I was standing close to the end of the platform waiting for the train. Some calf high boots, probably suede, shapely black skirt above the knee, short in fact, not a belt but certainly not long and casual top, not too casual because I was going to work. I stood there on the spot just waiting and while it was the mundanity of commuting I felt somehow at peace. You know, like when you get a day when everything is just clicking together. You wake up with a little zest for the day. Breakfast tasted good and just looking forward to the day, even if it was just another day at work.
I think it was Hamstead Heath overground station. It was definitely a suburban station in London, even if it wasn’t packed to the rafters on the platform, it was definitely London and if it wasn’t Hampstead it wasn’t far away. I don’t live in London though, and I don’t work in London either. In fact I don’t even work in the city or an office since the lockdowns. But that’s dreams for you. Never quite concise and if you are lucky enough to remember a dream, especially a good one, the details are never always that clear.
The dream stuck with me the whole day because I felt at one at that time. Unquestioning, everything about it was just a ‘normal day at the office’, wherever that office is. Being able to have that kind of calm, that knowing that the day is going to be good and being happy about the way everything is seems like some kind of utopia but in some kind of ‘may be obtainable way’, even if that utopia seems, strangely, to be commuting in London, which I’m sure wouldn’t be in any way quite so appealing on a rainy October day when the day light hours are short and the platforms full.
But the chances of being able to work in London in the way that would feel utopian is very unlikely. Jobs in London are highly competitive, I’ve tried three times to get into the city in the last twenty years but always been pipped to the post by sheer talent that’s out there. At my age now I don’t have that pure energy needed to put up with all the toxicity and competitiveness that goes with it. Besides, the dream of living somewhere like that would require some typical London house on the edges of Primrose Hill with a roof-top terrace to lounge about on – something no typical national average wage is going to pay for – in fact no average millionaire could probably afford either.
I would also miss having the access to the stunning scenic mountains and forests that sit not far from where I live now and would miss them in much the same way as I miss having vibrant night life of the city as I do now.
I was sat outside in the garden the other evening. The parasol up and a small wooden table, a bottle of something strong and the evening well on it’s way enough to light a couple of candles. I heard something from a side window from a neighbouring house “Sometimes looks like a girl and sometimes looks like a boy..”
It was about all I heard from two kids in that room. It came from an open window that doesn’t quite overlook my garden but if they were looking out, well then may be they were referring to me. I didn’t hear any more of the conversation – it was all background as the voices disappeared inside that room with the open window.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. Was it about me, was it about someone else completely. It really could have been anything about anyone really but the co-incidence was enough to make me think about it and for a short while worry about it. It certainly is the difference between living in the anonymity of the city and the closeness of the countryside.
It’s been a long time since something like that has been pointed out directly like that, at least in the form of ‘isn’t she or is he’. The last time I can think of something like that was probably in about 2007 or there about when some bloke approach me and my friend at a table in a bar and said, “so have you alwaysbeen a woman.” I’m sure I wrote about this some time ago so not something to go over again but you get the idea. On the one hand it felt ‘read’ but on the other hand it was a compliment.
The thing is whether it is anonymity of the city or the lack of it in the countryside it shouldn’t really matter. Yeah sure one is easier but almost in a cope-out kind of way. I think within half an hour the whole matter was settled in my mind and I just carried on with my evening in the warm summer humid night sipping a sprit by candle light. In fact I kind of felt like if it was about me then it’s a good thing. A chance to find out if Im accepted as a citizen no matter what my gender issues are.
I went to the beach on the weekend. I mean it’s the thing you do when it’s hot, but rather than stay amongst the tourists and local beach dwellers I headed to a wild beach. Miles of sandy coast line, stretching to a horizon of grey hills in the haze, where I could wander the waters edge and only the odd person here and there doing much the same apart from the fishermen at the far end. The tide firmly turned and heading in, hitting the rocks where they jetted out at the point spraying salt water into the air.
It was a chance to wear what I wanted to the beach. My favourite turn-up denim shorts that are now near threadbare but I just can’t find any quite so cute to replace them. And a very beachy-like Hollister top that rarely sees anywhere outside of the house or the garden. A hoodie tied around the waist in case those arms get too much sun and sun glasses propped up on top of the hair.
My hair was down. It spends so much time tied-up in a ponytail of some kind that I’d not realised how long it had got and I could feel it half way down my back. It felt freeing to just walk in the off-shore breeze as the sea air hit my hair and made it wavy and curly as it always does at the beach. Some me time.
But it wasn’t that walk in the water on the wild beach that was quite so revealing or mildly liberating. It was the return walk back along the coast passing people on the pathway as I headed back towards the busy beach. The sea breeze had been blowing my hair all over the place so I put a hair tie in, low down and allowed my hair to drape over my left shoulder. With that top and my hair in it’s more feminine form there was no hiding that femininity away. It was there on show. I was lightly saying something, a picture forming a thousand words as they say.
What was different was that I wasn’t nervous about it, it was what-it-was. It was nice to relax. To chill out and just enjoy the day, the walk, the people, my clothes. “Thank you.” As someone let me pass on the narrow path. Interacting with people. It felt like that top was getting used where it should be and that I was enjoying it for the reason I bought it for in the first place. It wasn’t so much about the detail though, it was that it was another step. Something I hadn’t felt for a long time. May be things are heading in a direction after all.
Until next time.