Before going out there was a party in the office for a couple of people that left at the end of last month. A good time was had, and it was possibly the last BBQ that I’m going to have this year. It did mean that I didn’t even start getting ready until quite late – and that I couldn’t just get changed, I had to shower as I someone volunteered me to light the BBQ (I have a reputation as a pyromaniac for some reason…), so I smelled a little smoky.
I left to get ready, had a coffee and showered. As I could not decide what to wear I had taken pretty much every outfit I had, plus some things that I had borrowed from Mrs Stace. So I started trying on each of my outfits to try and decide what to wear. I half-dressed when the earth trip switch for the flat tripped. I am now standing half dressed in pitch darkness, and I have a suitcase on the floor open with all sorts of things lying around making moving around difficult. The other problem was being half dressed. It takes me back to something my mum said when I first told them. In the mornings when visiting I would put on trousers and make myself and early morning coffee. My mum commented on that saying surely if I feel I am a woman I would not do this topless. In male mode I don’t have a problem. However, here I was, as Stace, in a skirt and tights but with only my bra on top. I struggled trying to find my jacket that I took with me and struggled into it holding it closed before going out of the bedroom to see what was up with the power. There is no way I could have left the room without the jacket on, and yet 30 mins earlier I was walking in just jeans to ask my friend something.
Anyway, he managed to get the power back on (it seems my coffee killed his microwave – sorry) and then the fashion show began. I tried on nearly every outfit I had taken with me, asking for input. With the help of my friend I decided on a knee length beige canvas skirt (he said that was the one I looked most comfortable in). I matched it with a splash of colour using a turquoise top under the black jacket and then started in the shoes. I tried all 4 pairs that I took with me and in the end I went with the shoes that Mrs Stace brought for the final dance evening in June. Then it was just getting my make-up and hair done and I was ready to leave. I managed to poke myself in the eye with both my eye shadow applicator and my mascara brush… Still I managed to get everything done well enough (considering what I forgot this trip was my hair mouse and wax – when will I remember everything…)
And so we left, me more than a little nervous - walking there was one of the things that I was forcing myself to do. It was dark, and the streets were empty when we started out. We reached the first corner and there was a group of teenagers hanging around. We passed them without difficulty, with a bit of distance between us though, and carried on. We passed a few people on the way, and I started to relax when nobody gave me a second look. I also started to question my shoe size. I take a 39 (euro size wise) in most shoes, but court shoes I take a 40. Or so I thought. I am wondering if I should stick with 39 and just make sure that I break the shoes in - after a few hundred meters they did feel like they were starting to slip a little…
We reached the cafe and suddenly I got really nervous again. This wasn’t passing people in the street anymore, this was going into a packed bar and being spoken to. We walked in, said hi to a few people who knew me from drinking there occasionally, but had never met Stacy, and found a couple of stools by the bar. My friend ordered the drinks and I tried to get comfortable. So far, well I wouldn’t say so good, but I had at least managed not to run away…
The evening was raising money for charity, and the two drag queens who were MC’ing the event come over and said hello. And I did something really stupid… “And so what’s your name?” “
But. I got into a few conversations, brought some raffle tickets, and was having a good time. My friend made me order some drinks. The entertainment was good, as I commented at the time; what is it with some Dutch music that when you hear it on the radio you want to throw the radio out of the window, but in a café with lots of people, and a bit of alcohol, it works.
One of the women that I met was someone who transitioned 15 years or so ago. We had a very brief ‘hello’ type chat, but her parting words were ‘Maak je geen zorg, je zit er goed uit’ (Apologies to those who understand Dutch if I messed the sentence up). Roughly translated: ‘Don’t stress yourself, you look fine.’ That comment put me on cloud nine for some time.
Then came the raffle draw, now I don’t have luck with raffles, and I only had 5 tickets. But I also know how my luck runs and on the day when I’m out in public for the first time, not wanting to draw attention to myself I knew I was going to win something.
And so… When a vibrator gets pulled out of the box of prizes I’m sitting in my seat thinking ‘please, no, please…’ It wasn’t, phew. A few more prizes get pulled, and then there is another vibrator. And I win it. So I have to walk into the spotlight, in front of the entire bar to pick up my prize. Thankfully I think that enough people know that it was my first day so there were not the calls from everyone watching that there could have been. Either that or my terror blocked it all out…
A bit more music and the second draw took place. And what do you know, I win again! A DVD this time. This time the walk to pick it up was much easier. Maybe the more subtle nature of the prize helped, or maybe I was getting more comfortable.
The draw over, and with everything going so well (except someone stealing my stool when I went to the bathroom) when I noticed that the woman who complimented me was outside on her own so I went to speak to her. Now I am not going to put the details of the talk into the blog, I am still working through some of the things that we spoke about. But there are some lighter things that I’ll put in. She commented that provided I learnt to do my hair (getting there, but forgetting the wax didn’t help…) that she thought I was in a good position to be Stace, saying my face shape was soft enough and my voice OK even without yet seeing a speech therapist. It got heavy in places, which are the bits that I am not going to get into yet, and there were tears in my eyes at a few points during the conversation.
It’s the first time I have spoken face to face with someone who has gone through this and emerged o the other side, and it was so great to be able to speak to someone who knows what I’m going through, and the fears that I have. She has a fantastic attitude, from what I saw, and I look forward to seeing her again.
The end of the evening came, and my friend and I left to walk home. On the way to the café I forced myself to walk with confidence. On the way back there was no forcing in there, I was just walking back being me. And even with the wine inside me I managed not to fall off of the heels – which gave the bonus of not breaking my ankle. But, by the time we reached his flat I was so happy to take the shoes off! The balls of my feet were telling me that they had done enough, with one of them slightly blistered. I asked Mrs Stace when I got home if where I got the blister was normal (I was still thinking about the size of the shoes) and to paraphrase she just said ‘Yup, it’s painful – get used to it’.
On the walk home he got an SMS from someone in the café: ‘Tell Stacy that I have respect for her’. What a way to end the evening :)
My friend and I sat talking for an hour or so – about the night, about my life in general. Some bits were again heavy. There were a few more tears followed, but it was a good chat. We gave up at 3:30am and went to get some sleep. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Unfortunately I was awake again 4 hours later – Saturday was not a good day for me, I was shattered!
Any regrets? Yes, I got too emotional – I feel an idiot for the amount of times I either had tears in my eyes, or on my cheeks…
Thanks to all for making the night a good one, and to Dave for inviting me along. I have to do that again!