I had cut the grass the day before all to perfect height and it had recovered from the harsh summer that had left it that sandy white colour of death to a fresh green that would give most golf greens a challenge in saturation with a luscious feel under on the soles of the feet. The sun had come out bright and strong enough to feel the burn and enough to look for that half used bottle of factor twenty that I thought might have been on the shelf until next year. Summer had returned and it was still here despite the over due calendar turn for September. Even the air was warm and gone was that artic cutting edge from the north last week.
I laid out the blankets on the grass. I could actually walk bare foot on the spring fresh grass that would have spiked me on every step just a few weeks ago in it’s hay stiffness. A couple of cushions scattered, a hot cup of tea and a book. I stopped reading for a moment. It seems mad that just a week ago my life was in a totally different direction. Work consisted of excitement but intermittent and barely paid. The gender clinic was just a few weeks away of another appointment, the third of which I would have nothing to offer with progression and a cancellation on it’s way to them. My running achievements were ever upward but more importantly my direction had felt lost. I just didn’t seem to be able to put together some cohesive positive forward movement that felt like I had a future and one that I was looking forward to. It’d been lost.
Now I’m contemplating starting a full-time office job with a stable future and old ground that I have tread so many times over the last two decades; I am just a little conflicted. I had applied for the job out of desperation. Partly to fulfil my obligation to the job centre but also to myself and my family – financially and, I suppose, emotionally; worry. The thing is even though I have been working the shifts are few and far between, underpaid and very antisocial hours and I find my bank balance slowly topping up over the weeks only for a huge chunk sliced away at the end of the month on rent. Slowly my money was disappearing and I didn’t want to be draining on other people.
It had been the start of a new week and that morning I had an interview. Back in my old new media industry with the only thing on my mind was that it would pay the bills at least. I pulled the shirt off the hangar and slid on a pair of trousers I’d probably not worn in two years or more. I sorted through the ties and looked at what would suit the shirt and whether it was soft enough to soften out as much trace of masculinity as I could. I felt my face drain of happiness as I saw some masculinity return.
If it wasn’t for my hair straighteners that created a beautiful straight and shiny ponytail from my long hair and the cute pair of chelsea boots I was wearing I think I would have held onto that disappointing feeling of regression for the rest of the day. Those cold air days of the last week had also meant I wore a warm smart coat and although it may have, to a little extent, added to the tie and shirt morning,I did at least feel smart walking through the city on my way to the interview. People look at you differently when you’re dressed smart and while it’s not a favourite past time of mine, give me some cropped running capris and a yoga top anytime, it made me feel a little worthy – of something.
I imagined for a moment how smart would translate to feminine clothing for work or an interview. Somethings just aren’t as different as I would imagine. Trousers that are just more curved or shaped nicely rather than hang from waist with minor pleats to make them seem interesting in a masculine way. Shirt becomes a woman’s shirt or blouse which is a little more fitted. I just had to put that thought aside for today though. Go to the interview, for which I studied solidly to get back up to speed, and think about the fact that within an hour or two I’ll be on my way home and whether or not they offer me the job the control of my fate, ultimately, is in my hands.
It seemed strange after the interview. I felt like they wouldn’t hire me because I felt they were probably reading my lack-lustre by the tonne and I wasn’t sure if they were really into it themselves. I was just glad to be on my way home and ditch the interview attire.
It was one of those decision moments that had hit me that day. If I’m offered this job what do I do? Do I continue with my current job barely supporting me but find a way through while trying to find that illusive something elsethat I’d rather be doing and really chase it, or do I take this job and at least have money to buy new jeans when I need them, feed myself properly and have petrol for the car to go to places I can’t afford to go to right now? At first it seemed obvious that I should take a better paying job and think about that something elsemove while I’m there. Then I thought about it again. I’d been here before – this situation. I’d taken a safe office job in the past and ended up in the same place again, feeling dulled by the lack of instant excitement.
Several days passed and an answer came. An e-mail pinged on my mobile phone while I was out at an evening event with my best friends. “We’d like to offer you the job. Please get in touch if you would like us to send you a formal offer.”
Those thoughts of which direction I should take came rushing back. I knew I had around twelve hours to respond before it became impolite and I had to make a solid decision.
I remembered how I felt when I walked into that office for the interview. I could feel the policies and procedures of the terms of employment contract oozing out of the walls and the veneered perfunctory desks. It was no good. The drink had been flowing that evening and I couldn’t make a rational decision, intoxicated, about my future that could be anything from six months to six years of my life. If I’m intoxicated enough to be doing a pros and cons list when I got home that evening then making a sound decision that moment would be a bad idea. I would literally sleep on it.
In the morning my head had cleared. There was a rational inspired mind-set that had returned over breakfast and tea. ‘All I needed to do was accept the job. Wait for the offer to come in. If it’s not right I’m not tied to it.’ I thought to myself.
As much as I hate changing my mind and letting people down, not doing this in the past had not served me. I had to play this for me as much as I could. Over the coming hours I felt good about the decision. I wasn’t just doing this for me I was doing it for people around me who worry given how close I have been sailing to the financial wind.
It felt hard to think I would have to give up the other job where no two shifts would ever feel the same. The famous people I had seen and some of the crazy stories I had heard. I was also giving up having to cover my feet in plasters to protect from all the blisters of walking in those work-boots and the days of getting home at six in the morning too wired to sleep. It suddenly didn’t seem so bad and may be this new job, much like the old one, would get me by.
– ❤ –
What if I ended up staying. How would I feel about the gender thingat this office job. Could I go through a change of gender there and how would I feel about it? I think I’ve always asked myself that question whichever job I’ve started. I usually start by thinking, ‘Yeah, no problem, I reckon I could do it.’ and then, as the months pass by and I get to know people and they know me, some kind of identity protection kicks in and I feel nervous about the idea.
The difference these days though is that I now remind myself that whenever, if I do§, it won’t matter where or who sees the change, because it has to happen somewhere. May be that’s part of the plan I should have, rather than decide when is best to transition based on how confident I feel at that place, decide where I want to be when it happens and find that place when the time comes and do it there. That’s probably not a great way to decide on a new career but may be the whole thing will come together that way.
I laid my head back on the cushions and spread out on the blankets. The sun still shining hot but felt like it was in it’s last throws of the day now that early evening was closing in. I drew a long breath. It felt like the longest deepest breath I’d had for months. I could almost feel the oxygen racing down my veins in drenched blood and my stomach relaxing as if it had been tense since last year.
As the light started to fade I decided to light the chiminea. That foraged wood that I had been hanging on to so long burnt clean with flames that danced captivatingly. The breeze howled inside the chiminea intermittently as it drew over the fire and upwards feeding the flames. May be I hadn’t left things standing too long after all.
Until next time,