Checked-Mate

I’d wanted some for ages. Seen them around in the shops but they were never quite perfect. The lines were either too big, or not quite the right colour or the shape was just not right for me. Then I’d see a women with the exact pair that would be perfect but there was no way I would stop a complete stranger in the street and say, “Excuse me, where did you get your trousers from?”

The weeks had passed by and the idea just sat there in the back of my mind. Trawling the shops looking for those checked trousers that would be just right was a fruitless exercise and so I just let it be that if I came across them then it would just happen. They were for work so I had something alternative to just boring colour-match-friendly black.

It was just last week when an email came in from a clothes retailer and one of the offers showed the model wearing a top, that was on offer, but wearing the trousers that I just really wanted. I clicked through and the website showed what else the model was wearing. “They look okay —” I thought, “may be not perfect but they seemed as close as damn it and they wouldn’t break the bank either, even if the quality probably wouldn’t be as good as I’d prefer”; but then when is it?

It was a Saturday, just before lunch time, and that shop in question had a mini ruck sack that I really wanted. A gender challenge to myself to buy something that might push the boundary just a little bit more whether it be in work or amongst my friends and relatives. In fact it was a boundary probably a little bit further than I’d be comfortable with but if I didn’t do something even that simple I’d never get anywhere.

‘Eleven thirty. Got to get to my parents and take Mum for coffee. —’ I thought, ‘If I quickly get up to that shop now I’ll be able to grab the ruck sack and take it to coffee, a little test may be to start a conversation.” I dashed to the shop, found the shelf, one remaining. I looked over the mini ruck sack, black with a quilted panel on the back and thin mat straps and cute short cord hanging from the zippers that looked like rock climbers belaying rope.

It was on sale, I’d seen it before, but today I’d made my mind up to just get it. It was exactly what I had imagined I’d wanted. While I was there I decided to look at those checked trousers. I grabbed a pair in the nearest size I thought I’d reasonably get into on first try without taking multiple pairs, one size up, one size down. I slid them on in the changing room and they just fit. Slim fit they made my legs theoretically longer. I pulled the slight turn-ups down that had been put in place as an idea, you know, a bit like a serving suggestion on a cereal box.

I looked in the mirror pre-empting that they would just look like man in young trousers with a belly pushing the button to breaking point — but they didn’t. They were right. Just right. My first thought was, ‘screw work, I’ll wear these out.’ Hoping that sometime soon there would be the right social occasion to give them some use.

With cash on the counter and an offer of “would you like a bag for your — bag” I was heading home and adjusting the straps on the bag from the shop-default and trying on the trousers again to make sure I really was ready to permanently remove the labels.

I hung the trousers over the banister and left them there. I guess I didn’t want to wear them yet. I was going for coffee and the bag would be the talking point. I didn’t need an extra item to question or they might both get lost in the mist of gender identity flags. Besides, Mum might wear something similar.

I tossed all my things into the bag, genderless wallet, deodorant, phone, water with a tight cap that wouldn’t leak, lip balm. It might have been easier in hindsight to have opened the top zipper and just pour the contents of my tiring shoulder bag into the ruck sack but that would have also taken the bits of cardboard that had flaked off a packet of paracetamol and an open sweet wrapper that just wasn’t needed in my new shiny purchase.

We took our long walk to the coffee shop via the park amongst the trees and kicking through the autumn leaves on the smooth tarmac path with my new unmarked ruck sack. Nothing was mentioned. My Mum usually notices new things but she had plenty on her mind which we talked about. Even over hot drinks and small rich slices of cake it didn’t come up. Eventually, at the end of the afternoon, as the coffee shop emptied as did our cups I mentioned it, “I bought this new mini ruck sack, one of my shoulder bag straps has frayed and is about to break.” and placed it centre place on the table.

“That’s nice.” She said, but nothing more. Usually something that was obviously not from the men’s range would spark some conversation, and something like this I thought might spark the right conversation, but she was obviously distracted that day and that made it not the time.

It came to the working week once the short weekend, that felt unbelievably shorter than usual, was over but when it came to each morning I just felt, for some reason, that each day wasn’t the right day to wear the new checked trousers, or use my new bag for that matter. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Where had all my confidence gone?

I’d previously decided to get those black trousers before that had pushed the boundary a little more at the time and even my shoulder bag was now something I just used everyday without a thought and with full comfort. Why suddenly were these things that only pushed the boundary a little more such a problem? Then it hit me, I was feeling under the weather. I had been for days.

When I’m not well all I want is to wrap up in a blanket and stare at the TV at some comfort entertainment or stay in bed; but I have to go to work and with that the last thing I want is to feel I’m out of my comfort zone for a little while, which may or may not be the case. Immediately I felt at ease realising that things need not be rushed or pushed for the sake of it and my trouser and bag will still be there tomorrow.

For now I’ll be wrapping up, eating chocolate when I don’t need to and concentrating on staying warm.

Until next time.

Hannah x

4 thoughts on “Checked-Mate

  1. I don’t think people realise how much your own confidence and acceptance comes from little things they say and do, or don’t say or do. It helps us grow.

    It sounds a lovely bag!

    • I guess most people who have no experience with gender identity don’t realise how some things are such big issues internally. Our job is to guide and discard what some will never understand and get on. May be 🙂

  2. I love it when I find that item of clothing that is just right! It doesn’t happen that often, and some times they shrink in the wardrobe over a weekend (:-o) and have to be returned or placed in the clarity bag :’-(
    I was give a fantastic little handbag from Fatface for my birthday last which has a shoulder strap that can slide to convert it into a small rucksack. I love it!
    x Debs

    • The irony is, the bag it’s replacing is a Fatface bag 🙂 I’ve had it many years though.
      Yes, there are also some clothes I’ve held on to because I thought it fit but the reality was I was kidding myself. Doesn’t happen often now though.

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