“Queen’s birthday today, but she doesn’t say how old she is.” said the elderly gentleman in his magnolia rain coat after the elderly couple stood up ready to leave their waterside bench.
“Well, I think she’s about ninety one, may be ninety two?” I said without hesitation as if I had known the couple a long time and had been in conversation with them just as long.
“Ninety Two I think”, said his presumed wife.
“I think you’re right.” I said.
“Typical of a woman not to give her age.” he said in a typical man versus woman banter, “now, I’m about –” he method-acted a face of thought, “ninety two.”
“Don’t lie” she said nudging him in his side as part of their long running comical double act.
“Well, I’ll be 90 next month.” he said staring at me in a statement like way, he was now being serious about his age.
“Yes –” he said “and she’s 90 now.”
“That’s amazing.” I said, and it truly was. By old standards of assumptions I would have put them in their seventies. Their skin was healthy as was their movement and sharp frame of mind. A true wonder of the health changing times for people born in the nineteen twenties.
We chatted as if we were old friends and yet the only previous contact we’d had was a glance between benches lunch time the day before. We were in the same club, regulars of the benches by the sea.
They left for their journey back home. A starling fluttered down and sat besides me on the bench for a moment bravely looking around for food. Dark with beautiful patterns of gold tailored stitches that would ornament any regency home. Her beauty was in her splendour and stance but also that she stayed for a moment not scared off by the person sat next to her dwarfing her size. Neither had the elderly couple been scared off. They started a conversation with me, a stranger, and continued on for a good five minutes. If I am as acceptable in my current glass half full state then may be when the glass is to the brim with the gender thing then nothing will be different. May be the people I think that stare just aren’t doing so for the reason I think they are. One of my worst fear-traits of feeling outed rather than accepted.
Considering how far things have come, looking back to just a few years ago, and how much easier things are now, may be when that glass is full I’ll be totally content with myself and my life. May be I won’t be the drinking-myself-to-oblivion-to-forget-my-troubles kinda girl and then throwing it up into the toilet with my long hair acting as a sieve.
When gender identity is such a huge part of our lives, thinking about it every day and possibly every minute of that day, then there is that trap that when it’s finally sorted and we’re at one with our gender, whichever way we decide to live, then what do we do then? What do we do with our lives and our time? Our occupation. What do we think about – passionately.
The danger of simply throwing ourselves into a decision and acting on it at speed is that we can end up simply thinking, ‘what now?’ It was a worry for me when I had heard about some people who had transitioned their gender identity and found themselves with the same problems in life. I first heard about this back in my early twenties when I was in University. E-mail and the Internet to the general public was in it’s infancy yet I was able to talk to people, electronically, who had gone through a gender transition. I remember the one friend I had made, who I have never met to this day, from Australia who made one strong point, ‘Your day to day problems don’t go away.’
I never forgot it. It didn’t bother me. In fact it probably took a good few years to appreciate it. A number of years ago I decided that I wanted to act upon my day to day problems, my stresses, anxieties and lows. I didn’t want to go through any change or more accurately an outward change of identity, after all I’m not going to change myself, where I would suddenly be dumped on a load of day to day problems and no gender thing to distract me.
Within a couple of years I quit my day job. Attempted to follow a dream. Improved as a musician. Wrote creatively. Wrote blogs. Went to places I wanted to visit. I cleaned up my daily trudge and cut out the mundane. It was hard but it was a start. With a good foundation of life and my occupation of time my life had improved and with those little changes made – my confidence had grown. I had grown as a person. Without these things that solidify who I am and, more importantly, who I want to be I wouldn’t be able to cope with any change in gender identity.
I returned to the bench today. The couple weren’t there and the colder cloudier weather had driven away all but two. I clutched my hot chocolate with both hands with a return to fingerless gloves. The water calm with a gentle glimmer of dulled sunlight trying but failing to reach through the climate. I took a sip from the plastic topped cardboard logo’d cup. I looked around the serenity of nothing happening. I felt content. I felt ready for whatever was next.
Until next time