Life is a Journey - Make sure you get the right roadmap to the universe

I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Christen's First Night Out

Last night, Saturday, was my first event out as Christen. It seemed difficult for me to believe that I had waited for so long to actually do this but I needed to be ready and comfortable in my own mind as much as I needed for my wife, Joanne, to be as well. The day itself, and what we later did afterward that evening, were a momentous and defining series of events for us both.

The main and only event we were initially considering attending was a Tri-ESS chapter meeting in New Hampshire. We both had talked about this impending event with some trepidation and anxiety. There were numerous potential problems we feared we would encounter. The list was wide ranging with some of the fears bordering on ludicrous as we built up complex scenarios that we might potentially incur.

Saturday morning was busy enough however to put many of those fears at bay as we scrambled to put together our contribution to a pot-luck dinner for the Tri-ESS meeting that afternoon. After that, it was time to both get ready ourselves. We both decided to take a middle road and to wear some stylish tops paired with slacks and heels. With makeup and hair complete, we loaded the car and headed out. Other than the one hour drive to the meeting itself, this certainly was not an event that we felt would be unsafe in any way. The drive down on the interstate was without incident and Joanne decided she would drive just as a precautionary measure.

Upon arrival to the place of meeting, we quickly fixed our makeup and hair which was needed partially due to the rainy and humid weather we faced that day. Grabbing our pocketbooks and our trays of Italian stuffed shells, we sauntered across the parking lot to the main entrance. Joanne certainly could not believe how confident I appeared as I walked across the rain soaked parking lot in 3 inch heels balancing trays of Italian food.

Entering the building was quite momentous for me as it placed me for the first time enfemme in front of the eyes of others. There was quite a large gathering already assembled inside and so I placed my food down and was immediately welcomed by all. It was so exciting to be able to be myself and to talk so freely among such a diverse range of individuals. Joanne was able to spend some time as well getting to know the two other SO's who were also at the meeting and to share her thoughts with them within the context a discussion group.

It was curious to me that several of the members at the meeting were somewhat impressed when I mentioned to them I had never been out of the house before, that I did my own makeup and that I could handle myself extremely well in 3 inch heels. I was also asked multiple times if I felt nervous or uncomfortable in any way. Really, I felt quite at ease and comfortable in a warm environment. I mentioned that I had been dressing for nearly three decades and certainly felt very comfortable with myself at this point to not be nervous. I assured to all, that the day I stepped out of the house would be the day I would also be ready to be myself as well – and without trepidation or fear.

Joanne and I enjoyed a nice dinner and conversation with those at the meeting. It was toward the end of the meeting that we found out that some of the others were intending to go out afterwards to an alternative club. Although Joanne and I had originally only intended to attend the meeting, we did look to one another and I asked her if she might be alright with this next step. I knew I might be pushing the envelope just a bit fast going from closet to a safe club and then to the outdoor world in just our first night out but I was like the little kid in the candy store at that moment. She did say this would be fine since we were going to be in a group situation with three others.

As we headed out to our respective cars, we learned that there was going to be an intermediate stop at a local Fashion Bug clothing store for some quick browsing. This caused a moment of panic for both of us as we arrived at the shopping center parking lot. Joanne did not feel comfortable with going in to a public store just at that point but urged that it would be alright for me to do so. As I felt this would be a great socialization and learning experience for me, I jumped at the opportunity to do so while Joanne remained for the few moments I would be gone to reapply her makeup in the car for our intended destination at the club.

We all sauntered into the store where I took my own direction to wander the racks, partly browsing, but more so observing the reactions of customers and sales staff to us in general. I was quite pleasantly surprised to observe that there were no real reactions or leering stares made to us and in fact, a sales woman did come by and politely ask me if I needed help in finding anything. It was certainly very reassuring and affirming in the uneventfulness of this experience. I was also quite surprised how comfortable I felt with all of this and just how calm and relaxed I was in this situation.

Returning back to the car, we headed off to the club – this time with me driving. The club, located in Manchester, NH, was a gathering place for all types of alternative life-styles. We parked and walked in where we had our ID’s checked at the door. Joanne noticed that when I presented my ID, the security attendant did at least two double takes between the picture on my license and then of me, to which I simply told him "I look a lot different in person".

We had quite a nice evening chatting on some comfortable sofas just downstream of the bar and dance floor where some karaoke was going on. Joanne prodded me to go up to the bar for some drinks, which I did. Surprisingly, I received some very nice complements on my attire from the bartender as we chatted briefly. As we sat and chatted, the club began to fill in with other patrons as well as some amateur drag performers. One performer, during her act did seem to find her way to where we were sitting while prancing the floor and lip syncing. She did make it a point to stop directly and specifically where I was sitting for quite a close up and personal moment during her performance.

Joanne did find some concern for me when it became a pressing need for me to utilize the restroom. As I felt much less comfortable entering the men's room enfemme, I opted for the women's bathroom. Joanne did accompany me just to keep a protective watch though! Again, there were no surprises to be had. The one other genetic woman touching up her makeup at the vanity mirror didn't even bat an eyelash at my presence.

All in all it was a fantastic evening out. We encountered absolutely no negativity whatsoever and instead made some new acquaintances, discussed a number of gender and non-gender related topics, enjoyed a delicious dinner, a trip to a clothing store, and a night out at a club which welcomes all diversities in life. We learned more about how others perceived us and how we each felt together between ourselves in sharing this. It was all a positive and inspiring experience. Our only remaining worry on the hour ride north toward home that night was the thought of hitting a moose on the empty interstate highway. Again, this improbable potentiality also did not come to pass. I had a great time and Joanne, too, was so much more comfortable as well with all of this which meant even more to me.

It was a fantastic first night out - one that will remain as a key moment in our life's memoirs - and we will certainly be doing it again!