My company KEEPS trying to educate me! This week they sent me to one of our facilities a half an hour or so north of Boston for training on a product that is related to one I work with a lot. Most often, I work on an Infrared Mass Spectrometer (FTIR) that can be used in countless applications for testing all sorts of gasses, auto, and factory emissions. This new variety they wanted to train me on is smaller and has only one job – to sit in a room and monitor the air looking for nasty things to warn the occupants about.
I was informed that I had to be there first thing on Monday morning so that meant that I had to fly on the weekend. The cool thing is that right after I found out that I would have to travel on that Sunday, I found out that the First Event would be having it’s last night that Saturday before I arrived, and so with very little effort, I managed to get my travel plans set up to fly me in Saturday instead so that I could go socialize at First Event. Nothing like having the company pay to send you to a cross dressing conference / event huh?! I was really torn over the decision of flying pretty or not though. Did it make sense to get up very early to get dressed and pretty for the flight when I knew that I was going to be up late that night? Not only was I gonna be up late that night, but I know from experience that my makeup was going to look like hell by the time I arrived after 12 to 14 hours on the road. Ultimately I decided that it wasn’t worth flying pretty and so made the journey the old fashioned way - as Matthew.
In the last couple of years I’ve grown both spoiled and obsessed, and I’m sure that comes as no surprise to anyone that reads my blog. When I have to fly as Matthew these days, I spend most of the time green with envy over the pretty women wearing great outfits and almost always regret not flying pretty myself, and this trip was no different.
When the plane landed in Detroit where I was to catch a connecting flight, I found myself exiting the aircraft next to a woman my own age who was wearing a fairly plain but long skirt. As we walked, I found myself wondering if the TSA in Austin had frisked her like they do me each time I wear a long skirt and I resolved to ask her.
“You know, I hope you don’t mind, but I have to ask you a question. My wife flew a few weeks ago wearing a long skirt, and the TSA pulled her aside for a pretty intimate exam because of it.” I lied. “Did they do the same the thing to you?”
“They did!” She almost squealed. “She ran her hands all of the way up my legs until she touched me someplace very private!”
“Well, not that I’d wish that on you again, but I’m kind of happy to hear it because I had wondered if they were picking on my wife.” I told her and we both laughed about it. So that’s good to know – the TSA in the Austin Airport is not singling me out just because I’m transgender.
When I left the Austin area, most everyone in my household was sick – both babies had it and my seven year old daughter was coming down with it. As luck would have it, I was apparently coming down with it as well, because my stomach was doing flip flops the whole flight and when we landed in Boston I had to make a bee-line to the men’s room where I promptly got sick. Uggghhh. . . .
On the way to the rental car lot, I could see snow piled high everywhere, but the weather was relatively clear and so I thought nothing of it when Avis gave me a huge four door and rear wheel drive car. Little did I know at that point that they were scheduled to have a huge snow storm the night before my return flight home.
After about thirty minutes of driving, I arrived at my hotel across the highway from the Burlington Mall. This isn’t the most convenient place for me to stay as it is still a good twenty minutes from our office, but I like it because it keeps me out of the hotel where other folks at my company might be staying, and also because I like to shop! I got checked in and got my things unpacked, and then I sat there trying to decide if it was at all feasible to try and make it to the First Event. I wasn’t feeling well, I was tired from a day of traveling, and it was getting fairly late. After giving it much thought, I decided that despite the fact that I had flown on a Saturday just to make it to the last night of First Event, I just wasn’t up to it. I called a couple of friends in the area to let them know I wasn’t going to make it after all, and it turned out that neither were they, so I guess it was all good. Shortly after I told my wife that I wasn’t going to be going, I started getting text messages from my daughter in law, more or less telling me that I needed to get it together and get my ass out there or I would regret it later. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that she was right, and so I started the two hour process of getting ready and then headed out at about 9PM.
When I arrived at the hotel where First Event was taking place, I was dismayed to find that the only open parking spaces were literally just as far as you could get from the door, with a long walk on snow and ice in between. No point in worrying about it though, so I got out of the car and froze my butt off while I slipped and skated my way to the door on four inch stilettos across the ice. As I entered the lobby area I found the typical crowd you will have at any TG conference – dozens or even hundreds of TG’s scattered every where you look. Some crowded around the bar, some die hard smokers outside in the cold, and little cliques here and there. I wandered among them looking for anyone that I knew and was a little surprised to find that I didn’t know a single person I saw. Given all of my travels and the folks that I have met on them, and the fact that I belong to a local TG group called “Sisters of Boston”, I had fully expected to encounter quite a few people that I knew. What I didn’t know at the time, was that the dinner and speechifying was still going on even though it was almost 10PM, and so a huge number of folks were still in the dining area. Feeling just a bit bummed out that I didn’t appear to know anyone there, I headed for the bar where I got a drink. I looked around me and found one person kind of standing by herself, clearly not part of any clique, and so I headed her way and struck up a conversation with her. As we talked, I looked around the room at all of the beautiful people arrayed before me, both admiring the young ones that still don’t know enough to appreciate what they have, and also to continue looking for anyone that I might know. There were literally dozens of drop dead gorgeous girls there and I’d have to admit that I started feeling mighty old and ugly in comparison with them. There were at least half a dozen girls in their twenties that were well over six foot tall, and just stunning to behold. It goes with out saying that at least a couple of them were well aware of their good looks and had little crowds of minions gathered around them.
Suddenly the room started to fill with people as the big event in the dining room came to an end. In the space of two or three minutes it became impossible to move among the crowd without bumping in to someone or something. I told the lady that I was speaking with that I was going to make the rounds and look for folks that I might know, and then I took another walk around the area. Shortly I was stopped by a pretty woman in short hair.
“Hi Kim! Nice to see you! I’m Connie.” she said with a big smile.
“Hi Connie how are you?” I told her while shaking her hands.
“I’m fine thanks. You know I still haven’t tried that wedding gown on!” she told me.
‘Wedding gown?’ I thought to myself. ‘Why is she telling me about a wedding gown?” THEN it struck me! A couple of months ago I had found an awesome deal on a great wedding gown, but it was a little short on me AND my wife hated it, and so I had sold it via email and paypal. I had in fact sold it to the lady now standing in front of me. She must have seen this thought process in my eyes because we both spoke at almost the same time.
“Oh! THAT Connie!” we both laughed and then hugged each other and got down to some serious chatting. I spent a good deal of the evening speaking with her off and on, and also stopping to talk to the many familiar faces that were now in the room. Through the next couple of hours I met a lot of people that commented on my blog and assured me that I had made an impact on their lives. I was deeply flattered as it’s kind of nice to know that maybe you have made a small difference to someone. I thought it was odd that so many of them were a good deal more passable than I was and yet didn’t seem to be aware of it. I am terrible at names but I made a serious effort to keep them all straight, and I even did a fair job of doing that until I got back to my hotel where I wrote them down so that I wouldn’t forget them before it came time to write my blog. Yeah, the bad news is that I forgot that list in my hotel room and so there goes my chance to impress everyone with my ability to recall names. I still wasn’t feeling well and so I only stayed for a couple of hours before returning to my hotel.
Between my being sick, and my schedule with the training class, I had no more time as Kimberly until the Thursday when I made my flight home. The weather report was calling for around a foot of snow the night before my flight home and so it was with more than a little trepidation that I sat my alarm for 330AM to give me plenty of time to get ready, and then make my way to the Boston airport through the snow during the morning rush hour. When the alarm went off, I looked out of my window to find that the estimates had been about right, and there was a heavy layer of snow over everything I could see. I started to think that maybe making that drive through the snow and them flying as Kim wasn’t such a good idea today, but just then a pickup with a snow plow went zooming past my window. I figured that if I could just make it to the highway, they would probably be clear – boy was I wrong. I knew that high heels and a skirt in the snow didn’t really make sense, but I didn’t want to spend the entire day bummed out and depressed, and so I decided to do it anyway. I realized that I had seriously underestimated the situation though, when I exited the hotel to find that the only thing plowed or clear in the parking lot, was one little loop around the parking lot just big enough for a car. I left my bags in the lobby area and made my way to the car, thinking that I would clear it of snow and then drive it closer to the entrance so that I didn’t have to drag my heavy bags through over a foot of snow. You should have seen the look on my face when I got to my car and found snow drifts piled up to almost three feet high surrounding my entire car, and well over a foot of snow covering the entire top of my car. I looked at the deep snow, looked at my high heels, looked at the deep snow . . .
‘Well to hell with it, I went through far worse in the Army’ I told myself, and with that, I stepped into the snow and felt it go almost all of the way to my bare knees. At first I was intrigued to notice that it didn’t really feel all of that cold, but that was just a temporary thing – probably an artifact of the nylons insulating me for a moment, followed by my nerves refusing to admit that they were buried in snow. I got about half of the windshield cleared when the cold registered and my legs started informing me that I was doing something really stupid. Thinking that I was clever, I got into the car to pull it up far enough that I would be able to stand in the parking lot area that the plows had cleared to knock the rest of the snow off of the windows, but the joke was on me. I hadn’t cleared enough snow off to be able to do this safely and so I put the car in park and started wading through the snow to clear the rest of the car. With most of the snow off of the windows I spent five minutes of spinning tires and sliding wheels getting my car out of the mountain of snow and onto the cleared area of the driveway. Shaking my head at my own stupidity, I slowly pulled the car up to the hotel door to get my bags and load them in the car. As I parked the car, there was a young man at the door shoveling a path through the sidewalk and I found myself wishing that I had been just a few minutes later so I could have taken advantage of this. It worked out for the best though as he was kind enough to grab my bags and load them into the car for me.
“So do you know if they have interstate 93 clear or not?” I asked him.
“Are you kidding? Snow like this, nothing is clear. You sure you want to head out into this?
”I don’t have much choice. According to the airline, my flight is still leaving on time.”
”I don’t have much choice. According to the airline, my flight is still leaving on time.”
“Well, you just take it slow and easy, and get behind a plow if you can!” he told me as he threw my last bag in the back and closed the door.
“Thank you SO much, and I’ll do just that!” I told him.
With my heart in my throat, I put the huge rear wheel drive car into gear, and started off.
My first hurdle was a fairly serious hill that ran right along side the hotel, and so I built up a little speed just before I got there, hoping that my momentum would help get me to the top so that loss of traction would not become an issue. I have driven in worse conditions than this back when my wife and I lived in Bavaria Germany, but that was decades ago, in a small front wheel drive car, and definitely not while cross dressed. With a lot of slipping, sliding, and just a little bit of driving with the car at angle, I managed to make it to the top of the hill where I damn near collided with the snow plow that was just turning down the driveway. Doing my very best to keep the drive wheels from loosing traction, I slowly and carefully made my way the mile or so to Interstate 95 that led to interstate 93 and Boston. There was a policeman parked just short of the onramp, but I still ran the red left turn light because I was certain that if I stopped, the car was going to be stuck. I was very unhappy to discover that contrary to my expectations, the onramp was worse than the roads I had just traveled on, and the freeway itself was no better. With my heart pounding so hard I swear I could feel my head expanding and contracting with each beat, I eased my way into what little traffic there was, and spent the next hour and a half doing thirty miles per hour or less, and repeating “Your stupid, stupid, stupid . . . “ under my breath. At least a dozen times I had convinced myself that I should find a place to pull over, but the conditions of the on and off ramps scared me at least as much as the thought of continuing on to the airport. Much to my surprise, I made it to the rental car facility without putting a single dent on the HMS Titanic, and I’m telling ya straight up, I will NEVER head out in conditions like that again. Next time, this little redneck will just reschedule the flights keep her happy ass at the hotel for another for another day. Besides, I could have spent the free day shopping at the mall. What the HELL was I thinking?!