At Least For Now

The rain beat against my face. It wasn’t hard or particularly soaking me but September had started to make my fingers so cold they felt like clay only moving slowly. My knees with a little pain and the cold contracting my leg muscles that I felt I just had no energy to run. Being amongst other runners on a rainy Saturday morning just felt better than staying in bed, at least the alarm clock had woken me from a particularly disturbing dream on the border of a nightmare that had got the better of the quality of my sleep; socialising with other runners, despite the cold, was just where I wanted to be.

It was only twenty or so minutes before that I had been standing at the hand drier in the cafe toilets trying to dry my hands in a time that would mean the would be dry by at least lunch time by rubbing them in all sorts of random motions which appeared to just spread the water around my hands and between my fingers. The door opened and a man stood there, looked briefly at me standing their at the dryer, three quarter length running capris and a light coloured hoodie pull-over with my hair in a pony tail, “Sorry – I… must have the wrong…” he said while turning to the gender sign on the toilet door and then seemed frozen on the spot while his logic conflicted with his eyes and remained paralysed as to whether leave or not.

‘It’s happened again.’ I thought at that moment, ‘Oh, let’s make it easy for him.’ The single cubical within the toilet was locked, “It’s locked, I think someone is in there.”
“Oh, thanks.” he said in a sort of way that seemed to make him think, ‘that should make sense so it probably does.’ I decided damp hands were better than wet hands and left making it much easier for him to enter without feeling some kind of worry about whether he really was going into the right toilet.

From time to time it will happen and usually when that door opens I at least try to stand side on rather than the back of my head which just shows long hair which feels like it might be an even worse way of making someone feel awkward or feeling they’ve come into the wrong toilet – but what I have really noticed is it’s happening more often.

Why when in recent years, as I age, I feel that I’m loosing my feminine traits, apart from my hair, and probably feel I don’t come across as female so often that this is happening more? It’s simple I suppose. As I’ve become a little more confident I’m wearing the things I want to wear and as I’ve become more comfortable with that then that confidence shows outwardly. They do say that people who want to appear as the opposite of their ‘birth gender’ fare better when they take an attitude of just getting on with things. I think that is what’s happened here and did it creep up on me how often.

I tried taking in the big breaths I needed to try and get my legs working against the cold but for some reason, today, they just didn’t want to work that hard but still the bushes passed me by as did the tarmac path and I passed runners who’d started way to fast and faster runners passed me as usual and I was still glad to be there. It is one of the few things I have in my life right now.

When I compare to what I had before I told my girl friend all those years ago I guess things are just different. It’s a hard comparison because I am now older. Nearly twenty years older since I met Maddie. It was two years into our relationship when I told her and at the time, while one of the most difficult things I’ve ever said, it was also a huge unloading for me but also a big switch in the direction of our futures and a terrible weight for Maddie to take on. We may have stayed together several years more but the inevitable happened.

History has happened and what we have both done since then is play our lives out in a way that wasn’t as we’d planned; she married, I didn’t. Sometimes I can think ‘what if’ but I rarely think about it now because it’s so far on that may be things could have been worse from some terrible fate.

Despite this it is hard not to feel some guilt about not being completely the person who Maddie thought I was and our mapped out future was suddenly broken. There are times I feel like I was the Vince Pinner to Penny Warrender, while I didn’t stand Maddie up at the altar, telling her that I had gender problems was as good as not turning up to the church in its impact. Over a decade on though, as our lives took their own directions and that split of our relationship and how we have moved onI find myself feeling like Emily in Hampstead. Stuck amongst the memories decaying around me and not replacing them quick enough with new warm meaningful days and people.

I sprinted the last few yards with anything I could find and the standing water flicking up off my trainers up my uncovered calves. As I paced through the finish line and stumbled to a halt, bending over trying to catch my breath and hoping not to have to catch volumes of sick, I realised that at least I had people like these in my life. I have my friends, I have my close friends, and I have my running friends. May be it’s enough, at least for now.

Advertisements

J’adore Le Feu De Bois – A Christmas Special

There was no sparkling settled snow on pine trees. No dark quiet forest that would enchant the week before Christmas. That was for those north of the snow line. It was raining and a quieter than normal Wednesday while most were still in work and I was able to finish all my Christmas shopping, put a line under it, and not be landed with a building anxiety of unbought presents.

I walked through the department store into a cloud of different scents of perfume and eau de toilette. Bustling with people being talked into purchasing sizes of bottles that would. by two thirds of the bottle spent, become tired and boring or stale. A bottle of perfume caught my eye and I was instantly curious because I’d remembered the shapely clear bottle that was necked with a set of gold wire-like rings and the woman on the advert that had been on the television for months walking across a lake wearing a thin dress with hints of gold flowing in the breeze that tried to convince that ‘you too could be as free as we’re trying to make out’; and it certainly worked. The bottle widening to the bottom with it’s contents like being held in the palm of the hands and presenting it’s whiskey-like copper liquid in an almost elixir of life beyond water. The top like a stopper formed like a decanter top. Inviting, understated and rare – despite it being sold in the millions.

I picked up the bottle and looked around it but placed it back on the shelf. An assistant seemed to appear from nowhere much like the assistant in Mr Ben but much more pounced in a pushy sales tactic. “Did you get to try it?” she asked without as much as a ‘hello, can I help.’

“Er, yes.”, I hadn’t. I don’t even know why I said yes other than some panic reaction that would be the quickest way to move her on. I hadn’t any intention of buying any being short on money and just wanting to see the price out of curiosity for the future.

“So we have this size which is seventy pounds – ” already I knew this was going to be more than just expensive, it was the up-sell about to come, “and we have a special offer on the one hundred millilitre at…”

She didn’t need to finish. My mind had already switched off from what she had been saying because my eyes had locked already locked onto the top shelf where the largest box stood behind the glass door with a mediocre lock. One hundred pounds.

It’s not just the price. I have refined tastes, usually, which also means expensive tastes but even so the size of the bottle if it was that big would feel indulgent and may be even a little crass. That said, if someone gave it to me, I’m hardly going to complain. I would probably just have to use it twice as often. This is unlikely to happen.

“OK, thanks, that’s great.” I said kindly but nudging her away with words and slowly shifting down the banks of other perfumes pretended to look at others and hoping to escape. Her pushy tactic had turned me off any interest and I wasn’t planning on buying. It was a future pin in the board and all I wanted to do was seal or release my interest. I didn’t even get to smell it and now I didn’t even want to. I would leave it until another time. A retail therapy markup in my new year’s resolution diary for when I did have the money. Besides, this was yet another distraction from allowing me to actually get my Christmas shopping done, today. I moved on.

I walked up the wide staircase, the banister thick dark glossy wood, heavy and robust, and squarely turning back on itself to the upper floor. The heat held in by shelves full like a condensed forest in the form of books. Insulated and sound deadening and why people tend to talk a little hushed I don’t know. A hangover from how we used to behave in a library – which these days is a noisy place full of chatter and foreign exchange students leaching internet access to call home. I pulled a book from the shelf. A potential present.

I opened to a random page and the smell of ink on the page hit me. Unmistakable new book smell. I opened to the inside column of the front cover of the hard back to read the introduction. I suddenly felt an excitement inside. That new feeling you get when you start something new. May be starting an exciting new job, joining a new group of people of something that interests you or taking a holiday in a new place, it was the same. It was partly a feeling of wanting to read books again that I had taken a break from since the last time I went on holiday. It was also the possibility of what it might be like to be a writer. Successful, may be not, but just to have my words in print suddenly felt like something I would like to do. A feeling I’d had before but reignited by a match in the form of a description of an author. ‘An author.’

Not about riches, though that would be nice, not even about a face on the back cover or the inner sleeve but my own words for others to read and if not enjoyed but something to think about or to allow a strangers mind to imagine. It was a complicated feel of what could happen but it was also a simple feeling of doing something that mattered. Food for thought.

I closed the book and bought it. I came away with a present for someone and a reignition of motivation. I didn’t know where it would lead, if anything, but it solidified what was important and that was the words. On the way out I spotted a book that had been on sale last year for twenty pounds and now available on the bargain table for three pounds. The reality.

The reality didn’t really matter anymore because that wasn’t the dream and that last day of Christmas shopping did as much for me, my future and state of happiness as it did for the short term feeling of not having to worry about finding any last minute presents. The bottle of perfume and realising it wasn’t a contrived notion of femininity, it was just something I wanted and the book and it’s ability to light a fire inside about expressing myself in words and having it on paper was just as instinctual and innate.

And so I returned home where the only twinkle of snow on pine trees was the ice white lights on the Christmas tree shining out from the shadows of the living room barely lit by the dull winter light struggling to get through rain clouds. But with the tree and it’s razor-sharp lights reflecting in the gloss black paint of the piano and a warm mince pie on a plate, there was a little of that Narina type Christmas approaching.

This Christmas Eve would have been nice by an old log fire in an equally old typically British cottage pub with someone special but at home with a-glass-of-something and a supply of romantic films would do just fine for now.

I feel in a good place about myself and my well-being. I might not have made as much progress as I want, and when is that never the case, but I feel at one with who I am right now – and that’s probably the best Christmas Present I could ever have.

Until next time.

Merry Christmas x

Whole Again

It was a birthday party. Sporadic people I sort of know but the birthday girl was someone I’ve known for a very long time but hadn’t had a proper conversation with her in more years than I should be old. She was a girl I grew up with. If anything is to blame for the gender thing it was our friendship. She showed me how to plait hair when I was about seven.

I was tucked away in the far corner while the DJ set up his rig ready to blast out some typical birthday DJ tunes though thankfully YMCA was not to be heard. My parents were on their way but for now it was great to have a conversation with one of my in-laws. Not an in-law through my own means but through my greater sibling who decided to leave our conversation when his other half started a love-life chat with me.

“So come on, tell me. Are you and Maddie back together?” she said getting straight to the point. No dashing in and out of different roads of conversation over ten minutes to soften the blow of her question. As she normally does she got straight to the point. “Hope you don’t mind me coming straight out with it.” she said with an inquisitive smile suggesting that I must answer.

“Well you’re the only person to ask me that.” I said throwing back the exact reason why I’ve not spoken to anyone about it and that it never crossed my mind that we would ever get back together – so I said so, “No. We’re not.”

“So if say there was a chance and there was nothing stopping you –” she asked trying to dig further “– would you get back together.” At that moment the DJs test music suddenly stopped like a game of musical chairs and loudly she said, “– do you think you’d get back together then?”

“No.” I said. “I’m not in that place and it’s not going to happen.”

This was the exact point when I felt conflicted. She doesn’t know about the gender thing – well, she might do but I don’t know. It was so difficult trying to have the conversation about it without giving the main reason why it wouldn’t be happening. At the same time I didn’t want to give some exact reason that was basically made-up because I’m just fed up of the lies and hiding. At the same time this wasn’t the time or the place to be having that conversation. Shame.

“It’s just you seem to have remained friends.”

“Yes. Well I did live with her for years.”

She finally dropped the interrogation but continued on similar lines like whether there was anyone else or what I wanted. The conversation fizzled but I felt stagnant not being able to say what the reason reason was. I think she sees my loneliness and the stresses I go through.

With everything in the news this week on Caitlyn Jenner and Kellie Maloney I’ve felt the need the question myself and the difficulties coming with every that is gender. Reading the comments in Facebook news clippings, that have been going around, most people appearing to be supportive and some sounding ill-educated spurting out sound-bites like ‘she’ll never be a woman I don’t care what anyone says.’ It got to me a bit, not because of what that person said or any meaning behind it, because I just wondered if I could cope with that sort of a reaction. In the end I came to a conclusion of sorts that firstly I wouldn’t have to go through half of the crap either of those will get from time to time because they’re high up the celebrity list, but secondly it didn’t really matter. For each day I may find that I just won’t get bothered at all.

What struck me last week though walking through the city one work day lunch time was the change in the air. A certain something about the news on these two transgendered people that made it feel like there was a change in attitude. It was no longer humour at our expense as these things usually turn out. There was a tide of change amongst the public’s understanding. It felt like people were finally seeing something new that meant our civilisation as a national community was coming to some kind of acceptance. It was like the word was on the street. People were finally talking about it and being positive. It felt like people weren’t finding gender identity a strange thing to fear. People were coming to an understanding. It’s only a start but it was something and it was noticeable.

It gave me a glimmer of hope and a resetting of my mental state. I have felt like my heels have been dragging. By Saturday I was in town and browsing some clothes. I still want that dress for the summer but nothing had quite fore-filled the template in my head that the dress had to match until I came across a skirt in the back of a shop of beach-style wear. Vintage cream with a dusting of floral print throughout and tailored lines down the front and back with a soft cotton feel. I grabbed the first one I could find in my size and bought it on a whim. I needed something to make me feel just a little whole again even if it would be short lived.

The sunshine of the weekend and the grass now finally dry in the garden meant I could be laying out in the sun and wear my new treat but even on my own lawn I suddenly felt a feeling I hadn’t for quite some time. I knew this skirt was obvious. It was a skirt after all but not just that it is ultra feminine and there would be no doubt, if anyone saw me, who I was. That small hesitation made me feel like I’d gone back a few steps, even a few years.

This is easily over come though. All I have to do is think about my counselling sessions with the phycologist and some of the feelings of progress come back. Those feelings of knowing who I am and caring more about how I feel about it that others. What others think is for them to deal with. With any luck I’ll find my way back to where I was knowing my way forward.

Until next time.

x

Rustic Romance

I found the box at the back of the desk in the study. A large storage box full of little boxes of photos. There was a photo I was trying to find that I took years ago but you know what it’s like when you’re looking for a specific photo with no library indexing system or chronological order. It’s not like now where you can open up your Facebook albums or a copy of iPhoto and go straight to the year it happened. These were prints from a film camera. Developed at cost and a free sticker from Boots should the photo be over exposed. It just meant going through every single box and flicking through every photo.

I was in a good frame of mind and that was a good thing. I did find the photo after about ten or fifteen minutes but it came at a price. A whole decade or more of memories and smiles. Every photo containing an incident of some kind. “Oh god, I remember that.” and “What on earth were we thinking.” Sometimes because of what we’d done or some of the clothes we’d worn. Always pushing the boundaries in our twenties. Trousers with ever more bold stripes that might get us noticed more in some, what now, is really a crappy night club.

The thing is not one of these photos contain Hannah. Sure, I’m there, but it’s covert. Looking at some of them I see little bits of me unconsciously trying to show myself for who I am. A rather feminine expression on my face, body language, a glint in my smile or just a look in my eyes. I wonder how no one ever saw it. May be I’m the naive one and everyone saw it and they just didn’t like to say. I remember when I first introduced Maddie to my family. Later that day my grandmother said, “We were starting to wonder.” Thanks!

Some of the photos are insane. Cameron, that friend you might remember from a previous blog with all the luck, charm and money – a chancer if you like, stands there in his expensive threads next to his new sports car. Never jealous of his success or indeed his losses, in fact I could be quite inspired by it even if it wasn’t always justified. The fact he got on with things rather than mope negatively about any and everything. He wasn’t smug in anyway but it was all about his presence that he enjoyed. Right down to the glasses he wore to improve his appearance of intellect which he didn’t need to wear – mainly because they had plain glass. It brought a smile to my face even though I miss his friendship since he left the country.

I flicked through the photos that were so well preserved and glossy that they looked like they were taken yesterday. That soft smell of printed ink rose from the pile of photos as I pulled another bunch out. They lacked the crayon mustard and browns of photos from the 70’s because by the 90’s photos were vibrant and kept well but they didn’t loose their nostalgia. It made their nostalgic effect ever more present. I didn’t need to look through any more photos, I already found what I needed, but the want to look is addictive once you get started. An ever pull and push of on to the next with memories racing to the front. Memories that I’d forgotten that I didn’t even realise I was still holding on to in the archives of my mind.

Then photos of Maddie’s and me appeared. Sharing a meal in a restaurant. Moments trying the others food off their fork; though being a romantic meal for two I do wonder who had taken the photo. A barbecue on the beach with sea weathered logs keeping a fire going at sunset and Maddie looking into the camera with her long pony tails and not a sign of charcoal grubbiness on her face unlike me. Pure rustic romance.

Happiness turned to emotions of loss and sadness. Beautiful photos that on close inspection contained a look from both of us in alternating photos that I could quite clearly see that what can only be described as the love in their eyes. There is something about that look that overrides everything that is happening in the photo. The other may be laughing about something and yet the eyes of the other looking right through everything in that moment. It’s that rest of your life look when you know that is the person.

I had to stop looking through the photos. I tried a few more but I felt the sadness rising. It was loss, in fact grief. No one had died but the relationship had. Despite everything both of us have done since there is a very real loss of something that was good. It wasn’t just grief for my loss but also for Maddie’s loss of the person in the photo that she knew before I told her. I still care enough that I realise everything she had gone through as well. A strong relationship as well as the loss of our youth. Our mid-twenties. The best times of my life even if not particularly the most productive.

This is the price we can pay for our natural inner core that tells us we’re not the right gender. Something I couldn’t contain or ignore because it would just come back. Something I risked my relationship for and lost. Something Maddie lost. While now, just a couple of days later and with the feeling of grief subsided, even though with everything I’ve lost, I can at least smile now and then at some of the amazing experiences I did have. The endless opportunities that arose even after throwing in the towel on other things like jobs and occasions just to find something better with caution really thrown to the wind. I have been so super lucky. It might not have been everything I wanted but it was everything and more.

Until next time.

x

The M word

It was the bouquet that did it. A set of modern tightly bunched white roses with the pin point glow of some white led lights dotted between the flowers as the bridesmaid, with a smile on her face, picked up the bouquet at the end of the film. It may not have been the lack of marriage in my life that I found emotional but the view of a happy couple starting their new ‘perfect life’. The vision of fresh new uncertainty and excitement of a new life together and the possibilities that are endless.

I almost feel that I’m at an age that I’m unlikely to ever feel that and even less likely, even if it did happen, to be beaming cheek to cheek from inside a post modern white dress. In my teens and early twenties it was one of those innate things that I knew I would get married. It would be part of the progress of life but as I fell into my mid twenties the idea fell out of favour. I suppose the hint of the gender thing becoming something else was probably in the back of my mind; but then I met Maddie.

The relationship was a whirlwind and even when we moved in together there was that new start feeling. Out of higher education and into our careers, a set of successful middle class friends and something new to do every weekend. The only thing we didn’t have was the M word. While it should have been a forgone conclusion and the natural thing to do the niggling feeling that I would have to confront who I was slowly crept up on me and it was a huge wall solidly built buy a professional with solid London brick and perfectly mixed cement.

Some time during the first couple of years of our relationship Maddie proposed to me, not once but twice and the excuses came. I couldn’t believe I was saying I wasn’t ready. Here were two people deeply in love and yet it couldn’t happen. The internal guilt washed through my skin and inside and out. I hated myself for it but the conflicting urge to protect Maddie from the hurt of finding out about me, Hannah was too much to over rule my need to say yes and to make Maddie happy with security and a future.

One weekend break, when we were celebrating our anniversary of our first date in a smart London hotel, it happened again. We were sharing a bottle of champagne in tall flute glasses that we opened before the suitcase. There was a noise coming from the cabinet opposite the bed. Voices and talking. I opened the cabinet doors and inside was a television with hotel graphics that welcomed us by my surname preceded by the acronyms “Mr & Mrs”. We laughed at the mistake that the hotel had made and the presumption and certainly set the mood for the break. Then Maddies demeanour changed. She looked at me with melting eyes. “Will you marry me?”

A third time. The shame of it. The shame that this far into our relationship and I was still sitting on a big secret that was big enough that I had to do something about it and yet it was stopping me saying yes and stopping me asking Maddie to marry me at some perfect location on the perfect day or perfect night. A hot summer day over a picnic in front of Leeds Castle or may be along a promenade just as fireworks rose to the stars. I couldn’t let the farce go for a third time. I said “yes.”

Despite our ‘engagement’, which to this day I forget and cannot believe, was soon filled within a few months with a flooding of pressure and stress. I needed to tell Maddie. How could I be promising my life to her if one major part of who I am hadn’t been expressed. One night we had just gone to bed. Maddie knew something was up. I don’t know whether she thought it was work stress. “Is everything okay?” she said inquisitively. She knew something was wrong and that was obvious, it was just what? I’d been acting strangely for a bit, somewhat erratic. I remember what I told her and I remember how fast my heart was going. Sweat slowly creeping out of the pores of my skin and face. I don’t even know why I told her. It was auto-pilot. It was the sheer stress of living a lie.

“Remember when we used to live at the flat –” There was no reply. There was no need for a reply because just like a counsellor she simply had to remain silent and allow my own head to just get it all out. The flow of a stream constantly gushing into a large rock pool of release and freedom, but once it was out that would be it. There would be no going back. You can’t take back knowledge and something like this was unlikely to be forgotten. It was a broken glass that no amount of glue would return it to it’s previous incarnation.

“– that day you curled my hair with the tongs.” We had messed around with the curling tongs and Maddie had written it off as fun as far as I knew but for me it was a little more of course. “Well –“ I said with a pause which felt like I was holding my breath to stop myself from drowning. “I liked it.”

Eventually that sentence turned to paragraphs and I explained how long I’d felt that way. Much of it came out in that conversation and I didn’t realise the effect at it’s magnitude it would have on her. While that is another story all talk of marriage had dissolved. It was enough just to stay together while I tried to decide what I wanted. An answer that didn’t come.

So here I am over a decade after I told Maddie. Still single and feeling like that eternal spinster-or-bachelor realising that my life is still on hold and it’s passing me by so quickly. My relationship with Maddie did, for a while, have that new life feeling for endless possibilities and so may be I have experienced that wedding day feeling in some form and I should be thankful for that; it just wasn’t in white. I do believe in fairy tail endings. I think they can happen and that is very much in our control. Finding my way is the challenge and there is so much to think about before relationships let alone the M word.

Until next time.

Hannah x

The Unspoken Truth

Why did I have to pick up the rom-com book. Why did I have to start reading it, getting into the scene, almost as if I were there and smiling as the romantic ignition of two people on the first few dates sharing that magic spark. Argh. Zoom back to my life and remembering that I’ve not felt that spark in at least seven years. Dear lord, has it really been that long.

It was another warm day which itself brings out the couples on their lunch holding hands and indulging in light meaningless idle chat. Nothing greater makes me feel so old and worn. A new rut to have fallen into. I think it was this that made me phone the hospital to find out what had happened to the promised chasing up of my case and possible referral for further analysis or treatment for the gender thing. Once I had returned from lunch I found an empty meeting room. Somewhere where I was unlikely to be bothered or heard but the phone rang and rang until the automated system kicked in, “Press one to try again.” I tried once but nothing. I slouched back to work at my mundane desk deciding to try again later in the afternoon. By ten to five, once I had remembered, it was too late.

A few days later I tried again. This time after a short ringing the phone went silent for at least twenty seconds. It felt like an eternity. Had I been cut off? Was there someone there? “Hello?” nothing. “Hello?” The phone started ringing again and shortly went to an automated system, “This is the EE voice mail. Please leave a message.”
‘Whoh, I’m not doing that.’ I thought. That could have been anyones voice mail. I could imagine leaving a message, ‘I just wanted to know the status of my gender reassignment referral.’ which ends up being collected by a shocked and confused doctor in Obstetrics. I left it for another day.

Friday and I decided to call mid morning. Late enough for someone to be in and early enough to ensure no one had slipped off for a half day; a popular public sector past time. Praise the house of lords a voice. “Hello –” and some very quiet inaudible introduction to the mental health unit.
“Is this Dr Neil’s team?” I enquired.
“Yes it is. How can I help.” came the efficient and professional voice.
“At my last appointment Dr Neil said he was going to chase up the status of my case.” I kept it more than generic. Something I had rehearsed with various options in my mind. While I would happily talk about the in’s and out’s of the conflicts of my gender I suffer everyday I thought I would spare her and me the conversation. “I wondered if I could get a message to Dr Neil to ask him to chase it up for me?”
“Well Dr Neil is on holiday for two weeks. He went last week so if you call up the week after next he should be able to help you.”
This was fine. I was about to say thank you and leave it there but given how many times I’ve called over the last couple of weeks and that I would feel this was a missed opportunity to at least get something done, even if just for my peace of mind, I pushed a little further.
“That’s fine.” I said, “Would it be possible to send him an email so he knows about it when he comes back?” It felt pushy and a bit cheeky but they’re there to help me and I felt I needed this.
“Yes of course.” she said politely as if it were no trouble.

Later that day during lunch I had a missed call on my mobile. I quickly called back the voice mail and listened while my parents opposite me in the cafe watched their coffee cups seep their warmth. I didn’t even think about who this voice mail could be from and whether it would be in ear-shot from the small mobile phone speaker.

It was the mental health unit. “Oh hello I’m phoning from Dr Neil’s office. It’s just to say I don’t know what is happening and Dr Neil is on leave at the moment. I’ll ask him when he gets back and get back to you. Okay. Thank you.”

I was none-the-wiser but, despite the duplicity of the information, in retrospect I realised that this meant my call was logged. Someone was aware of me and something was going to be chased; hopefully. There was more to this call than just idly chasing for an answer. It was to allow me to get on with other things without feeling forgotten and on hold.

So this leaves me back at the park with my book and fictional romance and another week passing like the last that passed like the one before it. It means I can look to change other things but somethings can’t be changed. I can force falling in love or finding someone to fall for me just like I can’t force myself into ultra femininity or masculinity alike just to win approval of others amongst the community, friends and family.

When I’d got off that phone after listening to that voice mail all I said to my parents was “That was the hospital. Telling me exactly the same thing as they told me when I called earlier.” I realise that I still don’t talk to them about it in detail, but then neither do they ask anything. I think my Mum’s response was something like, “Tsk. Typical.” Showing understanding without understanding or questioning. Of course it’s most likely that they both know why I’ve been going there for what must be something like two years and I know they know and they probably know that I know and it’s all just exactly as ridiculous as that just sounded; the unspoken truth that one day must come out.

When I was in sessions with the psychologist, Katherine, I told her something that I’d not told anyone; which is the sort of thing we all do in analysis without realising how intimate these thoughts are. That’s how comfortable and safe it feels. I had mentioned how with some health scares my parents had at the time and I told her how I’d thought, ‘as much as I fear telling my parents about me –‘ the gender thing, ‘if something were to happen to them I would regret not allowing them to know and share that part of me.’ Katherine at that moment sighed in sorrow and placed her hand on her heart. It was at that point, seeing the effect it had on her as a psychologist, that I saw the reflection of my own sadness and state of mind. The pressure that was on me to make a huge decision in my life that would effect me forever. The very core of who I am and how I might lead the rest of my life if I ever get out of this rut of fear and guilt. The fact that I want to share the feminine side of me as much as the person they already know – even if they can see some of the femininity now, there is so much more. Seeing the way Katherine reacted made me hear what I had said as if I’d heard someone say it about themselves and feeling sorrow for them of what they were going through – but the reality was that person was me.

Until next time.

x

Love

Love. That running through the park until we laugh so hard and stop in a magical stare where everything is said through just a look or that laughing so hard that one of us wants to puke. How does a condition that should be full of joy and contentment, that being the gender thing, lead to so much denied love. Where did the years go since I last felt it and was able to return it. I am untouchable. Not because people know about me but because I no longer let them near, and despite everything in life that I am happy with, my love life is passing me by. The film hasn’t been finished and now the actress is showing signs of being a little too old for the part.

I am starting to wonder whether I should continue to embrace the single life and continue to be the eternal spinster or if I’m not quite that lucky with my progress – bachelor. Yuk. May be it’s time I start allowing people in. I’ve been happy enough to show case my skinny jeans and continue to allow my daily eyeliner to get subtly darker and leave it hanging on to my eye lid through the working day rather than popping off to the toilets to look in the mirror and smudge it back a few shades. These are small things compared to finding that someone.

Love, or more relevant, a relationship comes with it’s own niggles just like the single life does. Sharing moments and the give and take. The eventual moving in and putting up with each others habits and tastes in furniture. It almost feels like a chore if it wasn’t for the thought that may be, just may be, if I find the right person these things won’t be a problem. Relationships have their ups and downs and waves of happiness but if it’s the right person, that bond that makes us finish each others sentences (and sometimes each others food) or knowing exactly what the other is thinking or feeling. With all these things, the pluses and minuses of spending my life with someone is the gender thing, really a big deal. Is the big deal just me and everything in my head. A famous therapist author once wrote how we think others perceive us is only down to how we project ourselves to the world.

When I split up with my girl friend after several years of realising that my gender will not be compatible with hers I left any possibility of a relationship with anyone there and then. Sure there have been people since who have shown interest but the few that got close got turned away. It was just too hard to put them through it all over again but then again I didn’t give them the chance to know about it all. I think I just wasn’t ready to. Since then I have become a different person. A new found confidence of being myself and not giving a damn what others think.

Five days on and Good Friday had set in. The weather was dry but non-descript in it’s grey cloud. It gave me no desire to venture from the house and so as the day passed and the evening fell I found myself trying to find my romanticist side. I felt drained of my thoughts of love earlier in the week and so I took to the bath, candles, a string of tiny bright lights and a Hugh Grant-athon of movies awaited.

The problem with the romantic movies is that I fall into them, devoured by their spellbinding nature, sometimes even hypnotic and by the end, with a smile and/or a tear, for that moment when the sparks happen I’m there – in that moment. I’ll even watch the credits move slowly up the screen with my mind flashing back over the last one hundred and twenty or so minutes. Once the credits are gone then it’s either a rush back to reality whooshing from the fantasy that may be the real fairy tales can happen or that I go to bed with happy thoughts.

It wasn’t long before Four Weddings was over and Andie MacDowell had failed to create that moment between the two characters; for me at least. Then Nottinghill was being pinched from my fingers by the DVD player. A film I adore for it’s cultured nature without being too deep, dark or saturated in urban grit. The glances from Bella when she realises there is something between Will and Anna is just one of the many scenes that start the hypnotic state. Then the end, that moment, will she, won’t she stay? Then the climax and I’m there, for both of them. I’m neither wishing I was or want to be either of the characters, well that might be a little lie but not for this moment, it’s just the moment that I want. That moment of spark. When two become one.

This is just therapy in the form of a film. Something to entertain and give us that feel good factor. But it had worked to some extent and by Monday the sun was shining and the weather warm adding that blue sky therapy. I was up before nine and running the streets and heading to a lake. It wasn’t to gather my thoughts but to rest from them. To free my mind a little and just be.

It was quiet except for just a few birds squawking that echoed from the surrounding hills and trees. No public, just me. I may have been alone but I felt at one. It was at least a distraction from the silence of the mental health unit apart from a letter pushing my cancelled appointment to somewhere in the middle of the summer and still no word on what happens next.

Part of me wants to call and ask if the whole referral thing can be chased-up and then part of me is thinking, well what will it give me. What can I achieve by knowing whether I’ll be referred for more therapy of some kind whether talkie or medical somewhere else? Can I not just continue life as I am making my own progress in real life, whether it be in living or love. The problem is life is moving on at a pace and given how the health service can drag it’s heels and waiting lists get ever so much longer chasing-up is something that has to be done to ensure that I’m not another quarter way through my life before they get things moving.

In the mean time the important things can be done. Raising my confidence and may be just letting out a little more of who I am every now and then. When I returned home my neighbour was out finishing washing his car. He kind of looked at me, noticing the three quarter length bottoms and my little ankle socks. ‘Hiya, buddy.’ May be it just didn’t seem right to him to use my name.

Until next time.

X