Moving to Chicago helped, far easier to stay under the radar but be true to myself. Not once did I attach to a name to it, being undefined and uncommitted allowed me move about in the mainstream, with friends who knew and didn't care. Occasionally I'd be confronted, forced to make a choice, but in Chicago it was much easier, more options, less preconceived notions about what was right and complete. Kelly made it so easy, a friend of a friend, I found out that she was just like me, and not afraid, she embraced who she was and surrendered to the assigned stereotypes. And then boom, the door closed when I heard others talking about her, making disparaging remarks and not understanding, unaware that Kelly and I shared the same secret.
When I got off the plane in San Francisco I knew things were going to be different. It was in the air, the way it smelled; I knew this was it, and I was ready to jump in and shout out. Everywhere I looked I could sense it, there were others, plenty of them, and this was the place to be, to revel in what set me apart. And then, over an amazing dinner at Green's Restaurant where I realized I could order soup freely, without having to ask what stock was used, it hit me, I was out, the door was wide open; I was a vegetarian, right then and there I put a name to it, and breathed deeply.
One delicious week later I was on the way home to Chicago, finally at ease with the person I had become, and so grateful to my friends in San Francisco for showing me the world outside my steak and potatoes life. Certain I could take all this freedom home with me I waved goodbye and set off to a new enlightened life in the Midwest. My one hour layover in Dallas turned into a three hour stop and so with a new confidence I set off to find something to eat. Finally settling on a Mexican cantina in the American terminal I boldly stepped up to place my order, "taco salad please, with beans". "What kind of meat with that?". Alright, yes, "no meat, just beans please". He looked confused, "so chicken, you want chicken?". Breathe, "no chicken, just beans, please". More confusion, a lost look and then a realization, a broad smile and "oooh, I see, you're a, whatcha call it, a vegetable, right?".