Pareidolia

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evidenceofautumn 03/12/15 (Thu) 21:49:55 #45289673


Did I ever tell you folk how I got my name?

Tammy. Short for Tamsin. Shorter still for Thomasina, which is such a bloody awful name that I can see why people only go by the first two. Anyway, when I was born, that was the name my parents had picked out for me, that was the plan.

"But Tammy!" I hear you cry, "you're trans, you've told us you're trans, how could this have been your name?"

Well, the short answer is that, for months before I was born, I was Tamsin to them.

Bit of backstory; I was an accident. Some people use that as an insult, but I knew from the start, and I'm fine with that. My parents are older than most parents, they thought they'd never have any children if it hadn't already happened, and frankly I don't think that was something that particularly bothered them. So imagine their surprise when I dropped by to ruin their day.

They were living in Ireland, which you probably know was a fun place at this point. They didn't see any violence to the best of my knowledge, but the army barracks were down the road, and they saw a lot of guns, which you Americans reading this may not see as a big deal, but to a Brit like me? Never see guns unless they're the telly? Fairly disturbing. Better yet, they had tanks driving down the main road as a regular occurrence. Best thing was, these massive death machines had bags over their turrets. Because, y'know, nothing to make you feel safe like having a massive ballistic weapon of mass destruction covered by a Tesco bag, they can block shells, right? The road next to their house constantly had hearses and funeral processions driving down it. Might not have been any relation, but come on, it's not a difficult pattern to see.

Anyway, I don't know if that had something to do with it, but they never checked my "gender." Maybe they didn't want to know. Maybe they weren't offered the opportunity. Maybe they just forgot what an ultrasound was, I don't know, but they went on in blissful ignorance, until Mum was… about seven months pregnant? Sorry, I'm writing this from memory. What I do remember is that they went on a trip to Galway with friends. Well, friend; Bertie went with, Ashley lived there. It was her idea to walk down the river, she said it was a great place to find yourself. And it was her who took a picture of my parents.

The photo itself has long since been lost to time, but they remember it vividly, and they've described it to me so many times. They're standing next to one another, just them in the shot. The flash lights it up like Blackpool Illuminations, but the only light source visible is a lamppost about fifty metres or so off in the background. A ramshackle building sags to their left, and to the right is the river. And in the river is the face.

I've never been able too get much detail on it. I know it's small, tucked away in the corner of the photo, but that's all I'm sure of. Sometimes it's a woman, sometimes a girl. I don't know if it's a silhouette, just an outline, or if you can clearly see her features. It could be just the face, or maybe a bit of the body too. It's always been frustratingly vague to me. At any rate, I feel like the headline is that there was a face in the river.

My parents aren't particularly superstitious. Conspiracy theorists, a little (and boy, is that worthy of a thread in its own right), but not superstitious. They don't really believe in the supernatural, they don't believe in aliens, and they certainly don't believe in religion. Yet they took this as a message. They saw it as a sign that I, too, would be a girl, and so they decided to name me Tamsin. And then I wasn't. At least, not obviously.

And when I realised, and began transitioning, I couldn't think of a name for myself, owing to a total lack of imagination, and decided to go for Tamsin. My original name. Partially as an olive branch to my parents, and partially because… well, it just felt right.

That is actually relevant, because a lot of this really bothers me, for reasons I can only sort of put my finger on. Was there actually a face in the river, or was it just pareidolia? Why spend a life resolutely refusing to believe in ghosts, but then take this as a spiritual message?

And therein lies the real rub, the crux of the matter. I don't know if the face was a message, or a ghost, or just some random shapes that looked like a person. But if it was a sign, then it was right. I am a woman. My parents didn't know. Fuck, I didn't know. It did. How did that face know before any of us?

Whatever the reason, I wish it could have been a bit clearer.

evidenceofautumn 09/12/15 (Wed) 23:01:04 #45289694


Thanks for all your replies. To the very kind people who asked, yes, I'm safe, and I'm fine. We're on… decent terms, I'm still not sure they fully accept me (it's just a few small things, I'm probably paranoid), but we talk, we get on. To the curious amongst you, no, there wasn't a particular history of murder, missing girls, cults, alien abductions or Tom Hanks attacks (to that one person who asked; I don't know, and I don't want to know), it seems pretty normal. Very normal, actually.

Not sure whether that's a good or a bad thing, really. I mentioned pareidolia in my last post, and people asked what that meant; to the Google-impaired, it's the human propensity towards seeing patterns that aren't there. It's why people come up with constellations, or see dinosaurs or whatever in blurry pictures of dead sharks (sorry guys, they aren't cryptids or plesiosaurs, don't ban me), or the face of Jesus in toast.

Yeah, faces again. Faces are a big one. We look for them in everything, because we're programmed to recognise them and seek them out. I'm sure there's a deep-seated evolutionary reason for that, but fuck if I can remember right now. So, maybe that's what it is? My parents saw some shit floating in the river, some artifacts on a low-quality picture, brains filled in the rest?

It sounds a little counterintuitive, but I'd have felt a little better if there had been ghost stories about the area, and they'd based the face off that. At least then I could write it off as them being influenced by an urban legend or rumour, hovering in their unconscious somewhere. As it is, it just makes it harder to understand; they're sceptical, fairly grounded, if it wasn't a face, they'd just say "huh, doesn't that look like a face" and forget about it.

So, I… lean into it being legit. And I'm stumped.

evidenceofautumn 20/12/15 (Sun) 17:22:32 #45289722


We found the photo. Not posting it here, because… well, you'll see, but we found it.

I say "we," it was my dad. We were doing some clearing out, found an album of old 90s photos. Mostly of dogs, but some stuff from Ireland, and it was there. Someone had written on the back "what the future holds," but Dad couldn't remember who.

It's honestly nothing like how I'd envisaged it. There is a building, but it's on the right, and the river's on the left, so much narrower than I expected. I imagined Dad's arm around Mum's shoulder, but they're just standing next to one another - touching, yes, but not that close. They look happy, properly happy, moreso than I think I've ever seen them. And there's the face.

She's just peeking out, bottom left. She's not that clear; in all honesty, I'm not even sure I would have noticed her had I not been looking. You can see a bit of hair, it looks shoulder-length, she's pale, looks like she's gasping for air. Or, it could be natural dark patches, ripples, stuff floating in the water. I wish I could be certain, but it sure looks like a face to me.

You might be expecting her to be looking into the camera. I certainly was. She's not. She's looking at my parents. At me. Well, I say "me."

I said there was a reason I wasn't posting the photo here. The reason's fairly simple; I don't put pictures of myself online.

It's my face.

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