Artisan Thinking

It was like that early autumn humid air in London. I wasn’t in London and it’s still summer but it was completely overcast and the odd spot of of rain hit my arms. The grey noise of commuter traffic in the distance. I was having my pre-work morning walk in the village, a long way from the city.

I caught the eye of the older gentleman walking on the other side of the road, red faced that seemed both a bit sun and alcohol induced, a life time of a bit of both rather than of the abusive kind. “Good morning.” I said brightly across the narrow residential dead-end road. It pays to be sociable when working from home given I’m unlikely to see anyone in person for the rest of the day. Most people respond.
“Good morning, love” he replied with a smile.

Sure it was at a distance enough that may be without his glasses, if he wears them, with my ponytail swaying about on my walk and the long running leggings that in combination kind of say what I want to present without too much effort. Even so, it kind of set me up for the day. Feeling recognised the way I wanted to be and I suppose it even staying with me through the working day. It’s not always like this though.

– ♥ –

I stood by the bus stop waiting. A queue of traffic coming from the city centre on a wide tree-lined road with old tall houses along its sides well-kept and standing firmly. A sort of bohemian part of the city. An event must had just finished, it was usually the only time the road would be like this other than commuter time, slow moving headlamps trailing along the asphalt, car windows down, some leaking music and some conversations with friends or asking banal questions to a taxi driver. The one thing the queue would mean is that the last bus of the night was going to be a bit delayed.

A man approached me from behind, a European lager glass dangling drunk from between his fingers, much like he was, with half a beer still somehow managing to stay in the glass.

He looked at me as he came around face to face and said, “You’re a bloke, are you?”

“Yes” I said. Not only was I alone, apart from the traffic and a lonely bus stop post, but he seemed a little more than drunk, which was clarified when later in our conversation while I was waiting for the bus to turn up he said, “You want some coke mate?” He produced a flimsy well used bag full of brown powder.
“No thanks, I’m good.” I said casually as to keep things as cordial as possible. I’d never seen cocaine in the flesh in my life before. The culinary part of me just thought, ‘that looks like soft brown sugar’ even now travelling on the bus I can smell the alcohol that was on his breath in my residual scent memory.

He gave me a waist hug at one point saying things will be ok, this was after he told me everything about “how good Margaret Thatcher was even though she was bad” amongst other rambling that fell on the deaf ears of the paving stones as his head drooped to the floor between the points he was trying to make. Nothing I could say could shift his topic of conversation, that was the one thing he was in control of and lead well.

The bus thankfully turned up while we were still friends and it ended with a fist bump that he insisted on stretching into the entrance of the bus, which I juggled between him and showing my ticket to the driver.

On the way home I considered what he’d said, “You’re a bloke, are you?” Was this a realisation of my physical gender or was he just not sure. I mean this had happened to me before many years ago while I was presenting full-on female back in the Bristol days, but that man wasn’t sure. He’s asked me if I had always been a woman and, at the time, I felt safe enough to play with him and said yes. He had looked at me unsure and couldn’t make him mind up. My friend sat next to me had smiled at this and it was fun. I was disheartened at the time and yet my friend said, think of it this way, he wasn’t sure. So in the end I got a positive from that situation. I was safe there, amongst other people in a bar and with a friend and the confidence of youth. In my bus stop situation I was alone, in the dark, on the edge of the city centre with a drunk stranger, possibly cocaine induced. Don’t get me wrong, he was not nasty at any point in our ten or fifteen minute conversation but it was not a time to play with the truth or more rightly giving my inner truth. My dress code was mixed and I certainly didn’t feel in a place that I could pass.

How I felt about this situation though in retrospect wasn’t that he probably thought I was outwardly female when it was approaching me along the pavement because all he would have seen at first was my rather long hair in a ponytail and a long female over-shirt that I had worn to the artisan courtyard bar earlier that night to socialise with a new friend. When he finally saw me face to face he realised that may be I might not be a woman (in the conventional sense) and that even his drunken eyes would cover up my gender, or reveal my gender identity in the way I wanted.

What it meant to me was that I’m still on most occasions still a mixed bag. Part of me is presentable and part of me isn’t. I can either worry about what doesn’t work or I can celebrate what I do have and work on things. And this is much like the rest of my life. Today I wandered around the home furnishings of a store and realised some of the lovely things I would like to have from the shop and how many things in my home are starting to look a little tired, like the dining table or to some extent my bed– both of which have had more use than their intended life span. Yet at the same time I have some new things around the house that do make me feel the way some of those items in the shop do. Subtle colours of soft hues in cushions, a beautiful gentle plant with feelings of airiness – a dining table that would be worthy of inviting friends over for dinner.

In fact while I was there I even found in the clothes section a lovely pair of denim shorts that would have replaced my failing and ageing denim shorts that while looking more and more fashionable as they thin and split but also have more chance of revealing sights of knicker material; I’m not sure my bravery spans that far. Sadly the new pair were in the petite section and so the search goes on.

The point is that some parts of my life are getting stale, much like the furniture my clothes and my gender and my progress. The positive thoughts that came out of this and sometimes the result of thinking so granularly at my life is that I can still change things if I want to. I can make good of what I have and change things if I need to. I’ve been sat around too long waiting for things to change around me without putting much in. Sure some things have improved or changed but my life still needs a bit of a spring clean. Whether it be dusting the shelves, changing the furniture or may be even moving home as part of reinvigoration. Some of it will most likely require more money than I have now and so I can look at what else I can do in my spare time to make that happen.

Until next time.

Emilia x

What Ifs

I think she’s younger than me, at least a bit. Probably late thirties I imagine. She was a friend of someone I used to know. When I say used to know it was from back in the days when I would frequent Bristol city with other gender–something friends, and when I say she was his friend, it was his girlfriend. I met Giles through one of my friends during a night out. He came over and had a chat to me one night. I didn’t know who he was but my friend Karen told me about him, most of my friends knew him apparently. The way he spoke to me it was quite obvious he was interested in me.

I was barely scraping together the courage to go out those days dressed female. I was over the fear of going to the bar to order drinks by this time but being chatted up like this was new to me, but I just spoke to him like any other person I would meet. I found out later that he really had a things for transwomen which was pretty obvious at the time. I also discovered how economical he was with the truth. Certainly not the medical doctor he claimed to be.

The girl in question, who I didn’t know but I’d heard he’d got engaged to some years later, subsequently split, then, as I found out this week are back together after some years – a post of her popped up on social media. I’m not friends with her in any way and in fact I’m not linked up to Giles either but I guess the chain of friendship finds a way in the end. I recognised her pretty much straight away but what a change from the photo I remember seeing of her with Giles, probably ten, may be twelve years ago.

She always looked feminine but she still had the remanence of her masculinity back then. Some say there is some pride to have in the masculine side that remains in being trans-female and even it’s own unique beauty, but the transformation on that decade or more of hormone therapy was to much extent transformative. Her skin had taken that translucent tone and, as she has matured, the lines around her face really suited her and to me she seemed complete. Only physically of course. I don’t know her personally, I don’t know what she is like to talk to as a person or how she has coped with her change in life.

For me it was one of those moment, partly of ‘what have I missed.’ A bit like one of those fork in the road films where they play out the life of someone in two directions where they made an important decision. I could see our familiarities but also how I didn’t take that option early like she had. But there was also a more positive moment for me which came before the thoughts of what if. I felt that thing of, ‘if she can do it, so can I.’ I could be, without sticking out like a sore thumb in society. Of course at my age hormones would probably be less effective that taking them twenty years ago but there is hope.

It’s a shame that our paths never crossed and that may be some of her confidence or advice might have rubbed off on me. May be I could have told her Giles was never a doctor, although I get the impression I was the only one that was sprung on. May be he told her he worked on the stock market or was an explorer. He certainly had a way of working things. He would switch the digits of his age around to appear somewhat younger than he was. God, I hope no one ever fell for that.

I never get too hung up about what ifs when it comes to paths never crossing. If I had met her it could have been more detrimental. We may have hated each other or she might have given me bad advice. Besides, I had plenty of friends at the time in the land of the gender thing, its just for most of them advice was thin on the ground and it was all about going out, having a good time and getting a little drunk – sometimes.

I think about how I wish I’d done something more, or doing something now, but at the same time I stand with my back against the wall in the garden on this cooling summer evening, looking at the stars with a glass of wine in my hands – which in itself has become a rarity these days, feeling how my denim shorts fit me and how the thin summer top drops low around my chest and shape gives just some hint of who I am. For that moment looking into the darkness of the sky I forget about the physical parts of me that don’t complete who I am. For that moment I am no longer aware of them.

My imagination runs wild feeling how things should feel. How I would be shaped differently, and not just physically, emotionally. One night. Just for that moment I am, without operations or medicinal help. It may not be complete but to some extent how my mind frames my physical body can be temporarily corrected by imagination. Of course it is temporary and being on my own at that moment helps. There are no criticisms. No society to judge either way. While it may feel amazing for that moment to just be true to myself with just me and the ether, it’s not the whole story. It’s not just places and surroundings that make our lives what they are but other people are also part of the recipe. May be there is still more work to be done.

Until next time.

Emilia x

Just Be

I laid on the floor along side the sofa. I could feel the texture in the flat coarse weave of the rug under my arms. I looked at the ceiling, had it always really been that bumpy? Someone had obviously tried to repair a break but being rental never really bothered to do it properly. The blood seemed to fall away into the back of my head, my arms and legs like everything from the whole week was running out of me but the sadness stayed just behind my eyes.

I don’t know where it had come from. Whether it was just because of an exhausting week or the last few months or whether my whole gender-thing had taken a back seat in my life since being ejected, not physically of course, from the care of the gender identity clinic in the city. Of course the gender-thing never goes away, it’s always there and I carry on with how I am, how I enjoy who I am, how I feel internally and how I express myself whether it be clothes or otherwise. But it’s the absence of progress that has made me feel empty.

My job is probably the most rewarding I’ve ever had and while it’s not the best paid, I work with people I like, it has highs and lows enough to keep things interesting and its very flexible. Other than that woman who said something with a hint of transphobia once about two years ago, not to me, I’m not out at work, but she has long since retired. I was really torn over that office collection I can tell you. With my career content it wasn’t, for once, a work problem.

I got up off the floor and sat on the sofa armed with some comfort chocolate, comfort for myself and comfort for the sofa which will inevitably get adorned with shards of melted chocolate no doubt. I lit a short fat candle to stop the room feeling so emotionally cold.

I suppose there will always be a point in life where the gender identity will not be a progression thing anymore, it’ll just – be. May be that’s where I am with it. May be I should just be.

I think it’s because I feel my progress hasn’t come to an end. I officially started my journey, and by officially I mean talking to a professional about my gender identity issues, around ten years ago and while I don’t begrudge my progress I feel I could have done more.

I’m no longer terrified about answering the front door in some of my clothes and I’ve been around my parents identifying visually quite obviously though nothing is said of course. Well, to some extent. There was that time in the seaside cafe catching up with my Mum last summer. It was probably the most I’d presented around her. The only reason I did it was because I just wanted to wear those clothes that day.

Denim turn-up shorts, medium blue, cropped sleeve white t-shirt and trainers, sunglasses resting on my hair I suspect, and we were addressed by the cafe staff as “ladies”. Can’t quite believe I presented that way that day. I didn’t actually think how obvious it was at the time, I just wanted to wear those clothes on a sunny day. My mum later corrected one person that day indirectly and subtly through conversation. Kind of some sort of defence on my behalf, which she need not have and probably made it all worse.

I guess it’s been lots of little steps until this one large step that I just don’t seem to be able to stretch to. There was a time a few months ago where I considered returning to the older days of going out in another city for a night and then coming home and putting away most of who I am. But after talking to a few people online I realised I was beyond that. That wasn’t who I am and never was. It was a chance to meet up with like minded people who also had some kind of gender identity issue. I felt that if I returned to those days I would be failing myself.

The retrospective feelings subsided soon enough. It was more a rose tinted look to the past for answers but what I found there wasn’t the good memories as such but the hard parts. The getting ready and travelling the distance just for a night out hoping my make up was still covering the shadow and that my hair was still straight after all the effort I put in with the irons.

Legs shivering as the cold winter rain in the dark evening streets of the city hit my legs. Parking the car on the street and hoping it would still be there when I got back. The early hours driving home and the smell of foundation clinging to parts of my top ready for the washing machine to try and dissolve the next day. And some of the friends through circumstance that would let me down in one way or another.

That’s not to say I didn’t have real genuine friends and some fun nights out, but it wasn’t always that way. Exciting, complex, double life. It’s not what the gender thing is about, it’s just part of the journey that can be left behind for the mundanity of normal life – just as female rather than a tourist. It was all so long ago.

Until next time.

Emilia x