The top floor meeting room with views across the roofs of the Victorian and Edwardian buildings of the city with a couple of high rise buildings bursting through the surface of slate tops like a bad flyaway hair day. The lower sky line glowed in a dull iron oxide fading to pale ice blue and the night sky creeping in. The end of a long but productive day. There is something so unique about the feeling of still being in work beyond the normal working hours. A feeling that reflects shutters coming down and the emptying of the city pavements. A city grubby from a hard days work and in need of a shower. Vacant seats in the jungle of desks in a cramped open plan office. Scraps of paper with scribbles that only mean something to the beholder. Boxes of speciality teas for those that don’t like the rough everyday bulk-buy PG Tips.
The client had already been with us a few hours more than he intended. No one had realised how dark it had become. I switched the meeting room light on when the glow of the sky coming through the office windows was only supplemented by the white shine of laptop screens. “The wife has picked the kids up.” said the client, “It’s probably not worth rushing for the next train.”
“We can go for a beer if you like.” said our sales manager who had stepped in for the last ten minutes.
Despite a satisfying and productive day, which was a rarity, I was more interested in getting home. A positive day like this one plays havoc with my plans. All the stresses of several weeks that have been enough to get me running out of that place and never returning, has made me question my motives. Can I put up with it. Is it me or is it those comforting tones in the setting sky making me think things are better than they really are.
I only have to think back to a few pointless incidents that firm up my feelings for my work place. I needed time to get my head together. Almost like a distraction so I can come back to my thoughts with a fresh perspective like putting a freshly written novel under the bed for a few months and reading it later.
The weekend approached fast. I was soon sat with the laptop on a Saturday evening, curious about an old friend from the days of going out in Bristol with like-minded individuals. Friends through circumstance. It’s been a couple years since we were last in contact. She had decided to transition and I wondered how she was fairing in her work place presenting as female, a change of name and with her friends or family. Facebook turned up the story within seconds. To my surprise she was now a few months post operative. It kind of took the breath from my insides. It felt fast. I felt for a moment left behind. It was crazy. It’s no race. I do it on my own terms at my own pace for my own reasons and yet, for a moment, speechless.
I soon came back to earth. My confidence returned when I reminded myself why I’m transitioning in my own way. Why I’m taking it at my pace. Why I’m investigating myself so thoroughly with help from the psychiatry profession and why it’s more than just some surgery. I looked at her latest status posts. She looked happy. The smile on her face and the new cheek bones that shouted from the roof tops about the hormone therapy. I looked closer at the photo. Events. Places with people, some I recognised. Some post-op and some clearly pre-transition or possibly cross dressing part time weekenders. She was clearly still involved in the trans scene and cross dressing friendly places. It had a profound effect.
I’d read about many post op people leaving the transgendered community and some being shunned for doing so. But suddenly I found myself seeing why. I still keep in touch with just one person that I’ve known in-person, and several through a forum. I’d previously felt this way myself, being away from the transgender world, but it had come as a transition in itself. As I had started to explore my own reasons I was seeing others on nights out few and far between. Instead of once a month it was more like once a year or two years. It’s been quite a few years since the last time. Apart from the natural fall out it was also a step towards real life.
Hiding away in the safety of trans-friendly bars in another city wasn’t doing me any favours. What I saw in the photos of my friend that I’d lost contact with was someone who was still in that scene. There is nothing wrong with this. It certainly seems to make her happy but now I was sure that at the moment it wasn’t for me. How would I seek acceptance as a women if I was hanging out with others who already accepted me given they are in the same position. I closed the old Facebook account and left my old connections as they were. Undisturbed with a layer of dust still on the surface. Severed. It feels terrible to think this way but beyond the great friends I’ve found on-line and my one last friend I keep in contact with, I see very little in keeping in touch with those friends through circumstance. Terrible. Just terrible. But this feeling is sourced purely from guilt and moving on shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of.
I have a wardrobe where at the bottom sit a few bags full of clothes and a few shoes. Some are old male t-shirt. Some are old skirts that I’d bought several years ago after an unsuccessful day shopping in which I took home anything to go home with something. Some are hand me downs from Maddie and some are just inappropriate for my age. I’d previously sorted and bagged them with the intention of recycling. Throwing them away so I could move on from the clothes I no longer wear. Many from that time when I used to go to those bars and clubs in Bristol. But the hoarder in me just couldn’t execute that final step of putting them in the clothes donation bank.
The hoarding from a fear of letting go of the good memories from those days. The brave first steps into the city night air where anyone could see me. Looking up my old friends though sparked a feeling inside. The reasons why we lost touch in the first place and that the good memories themselves will not die just because the clothes are no longer scrunched up inside an old Etam carrier bag.
I hurried upstairs to the wardrobe holding on to that feeling. Opened the door and pulled out the first bag I could grab. I quickly checked that nothing valuable or anything I just couldn’t let go of had fallen in. In no time I was locking the front door and arriving at the car park of the supermarket. Empty and cold, the little heat of the day quickly evaporated above on a clear star lit night. I didn’t pause. I pushed the clothes into the recycle banks and felt a weight lifted. Cleansed. It may have been just one bag but it was a start. Time to move on. Time to find the real me.
When I was a child, my first feelings about wanting to be a girl, and later a woman, all I ever wanted was to be a female. No special events. No special club to be a member of for acceptance and to live. For those who lead a normal life, in the opposite outward gender they were born with, I don’t believe they are shunning the rest or looking down at us. They simply have found the life they were looking for. The support that everyone so graciously provided is no longer needed. I think most are just finding their place in every day life. May be one day I will too.
Until next time.