During parts of my life where I've been physically a woman, I've had an annoying recurring dream where I'm walking down the main street of my hometown in just my underwear. I walk past people I grew up with while they catcall me, yelling out obscene shit like "Nice tits!" "Where'd you get the panties!" "Shake that ass!" and such. I wake up feeling ashamed and bitter. Just terrible that life worked out in such a way that I now live like this. It makes me not want to get out of bed in the morning, let alone do my hair and make-up and get dressed and face the world as this.
Let it be known - I've come to like doing my hair and make-up. I'm free to slack on them, of course, but engaging in girly shit makes me feel, well, girly, in a good way. Which is important, because this is a girly body.
Let's talk about how hard it is to dress myself. Pretty much my only options are to wear something form-fitting that shows off my body, or something frumpy and baggy that may be comfortable and warm but makes me look like I'm in a potato sack. I have no choice but to acknowledge to the world that I have big boobs, round hips, and a butt that is admittedly on the flat side but still feminine. And the shit I get from the world if I choose to downplay my looks is honestly not worth the savings in time and effort. So, you win, world. You've girled me up.
I like the girly stuff, not because I ever did before, but because I've come to see it as part of being me. And no matter who you are, no matter what it takes, you can't beat the feeling of looking in the mirror and knowing the person who is looking back is the real you. However far you are from the way you started.
All this estrogen has had a transformative effect on my brain, and I'm not just talking about being willing to do something like what I did on New Years. I'm a lot more conscientious of, well... everything. I see an ad for skin cream and I think "Hm, my skin has felt dry lately - must be the weather, maybe I'll pick some up." Something that wouldn't have occurred to me during my time as a man. I also think maybe it's made me more sensitive. Charlie was sick last month, and even though we still hadn't really broken the ice, I made her soup and tea and stuff.
As to why I would have dreams knocking me down a peg, it's probably because I go through a sustained period of feeling okay about my situation, and then suddenly my brain wants to correct itself and go "No, this isn't right, you should be a man, being a woman is wrong." Tight clothes, makeup, hairspray, all wrong. Lip balm, wrong. Period, very wrong. But there's nothing I can do about it, and on balance, nothing I want to do about it.
I think what spurred these bad dreams was actually... dating. After things didn't pan out with Erik - I ghosted him, but he also ghosted me, which left me feeling oddly annoyed (what, no "thank you"? Was I not good? Does he think he can do better?) I nearly texted him but I had to remind myself I didn't like him that much, so I went on the apps.
It sucks out there. My whole line, to Pete or Jenn or anyone who asks is, I'm not actively interested in dating women, but man I miss it. I have never met a guy I liked as much as the women I dated. I went out with three guys in January and February and they were all kind of boring. They were guys who work day jobs in offices who message every reasonably attractive person they see, and I just picked the least objectionable ones.
They were full of themselves, they prattled on and on about their work, and, because I, as Valerie, am not really in the same place in my life as them, seemed not to acknowledge my observations. I was beneath them, I was more of a pet, an object, an adorable little accessory to be talked down to. And that was when they bothered to let me into the conversation. They would go on and on and usually casually reveal their cockiness, their sexism, their obliviousness to other peoples' feelings or lives.
I got invited back to all three apartments and I declined all three times even though I would like to find someone to have sex with. I didn't feel particularly attracted to them - it's so crazy how I never know what's going to, uh shall we say, light my fire. I have a few regular customers I have openly referred to as cuties, so I know I'm at least into something, but one is tall and broad-shouldered, the other is short and thin and kind of boyish, and honestly I don't think he's conventionally attractive. And don't think I haven't thought about breaking the ice there, but when you work with the public there's something to be said for keeping your relationships professional.
I was venting about all this to Charlie, of all people. When she was sick, and I helped her with stuff, we started to bond. She loves "straight girl tea" and openly drips acid all over the idea of me having a lovelife. She says I fascinate her, because I seem like such a vanilla, nothing-happening straight girl on the outside, but there's "clearly" more going on. If she only knew.
"Sometimes I wonder about you," she said with a glint in her eye. "Are you sure you're completely straight?"
I smirk, this is oddly the conversation I've wanted to have with her for months, even though I'm about to say things to her I probably shouldn't. "Can you keep a secret?"
"Of course. I'm all about that," she grinned widely.
I take a deep breath, "I've dated women. Years ago. Waaay in the past."
Her jaw dropped and she leaned in closer. "Anything serious?"
"One or two, yeah," I said. I could feel myself getting oddly cold as I edged toward the truth. Maybe this was a mistake.
"Why did you stop?"
"I... it's very complicated. It's not who I am anymore."
"I see. You met the guy who left you at the altar. You straightened out for him, and now you're worried your gay card has expired."
"More like, I let it lapse," I said.
"Uh huh," she nodded skeptically, as if this was not possible (and maybe in her world, it isn't.) "Well, I've got to say over the past few months I've noticed some weird things about you. Like, sometimes this 'normal vanilla good girl' thing is just an outfit you're trying on and it doesn't quite fit."
That stung a little. Any reminder that I'm not totally passing feels the same as those dreams. Like salt in the wounds that even if I embrace womanhood, it doesn't always see me as one of its own. But people take so little notice of others that it never seems to come up. And what she was saying was theoretically admiring (from her standpoint) but it came across as a critique. I got quiet.
"Don't tell Maddie, okay? She doesn't need to know."
"Oh, of course not," Charlie nodded. "Because then she'll get all weird, worrying that you and I might hook up. Or worse, you'd try to hit on her."
"Right..." I said, a little saddened that that might be Maddie's take on the situation.
"She made me promise I wouldn't try to get with you. Well I guess you don't need my help. But I still promise not to knock on your door some drunken night."
"Thanks," I said, "Same here."
She laughed, then coughed and sneezed and snorted in an adorably disgusting way. "Let it lapse!" she hooted, bringing back my term from earlier "That's hilarious."
Later, when it was my turn to be sick, she looked after me, then when Maddie was sick, we let her boyfriend take care of it, although I'd be lying if I didn't say there was a part of me that thought I could be doing a better job.