clothes I'd already had. My new room did not even contain those, except what I was wearing at that moment.
I vividly remember Mom opening one of my dresser drawers and pulling out a pair of pale blue girls sweatshorts and a pink tee. She also pulled out a pack of multi-colored pastel girls briefs.
That day in early August was, to that point, the best day of my life.