Christmas in the Fall....

My spouse and I spent a wonderful weekend with our friends, a couple, who live on the other side of the state in New Hampshire. It was a day filled with great conversations and lively atmosphere as we trekked from store to store in the resort town shopping mecca of North Conway, New Hampshire. It was a day too, for Joanne and I to learn from each other and the world, as we interacted with the greater world in a busy realm.

Joanne and I arrived at Joanie's house in the early afternoon on Saturday and were met at the front door by her spouse, Deb. After exchanging greetings and hugs, we headed in with our overnight bags to our guest room. Joanne made herself comfortable as I proceeded to get my makeup on, get dressed and to style my hair for a day of shopping adventure. It took me about an hour and a half to get myself put together but the end result proved worth it. I went for an upscale look with my ruffled top, brown pants with buckled belt and low brown mary jane shoes. Joanie looked fantastic as well with her jeans look. The girls both went with their casual look, not requiring the time which we needed to doll ourselves up.

We headed into town and to the outlet stores at Settler's Green. It was a very, very busy weekend with the fall foliage beginning to peak and the leaf peepers out in force scurrying to view the myriad of colors that surround this mountain valley. The only green left to view at this time of year, was that of the cash flowing from the shoppers pockets. Parking was hard to come by, but we found a spot near the back of the lot, alighted from my SUV and trekked towards the mass of shoppers promenading in the warm sunshine of the outdoor plaza which embodied this retail outlet mecca.

As we stepped up the curb and into the plaza, it became quite obvious as we walked, that no one was paying us mind or heed. There were no uncomfortable stares nor gestures to be noted. And if an anomalies were to be noted, they were impossible to detect or find. The four of us, loosely connected as a group as we strolled past the throngs of people, worked our way towards our first stop at the Dress Barn outlet. It was not long that I was in the store, perusing the sale racks, that I found a brown cardigan sweater that was just the perfect addition to the outfit I was wearing now and my other that I would be that evening for dinner. I modeled it against a mirror on the side of the main hallway, as other shoppers past behind and around me. As I did so, a sales associate wandered by and eyed my selection and my whole outfit and proclaimed, "You are like a walking advertisement from Dress Barn! The blouse, the pants, the shoes!"

I thanked her and remarked that I could not take credit for the shoes, as they were a Fashion Bug purchase, to which she replied softly, "That's OK, I shop there too!". She also made mention, as I was unaware, of a sale going on with the purchase I was making, offered a suggestion, and led me over to another rack where I could take advantage of a "buy one/get one" promotion. Joanne, noticing that I was interacting in a positive way with both the sales associates and with other shoppers around me, began to feel ever more comfortable with both my presentation and with the actions and non-reactions of those around me.

With our purchases carefully selected, Joanne stood in line to pay while I sauntered and browsed lightly in the clearance racks. One of the associates noticed my diamond wedding ring and remarked, "I would love to have a ring like that!"

My mind immediately thought a level beyond that question to probe just a bit deeper on her remark as I retorted, "...But would you be willing to take on the commitment which comes with accepting such a piece?".

She thought for a moment and then stated, "No. From what I have seen", she said, "men are mostly liars and cheats".

Our conversation continued for a bit more in regards to types of relationships that she felt comfortable with. What struck me as surprising in all of this was that I was able to get her to not only open up and discuss her personal relationship stance and preferences with me, but to do so in a public realm. The sheer fact is that she was conversing with me as a woman would another and it became quite obvious to me as we talked, that this conversation would NOT have occurred in any form or fashion had I been talking to her dressed and behaving as a male.

At another women's fashion store, a sales associate approached us and asked Joanie and myself what we thought of a piece of jewelry that SHE was buying for herself in the store. We were able to exchange opinions and helped relate to her what types of colors would go well with what she was considering. She thanked us immensely for our opinions as we continued browsing. Here again, we were interacting as women would and most certainly *not* as men.

We headed back to Joanie's house in order to freshen up and to change into something a bit more formal for dinner. I wore a brown v-necked top paired with a multi-brown paisley skirt, brown suede boots with a nickel buckle on the side and a deep brown cardigan sweater. Joanie dressed within the same color scheme but in lighter tans so that we complemented nicely with our longer skirts and boots. The spouses both wore pants which I thought a bit ironic but well played out!

Arriving at the inn, we were ultimately seated, after a brief wait for a table, in front of one of the fireplaces. We were treated well and the dinner was unbelievably fantastic. The only notable mention was one particular middle-aged woman who was dining with her spouse at a nearby table. She apparently could not take her eyes off of either Joanie or myself. Her gaze was more so sensory overload as she appeared to have a blank look upon her face. It was more than obvious that she recognized our variance from natal women yet could not figure it all out - thus sensory overload. Her husband could have cared less and seemed entirely disinterested, even with his own wife, as he sat quietly facing at an angle away from her throughout the entire dinner.

Back at our table, the boisterous chatter and conversation continued as we worked our way through dinner and into dessert. We ordered the house specialty which was known as the "Chocolate Bag". This decadent dessert is created by painting the inside of a waxed paper bag with chocolate, allowing it to dry an then peeling away the paper bag. The chocolate bag is then filled with chocolate cake and layers of whipped cream and chocolate up the brim. It was large enough that the four of us had trouble trying to finish it off.

As we mulled over the last of our chocolate heaven bliss we were in, the owner of the inn made a stop at our table to ask us ladies how we enjoyed everything. One thing led to another and we were soon in conversation with him for quite some time, discussing everything from travel to inn ownership. It was completely obvious how comfortable he was with us and he made it apparent that he did enjoy our company as we chatted.

On our way back home after dinner, we made a quick stop at the local Shaws. As I left the store with my purchase, I was quite surprised to see a late middle-aged man intently focused on my breasts as I walked past. He made an initial eye contact with my face and then immediately fixated his gaze about a foot lower. Immediate dichotomous thoughts of what must come into most women's minds when this happens to them filled my mind. Interesting to say the least.

It was a wonderful evening for us all and it brought additional levels of affirmation and of comfort to both Joanne and myself in regards to my comfort being out, her comfort being out with me and a general comfort in realizing that the world really can deal with a couple of middle-aged transgender gals!


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