Roving Pack and my Saturn Return

In the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of introspective work, thinking about the novel, my writing career (a phrase I still am shocked applies to me), the amazing experiences I’ve been blessed to have and trying to envision what the future holds as I realize just how soon Roving Pack will be released in the world! In so many ways Roving Pack has truly become the book of my Saturn Return.  I’m not the biggest astrology buff and don’t buy into this kinda stuff 100% but enough of it rings true for me that I can’t fully write it off as carryover from my woo woo lesbian days.  The quick and dirty version on the Saturn Return in case you’re not familiar (thanks Wikipedia)

“when a transiting Saturn planet returns to the same point in the sky that it occupied at the moment of a person’s birth…It is an alleged phenomenon which is described as influencing a person’s life development at 27 to 29 or 30-year intervals. These intervals or “returns” coincide with the approximate time it takes the planet Saturn to make one orbit around the sun…It is believed by astrologers that, as Saturn “returns” to the degree in its orbit occupied at the time of birth, a person crosses over a major threshold and enters the next stage of life. With the first Saturn return, a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood. “

Now I would say that when I sit down and really take an inventory of my life, I feel that I made that transition from youth to adulthood years ago long before the start of my Saturn Return, and because of circumstances much earlier than many people do. Yet, there are ways in which this astrological phenomenon and the meanings behind it have coincided with the writing/publishing/release of Roving Pack and knocked me for a little bit of a loop – in the best of ways because well, that’s the kind of introspective edge play that I grow the most from and somewhat get off on.

 In a lot of ways, Roving Pack is about honoring where I came from – the queer punk worlds of my late teens that really held me and raised me up. It’s about documenting those worlds and communities and a period of time that doesn’t exist anymore. In this book I wanted to ensure that who and what we were would never be forgotten and be memorialized in the only way I know how – through words and stories.  Unintentionally, and unexpectedly (thanks Saturn!) Roving Pack also became my private and very personal goodbye to those times/places as well as to who I was—the lost, lonely, searching, angry punk boi who wanted nothing more than to be loved and was willing to compromise himself in just about anyway imaginable to get that.

It’s funny – I’m a little hesitant to be public about this for fear of it being misunderstood and misinterpreted, but in the last few months I contended with some of the most intense bouts of dysphoria I’ve experienced in probably eight years. I think there are a variety of factors that combined, but the primary one was my own internal processing of completing Roving Pack and preparing for it to go out into the community.  I’ve had a very complicated gender history, certain pieces of which mirror the gender path of Roving Pack’s main character/narrator. There was a point in the late spring/early summer where I was finishing the book while riding the waves of some bitter nostalgia as I remembered the intensity of that time/place where literally everything we were doing was new, risky and uncertain. As I finished Roving Pack I found myself looking through old photographs, both as research as I polished and finished the novel, but it went deeper than that.

It sounds funny that seven+ years after I intentionally and thoughtfully claimed femme as a gender presentation (a more conscious and intentional gender than any of the previous identities that came before) and yet there is always a piece of me that will miss the trans man/butch-ish/boi (boi = gender as apposed to boy = leather that I still identify as) that was so central to who I was. There will probably always be days where I miss shooting T, though thankfully those days are fewer than the number of days when I was on T that I wished for a different path, that I longed to feel safe enough to be pretty. I surf these waves of gender nostalgia periodically. I know that they tend to be their strongest when I feel invisible in my community- like when I remember how few people here in NYC remember that boi that I was, or when despite the trans sign tattooed on my arm I remain closeted about the gender paths I’ve walked. Early this summer was different and more intense than those normal waves. I had just finished the final edit of the novel and moved into production and the nostalgia and dysphoria became much more tangible, and I’ve come to since come to understand it as a subconscious fight against the goodbyes I finally needed to say to those worlds, and to who I’d been.

Click the main character in Roving Pack and I are not one in the same. It’s true that he has what was my boi/transman/butch name, but we are not the same person. The book is definitely not a memoir, and yet, the line between fact and fiction is always blurry, especially as the years pass and we become different people. Roving Pack is fiction, and yet for me on a personal level it is more than that. This is an intimate book, a painful one, but also a beautiful story that doesn’t wrap up neatly or cleanly.  I’m immensely proud of this novel, and both thrilled and humbled by the ways in which people have already begun connecting with it. Roving Pack is so much bigger than my past, my story, and me. Yet, at the immense risk of being misinterpreted as self-indulgent it is also my gift to Click – not just the very scared lost boi I once was, but the character he became in this book, and all the lost bois like him.

The thing that Click wants more than anything is to be wanted, loved, cherished, and protected. I spent my late teens desperately seeking family and wanting above all else a home.  It took me a long time to get those things, to have that life that I would fantasize about in crumbling basement rooms. I couldn’t find this kind of love and family then, it’s something I’ve been lucky enough to build over the years- it’s that family/home/foundation that made it possible for me to write Roving Pack in the first place, and now because of that through the pages of this book I can give it to him. In the pages of Roving Pack I wrote that little lost boi a world as bitterly confusing and dangerous as the world I’d known. I resisted all temptations to wrap his story up neatly in a happy ending. I couldn’t write a good book and also keep him safe from the painful things he needed to experience, but through the book itself I could finally and forever give him a home.

I unintentionally began writing the stories that would become Roving Pack as I first edged into my Saturn Return. Now as I prepare for the release of Roving Pack at the peak of Saturn’s Return, I think I got the message.  For me, the Saturn return isn’t about becoming an adult – I did that in my own Peter Pan ‘Never grow up’ sort of way years ago. For me this transition (ha!) is about actually saying goodbye to that boi, to that world, and once I fully realized that, owned and celebrated it, the weight of dysphoria lifted.  Roving Pack is in so many ways the product/manifestation/embodiment of my Saturn Return. My Saturn Return is about forgiving myself for making the choices, and forgiving myself for having been lucky enough to have the opportunities that brought me to the life I have now, and it is about finally (I hope) being able to say goodbye to the guilt about having survived.

Welcome home Click.