The alarm went. I pulled the bedroom curtains back. The morning greeted me with misty dull rain pastel greys with clouds dusting the tops of the hills and wiry winter trees. I rubbed my eyes hoping the sky would clear but I just felt even more tired. A week of the trudge of working like a machine each day and returning home to the prison of my own gender issues. Each day pushing through the treacle of commuting and escaping to the cafe for an hour at lunch to have at least a chance of my own thoughts.
I sat on the stool over an Earl Grey at the darkened counter at the cafe. I had to shake something up. Anything to get through this flat time. The caffeine had sparked some awakening. I decided to at least tidy the house a little as some therapy for preparation of my new future if one exists. The clean surfaces, retention of furniture and binned hoardables like a sweeping brush through my thoughts. All this damp and rain was just muddling my head. I thought back to last summer. How clear my head was running along the coast. Exercise for my wellbeing as well as my physical health. With my foot hurting, the cold and damp there would be little chance of taking an elating run. Just one day of blue skies and a warm breeze is all I wanted.
I checked the time. Just ten minutes left to get back to work. A deep breath was just a little harder today. I popped into the metro supermarket for some comfort eating for the afternoon. At least when the weather does get better I’ll have a reason to work at it with the extra weight gained from hourly snacking that is slowly undoing all the work in January and much of February. I rushed out into the high street, put my snacks in my bag and realised the sky was blue. Wispy white clouds smeared a little of the sky and the pavement dried in the light breeze. It was as if the middle of the week had said, ‘don’t worry, be patient, there will be some good days soon.’ It kind of made my day. Somehow my wish had been granted.
The problem with all this waiting time, of being on hold with my life and gender, is that it’s just more thinking time. More time to allow thoughts to gather and reflect on the past. Guilt or pride. Right or wrong decisions. Saturday evening and I find myself in my house alone. Only the dim lamps uplighting shadows on the walls and a pair of candles bending in the reflection of the wine. I find myself here again. My memories looking way back to people who have known about me. I remembered Richard.
He was a man in my University. He wasn’t there very often; just a short course for a company he worked for. I can’t even remember how we got talking. It must have been a chat channel about dressing or gender or something. He was at least ten or fifteen years older than me. He taught me how to shop for clothes. Not what to buy but how not to be embarrassed to buy something. “Just think it’s for someone else. If you’re buying underwear and they question you, just say your other half is in hospital and you need some odds and ends.”
It just seems so stupid now. Having excuses ready to brush off any suspicions. These questions, of course, never ever happened. No one ever gave me a third degree over a dress or a new bra. When I think back I realise how bad this sort of thing was for me. It was pushing off honesty with more dishonesty rather than enjoying going out and committing some retail therapy. The thing with Richard, he did cross dress, but he made a play for me. In the naivety of my early twenties I didn’t see it. At least not until he wanted to give me gifts. He said he was single and slowly he made his play. It turned out, at the end of our friendship, he finally admitted he was married. He had a home in the neighbouring city and the excuses he’d given when I mentioned how he should shave his legs instead of wearing thick denier tights was not because of other men in the changing room at work as he had said but because of the lodger at home, his wife.
My first experience of a man that lies. My male friends hadn’t lied to me because I’d been a part of their group. Those who were loyal to their girl friends would tell me so and those who weren’t would also tell me. It’s all part of becoming a woman, not in transition but in growth as a person.
It made me sad in some ways because meeting someone like Richard just made me more reclusive about my gender. His own insecurities about being found out brushed off on me. The darker side, that side of him that wanted to cheat and as I understand it from his own words, he had, was something completely alien to me.
I changed the music. I didn’t want that classical track becoming a memory inducing reminder of Richard of all people. I needed to shake off these retrospective thoughts. Here I am heading ever more so towards the centre of my life and craving for the energy I once had in my twenties so I can do it all over again but properly. To be more honest about myself to myself. To enjoy me for who I am. While the double-life was exciting at times it wasn’t good for the soul. But I can’t go back to my twenties. Life is a forward motion. There are no replays only second chances.
Time is not for wasting. Weeks are passing so fast like tree passing in view from the rear seat of a car. Sitting still with others in control of the speed and destination. I feel like I’m drawing gates on the walls. Seven sticks instead of five for every week that goes by and nothing I do will get water flowing in the dried up river bed.
I placed my hands on my face. My fingers running up my face trying to hold back the rising water. I could feel it filling up from behind my nose and cheeks. There it was, a tear in my eye. If this is what I’m like now, god help me if those oestrogen patched get approved.
Until next time