James appeared at the door as I walked down his driveway. James, if you remember, friend from uni, first person I told and also gender confused but secretly so – et al. The kids were playing in the living room, the last time I’d seen his daughter she was a baby that did nothing but look around and crawl. Now she stood there looking up at me, curly dark locks of hair and an angelic look that would burn into the hardest soul. A rustling and clanging of cutlery came from the doorway to the kitchen and a brief walk by of Kate in her dressing gown getting dinner ready. “Hiya.” she said briefly continuing in chore bliss. Our conversations have never gone much further. She always seems to be busy with marital and motherly life. Given how inside-out I know James it feels strange how little I know Kate.
I’d not seen James for weeks, and given all the changes that had happened since then, this evening was the perfect chance to catch up. We jumped into the car and made a short journey to the sea front where tourists were at their height of populating the promenade with food, ice cream and excitable sugar-fed children at the end of the hot day. The stillness of the warm evening hung heavy in the air as we walked and I started picking at a polystyrene tray of chips topped with fresh cod with eye stinging vinegar fumes rising.
“I can’t believe how much your girl has grown. Last time I saw her she was a baby and now she’s talking and got her own personality.”
“She asked Kate about you. She said, ‘Mum, that is a boy, isn’t it?’” James said grabbing a chip from his tray.
“What did she say?”
“Yes dear, it is.”
It reminds me of when I was in a bar in Bristol many years ago. There was just me and one of my old friends from the Bristol days, Sara. We were tucked away on a small round table at the very end of the bar by the back wall. It was only us two. An older man at the end of the bar turned and looked at me while we talked. He kept turning back and looking again with a confused look on his face, the wrinkled lines coming together above his brow. Eventually curiosity got the better of him and he came over. “Can I ask, you are a girl aren’t you?” I decided to have some fun with him rather than my usual honesty.
“Yes, all woman.”
“Yes.” Sara was trying hard to keep a laugh in her mouth pretending to drink but shaking uncontrollably.
“So, you’ve always been a woman.”
“Yes, always, since I was born.”
“Oh. Okay.” he returned to the bar and looked back a few times still looking confused.
We drank up and left but I told Sara how I felt a bit down that I wasn’t convincing enough that he had to ask but Sam reminded me that the fact he didn’t know for sure was as good as passing. That night stuck with me and I guess with James’ daughter it was a similar situation although I wasn’t openly dressed and Kate doesn’t know about my gender-thing and certainly doesn’t know about James’ special box of clothes.
I try not to go too deep into gender things with James. We do talk about things from time to time but as his life moves on and his family grows connections between them, a bond that is hard to break, I see that he seems content with just dressing-up from time to time. Even with all the close-calls he’s had, when Kate has come home early or the risk of things being found, it doesn’t compare to the risks of telling all and starting down a path that could mean the breakup of his marriage or worse still his family. It may not be right but I certainly don’t want to be the one striking that match.
Every time I meet up with James I see how much further apart our lives have become when it comes to the gender thing. Drifting away from each other like galaxies in the universe, or expanding – depending on your scientific preference. James’ problems are the size of the box for his clothes and his ever expanding collection. Does James get a bigger box or try and fit in just one more thing and risk it splitting open. How old will the children be when they start exploring parts of the house they’ve never been to before and discover a box of clothes.
This compares to my problems of remembering my next appointment or who I should tell next, if anyone. How far should I really go? Should I allow the innate feeling of needing to become the opposite gender outwardly to others or battle those feelings for the innate need to have children. It’s a never ending battle and as age creeps in both of those become ever more difficult to decide upon and each making the other more unlikely.
When I missed my last appointment at the local hospital with the psychiatrist, which was very much unlike me, I felt it was the one time I needed to talk to someone and the new date given to me was an age away. But September is quite literally less than an hour away and just a couple of weeks to that appointment I feel that the March referral for next year will be here in no time at all and yet despite this I have never felt quite so at a loss to how I should feel. It’s not so much that my mind has changed or I have new confusion or conflict. It’s that now appointments are far apart that I become slowly unsupported.
The thing I need to do is find my focus. Find the focus on the life I have and the direction I want it to go in and move towards that goal. I don’t need that rubber stamp from the medical professionals to find that focus it’s just sometimes I think I forget.
Until next time.