The baby looked over it’s shoulder at me and in an instant I was just goo. Instantly fully caffeinated maternal broodiness. No thinking. Entirely instinctual from the core. I was sat in the restaurant with my work colleagues, some kind of pre-christmas christmas lunch excuse-to-jolly-at-the-company’s-expense type thing, and it struck me. Many years ago I was talking to one of my full-time post-op friends and I remember how she had told me that sometimes she felt a bit excluded around women talking of babies. In fact I’ve heard it said from a few friends and I always felt this was sad that it was hard to relate to other women. It wasn’t just babies, periods and men, clothes and anything else you can stuff into a stereotypical conversation over a few glasses of white wine.
I don’t think this is quite the case though. I sat there in the restaurant, every colleague at the table man and the conversion turned to babies and kids. Being woken up at stupid-o-clock in the morning, night terrors or what their kid had done that was so funny. It’s not women, it’s parents. Men do exactly the same thing. The only difference is the contents of the conversation. Men tend to talk more about the hi-jinx of their little horror. The naughty thing they taught them. Some cheeky phrase that is so hilarious that it drives their the mother insane which in turn she talks about over coffee and push chairs at Costa.
This is all probably a little unfair. There are things that women talk about that men talk about differently. There are some experiences that one gender has that the other does not and so swapping gender socially will lead to just something things we’re unfamiliar with. Many years ago I went on a night out with my friend Alison and her wife. It was an old pub amongst the cobbled streets of Bristol just a few streets from the city centre water front. A straight pub and so my best make-up and blend in clothes were how the night would be. Whilst we chatted and caught up with each other a conversation struck up between myself and Alison’s wife and we were rabbiting away like no ones business.
It wasn’t until the day after that I realised that I already had this type of stereotypical conversation between women as part of who I am, without thinking, naturally. I only realised, of course, when Alison text me the day after. While she is a cross-dresser, or ‘tranny’ as she so politely puts it with fully saturated colour, she had said to me on a few occasions, ‘but you’ll never really be a woman.’ I didn’t feel betrayed, but it had set off some negativity until that day-after when the text came through. “Karen says you are a woman. She really got on with you last night.” Suddenly that day I actually felt confirmed more than ever. To have come from someone who is, for better a word, genetically female, was everything to me. Even so it would be a few years later when I would once again feel a bit nervous starting sessions with a female Psychologist and saying to her over the course of forty-five minutes that ‘I wanted to be a woman.’ I was almost expecting her to say, ‘don’t be daft, you’re not.’ Of course she didn’t.
Being single leads to recognising many of these social conflicts. Many of my friends and colleagues are married or in some kind of relationship. It’s been a while for me. I have set myself into some kind of frost of the morning. Crystallised until the sunlight catches my heart. While I am in this transition stage of my life, still not entirely decided how I will move on, I feel I have to remain single. Besides, how can anyone be in a relationship with someone who may be superficially, on the outside, someone entirely different some months from now? The aloneness can get to me sometimes but the tides of a relationship with dependancy could be the stresses that I don’t need at this magical time of change.
There is always the chance someone will capture my heart in the mean time that will be overwhelmingly too good to miss and with even greater odds be fine being in a relationship with Hannah. In the mean time that someone special who buys me that special gift at Christmas is going to be me. Christmas and even the new year is a time to celebrate Hannah, even if as a private quiet toast to myself, my spirituality, my new found ‘at one with myself.’ In fact I may as well say it’s time to celebrate just being me.
I looked at the photo I took at the beach last week. I look at that silhouette against the setting winter sun and it doesn’t just look like someone I want to be anymore but it just is me. Inline and at one. It’s not just visiting the beach to snap a photo to capture a manufactured version of that woman but enjoying a moment as that person and enjoying the beach and the serenity. It may not be every day at the moment but it’s a damp sandal in the right direction flowing with the tide.
I woke too early for a Sunday morning. There was a glow of sunshine seeping through the side of the bedroom curtains and no matter how hard I tried, despite how tired I still felt, it was impossible for me to fall back to sleep for a little snooze. After a relaxing breakfast with tea and toast with a lashing of jam it was time to face up to the fact I had to get to the supermarket and do the week’s food shopping. I knew I should have done it Saturday but there was such little time and the supermarket on Saturday’s is just unbearable.
My hair was a little greasy and nothing feels better than clean hair blow dried with a dryer capable of a force ten gale but with a heat so gentle that the drying alone feels like a beauty treat. My hair is always left feeling loose amongst itself in a way that I can just run my fingers through; if only someone else was doing the running through. The hair dryer was a present from my parents. A large lipstick red coloured dryer. Beautiful to hold and a treasure to me. May be they know a lot more about me than I realise.
Once I was suitably freshened up I grabbed the shopping bags and my list and headed to the supermarket. It was surprisingly calm. Even my trolley was heading in the direction rather than a wobbly wheel pulling like a dog on a lead in random directions. I stopped at the Lemons in the fruit section and picked a firm self contained natural capsule of vitamin C. Besides me was a young child, may be four or five years old with a mother and an older sister. They got their fruit and turned to walk past me but the youngest almost walked into me not looking where she was going like four or five year olds do and so the mother grabbed the little girl by the shoulder, “Mind the lady.” she said.
I felt good. Off they went further down the open plan isle and me smirking to myself. It was short lived. The eldest had looked at me and twigged. She nudged her Mum telling her the mistake she had made and laughing at her. I could read her lips at fifteen feet, “You called him ‘Lady’”
Until next time.