Park Life

I was at my lunch time park-away-from-work. The air hot and the sun instantly burning my skin at gas mark 4 like being somewhere on the continent but the summer brought back to a screaming halt of britishness by the waft of a hot pasty being smuggled into the mouth of a white collar worker near by. I reminisced over the year I had, that was now over eighteen months ago, working for myself when I wanted and where I wanted; and the money I threw into supporting that dream.

A woman has sat down in front of me on the grass much like me. She sparks up a cigarette in a machine-churning cloud of puffing smoke. As a non smoker I hate tobacco smoke, even in a public park but I do not think it should be banned. The park is for everyone to do as they please, with a few exceptions, and I would never want to impose that. But it’s the intrusion into my air space much like pasty-man and his cholesterol filled odour wafting past. That doesn’t mean the smell of a burning packet of Regal or Lambert doesn’t conjure good memories at a place where smoking was prevalent and in an odd way is a pleasing rose tinted flare of the past. It’s just some thing that happens and I have the freedom to move. I don’t though. I like my tree and the shade it’s providing.

I had a text from my friend, Daniella. Daniella of one of the few sane gender thing friends of my Bristol nights out past, Daniella. Daniella is a woman. I’ve only ever known her as Daniella and so to me she always has been. What I like about Daniella, apart from her saneness, is that she is living how she wants. She is accepted and getting on with her life. We caught up over several messages. Our talk of her newly Mediterranean styled garden in the heart of the beauty of the southern English countryside and tranquillity suddenly put into perspective what I want in my short term future. Daniella is certainly a good template that once transitioned we can hold down a job and create a home. I just know it won’t necessarily be easy.

I walked back to work through one of the victorian shopping arcades. A place of a mix of old fashioned shops with brown paper bags for food products and modern electronics products stuffed neatly into a contrasting building where crisp clean manufacturing meets thickly coated black framed windows. As I tread along the cold paving stones a group of late teenage girls and a lad walked by. The lad, who oozed camp by his Nick Grimshaw flavoured hair cut and collection of girl friends, looked straight into my eyes confidently as he passed.

“Hi.” he said in full colour.

I simply tried to hide a smirk of his foolishness. God help his nightmares if he knew how old I was. I never had that confidence back then and I certainly felt a little more mature. What did he think I was though? Did he think I was male or female? One of his friends laughed and copied him in a girly-mock, “Hi.”

Finding what I’d lost during my couple of weeks at that low point that would have had an aircraft’s altimeter screaming alert tones as my happiness crashed spectacularly. The next week I sat myself in my lunch time park again. The glint of golden light dancing on the grass in time with the wind catching the branches of the large oak tree at the far corner near the little river. The air alone seemed to help me think though it was probably more the relief from days or even weeks of exhaustion and fatigue that helped me see clearer. I want to get back to running. I wanted to be travelling on my weekends to capture some photographs of landscapes that pass people by every day and I want to feel I’m doing something worthwhile. I wanted to see new places and find new people who I have interests with.

My conflict tends to stem from feeling that I don’t want to meet new people, just yet, because it would mean yet another person to tell when the time comes. Just seems ridiculous and my life goes on hold once again. Every time I meet someone new there is that feeling. May be these are one of those feelings I need to let go of. When I look in the mirror I see me much more these days and if I compare myself to several years ago I’m quite different. I think I just don’t realise how much my feminine side comes out sometimes.

Take this weekend for instance. I was at a food fair that happens every year. I stood behind a few people at the counter of the cheeses. They were giving away little cubes of tasters from a small quality refined creamery. The woman in front with her daughter had their taster and were having a little chat to each other about usual parent and child domestics. “Excuse me.” I said politely wanting to get to the counter.

“Oh I’m sorry.” she said in matching politeness as she turned to me and tried to usher her daughter who wasn’t moving. “Come on, let the lady through.” she said.

Oh, my heart skipped. It was as if two years of therapy hit me in one big thump in the face. Elation and confirmation. I wasn’t expecting it and I certainly didn’t feel like it would. I wasn’t particularly trying. May be it was my skinny torn stretchy jeans or the two hundred and twenty degrees I put into my straighteners to get my hair straight in a way it would stay straight. I wasn’t made-up and I’m sure there would have been some shadow but for some reason it just tends to happen, more often than not, when I’m just not trying. It felt good.

Summer alone seems to help with its endless depths of blue skies that promote a feeling of freedom and airy oneness and it’s bright saturated greens and then dazzling sunsets that give an awe inspiring license of belonging. I miss the things that I let slip like my gym membership where I could take a quiet swim in the evening with a pool to myself or the easy going yoga class I took as I couldn’t find a Tai Chi class in the same idyllic environment and yet it worked all the same. It’s a time for me to rebuild myself and make my life worth living.

Until next time.

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