Sunday, January 6, 2013

Flammable

I was finally going out.  And while it wasn’t technically a date, a girl can dream.  I was going out with a fabulous woman and her cute gay cousin for dinner and drinks.  It was Friday night, girls’ night out.  In my new life as Gia, I haven’t had the opportunity to experience that unique event yet, and while tonight wasn’t that grand, there certainly was to be more drama than I was used to.  It was Portland, Maine, on a cold January night; it wasn’t exactly an episode of Real Housewives.  If there were spray tans and fake boobs, they were difficult to spot under layers of fleece, flowing scarves, and wool hats.



The week was interestingly unique and slightly out of sync.  I should have seen the warning signs.  On Wednesday, I was scheduled to lead an adult support group. While I’ve facilitated many youth groups, and assisted with adult sessions before, this was my first time flying solo. On the way to the evening meeting, I did some shopping at Trader Joe’s.  After filling up my cart with groceries and a selection of affordable wines, I went to check out, only to realize my purse was not in my handbag.  I immediately pictured it sitting on the kitchen table next to the fading Christmas poinsettia.  I tried to explain my absentmidness to the sweet and understanding bearded clerk.  He laughed off my behavior and assured me not to worry, it happens all the time.  Not to me, I thought. 

The support group went really well.  I was happy to be in a position to take the lead this month.  Before the meeting started, I had the fortunate chance to talk to the facilitator of another group, and we made tentative plans to get together.  Those plans became reality with a flurry of text messages and Friday night was scheduled.  With two days to prepare, I thought I’d be okay.  I’ve come to the realization I have many more issues, beyond gender dysphoria, that can be mental stumbling blocks.  As a control freak and part-time perfectionist, going out can make for anxious situations, and at times debilitating. But I had distractions on Thursday and Friday to take my mind off Friday night’s plans. 
Thursday was a success.  After months of taking up space in garage, I posted an ad on Craig’s List and sold a broken snow blower and generator to two men, Paul Bunyan size men, with huge pickup trucks and wallets full of cash.  I had put this off this task for a long time, mostly because I’m an excellent procrastinator, but also out of fear of inviting strangers to my house.  Being Gia has changed my life beyond my wildest dreams, but in the process I’m learning that my life is so different as a woman, in ways I didn’t expect.   

After a cold start to Friday, -4, the sun made some headway, and by 10 it was 20, so I set off on a 7 mile run.  While my felt good during the cold run, as soon as I finished my lungs and asthma had a different feeling about the situation.  After a period of short breathing, punctuated with wheezing, my rescue inhaler helped me recover within minutes.  No trip to the hospital this time.  Feeling better, I “quickly” showered and dressed for an appointment.  I do think I’ve improved my ritual of getting ready to go out.  Gone are the two-plus hour ordeals that involved showering and shaving, countless wardrobe changes, hair, and make up marathons.  I still do all of the above, but the process has been streamlined. 

Returning from my appointment I had planned to bake a few loaves of bread.  I had prepped the dough the night before and had preheated the oven to 500 degrees. I knew I couldn’t enjoy a casual afternoon because I still to ready for going out.  I worked on a job application as the bread was baking, and the first loaf looked great. With only one baguette pan, I could only bake one at time.   The hot oven was warming the entire house and the smell of fresh bread was intoxicating.  As the second loaf was baking I made myself a bloody a drink to help me relax.  I had already picked out my outfit, so that anxiety was avoided.  With both loaves baked and resting on the cooling rack, I went to get ready. 

Needing to reapply my makeup for an evening out and change into a Friday night look, I took my wig off and rested it on a stand.  I got dressed and redid my makeup, spackling over the potholes and wrinkles on my aging face, in the process concealing dark circles, spots, and any remnant beard shadows from my previous life.  The final touch is hair, and in my case it’s a wig.  With my scull cap in place, I slipped on the wig I’ve been wearing since August.  Looking in my mirror to make adjustments, I was shocked by what was in the reflection.  My bangs had curled up like a Brillo pad.  I melted my wig.   

In a frantic state I tried desperately to cut away the frayed ends.  After the panic subsided, I wondered if I could change to an older, alternate wig at the last minute.  I’m sure I could, but this is the one I was most comfortable wearing.  With the synthetic hair resting on my knee I carefully trimmed individual strands until it was wearable.  I wondered if anyone would notice.  Crisis averted, for now, and it was time to goI grabbed my handbag, emergency overnight bag, snacks, water and headed to Portland.  I was supposed to meet up with friends shortly and I still had to drive 35 miles to the only real city in Maine.  I had also volunteered to pick up my roommate at the airport at midnight. Buckle up; it’s going to be a long night. 

to be continued...