The Real Life Test

Chapter Four
Settling In

January 1994


Chapter One: 1993
Chapter Two: November 30-December 16
Chapter Three: December 17-January 1
Chapter Four: January 1994
Chapter Five: February 1994
Chapter Six: March 1994
Chapter Seven: April 1994
Chapter Eight: May 1994
Chapter Nine: June 1994
Chapter Ten: July 1994
Chapter Eleven: August 1994
Chapter Twelve: September 1994
Chapter Thirteen: October 1994
Chapter Fourteen: November 1994

Sunday, January 2, 1994

The weather was cooperative and I awoke in time to make it to church at Roswell United Methodist. The service was similar to the Methodist services I had attended in Jackson, but due to the size of the church, there was less spontaneity than at Wells Memorial. Still I was favorably impressed and will return. For Sunday lunch I treated myself to The Black-Eyed Pea. I had their vegetable plate with a thick potato soup, cornbread and (what else for New Years?) collard greens and black eyed peas. Maybe I will have good luck all year.

I spent a little time this afternoon at North Point Mall and found some items on half price sale, including a white crepe poet's blouse I had been coveting for some time. I ended up at Harry's Farmers' Market. What a wonderful place! They have fresh produce from everywhere; highest quality meats; and fresh baked breads of every sort. I couldn't resist a loaf of brioche, the French bread with the "topknot". I even bought some fresh Brussels sprouts. I decided I would find a palatable way to prepare this one vegetable I've never been able to tolerate.

Monday, January 3, 1994

"So you want to be a woman..." Michelle says if she ever writes a book, she will choose those words for the title. I thought of them today as I scrubbed bathtubs and shower stalls. Not often do I get "down and dirty" to this extent. But I was determined Rob would not see a dirty house. Everything is going to be in good shape, and he will see that I am making my way very well.

I dusted, vacuumed, and got on hands and knees and scrubbed floors. I cooked (yes, the Brussels sprouts are quite good when you add some cream of celery soup and chopped green onions) and divided portions for the freezer. I mounted the full length mirror on the back of my bedroom door. Now I can see if my slip is showing - the few times I wear a slip.

Rob called around 5:00 to say he was leaving work early and would try to be here by 10:00. I rested and did paperwork until I heard his van pull into the carport. I was happy he made it safely, but our greeting was still rather awkward. He noticed my reticence. "Becky, if you are still angry with me, let me know," he pleaded. "I don't like this sterile atmosphere."

"I don't mean for it to be 'sterile', Rob," I replied. "It's just difficult to adjust to your being back here, in a new role. I'll get over it."

"We'll be all right," he smiled. "I brought my sleeping bag." I smiled myself at that. "You better", I thought.

Tuesday, January 4, 1994

Rob awoke early and I heard him showering in the front bathroom. I put on my robe and went downstairs to make coffee. I took my time getting ready for the day because I knew we didn't have much planned. The main issue Rob wanted to clarify was the mortgage payments. We still haven't gotten a mortgage book, so we went to the BankSouth payment offices at Perimeter Center. I sat in the waiting area while Rob spoke with the clerks. It was almost humorous to hear him introduce himself as "Angela Wilson". He was making no effort to be feminine at all now. Oh well, I thought, that's his worry. I wondered what the clerk was thinking.

We stopped by Perimeter Mall. Rob wanted to check with Mary Ann at the Clinique counter about some bronzing powder. I continue to be amazed that this person, who says he can't live as Angela, is still having electrolysis and using some items of makeup. I still think it's not going to last.

But for now I took full advantage of his masculinity. We had lunch at the Ruby Tuesday restaurant in the mall. I let him seat me, order for me, and buy lunch for me (actually, I did offer to pay my own, but he insisted). Then when we were finished I said "excuse me just a moment, Rob," and went to the ladies' room while he waited at the table. Meow! But he understood and didn't seem to mind.

During the afternoon we had time to discuss Rob's plans. He still thinks he may have multiple personalities. He described not only "Rob" and "Angela", but a third persona he calls "the little girl". He has times when he feels very helpless and vulnerable. He reminded me of his behavior when I returned to Charlotte and brought him "Stuck-Up", his stuffed animal. He became very quiet and hugged the animal while Peggy and I talked. I don't quite know what to think of all this. I really don't think he has a true multiple personality disorder. I still feel he is trying to purge once more, and the gender dysphoria will return in full force at some later time.

We called Dallas Denny and arranged to pick her up for supper at the Olive Garden. The meal was good, but was rather impaired by the obvious tension between Rob and Dallas. He spent most of his time haranguing her over the attitudes of the memebers of the A.G.E. group. The ones who thought he was going too fast, he said, were now gloating over his failure to transition. Well, he didn't care what they thought. "They may have won the battle, but they lost the war," he declared.

"What do you mean by that?" Dallas asked. I must admit I didn't know either.

"That's all I am going to say about it," he replied.

So, with that enigma, I changed the subject to lighter matters and we made it through the rest of the meal. I was quite embarrassed. I am not accustomed to inviting someone to dinner to browbeat them.

I was very quiet on the drive home from Dallas's house. "Do you think I said too much?" he asked. I just shrugged. "Well, you know me," he continued. "I am going to say what I think, even if it is blunt."

"What did you mean...'they won the battle, but lost the war'?" I wanted to know.

"The group members proved themselves right about me, but they lost my friendship and trust in the process," he explained.

It didn't pay to argue. He could have still had their friendship, and this wasn't about winners and losers. We need to all work for a "win-win" situation. But I wasn't ready to discuss it.

Wednesday, January 5, 1994

Today Rob accompanied me to Gina's salon. He still has a hairpiece on order from them, for the frontal hairline. I can't see that he needs it, but I don't question him. At one time he wanted to cancel the order after it had been placed, but I did become emphatic about my opposition to that. (So did Charles and Gina.) Gina washed my longer hairpiece and left it to style, and we worked with the original one which I will wear for the next few weeks. There is just enough difference in the two to make it seem as if I have had my hair trimmed.

For lunch I had a previous invitation from Kim and Linda Carver, friends who live in the next condo complex. Kim is a transsexual who lives full time and works in Alpharetta. They took me to their favorite Chinese restaurant, Lucky China, in north Roswell close to the hospital. The food was excellent and the waiters extremely friendly. In fact, one of them gave me one of the Lucky China key chains the restaurant had saved for Christmas presents for their regular customers.

I returned home and found Rob packing items to carry back in the van. The stereo system and those huge electrostatic speakers that had occupied the entire south wall of the living room were first to go. Then he loaded his television, the marble top end table, and all of Angela's clothes.

"Now we have to go shopping for a television for you," he said. I was grateful for his advice - and muscle - as we shopped several electronics stores, finally finding a 27 inch Philips set at Roberds. By the time we got the set from the warehouse, brought it home, and installed it, it was nearly 8:00. I heated my vegetable beef soup I had kept in the freezer, and served it with brioche from Harry's Farmers' Market. Rob loved the meal and even had seconds, a true rarity for him.

I was exhausted and napped in the armchair while he finished loading the van. He woke me around midnight and I dragged upstairs to bed.

Thursday, January 6, 1994

Rob was true to his plan. He was up at 4:30 with the alarm. "Do you want me to make you some coffee?" I mumbled.

"No, you go back to sleep," he said. "I'll wake you before I leave."

I heard him loading a few more items into the van. He made himself a sandwich and took a can of Diet Coke for the drive back to Charlotte. "Have a good day, Becky," he wished me. "I'll call you in a day or so."

The next I knew, the bright sunshine woke me at 8:30. My days and nights were getting turned around. It was past time to get up. I had to get ready for my doctor's appointment. I made a light breakfast and sipped a cup of coffee while I read the headlines.

For Dr. Silver's office I wore a black skirt and jacket with a red silk blouse. I could have worn jeans and it wouldn't matter; but I wouldn't let myself get into a pattern of dressing inappropriately for business appointments. And a visit to a doctor - a colleague in the Atlanta medical community - was business, even if I was the patient.

Dr. Goldberg called me back to the examining room. He and I were quite used to each other by now. He treated me as an equal: "Would you like anything to drink while you wait, Rebecca?"

"Just a glass of water, thanks, Jeff." I wished he weren't so busy so we could chat about how he was liking his fellowship.

Soon I heard Dr. Silver finishing with the patient next door. "Good morning," he shook my hand as he and Carol entered. He began by scrubbing the lip area, then gave me an injection of lidocaine which began working at once. I held an ice cube over the area to get vasoconstriction. Then he made two small incisions and drew out the irregular piece of tape. I felt nothing as he inserted the new, straight piece. "Much better," he said, quite satisfied. We talked for a moment and he gave me some brief instructions on antibiotics. I made my return appointment for January 27 and drove back to the apartment.

Around 3:00 the telephone rang. It was Bettie, my attorney from Jackson. We discussed details of the settlement, which sounded fair to all concerned - if I can get back to work. She assured me she would have the name change completed "before the ink is dry on the settlement".

I checked my E-mail and found a message from Phillida, one of my friends from CompuServe's Genderline. Phillida lived in a suburb of Atlanta, but I had never met her in person. She finally had summoned the courage to come to a support group meeting, and wanted to know if I would accompany her to Atlanta Gender Explorations this weekend. I returned E-mail assuring her I would be there for her.

By now it was early evening. I made a grocery list from several recipes, including an apple pie, chili, and several vegetable dishes. At A&P the clerks are getting to know me and we usually have a nice conversation.

I stayed up cooking until after midnight, with the television keeping me company in the next room. I froze half of my finished products and put the rest in the refrigerator for Friday and Saturday.

Friday, January 7, 1994

It's surprising how much dirty laundry one person can accumulate. This morning I washed clothes, and dishes, for two hours. I have learned to cook and clean rather well. Now I'm ready to go back to work so I can pay someone else to do the cleaning! (Just kidding.)

The chili is quite good. I made some quick baked beans to accompany it, along with a tossed salad.

A little after 2:00 I left for Snellville, a 40 minute drive, for electrolysis. My hour with Barbara went quickly and relatively pain-free. I did not take a Darvocet today, and for a one hour session, I was not in significant discomfort. That's very nice to know.

On the way home the rains began. It was stormy for several hours and then turned much colder. Tonight was a good night to stay inside, read, and (gasp, what a timewaster) watch television.

Saturday, January 8, 1994

The temperature remained below freezing much of the day. During the morning I tried to catch up on my correspondence.

My appointment with Dr. Powell was very positive. He was a bit concerned about my holidays, especially after the way he saw me on December 17. But I reassured him that I would have contacted him if there were any more difficulties. We continued to discuss my possibilities for a practice situation.

After my hour of therapy I left Windy Hill and drove to the new A.G.E. meeting place at the Days Inn at Northlake. I arrived at four o'clock sharp and found Phillida waiting. She was nervous about her first group meeting, and I tried to put her at ease. Phillida is such a special person. In addition to her gender conflict, she is confined to a wheelchair, as a result of encephalitis. Given her difficulty, she did a remarkable job with her feminine presentation. I walked with her to the A.G.E. meeting room and made sure she connected with Jeanne correctly. Then I got a sandwich before the meeting.

This day was one I needed to be two places at once. I wanted to be with the A.G.E. meeting, but I also wanted to go to the Montgomery support group. I enjoyed the time I spent at the A.G.E. meeting, especially meeting Rick, who is an F to M [female to male transsexual], originally from Mississippi. We could have talked Mississippi roots for a long time, but I needed to leave A.G.E. early and drive to south Atlanta to the support group. I want to maintain ties with both groups; with the resources they could have combined, any feuding between the two groups is difficult to excuse. The Montgomery meeting was very worthwhile anyway. A gender therapist from North Carolina was visiting and was able to ask us questions and lead us in a visualization exercise designed to show us the wisdom of keeping the best parts of the old persona.

I found the exercise very worthwhile. I visualized my masculine and feminine selves and imagined them coming together to form one complete being - me. The masculine self was slim, young, and pleasant, but seemed very unhappy and had to force a smile. My feminine self was confident to the point of exuberance. "Perky" may be a passé description; perhaps "euphoric" is still better. And the two selves merged to create a really attractive and complete person. That's how I feel about myself now. I have a much better self image than ever before.

Sunday, January 9, 1994

I had every intention of making it to church today. Dr. Powell had recommended Johnsons Ferry Baptist Church. It seems they are regarded as being socially rather liberal, but theologically conservative. So I got dressed and arrived at 10:50, only to find they also start at 10:30! I will eventually learn that they don't do things in Atlanta like I am accustomed to in Jackson.

So I missed church, but when I returned home there was a message on my answering machine - from Rick! He wanted to tell me about an impromptu party at Dallas's house tonight for Mike and Gail, a couple from A.G.E. who are moving to Arizona. I promised him I would be there. Naturally I couldn't go empty handed. I suspected Dallas would have the main course and the dessert under control, so I decided to cook a vegetable dish. I had a great recipe for a casserole with yellow squash, onions, cheese, and crackers.

The evening was very pleasant. Robert and Jeanne were able to come, as were about six or seven others. Everyone loved my casserole. I know I shouldn't say this... but Rick couldn't take his eyes off me! I don't think I am ready for this. But Rick is a very nice and interesting person, and I certainly enjoy the attention. We did get to talk and visit a good bit. He is going to be in Roswell Wednesday on business and wants me to go to lunch with him. Will I go? You bet I will.

Monday, January 10, 1994

Today was a "taking care of business" day. This morning I went to the Allstate office and picked up my completed auto insurance policy. Everything is cheaper in Georgia than Mississippi, and auto insurance is no exception. Once again, someone who knows my whole story has been most helpful.

Then I went to the power company to get the account changed from Angela's name to mine; took my prescriptions to the pharmacy; and checked into what it will take to get my name changed for Social Security. I skipped lunch and had an early supper. During supper Rick called again and we talked for an hour. I definitely have mixed feelings about this. Of course, I don't think Rick wants anything other than a friendship either - or does he? Life gets interesting.

Tonight I saw a real tear jerker of a movie: Shadowlands with Anthony Hopkins and Deborah Winger. It was wonderful but certainly very emotional. I was one of several persons in the theater "sniffling" through the final scenes. It's great to be able to cry at a good movie.

Tuesday, January 11, 1994

After giving most of the morning to washing and housecleaning, I dressed to go to electrolysis. I had been very casual on my first two visits, so I decided I would show Barbara I could look well-dressed also. I wore a black and white print skirt from Talbots, with the white poet's blouse I had found at Lord &Taylor on sale. Yes, Barbara did notice! Afterward I came home and cooked my mother's old oriental chicken recipe, with the water chestnuts and Chinese noodles. I love preparing all these old recipes; they evoke such warm memories. And they do taste just as I remembered them. With the chicken I had a tossed salad and a poached Bosc winter pear; then I finished with a slice of the lemon meringue pie I made yesterday.

Rick called and confirmed our meeting tomorrow at 11:00. We'll go out for lunch here in Roswell, probably at Ippolito's. Then Michelle is coming up for the afternoon and we will have supper together. It sounds like a very nice day.

I think I have another date for the weekend. I am hesitant to write about this, since I haven't even met the man. But if he looks like he sounds on computer, he'll be just fine. His name is Bill, and he's someone I have corresponded with on Genderline. He has given me his full name and home telephone number, so I know he is trusting me too. I just am not sure how I feel about a man who obviously wants to date a T-person. But I made it clear to him that a normal date was all I was seeking. He will be in the Atlanta area on business this weekend.

Two dates this week, with two different men... not bad for someone who is still legally married to a woman... but a strange, unexpected, and mostly pleasant feeling.

Wednesday, January 12, 1994

Rick arrived promptly at eleven in his "good ol' boy" pickup truck. He was very nice and offered to take me to lunch in the truck, but the seat was quite full of tools, papers, all the "guy stuff". So I offered the Maxima and he kindly accepted.

Ippolito's is a quaint, neighborhood style Italian restaurant which just happens to be located in one of the busiest strip shopping centers in North Fulton County. Friends tell me it fills up by 11:45 for lunch and 6:30 for dinner. We arrived at 11:20 and were seated at a booth promptly. The special pizza for the day was chicken, broccoli, and sun-dried tomatoes. It sounded wonderful to me. I asked Rick about it and he said, "Sure, that sounds good. Go ahead and order that." I questioned him to be sure he wanted it, but he said he did. Then when it arrived he carefully picked all the broccoli off his part.

I had to smile. My new friend had been living as a male for over five years; had had wonderful masculinizing results from the hormones and mastectomy; and looked quite virile with his short hair and mustache. But it was obvious he hadn't taken many women out for a meal. Was it just as obvious that I was unused to the female role? I wondered as I calculated the tip for him. The amusement and irony did not detract from the lunch date, which I enjoyed tremendously.

Soon after Rick left for his dental appointment, Michelle arrived. She had several errands for us to run. First she sat down with me and showed me the presentation she wanted me to give in her absence at the Southern Comfort Convention planning session Saturday. She has asked me to be her "second in command" in planning the registration for SCC as well as the local arrangements for the 1995 IFGE national convention, to be held in Atlanta.

One of our errands, in fact, was to the Colony Square Hotel which will host the IFGE convention. Michelle and I introduced ourselves to the sales manager, who was very friendly and cooperative. She showed us all the planned meeting rooms, the registration area, the dining area, and the grand ballroom on the top floor.

I couldn't resist commenting to the sales manager, "I remember this place. You used to have a Sunday brunch up here... I think it was called the Blue Jean Brunch."

"Goodness, you're dating yourself," she laughed. "That was over ten years ago."

"Yes, almost like a former life." Literally...

From the hotel we picked up our prescriptions at Hawk's Pharmacy, then went to Jerry Montgomery's house. Michelle wanted to get the necessary documents for her legal name change, so she could start the process. It takes 30 days in Georgia. In Mississippi it is immediate - assuming we ever get started with it. Of course, I understand Bettie is waiting on the divorce to be complete first.

Afterwards, Michelle and I treated ourselves to supper at Steak and Ale. I hadn't had red meat in some time. I ordered the Chateau for One and enjoyed it greatly. She drove me home and left for Forsyth around 10:30.

Thursday, January 13, 1994

Today was another busy, and very satisfying, day. It began with an early electrolysis session. I returned home in time for lunch.

The Oriental chicken and baked beans reheated well, with lemon pie for dessert. It's so convenient to have such good leftovers handy. Then I went shopping for furniture.

My plan was to start looking and getting ideas for the living room. Later I would buy the mattress and springs for the guest bedroom; I knew what I wanted there. But my plans for the living room were still rudimentary. I suspected I wanted a matching sofa and loveseat in a muted floral pattern, not too glaringly feminine, but definitely not what a man would buy. I would want matching coffee table, end table, and if possible a sofa table to go behind the loveseat. Later I could look for an entertainment center.

I looked at Roberds warehouse and showroom, then at Rhodes, Haverty's, and Ethan Allen. Roberds had by far the best prices on the really good furniture. I found a Broyhill suite which would give me every piece I wanted, plus a matching wingback chair, for close to $2000.00. Nowhere else came close to such prices. I like the suite and may well go back and order it. It may mean showing my driver's license to verify my credit. If the salesman will stay calm with that, we can do business.

Finally I took care of the bed. I stopped at Metropolitan Mattress and ordered a Simmons Maxi-Pedic. Sitting on the various floor samples convinced me it was the best choice. I ordered a full size bed, not two twins as Bob had wanted me to do. This is my house now.

I ended up at Rich's in North Point Mall, where I bought sheets and pillowcases, a thermal blanket, and a mattress pad. I could really enjoy furnishing this house in good taste. I will probably get some help with the accessories and wall and window treatments, but I am having some good ideas about those too.

Before I went to bed, I had another call from Rick. He wants to go to a restaurant and movie tomorrow night. "Wonderful, I'd love that," I said. "What time?"

"Oh.... any time is okay. Just whenever."

"Wait a minute, Rick. You said you wanted to learn how to socialize as a man, didn't you?"

"I sure did."

"Well, a gentleman who asks a lady for a date is expected to set the time and place. So, what time will you pick me up?"

"Gosh... I just don't know." I had pressed a little too hard, and I realized it. So I laughed and gave in.

"Well, let me give you a hint that six o'clock would probably be a really good time to get started."

"Oh, okay. Six o'clock it is then. I'll see you tomorrow."

I feel like Pygmalion in reverse.

Friday, January 14

This time I gave myself plenty of time to get to the salon. The traffic was easy, and I actually arrived early. Gina told me about her husband's next home renovation project. Before they even furnished their new family room, they started on the kitchen. Now the family room has sawhorses and lumber!

I discussed my furniture plans and arrangements in the living room with Gina. She saw no problem with the sofa and loveseat on opposite ends of the room. If I can do that, the group at Roberds will work out perfectly. I'm going to their tent sale Saturday and probably will order it.

My hairpieces are looking so natural. There is no way to tell any of it isn't my own hair. I'm really fortunate... but for what they cost, I should be fortunate!

After leaving Gina's, I shopped furniture stores in south Atlanta for an hour or so, then returned home and had lunch. Then I worked on correspondence for several hours.

Rick arrived a few minutes before six. He was quite handsome in his suit; he was also quite nervous. But he recovered well. I was very proud of him for choosing the restaurant and movie. We went to Malone's Grill. I found it ironic that Malone's was the place where I had my only bad experience of being confronted in a group of gender people. Tonight there was no such confrontation; just a delightful trout Amandine. Rick ordered a T-bone steak and we split a piece of chocolate cake for dessert. Afterwards we drove to the theater in a light snowfall. "Philadelphia" was opening in Atlanta tonight, and we saw it at the Roswell Mall Cinema. We enjoyed each other's company a great deal. I hurried Rick on home so the roads wouldn't be icing over and causing him a hazardous drive.

Rick is a sweet and caring person and a good friend. But I don't hear bells ringing. And I really don't need to hear them for some time.

Saturday, January 15, 1994

I dressed warmly and casually for the busy day in jeans, a red turtleneck, and my white crochet over-sweater. Rob called while I was putting on my makeup. He had been back to Kappa Beta (Charlotte's Tri-Ess group) last night. (Why am I not surprised?) I really think that whatever becomes of Rob/Angela, he will remain there in Charlotte. Perhaps that is best.

I drove to Roberds' warehouse in Norcross for the third time this week. The clerk who had helped me before sat down with me to figure a price for the living room suite. I calculated I could afford $1800 for a very nice Broyhill suite, so we went to the cashier. Then I had a temporary setback when the cashier said, "I need to see your driver's license."

"Oh, darn," I said, "I left it in my other handbag." I really did use this excuse. Of course I wasn't about to show her Brian's driver's license. So she said I could just show the license when the deliverymen came. This was to keep anyone from stealing Rebecca's credit card and buying furniture with it. Of course, I can always pay cash for the furniture. And that is what I will do after I hit the automatic teller machines and take it out of my checking account and Mastercard balance.

When I came home there were six messages on the answering machine. I returned calls for some time while I prepared broccoli soup and spicy cheese spread on sourdough bread. I returned a call to Rick; he seemed comfortable with my suggestion that we remain good friends, but still see each other from time to time.

I had a message to call Bill. He had found the Marque Hotel and was staying there. Since I wasn't expecting him till tomorrow night, I decided to stay home tonight. When I located him, I asked him if he had been to the lounge and seen any of the Tri-Ess members. "Yes, I just returned from there," he chuckled.

"Well, let me assure you... I don't look like they do." I felt guilty for saying it. But it's true.

"Oh, I am sure you don't. I know there is a great difference."

I asked him to call me tomorrow afternoon so I can get ready and meet him at the hotel. I will have a restaurant in mind in case he hasn't done his homework.

Perhaps I'll be mistaken; but I really don't expect to hear bells tomorrow either.

Sunday, January 16

This time I made it to Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in time for the start of the 10:30 service. I'm glad I persevered. The service was very reminiscent of other Baptist services over many years of my life. I love the increased emphasis on congregational music, as compared with the Methodist churches I have attended. I only wish I could sing out! But I can sing the melody, quietly, an octave below the notes as they are written.

It was strange to read the bulletin and see a list of the newly ordained deacons. I thought, "I've been an active deacon in two Baptist churches, but I can never make that information public."

I enjoyed the service and will probably return, as I will to Roswell United Methodist. I'm not ready to make up my mind.

I withdrew more money from the automated teller machines at BankSouth. After yesterday, today, and Monday I should have enough for a $1000 payment on the furniture, and put the rest on my MasterCard. If they still want to see a photo I.D. I'll just tell them I don't have one, and if they want my money they need to take the credit card.

I arranged to meet Bill at 4:30 in the lounge at the Marque. The place was quite dead at that hour; we located each other easily.

Bill is just over six feet but is quite muscular. He has a receding frontal hairline, glasses, and a neatly trimmed mustache. His accent was not immediately recognizable, and he said he had lived his early years in Pennsylvania. We enjoyed chatting for about an hour, laughing about some of his experiences visiting with the Tri-Ess members Saturday night, and he asked if I were ready for an early supper and a movie.

We took my car, since he came in a pickup truck. (Have I said this before?) We drove over to Chequers restaurant on the other side of Perimeter Center. The evening meal was very pleasant, as was our conversation. He put his arm around my waist as we walked back to the car to drive the short distance to the theater. We saw The Pelican Brief. I found it a thrilling, suspenseful movie, in some ways better than the book. But I must admit part of my thoughts were on Bill's hands. He took my left hand in his right as soon as we sat down. Later he held both my hands in both his. And I allowed it; it was a warm, wonderful feeling.

After the movie he asked me if there was anywhere else I wanted to go. It was nearly 10:00, and I'm still not a late night person. I told him, "I'm still a little overwhelmed by all this. Perhaps we can go back to the hotel and have a drink." He was quite agreeable to this suggestion; but when we found a parking space in the hotel lot, we didn't leave the car.

He drew me to him and kissed me again and again. His hands embraced me and I clasped the back of his neck tightly. In the front seat of my Maxima, in Atlanta's coldest winter in three years, we sat and "made out" for half an hour. Ohmigoodness... A man was holding me, kissing me, caressing me. And I was liking it a great deal.

His hands found my breasts. "They are wonderful," he murmured. Now I began to be a little concerned. He was so much stronger than I, and he could clearly have his way. I could not, would not, let it go farther, as much as I would have wanted to do so. When he began caressing my buttocks I gently drew my head back.

"Bill... this is wonderful. But I told you before, I'm not prepared to go farther. I can't go up to your room with you, and I think that drink in the lobby would be anticlimactic now. Would you be very upset if I just took you back to the hotel door?"

I was so relieved when he agreed. "Of course, Becky. I understand. I do want to see you again next weekend."

"I promise." We exchanged one more long, lingering kiss before he got out of the car at the door to the Marque.

I was nearly hyperventilating when I drove back down Perimeter Center to Georgia 400. I had to stop before our passions became too strong. I knew how easy it would have been for me to touch him, hold him, do anything he wanted me to do. I would have done it gladly. But in the 1990's one cannot behave in such a way. I remembered the discussions in church about saving our bodies for that special person. And here I was carried away by emotion, with the first person wearing pants who took an interest in me, just as I said I would never do. And the bells still hadn't rung.

Monday, January 17

Oh, what a day to sleep in. Freezing rain and sleet were in the forecast, and were falling all morning. Fortunately this was a school holiday. The kids down the block are slipping and sliding around on the icy parking lot.

I cleaned the kitchen floor with Ajax and elbow grease. In anticipation of the furniture delivery, I vacuumed the carpet and moved the Oriental rug. Around noon, when I was heating up lunch, the representative from the furniture store called, asking if the delivery could be postponed. That was fine with me; I told them to try again on Wednesday.

Tonight I was invited to Jerry and Jill's for supper. Jill had cooked her homemade chili recipe with cornbread and salad. I enjoyed tremendously the meal and the visit afterward. Jerry and Jill appear to be completely at ease with me. I remarked on that, and Jill said, "You are so comfortable with yourself, it makes us much more comfortable with you." We talked till 9:30 and I excused myself to go back to the condo.

Tuesday, January 18

A prolonged cold wave has hit the Southeast. Tonight's expected low temperature is in the single digits. I, however, was toasty warm in bed when the phone rang at 8:00.

"Miss Allison? This is Roberds delivery service. We couldn't deliver your furniture order yesterday, but we would like to deliver it today if possible."

"Certainly," I agreed. "What time?" (Not right now, please.)

"We can be there by 9:30."

I put myself in high gear and rushed through the shower, makeup, hair, and coffee. The truck arrived at 9:15 and the three men had the sofa, loveseat, and two tables positioned perfectly in moments. I gave them my $1000 in cash and the credit card for the rest, just daring them in my mind to ask for a photo I.D. They did not.

So I was left with my new living room furniture. I was delighted. The whole set looked even better than in the showroom. I will check with Roberds later on an entertainment center to house the television, VCR, and a small audio system.

I made it to electrolysis at 11:00 and spent two hours in moderate pain, having forgotten my Darvocet again. When I got back home, I found a message from Michelle saying she was coming in for her electrolysis session that afternoon. She wanted us to get together for supper.

I anticipated asking her to stay tonight, since the weather would be so awful. I went to Linens 'N' Things and bought two pillows for the guest bedroom. Now I could have overnight guests.

Michelle arrived about 6:00. She had previously mentioned Mexican food, so I knew she had been hungry for enchiladas. We found a good, inexpensive Mexican restaurant close to home called La Cazuela. They had numerous combination plates for $5.95. It wasn't memorable, but it was filling and satisfying.

We returned home and I turned on the VCR so we could watch Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin in "Prelude to a Kiss". I loved the take-home lesson from this movie: we love the person we know to be real on the inside, not just the external appearance. Michelle was happy to stay here tonight, and made herself at home in the guest bedroom.

Wednesday, January 19

I thought I was getting started on my day quite early, finishing my shower by 8:30. Michelle was downstairs making coffee and I was putting on my makeup. I was surprised to hear another voice downstairs; then I realized it was Rob. "Hmm, he's probably surprised himself to find Michelle here," I thought.

In a few minutes he came upstairs to say hello. "Hi, Rob," I greeted him. "I wasn't expecting you this early."

"I wanted to stop by here before making my business calls. And I have an appointment with Gina at 1:30 to get my hairpiece."

When I finished my makeup and hair, I joined Rob and Michelle downstairs. As I feared, they were discussing Rob's plans.

I listened to the story which grew ever more confusing. Now "Rob" was saying how he hated the name "Rob" and had no intention of changing his name back from "Angela". With the name, the continued estrogen use, the continuing electrolysis, and the hairpiece, I knew Angela had never really intended to purge completely. It was just as I suspected: Angela is alive and well. She is simply not ready to transition yet. One day, I am convinced, she will. But for now I'll go back to the feminine pronouns and name for her.

I rode with her to the salon. The hairpiece appeared a good match and fit. Angela wanted to highlight her own hair, and Gina didn't have the material she needed for that, so they made another appointment for tomorrow. I decided to make an appointment also, for Gina to color the gray in my temple areas.

I introduced Angela to Harry's Farmers' Market, where I bought more of the brioche that she enjoyed so much. I bought several fresh vegetables and one of Harry's famous caramel pecan pies.

We returned to the house and made ready for supper. Angela wanted to prepare her favorite vegetarian tacos. While she worked in the kitchen, she opened the bottle of vodka she bought earlier and made screwdrivers for her and myself. "No White Russians?" I teased.

I should mention here that I have no problem with a heavy drink like a White Russian, because it's so rich. I can never drink many of them. But a screwdriver is one of the most insidiously dangerous drinks for me. It tastes so light, before I know it, I've had one and then another one.

And after two rapid screwdrivers, Becky is drunk. And that's what happened this night. I look back on it in embarrassment. I remember eating two of the tacos, and being very sorry I ate the second one. But after great effort, and slow, deep breathing, it stayed down.

"Angela," I groaned, "I'm going upstairs." I managed to make it to the bedroom and take my contact lenses out. Then, clothes and makeup still intact, I passed out. Finally around 10:30 Angela woke me to wash my face and put my gown on. Apparently I did so.

Thursday, January 20

"Oh... What time is it?" The sunlight was altogether too bright.

"Eight o'clock. You have electrolysis in a couple of hours. How are you this morning? A bit of a hangover?"

"If I were a raccoon," I grumbled, "My mask would be killing me."

But I made it to the shower and felt better by the time I was clean and dressed. We had a good laugh about Becky the lush. I told Angela the last - and only - time I was really intoxicated was at the end of my sophomore year in medical school.

We prepared for our busy day. Angela was going straight to Taylor Made for her highlighting. I would see her there when I finished my electrolysis. On the way home I planned to stop at Emory and register for my classes.

When I drove from Barbara's office over to south Atlanta, I was very happy to see Charles back at work at the hair salon. His infection around the pacemaker site was much improved. He was getting home health care with antibiotics intravenously each morning, which enabled him to go to work in the afternoon. He looked quite healthy. He was appreciative of the get-well card I sent him.

Gina had no problem coloring my gray hair. Angela went back to the house to install my fan and light kit while I finished, then went to my registration. I registered for the "Spanish for Health Professionals" as planned. I wanted to take an introductory class in T'ai Chi, but it was filled. I signed up for a classical music appreciation class instead.

For supper I prepared my cream of broccoli soup, using fresh broccoli from Harry's, and a three bean salad. No drinking tonight! We talked and shared our feelings and emotions of the past weeks late into the night.

Friday, January 21

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, but I was. Angela and I had finished breakfast and she was having another cup of coffee while I scanned the paper for sale advertisements. She looked at me and said, "I have something I must ask you."

"What is it?" I was puzzled.

"Next time I come, do you want me just to turn around and go back the same day, rather than spend the night?"

This was a total surprise. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, you don't seem very warm to my being here. Now I'm almost ready to leave and you are reading the newspaper instead of visiting with me."

This was too much; it was upsetting to me. "I'm sorry I gave you that impression. I always want you to stay. But I don't understand why I have to apologize for having an ordinary morning, reading the ads. Why are you so sensitive?" Finally I settled down. Sometimes I become too upset for my own good. And Angela, a bit surprised herself by the intensity of my response, knew to lighten up.

So we talked till lunchtime, when we had more of the broccoli soup and some cheese toast. As she drove away I thought, "You have a way of upsetting me so, and yet I miss you when you leave. Try figuring that one out."

This afternoon I went to North Point and found a set of Chicago Cutlery kitchen knives on sale at Rich's. I spent several hours simply shopping the various stores in the mall, and returned home in time to heat more leftovers for supper. Dallas called after supper and invited me to a cookout Sunday night at her house: Shaun, Rick, Dallas, and me. Afterwards we'll go to a movie. I told her I'd cook a vegetable dish and be there around 5:00.

Saturday, January 22

My hour with Dr. Powell was most productive. I showed him the letter I had written his friend, Dr. Walters, the cardiologist. Dr. Powell pronounced it "excellent" and said he thought Dr. Walters would appreciate it. We also talked about my prospects for work in Atlanta, especially the need for disclosure to potential partners. Finally we discussed sexuality and dating. He was pleased with my reactions to Bill and Rick. He definitely agreed with my judgment concerning how far to go with Bill. I wondered if my relationships with men are becoming too complex, too fast; but I don't think they are. We both agree regarding my intention to abstain from serious intimacy prior to my surgery.

I can't believe I am writing these words, about me having sex - as a woman - with a man; even talking about the likelihood of my marriage to a man. But why would I not? My desires certainly have changed over the past year or two. I now realize I never had normal male sexual desires; what I thought was sexual attraction was a deep desire for a soulmate, a friend. For a long time, I had that with Sheryl. But what I want from a man, once I have surgery, is quite a different feeling.

Sunday, January 23

It was Singles Appreciation Day (is that prophetic?) at Roswell United Methodist Church, and I enjoyed hearing the speakers. More than likely I will become a member of that church.

I stopped by Kroger after church and got the ingredients for my vegetable stew. It's a Greek dish, with a Greek name, "Fassolakia". Cindy, my friend who lives in Belgium, sent it to me by E-mail. I have adapted it by adding carrots and mushrooms, and it gets high praise every time I cook it. I had lunch at home and got to work in the kitchen. In addition I had the ingredients for a strawberry pie, so I put it together quickly also.

I arrived at Dallas's house and we all went to the Northlake Cinema to see "Grumpy Old Men" with Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and Ann-Margret. I don't know when I have laughed so hard at a movie. And I must say Rick is getting better at our dating game. He put his arm around me, and held my hand with his other hand, the entire movie.

I enjoyed it. And I'm not talking about the movie now.

I know: Rick doesn't count for a "real" date. Or does he? I need to reassess. First of all, he is as much a man as I am a woman. That's a certainty. Second, he has dated numerous girls, both genetic and transsexual, over the last five years. It's not as though I am the first. I need to keep aware of how fortunate I am to have a nice looking and very considerate man interested in me.

After the movie we all enjoyed our meal. I found myself coordinating the food preparation, suggesting a basting sauce for the grilled chicken, preparing a hot curry sauce for the chickpeas and rice, making tea. It's natural for me. And the fassolakia was one of my best efforts.

Dallas brought in her guitar and we had an informal "sing along" after supper. Rick doesn't sing but he enjoyed listening to us... as long as he had me sitting in his lap. We did kiss, just a couple of times, when he walked me out to the car.

No: I am not in love with Rick. I can't afford to be. Not yet.

Bill never called back. I can assume one of two reasons: One, he lost my phone number. Two, my unwillingness to let him get past first base was not what he wanted. In my heart, I think I know which is true.

Monday, January 24

Everyone at Dr. Silver's office knows me and greets me, "Good morning, Rebecca" before I even sign in. He was very pleased with the results of the upper lip revision and didn't think anything more needed to be done. I agree.

I had a letter from Dr. Lehan, my former chief of cardiology, waiting for me at home. I was nervous before I opened it; what if he couldn't handle my news? But he could. "Dear Becky," he began. He went on to say he was glad to hear from me, hoped I was finding happiness, and would be delighted to serve as a reference for me. I was overjoyed.

Tonight I wrote letters to several friends back in Mississippi. At 10:00 I logged on to the Genderline conference on Compuserve. My two good friends, T.J. from Maryland and Terri from California, both were online with me and we had a wonderful visit. They are both postoperative and love to tease me about how wonderful the new equipment can be. That's all right. My time is coming.

Tuesday, January 25

For running errands in the neighborhood, I wore jeans and a burgundy turtleneck with my white cardigan. Again I thought of the differences between crossdressers and transsexuals; my crossdresser friends would consider it terrible to miss a chance to dress in a more feminine manner. I say, this is my femininity. This is what real women wear when they are getting in and out of the car, carrying packages, and cooking. And I am a real woman, not a caricature. I feel totally natural going everywhere like this, with my hair in a casual sweep and with light makeup.

I love life at this point.

Around 4:00 I had a light early supper and got ready to drive into town for my night class. I arrived on the Emory campus just in time, and found my way to Room 102, White Hall, without problems.

There were eighteen of us taking "Spanish for Health Professionals". I had just a little lump in my throat as the teacher began going from person to person, asking questions to determine our level of expertise in Spanish. "Piece of cake, Becky," I thought to myself. "You can definitely do this." I really never felt seriously anxious.

Señora Rosita looked at me. "Como se llama usted?"

I relaxed and smiled. "Me llamo Rebecca."

"Sí, Rebecca," she smiled in return, "y cual es su apellido?"

"My apellido es Allisón."

We went through several questions: where am I from ("soy de Atlanta"), my parents' names, my specialty. Then she moved on to the next student.

I had such joy inside. I have always loved the role of the student. And now, here I was, back in class again, doing well... as my true self, for the first time. The hour and a half went by quickly. Everything was perfectly natural, and I hated to leave.

At home I was wide awake and excited about my success. I watched a little television; Rick called and I accepted his invitation to go up to Helen in the north Georgia mountains for the weekend.

Wednesday, January 26

The joys of womanhood, chapter next: Today I cleaned house for four hours. I scrubbed bathrooms, changed sheets, vacuumed everything, cleaned the oven. I went outside and swept out the carport. Now it's the cleanest I ever have seen it. Perhaps you couldn't eat off the concrete, but you can most definitely go barefoot on it.

Tonight was my other class: How to Listen to Classical Music. The instructor is a local attorney, who has taught this course for 20 years. Tonight we heard about Bach and the Baroque period, and listened to several of his works demonstrating the highly structured, almost mathematically precise composition which characterizes this unmatched genius. These pieces were composed nearly three hundred years ago. How foolish we are to think we are so much more intelligent than our ancestors. If anything, television has made us less thoughtful and creative than before.

Obviously, I loved the class. The adrenalin was still flowing when I returned home, so I did a little creating of my own and baked a batch of chocolate brownies before going to bed.

Thursday, January 27

Barbara worked for an hour and a half today on my face and throat, and as usual achieved good clearing of the regrowth. I now have 117 total hours of electrolysis. Again, I endured the session without the benefit of any analgesics. It's a feeling of personal strength and accomplishment to know I can do that.

Tonight I thawed out vegetable beef soup and made a recipe of cornbread from scratch. I'll take some of the cornbread muffins and brownies on the trip to Helen tomorrow with Rick.

Friday, January 28

I surprised myself by getting out of bed with the 6:00 alarm. I had showered and dressed, and was applying my makeup, when Rick arrived promptly at 7:00. He waited downstairs for me for about 15 minutes. I wore jeans and a burgundy turtleneck, and just hoped he was appropriately dressed for the occasion. To my relief, he also had on jeans and a sportshirt. But he did bring me presents: a box of chocolates and a single red rose in a bud vase. These things may be old news to most women, but I am still very touched by them. I did wonder a little bit about his plans for wooing me over the weekend, with such a romantic beginning.

We loaded my car (I agreed: I didn't want to travel in his pickup truck) and set out by 7:30. The traffic was light leaving town at that hour, and we made good time in the surprisingly mild weather. On the way, Rick outlined his plan for us. We would spend the morning in Helen, then drive on to our lodge in the North Carolina mountains. I listened as he described the lodge: "They don't have a telephone or a television."

"But what do we do, Rick?" I suspected the answer.

"Well... Shaun says we just get to know each other better. We can build a fire in the fireplace, or take a walk in the woods." Great. I'm being pursued by a 40 year old with the sexual maturity and instincts of a college kid, who wants to get to know me better. I should have known Rick and Shaun had planned my seduction.

Rick was wondering what to say. "I told Shaun it didn't matter to me, whatever you wanted to do. If you wanted us to have separate beds, or separate rooms... If you just wanted me to hold you... or if you wanted me to make love to you."

Hold it right there. "Rick, I think I have been straightforward with you. I have told you all along, I wanted us to be good friends. But I still feel the same way about serious physical relationships. It's just not going to happen. I'm not ready, and I won't be ready before my surgery. For that matter, I won't be ready after surgery unless I find a man I want to marry."

As we talked, I realized Rick thought my actions of last Sunday indicated I wanted to go farther with him. When I sat on his lap and let him hug me, he took it to mean I wanted to be his girlfriend. Thus the candy and flowers. "Now I'm really embarrassed," he groaned.

"Please don't be," I assured him. "I do still want to be special friends. But not at a love nest in the mountains. How about Chattanooga? You said earlier you wanted to go there, see the aquarium, see Ruby Falls."

He even seemed relieved. The pressure to perform was off. We enjoyed the morning in Helen, with a big country breakfast, then drove over to Chattanooga through the Appalachians and down the highway paralleling the Ocoee River. The scenery, even in the snowless winter, was gorgeous. We arrived in Chattanooga in plenty of time to see the Tennessee Aquarium. Rick brought his camcorder and captured the whole tour on videotape.

We looked for a place to stay. Without thinking, I suggested the only place in Chattanooga with which I was familiar. The former Choo Choo Hilton had been taken over by the Holiday Inn, but they still had the very nice facilities, complete with guest rooms in the old, renovated railroad cars.

I thought it would be special. I didn't realize the impact there would be on me to walk into the room like one where I once stayed with Sheryl and Mark. When we entered, I became very emotional. Rick was patient as I explained why I was crying without warning. He can be quite mature and give wise counsel at times. Soon I got over my emotional episode, and we cleaned up and went out to a restaurant.

We were both rather tired, so afterward we came back and watched television for a brief time before turning in. Yes... Rick slept on the day bed and left me the regular bed.

Saturday, January 29

We had set the alarm for 8:00, which gave us time to get breakfast at the hotel dining room and see the model railroad exhibit before checking out and driving the short distance to Ruby Falls. I had seen the Falls before, but it was a first for Rick. When we descended in the elevator and started the walk through the cavern, he was unimpressed. "Is this all there is?"

I just took his hand, let him continue videotaping, and said, "No."

We continued on with the group, past the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns in their interesting formations. Little children in our group were humorous asking their parents the same questions Rick had asked. But soon we arrived at the area of the Falls, which were kept dark for dramatic effect until we were all standing close. Then the lights were turned on and everyone "oohed" and "aahed" to see the underground waterfall descending into the pool at our feet. We photographed, taped, and walked all around the pool.

"Now, I'm impressed," Rick admitted. I must agree it was worth a trip. Even the second time it was a remarkable sight.

We had a pleasant return to Atlanta, and arrived at the condo in time for me to freshen up before group therapy. I told Rick again how much I enjoyed the two days; and I sincerely meant it.

The group was very large, but I had a chance to share my experiences with the night classes. I also thought it was relevant to share about the feelings I had when I went into the railroad car. "But I got through it," I concluded, "and now I have had that experience as part of my new life as Becky." It illustrated a good lesson about being unafraid to confront our past and adapt it to our present circumstances.

Theresa Kinney, one of the group members, asked me to come over for a visit to the house she shares with her boyfriend, Sheldon. She and I have much in common, including our sense of humor and intellect. We talked and drank coffee until well after midnight. It's very strengthening to us both to have new friends, with whom we can discuss not only gender related events, but other aspects of ordinary life.

Sunday, January 30

I didn't want to get up so early, but I also wanted to get to Roswell Methodist on time. I filled out the visitors' card and noted that I was interested in becoming a member, and attending the four week new member class in February.

Angela is coming tomorrow. She said she doesn't like boiled shrimp, but I am going to fix some anyway because I'm ready for them. I will cook Rotel chicken casserole for her. I made carrot and raisin salad and mixed the cocktail sauce for the shrimp, which I will boil tomorrow morning while I'm waiting on the furniture delivery.

Tonight I had the last of the vegetable soup. I watched Dallas destroy poor Buffalo (again) in the Super Bowl, then cleaned the oven before going upstairs to work on my journal before bed.

Monday, January 31

Did I just mention in passing "I cleaned the oven"? Excuse me! I looked at it this morning and decided the oven cleaner didn't do a good enough job. So I got out the SOS pads and the elbow grease. An hour and a half, and a box of pads, later, the oven looked spotless. And I was as sore as if I had had a Nautilus workout.

Robert rescued me from further housework by calling and saying he was in the neighborhood and would like to drop by. "Fine, Robert," I said. "Do you like shrimp?"

So when he arrived I boiled the whole pound with Zatarain's New Orleans mix, and the two of us sat and peeled shrimp and dipped them in my homemade cocktail sauce. In the midst of our "pigging out" Angela arrived. When I saw her, I knew the real Angela was back. She had on makeup that looked better, and more feminine, than I had seen her in many weeks. The tension between us is gone. We had a wonderful time catching up on our news. After Robert left, I told Angela all about Rick. I'm sure he will come over sometime while she is here.

She brought her tools and helped me adjust the burner for the gas logs. Later we were too tired to cook supper, so we went out to Paisano's here in the neighborhood.


© 1996 Rebecca Anne Allison

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