Tuesday, August 4, 2009

First Time Out in 25 Years

I didn't sleep well at all last Friday night. All I could think about was my planned trip into Richmond as my real self, to meet some transwomen for dinner. Meeting them first, was a prerequisite for attending a meeting of their TG support group, and I was determined to do it fully dressed. The last time I was out on the street dressed in Richmond, was twenty-five years ago, when ironically, I went for a makeover to a Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, practically right next door to where I was supposed to meet these women. Since I retired a year and half ago, I have been living here at home pretty much full time as Melissa, both inside an out, even cutting my grass in my girl clothes, but other than trips up to the mail box a quarter of a mile away, I haven't ventured off my 4.5 acres, so quite naturally I was a bit anxious over this upcoming event. So anxious in fact, that the Benadryl I took to help me fall asleep that night, had absolutely no effect. My mind was racing and I just couldn't get relaxed.

I think I finally got to sleep at about 4:00AM on Saturday morning. At 7:30 AM I had to get up to go to the bathroom, then I went back to bed and tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn't. The morning light was filtering through the blinds and my mind started racing with thoughts of the up coming evening again, so I decided to get up. I slipped into a pair of thong sandals, and went out to the kitchen in my yellow, lace trimmed, shorty nylon pajamas. I made some coffee and a bowl of oat bran, into which I sliced a half a banana, and then I scooped out about a cup of plain yogurt, and mixed a couple of teaspoons of blueberry preserves into it. That and the other half of the banana later for a mid morning snack, would hold me until lunch. I wanted to stay busy so I wouldn't be constantly thinking about going out, so I did a few loads of laundry. After lunch I got on my mountain bike, which I have mounted in a magnetic resistance stand, and pedaled hard for about an hour an ten minutes, while watching a couple of episodes of the BBC documentary, World At War, narrated by Lawrence Olivier. I always feel so much better for the rest of the day, after a good work out.

Finally it was time to shower and get ready. I had let my beard grow for a day and half, hoping it would help me get a closer shave. I usually shave a couple of times a day with a Norelco, but since I was going out, I wanted the closest shave I could get. The only way I can get my beard soft enough to allow a super close shave, is to let it grow out for at least a day and half, then steam it with a damp towel, heated in the microwave, followed by a thorough face washing with scalding hot water. I got some new shaving gel, specially formulated for guys that shave their heads. The stuff is great! It lubricates your skin far better than any foam you'll ever find in an aerosol can. The best part about it, is it's clear, so it lets you see where you need to put your razor, and unlike foam, when it starts to dry out, all you have to do is wet your hand and rub your face again and it instantly rehydrates to keep your beard from drying out. But as good as this stuff is, I still managed to get four nicks. One at each corner of my mouth, one under my lower lip, and one on the bottom of my chin. The three around the mouth were mere scrapes, but the one on my chin was a bleeder. After wiping my face down with an astringent, and much dabbing with a cotton ball, I finally stopped the hemorrhaging. Shaving is such bitch! I hate it! I'm really going to have to look into laser. I know most of my beard is white and the laser won't phase it, but I still have a significant amount of dark hair, especially in my moustache and goatee area, and that's what creates the shadow.

I did my make up as naturally and tastefully as I could, going easy on the eyeliner and blush, and doing my lips only with a very natural colored Clinique lip pencil. A thin little line of smoky dark shadow just in the crease over my eyeballs and some Clinique Lash Power mascara in black slate, and I was done, and following the lead of sweet Caroline in her outing a couple of weeks ago, I too drenched myself in Channel (No. 5, I love the stuff!). Fortunately, it's very subtle, and after about a half an hour, you have to get up pretty close to smell it, so you don't have to worry about leaving a wake of fragrance behind you, wherever you go.

Since Alyssa told me that dress was extremely casual, I just wore a pair of fade jeans, a fuchsia linen blouse, and a pair of Trotters woven calfskin loafers. By then it had been about five hours, since lunch and I was beginning to feel a little bit shaky. I had to give my blood sugar a little boost, because it would be at least a couple of more hours before I would finally get to eat, so I spread some peanut butter on half of a piece of whole wheat bread and some strawberry preserves on the other half and wolfed in down, just before leaving the house.

I don't know what I was so worried about. I looked good in my ash brown wig and make up, and felt full of confidence while driving down the road, even when passing through the little village a couple of miles to my east, where there are a couple of gas station/convenience stores and people are always coming in and out and milling about. A couple of miles past that and I was on the Interstate. I set the cruise control for 70, and just turned the radio on and listened to Garrison Keeler's Prairie Home Companion. About 45 minutes later I was pulling off at the exit, which deposited me about five or six blocks from where I needed to go in a part of Richmond called Carytown. It’s a very popular section of town, where the streets are lined with small shops and places to eat and drink, and there were lots of people out on the street. I drove five or six blocks to where I was going, and pulled into the parking lot next door. Fortunately there were plenty of open parking places and I got one fairly close to the entrance/exit. I turned off the motor and checked my nose in the rear view mirror and decided it need a little powder, I pulled my compact and a small portable powder brush out of my bag and dabbed my nose little before getting out of the car and walking the half a block to Babe's.

Babe's is a popular lesbian bar/restaurant/hangout. By day it's a place to eat and after dark it's a place to hangout, dance to DJ music, and occasionally watch live drag shows. I had been by the place hundreds of times when I lived back in town in the eighties and early nineties, but even though I always wanted to, I never went inside, because I didn't think I would fit in as a male, but this time I wouldn't be going in as a male. I walked in and was lightly taken back by the look of the place. I don't know why, but in my mind I pictured a brighter, livelier scene that what was staring me in the face. I walked back to the booths where Alyssa had told me they hung out and I instantly recognized her from her picture in Pink Essence. She and several other girls were sitting in a booth with a lone dim light on the wall above. Another table had been place up against the table in the booth, and several chairs had been placed around it to accommodate more people. I introduced myself and made an awkward comment about how dark it was in there, and someone said something like, well.... its a bar. They were already eating, so I sat down and asked if they had anything to eat that was good. One of the girls answered that it's just bar food, so I looked at the menu and it was indeed the standard fare of burgers and other various sandwiches, accompanied by a pile of potato chips and a slice of pickle. I normally try to eat pretty healthy, but since that wasn't an option, I went for the Swiss cheeseburger, which turned out to be juicy and pretty good. Bar hamburgers usually are, but I'm sure I got my daily quota of fat and sodium in that one sandwich!

I'm a shy person, and I'm much better when dealing with people one on one. I'm not very good with meeting groups of people for the first time, so the evening felt a little awkward for me. The atmosphere was kind of subdued, and there were multiple conversions going on at once. I found myself trying to divide my attention between them, and do something I that am notoriously very poor at, making small talk. I was also sitting in the aisle, facing across the spare table into the booth, so the people in the booth were really too far away to talk to without having to raise my voice. Alyssa, who I had hoped to be able to talk to, was sitting all the way back in the booth against the wall, so she was really too far away to carry on a conversation with. A lesbian couple joined us a little later, and one of them sat next to me. She was easy to talk to. She was rather animated and talked freely. I found out she was originally from Germany, and when I told her I was born there, she asked where. When I said Regensburg, her face it up. It seems that was just a short hop from where she was from. So I had good time talking to her about Germany, and telling her a little bit about the three times I lived there while growing up.

All of the transwomen there appeared to be either post-op, or well into their journey, and that made me feel a little intimidated, especially when one of them asked me if I was starting my transition, and I had to tell her no, that this was my first time out in 25 years and I hadn't done anything yet. When the German woman heard that, she said, "WHAT? 25 years? Girl, you need to get out more!" lol I said, "Yeah, I know you're right."

Well anyhow, after a couple of hours, some of the girls decided they wanted to go sit on the patio out back, where they have a volley ball court. They asked me if I wanted to come, but because of my lack of sleep the night before, and the stress of the entire day, I was feeling fairly exhausted, and I still had an hour long drive to get home, so I begged their leave. Alyssa reminded me of their support group meeting on Friday at the local free clinic, and asked if I needed directions. I told her I knew the street it was on, and I was familiar with the area, so I should find it with no trouble. She and one of the other girls gave me a hug, and I walked out the door onto the street.

It was dark when I emerged and the streets were all lit up with the amber glow of the sodium vapor streetlights. There were still lots of people walking around and with purse slung over my shoulder; I walked passed a man and woman. They seemed to pay me no mind. Further on at the entrance to the parking lot, I passed several people sitting at a table of an outside cafe, and once again they seemed to pay me no mind. Of course I didn't dare wheel around to see if they were gawking at me after I passed, but I sensed that they weren't. I'm over six feet tall, but I do look like a girl when I'm dressed and in make up, especially from a distance, so maybe they suspected nothing. Then again, maybe people are getting so used to seeing us, that we just don't faze them anymore. I hope so. This whole experience left me somewhat exhausted, but it was very liberating, and it's given me the confidence to go out again. Thanks to all of you sweethearts, who left encouraging replies to my last blog. You all helped give me the confidence to take this first big step!



Leslie Ann said...

That was huge, Melissa! I feel your pain regarding small talk and groups of new people: terrifying! But it sounds like you got through it and they expect to see more of you. I'm very happy for you.

chrissie said...

Well doen, cariad!!

See? You wasted a good worry.


caroline said...

Give yourself a "gold star"for courage!

Soon you will not give it a second thought.

Congratulations, so happy for you.

Caroline XXX

Anonymous said...

I'm SOOO glad you went. Now you have the bug...lol. Soon you'll be burning gas like crazy, going out all the time. No more hermit crab for Melissa.

I'm just wondering...when you got home, were you able to go to sleep? I think the adrenaline would have kept me awake AFTER the evening too.

Congrats, and here's wishing you many more successful outings. :)Suzi

Brittany Roche said...


I am so happy for you! You took that first step that you needed to take, and from now on things will only get easier for you. Your courage will inspire many!