Once I was ready, I walked down stairs to see my wife on her laptop. Much like myself, she is kind of an introvert and spends very little time actually socializing with people, and instead spends a lot of her time online. She looked up at me and grinned and shook her head.
"Your hair looks nice." She told me in a sincere tone, and then went back to looking at her laptop.
"Well thank you!" I said, kind of surprised because she rarely comments on my look, but I am strangely pleased and flattered by her comment.
"I’m sorry you got stuck with a weird husband." I told her with a grin, while standing across the table from her. She looked thoughtful for a moment and then replied.
"No your not."
I looked at her, feeling grateful that my wife doesn’t think I’m all that weird.
"Awe, that’s sweet . . . " I started to say, but then stopped as it struck me that that is NOT what she meant.
"Hold it. You mean ‘no, I’m not sorry that I’m weird’ huh?" I asked her.
"That’s what I meant" she confirmed, still with an ironic smile on her face.
This launched us in to 20 or 30 minute conversation alternating between levity and tragedy. Among other things, she has informed me that a significant reason she has no friends is that she is afraid to bring people to our home because of what they may see or figure out about me. She is afraid to bring people to meet me because of the clues I give off. She is afraid to have friends because I may ruin it for her.
Now for those of you inclined to think my wife unreasonable, I have to point out that this has indeed happened twice already. Once with an acquaintance who never progressed to friend after finding out about me, and once with a really neat woman that had been my wife’s best friend. When her husband found out about me, my wife and I were no longer welcome in their home, and so the friendship died. This did happen, and it was because of what I am, so it’s hard to look her in the eye and tell her that she is being entirely unreasonable. Reasonable or not, this seems to be the new way of things with my wife and I. As I am prepared to leave the house, she let’s me know how unhappy what I am makes her. I don’t know where to go with this. It hurts to know that I make her unhappy and yet it’s the first time in my life that I have been happy. I don’t know what I can do to make the love of my life happy while not making myself utterly miserable . . .
As I checked in for my flight with US Airways, I see that the lady behind the counter is the same lady that took care of me a month or so ago, and who never once smiled. I recall thinking at the time that it was a shame because she was really beautiful and I was sure she would be stunning if she smiled. Well, it turns out that I was right, because as soon as she saw me, she gave me a huge smile, and she was indeed radiant and stunning. I handed her my tickets and ID and she gave me a little laugh.
"I remember you very well and I don’t need to see your ID." She said with a grin.
"Oh really? Are you saying that I make a bit of an impression then?" I asked with a wink.
Soon I had my bags checked and was in the way through the TSA security where I was set back just a bit by the young lady checking everyone’s ID. She was a young, short, and blond woman with brilliant blue eyes and she reminded me so much of my wife when we first met that I was lost in my memories as she checked my ID.
"I hope you have a great day!" I told her as she handed my documents back to me. She said nothing, but blushed and glanced up into my eyes for a heart stopping moment. I was sort of in a daze, with my thoughts flickering all over the place as I walked away.
Adorable little blond girl with the eyes of my wife from 20 years ago,
Her blushing, probably in embarrassment to be dealing with someone transgendered.
My wife, scared to have friends because of what I am.
Much like a lot of my life these days, today is off to a confusing start. . .
As I sit at the gate getting ready for my flight, I get a text message from my wife telling me that she is sorry for our conversation. As I’m reading it, I see two TSA agents walking down the concourse, a man and a woman, and they are speaking to each other. As they walk on, the guy is literally turning around almost backwards to stare it me as they walk off. At last, they get so far away that he has to turn around and face the woman he is walking with and talking to. I can’t decide if I should smile or be irritated and so I just returned to my wife’s text message. I replied to her that I didn’t want her to feel sorry for what she said or how she felt. It’s important that I know how she feels, but I also confided that I didn’t know what to do to make us both happy. Just as I hit send, I see the two TSA agents returning, this time with a third agent. All three stop not 15 feet from me and have a "casual" conversation. As I am at the end of the concourse, they have just walked a long way to have a casual chat so close to me, and it’s pretty obvious that the idea is to show the third guy the freak show waiting for a flight. Soon they wrap up their conversation and return the way they went, with both of the guys sneaking looks back in my direction. What the hell, I just grinned at both of them as they walked off.
I had a fairly long layover in Charlotte and so chose to have a sit down dinner at Chili’s instead of my typical fast food meal. I started with an entirely healthy meal of salmon and veggies and then destroyed the whole "good for you" concept by getting a couple of 7 & 7 drinks with it. I very rarely drink in airports because it’s too damned expensive and I think it’s a good idea to keep your wits about you while traveling, but somehow it just sounded like a good idea today. When I checked my ticket I was delighted to see that I had a free upgrade to first class and so I flew to Detroit in comfort. There was some sort of maintenance delay, so we sat at the gate for over 30 minutes, but that’s not so bad when your sitting in first class sucking on a couple of screw drivers.
At the Detroit airport, there is a long escalator taking you down to the rental car shuttle busses, and you can look through the plate glass the entire way, so I could see the Avis bus sitting there and waiting. I had intended to stop, put on my coat, and then head outside, but I worried that the bus would pull away while I was putting the coat on. Instead, I chose to just head out the door with no coat for the short walk to the bus, thinking ‘how bad could it be for only 50 feet?’. As I exited the building, the cold reached up and hit me like a slap in the face, and I was still sort of in shock when the bus driver came up to me, almost running.
"Here, give me those bags! You get on the bus where it’s warm and I’ll take care of these!" he said with a gentle smile.
"Thank you SO much!" I told him, with my teeth chattering so badly that I was not sure he recognized it as speech. The bus driver took his seat after putting my bags up, and then turns to me.
"Are you a member of our preferred program? " he asks me.
"I am," I said, and gave him my last name. He looks at his computer for a moment.
"And your first name?" he asks.
"Matthew," I called back to him, all the while looking at the only other passenger on the bus for a reaction to my male name. I’ve got to hand it to the guy, he didn’t even blink or look up.
With my starting my trip so late in the day, combined with the delay leaving Charlotte, it was around 9:30 PM when I arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel. They placed me on the eleventh floor – the priority club floor where they have a lounge just for members. I poked my head in to the almost empty lounge and see a really cute woman about my own age, with short spiked hair, and glittering eyes standing behind the counter.
"Come on in, come on in!" she says with a smile, while waving me in. "You’re just a bit too late for hot snacks, but I’ve still got some chips and cookies."
"Awesome!" I told her as I entered.
She was very friendly and out going and soon we were chatting about nothing specific, while I snacked and ordered a white Russian. Just as I sat down, I realized how tired I was and so I took my snacks and drink to the room with me, where I pulled out my laptop and checked my email. I see that I have an email from Chrissie, a Vanity Club member who also travels a great deal. In it, she says it’s too bad that I hadn’t given her more notice about my trip to Detroit, because she was there tonight as well and was staying at the Crowne Plaza. I sat there looking at the email for a moment, thinking to myself that I was too damned tired, and it was too late, to go be social, but I just couldn’t pass it up. Chrissie and I have been trading emails for about a year now, and have come close to meeting several times, but never quite seemed to get it right. We had been only miles apart a couple of times, and had both even been at the Southern Comfort Conference last year and still we hadn’t managed to connect. Having wanted to meet her for so long, there was just no way I could pass it up if she was in the same darn building I was in, no matter how tired I felt.
I gave her a call and we both laughed to find that we were only separated by a single floor. In short order I was in the elevator on the way to the lobby to meet with her. I only made it down one floor when the elevator stopped and on walks a gentleman who looks at me with a smile.
"Well hello, and yes, I am who your thinking I might be!" he says with a grin.
We made our way to the lounge in the lobby where we sat talking for a few hours about nothing and everything. We have a LOT in common, from family, to traveling for our careers, being transgendered, etc, etc. We were both struck by how incredibly unlikely our meeting that night was. From completely different states we had headed out, working in completely different fields, and we both end up not only in the same city, but at the same hotel, and with no prior planning or coordination with each other. I’d have to say the odds were astronomical against it, but what do I know? It turned out to be serendipitous though, as I really quite liked her, and considering the conversation with my wife this morning, I sort of needed someone to talk to who understood my life. All talked out and exhausted, I was back in my room and headed for bed around 1:30 AM
When the alarm went off at 6AM, the pounding in my head made it abundantly clear that I had way over done it the night before. I mentally started ticking off a list of all I had drank – two 7 & 7’s at dinner, two screw drivers on the plane, a white Russian in the upstairs lounge, and then two glasses of wine with Chrissie.
"Oh my God, you’re an idiot, and on a work night at that!" I scolded myself, but let’s face it, my head hurt too bad to pay attention to what I was saying. Eventually I dragged myself out of bed and headed for my customers. The drive, and in fact the entire day, was cold, dark, and miserable. My customer had told me that he had three instruments for me to look at, but then wheeled out five, and so I wasn’t done until almost 7PM. Given that I had an hours drive to get back to the hotel, and I still had a pounding head, I decided that I was done for the night and wasn’t going to be going anywhere. When I got to my room, I cleaned up a little and headed for the members lounge where I again found the same cute woman manning the place.
"All right! Tonight I’m not too late for the hot stuff I see!" I told her with a grin, as I looked at the assorted snacks, and noted that again she and I were the only ones there.
"Nah, I’ll have the hot stuff out for another hour or so. Come on in and help yourself!" she says. "Would you like something to drink?" At the very mention of a drink, my head throbs so bad that I must have winced.
"God no! I think I had at least one too many of those cute little white Russians last night and my head is killing me." I told her with a grin. She laughed and this set off an hour or more of conversation with her. I don’t know for sure, but suspect that she figured out that I was the cross dresser from the night before, and she completely opened her life up to me. She told me that her divorce to a self centered and unloving man was just about to become final, and that the only good thing she was bringing out of the marriage was three beautiful children. I commented that my own marriage had now lasted for 22 years, and trotted out my favorite joke that the reason it has lasted so long is because I’m not home enough to really irritate her. At this point she shocked me by telling me that her own marriage had lasted 23 years. Wow – 23 years with a selfish, self centered, and unloving man and now she has had enough. Of course it was only a hop-skip-and a jump from that thought to wondering if that is how my wife views me and our marriage.
Until very recently, say the last two or three years, I’ve never flirted with women. I was way too shy and they were far too intimidating to me, but getting out in to the world as Kimberly the last few years, combined with doing field service where you are forced to meet and interact with so many people, has done wonders for my self confidence. I had to say something when she complained that she had no idea how to date anymore, and no idea how she was going to go about meeting a decent guy, and that she was afraid she was going to end up all alone.
"I suspect your not going to have any trouble at all when you’re ready to meet someone. You’re out going, clearly intelligent, and absolutely cute as hell." I blurted out before my brain could talk me out of saying it. I sat there blushing for half a second and wondering if maybe I’d gone too far and said something inappropriate, but she quickly let me off the hook.
"What a sweet thing to say – thank you so much!" she said softly. Still embarrassed that I had acted so boldly, my eyes flickered up to hers for just an instant and I couldn’t help seeing that hers were tearing up. It was probably just as well that two women entered the lounge at that point, thus distracting her from her fears of being lonely. Soon the three women are speaking bluntly about the flaws of husbands and men in general, and I’m flattered that they are willing to have the conversation in front of me.
The next morning I have to get up at 3AM if I want to fly home pretty. It’s a toss up for me as I want the sleep, but I know that I’ll spend the entire trip home being depressed if I don’t go pretty, so once again I find myself up well before the sun. It reminds me of the joke we used to share in the Army about how the US Army was always trying to sneak up on the sun.
On the rental car shuttle bus, a man a couple of seats down strikes up a conversation with me.
"Are you in Detroit for a convention?" he asks.
"No, I was here working on a broken instrument" I replied. "Are you here for a convention?"
"Nope, I just come to Detroit once a month or so" he tells me. He has an odd look in his eye and smile on his face, as if he is amused by some sort of inside joke that only he knows about. I can’t help but notice the fact that he was intentionally vague and assume it has something to do with his inside joke. We chatted about nothing for the five minute ride to the airport. You know, I’m still wondering what kind of convention he thought would bring a cross dresser to Detroit, and what brings him to Detroit once a month that puts such an odd grin on his face.
I can’t use my coat when I land in Austin anyway because I’ll be changing back to boy mode, so the first thing I do as I enter into the airport is to stop, pull off my heavy coat, and pack it away in my bag. Soon I’m pulling my bag and tool box toward the airline counter when I hear a male voice directly behind me.
"You must be going someplace warm if your not bothering with a coat!" I turn to see an airport employee smiling at me.
"You betcha! I’m going to Austin Texas and it’s a lot warmer there!" I said with a laugh.
Today I’m taking the scenic route home and flying through Phoenix Arizona on my way to Austin. Soon I’m sitting on the plane next to a young lady who smiles and chats a little off and on. She doesn’t seem to be at all put off by me so that’s cool. Had a little giggle when the flight attendant walks up to each of us in first class, confirming our names and getting our drinks. Every one she approaches, she looks at them and reads their first and last names off, confirming that they are who her list says should be in that seat. When she gets to me, she kindly uses only my last name.
"And you are Ms XXX?" she asks me, with a soft smile.
"Yes ma’am, That works for me!" I grinned back at her.
"And what shall I call you dear?" she asks. Clearly she is giving the chance to give her a female name, but it didn’t really occur to me until after I’d responded out of habit.
"Matt is fine." I told her.
She was a sweetheart though and never once called me "Matt". I was either "hon" or "dear" for the rest of the flight.