Tonight, I saw Alan Lightman’s “Einstein’s Dreams” at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge. It is about Albert Einstein’s thoughts as he is completing his third paper of 1905, the one on Special Relativity, and contemplating the implications of his new interpretation of time as a dimension. His thoughts on the passing of time drift toward the creation of forking universes resulting from the multiple possibilities of each decision we make, and this makes me think more deeply about the changes I have made in my life. Or rather the one big change. Sometime I talk about how my gender change has rebooted my life, and I think that it has. In several ways, I have started over from the time 45 years ago when I first realized that I wanted to be a woman rather than a man. At the time, I didn’t think I could do anything about it, so I didn’t. I suppressed the urge as much as I could and carried on, pretty enthusiastically most of the time, with a “normal” life. I got married twice, the second time for 23 years, had a kid, had a fairly satisfactory career and more satisfactory life of activities, but I wasn’t quite myself.
When I realized that I could carry off the change, in 2003, I started consciously moving toward the point that I reached eight years later, when over the course of a year, I started living my entire life as a woman. Unexpected results included looking and acting lots younger than I am. Tonight I realized that I have in many ways restarted my life where it was 45 years ago, with no partner but endless possibilities in front of me and the freedom to indulge in *all* of my diverse interests, including a few that I didn’t know that I had, such as strong interests in drama, singing, religion, and civil rights. Even five years ago, I would never have guessed that some of the major interests in my life would be going to a play a week, singing in a choir and a chorus (and being an officer in the latter), going to church every Sunday (and teaching theology and serving on committees), and getting involved in inclusion in American astronomy (two more committees). This on top of ongoing commitments to open space (chairing a greenway council) and bicycling (riding 20 miles a day and more committees). I even have more real friends than I have ever had in my life. My old path was rewarding in many ways, and my new path is rewarding in some of the same, as well as more. So I’ve lived in a small-scale multi-verse and hope to come out wiser from having been able to live through both sides of a choice I first made almost three-quarters of my life ago.