The waitress carefully put the drinks on the table announcing their names as they hit the table. “Thank you.” said James as the waitress walked away leaving us in the quiet corner on the early soulless working-week Wednesday evening. He played with the candle in the centre of the table, blowing at it increasingly until it shimmered and extinguished. He laughed sneakily as he always does when he messes about. James is my best friend from my University days and the first person I ever told about me in person. Actually I say ‘in person’, what I actually mean is over what then was e-mail in it’s simplest form over the Uni network. The next day backing up a little saying it was a joke and then dipping my toe in the water a little by adding, “No, it’s true actually.” It wasn’t long before he admitted to me his love of crossdressing and all those things that come with it that I’m painfully aware of. The only difference is that in the slowly approaching twenty-odd years since then he firmly remained in the wardrobe of dresses and hasn’t, as far as I’m aware, told anyone else. Married with kids he’s firmly there to stay.
“What ya been up to?”, he said.
“Not much.” I said, “Went down the beach the other day and did some photos for my blog.” I continued to explain this blog. Sometimes he talks about his crossdressing, sometimes he doesn’t. In fact I’ve been quite surprised when he does tell me that he’s still doing it from time to time especially after what appeared to be a lull a few years ago. He’d got married and enjoys a large family home and to me I felt that he’d not experience the path I had; all the clubs, going out and the self discovery of the serious side of the reality of it. I simply thought he’d grown out of it and left it behind slowly. It couldn’t be further from the truth. He unusually and eagerly changed the direction of conversation to himself.
“I almost got caught the other night.” he smiled timid and a little nervous, carefully flicking his eyes to the family on the next table checking whether it was safe to continue.
“No way! What happened?”
The waitress came back to take our orders of commercialised Italian chain food. She walked away as soon as she closed the pad. We waited those indescribable few seconds before continuing.
“Helen had gone to Pilates class. Put the kids to bed as I usually do.” he said in a lowered voice, “Got changed and was sat on the sofa watching the telly.”
“Don’t you worry they’ll wake and come down?”, I said.
“No, well the one is too young and the other, well… she’s worked out how to undo the baby gate but I can hear them. Won’t be long though before she’ll be too old and I probably won’t be able to do it.”
“So what happened?”
“You know when you can put a key in the back of the front door and turn it a little so no one can get in from the other side, even with a key?”
“Yeah, that happens on mine.”
“Well it works most of the time on ours.”
My jaw dropped and my hand covered it automatically hoping it could stop the inevitable.
“She came back. Forgotten something.” he continued with a smile. “Heard the key in the lock.”
“What did you do?” I said horrified by the thought.
“Jumped up and quickly put my clothes on.”
“Did the lock thing work?”
“Nope. Door just opened straight away. She called me.”
“But your front door is right by the living room!” I said thinking there can possibly be only one outcome. “Door, little hall way, living room door.”
“Yep. Never changed so fast in my life. My heart was going so fast.”
“What did you do with the dress?”
“Still wearing it under my normal clothes.”
“Shit, James. You’re going to have to be so careful from now on.”
That conversation with James brought back all the heart racing days of hiding clothes in tightly packed boxes and finding those tiny special moments when I could dress. Polar opposite to now. It also reminded me of how far I have come and how going backwards isn’t really an option. Sure there is all the discovery and things are more than just crossdressing. In fact I don’t feel I even crossdress, I wear clothes, my clothes, that’s all they are. I am transgendered but as I’ve mentioned before it’s just a state for me. A state I’m in rather than a label of gender or a condition that has to be cured or managed. I could never go back to those days of sheer guilt. James on the other-hand seems content. I worry for him that his space will close on him as opportunities for him to be her will shrink. The problem is he certainly doesn’t want to tell his wife and given past experience I really don’t blame him, but that is the only lie he is willing to use. Being able to find a place such as a special club or bar to express himself and allow the pressure to release is one lie too many. Is he really content or trapped? I don’t know and I doubt he knows himself. In some ways I admire that he appears to be in a content place where all he needs are a few items of clothes and an hour every now and then. In other ways I couldn’t bare being there knowing who I am and what is beyond a secret stash of clothes.
He told me the other day he’d thrown out loads of clothes including one of the very first items of clothing he’d ever bought. I thought for a minute that his scare had finished him for good and it was a massive purge. I’d never talk him out of a purge. I don’t believe in pushy tranny-bible-like-bashing evangelistic way of life in secrecy. That evening over the table at the restaurant I offered him some options but pointed out the pure dangers. Not just getting seen by someone at a club who knows a friend of a friend of his wife but if something else happens on the way, well, is it worth it? It turned out that he wasn’t purging his collection but simply making room for a fresh new look and, he added, “Desperately need upper-half stuff”, code within an e-mail for a new top.
What he does have though is a loving wife and two lovely young children. I miss having someone special. I miss the children I never had and unlikely to ever have. It’s a two sided coin. If I’d taken the train to a marriage and a home I would have felt trapped without me. I would have been thinking exactly the same thing, what if I’d not gone down the route of a life with a family of my own and chosen to find life as a woman. I would have been feeling the same, should I have tested who I am and grow as that woman. Well, I did and this is where I am. We make our choices and we should make the best of them.
Until next time.