The Real Life Test

Chapter Five
Details

February 1994


Contents

Introduction
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
Epilogue


Tuesday, February 1

Today was a busy day for us both. Angela went back to the salon for Gina to adjust her hairpiece further. I had my ususal Tuesday electrology, after which Michelle met me for lunch. Her appointment with Barbara for her own electrology was at 1:30, so we had plenty of time for soup and a loaded potato at the Black Eyed Pea. Michelle brought photos of her daughter's wedding - including "Michelle" in a tuxedo giving the bride away. "This is the last time we'll see this gentleman," I teased her.

After lunch I drove to the Accord Psychological office, where one of the staff is a Notary Public. I had to sign the Child Custody, Support, and Property Settlement agreement and have it notarized. Now, when I return this to Bettie, the divorce will proceed immediately. I still had mixed feelings, but only in the sense of finality. Sheryl and I both know it has to be done. I hope we will retain our friendship.

When I returned home, Angela had major news for me. "You had two calls; one from Dr. Powell and the other from a Dr. Walters. Dr. Walters wants to talk with you about going into practice with him."

With HIM? Dr. Walters is one of the most respected cardiologists in Atlanta. I had no idea he would be interested himself; I just wanted him to recommend other possibilities for me. This could be even better than I dared hope.

I called and spoke briefly to Dr. Walters, who expressed an interest in setting up a time for us to meet. He asked if he could call and talk longer after office hours. Then I phoned Dr. Powell and shared the good news. He was very pleased but not surprised. He has known Dr. Walters for years.

Rick did indeed call and come over while I was preparing my Rotel chicken spaghetti. He and Angela enjoyed visiting with each other while I went to my Spanish class. When I returned we had supper; then Rick, the camera fanatic, wanted some casual shots of Angela and me, around the dining table and in the living room. We were happy to pose. I even got a few shots of him.

Dr. Walters did call back. We chatted about my Spanish class, about trips to Costa Rica he made with his son, about all sorts of trivia. He asked me if I could come to his office Thursday at 5:30.

My adrenalin is flowing.

Wednesday, February 2

Angela and I loaded her van for the return to Charlotte. She is gradually returning her furniture, and I don't mind, since I will be able to furnish all the rooms according to my own taste. Rick helped her move the bookcase from upstairs. She commented about her sore back, and how it would hurt to carry the large red chair, "but don't try that, Becky, it's too heavy for you." Right. I realized she was playing the role of Tom Sawyer getting me to whitewash the fence, but I played along. Anyway, I wanted that screaming red Naugahyde out of my living room. The chair wasn't that heavy as I swung it up and over the loveseat and through the back door. "You're unbelievable," she laughed, shaking her head.

This afternoon Rick came over again and showed us the photos he made last night. He had them developed at the one-hour camera shop down the street. They really turned out rather well, and Angela and I wanted copies of certain ones. He promised he would get them done for us.

After Angela left, Rick was back to his old habits of wanting to be much more physical with me. I let him kiss me - lightly - several times before emphasizing, "Rick, you know I'm uncomfortable with this. You know I have said I want us to be friends." I think he believes he can be so romantic, he will cause me to change my mind and fall madly in love with him.

It's not going to happen.

Finally he left for home, and I heated the leftover chicken for supper before driving back to my classical music course.

Thursday, February 3

I realized when I awoke that my longer hairpiece needed washing before this afternoon's interview with Dr. Walters,and I was too insecure of my ability to properly wash and dry it. I called Gina before leaving for electrolysis, and she said she would be glad to do it for me. I was very pleased with her result. The morning was quite busy with one and a half hours' electrolysis followed by the drive back to Gina's. I'm fortunate that my electrolysis leaves no lasting inflammation.

I returned home in plenty of time to re-apply my makeup and put on my suit. The navy suit from Talbots with the just-below-the-knee skirt and white pleated silk blouse was the perfect ensemble. Now I looked the part of the businesswoman.

I arrived at Dr. Walters's office promptly at 5:30. After a few minutes he had seen his last office patient, and asked me to step back to his room. We had a marvelous visit for half an hour, and I think he might be willing to offer me a position. The only problem I have with that is that Dr. Walters is not a fully trained cardiologist, and I would not be able to do my cardiac catheterization procedures.

I did not disclose to Dr. Walters, but I would do so if the question comes up. I won't fabricate a female past just to satisfy the secretaries.

At any rate, the episode made me feel much more comfortable with being Rebecca in public. I will contact the other promising opportunities, but I'm very encouraged by the success of the first one.

Friday, February 4

The phone awoke me at 8:00 A.M. I was pleased to hear Sheryl's voice. "I was planning to talk to you soon about our taxes," I explained.

"That's one reason I am calling," she said. "I have most of this information ready for the accountants, and wondered if you wanted to go over it with me."

We chatted for nearly an hour, and I agreed to meet her at home for lunch Monday. I have the legal documents to return to Bettie, and some checks to deposit in my Jackson account, so this will be a convenient time to make a trip.

It will also be Sheryl's first time to interact with me as Becky. I'm so hopeful, even if there is an initial shock, she will see how happy and content I am, and realize that this is the best course for us all.

Later in the morning, as I was washing and housecleaning, Theresa called. She has been without transportation all week and was getting weary of looking at the four walls of Sheldon's house. I drove over and picked her up, and we spent the afternoon running errands. Later we got a bite to eat and went out to The Otherside, a lesbian bar friendly to transsexuals, for a few hours. Theresa has been depressed over her lack of employment, which dims her prospects for surgery in the near future. I told her, before I return to work myself, I'd be glad to help with transportation to job interviews. She, in turn, offered to ride with me to Jackson for support in case I had an emotionally difficult time with Sheryl.

Tonight I tried to complete a letter to Mark I started two days ago. It's very hard to keep out references to how much I miss him and would love to see or hear from him. It's been six months since I have talked with him. Perhaps I'll be able to complete it in a day or two.

Saturday, February 5

Today was to be a day of satisfaction over my experience with Dr. Walters. I described my interview to Dr. Powell in my individual therapy session, and he told me he had seen Dr. Walters last night, and he was very impressed with me. I can't believe the issue of gender has never come up. Dr. Powell says that Dr. Walters is one of the most intelligent persons he knows; but he is a true gentleman and would not embarrass me. It's gratifying to know the possibility of working with him exists.

Then things got complicated. I picked up Theresa before group therapy. When we returned, one of our friends was describing her intention to go for surgery in April or May. This upset Theresa, who has been psychologically ready for surgery even longer, but cannot afford it. The resulting roundtable discussion lasted until after 7:00. It was too late to go to A.G.E., so I went out to supper with Theresa. By the time I took her home and visited with her and Sheldon for a while, it was nearly midnight.

I pulled into the parking area of the condominium complex. A familiar black pickup truck was sitting in my carport: Rick. It was not a comforting sight.

He had been waiting for over an hour and a half. I asked him in for a few minutes. He was upset over my "standing him up", even though we did not have a date for the A.G.E. meeting. But as we talked he seemed more disappointed than angry. I felt sorry for him. That seems to be one of my weaknesses: I will try to avoid hurting other people's feelings at any cost, even allowing my own to be hurt.

He still wants me for more than a friend. It is obvious with every statement he makes. And I just don't want that. But I don't want to see him sad and depressed either. I made sure he was feeling better before I sent him on the way home and packed my bags for the overnight trip to Jackson tomorrow.

Sunday, February 6

I decided to come home after the New Member class at RUMC and pack for the trip. I regretted missing the church service, since already I feel a part of the membership. But Jackson was six hours away and I still had to pick up Theresa. The class was a very positive experience, even though I had anxiety over speaking in front of a group of strangers. And we all had to speak, all thirty of us in the class. First we interviewed one of the other new members on topics such as where you live, what is your church background, your occupation, and so on. My partner was a man about sixty named Jack. As I stood and gave Jack's information to the group, I realized that this, too, was working perfectly. I relaxed and enjoyed the hour as others introduced one another, then we toured the building.

I returned home, finished packing, and had a quick snack before driving down to the Southside. Theresa lives off Lakewood Freeway in an older neighborhood which is a mix of older homeowners and young couples renovating their homes. She was ready to go when I arrived.

Theresa is twenty-six years old. She is an attractive Nordic blonde, six feet tall, about 130 pounds. She lives with her boyfriend in his house, and is currently unemployed. She is also very depressed about her lack of prospects for SRS in the near future. I know she needs a friend, and I may need to spend some time with her these next few weeks to be that close friend.

I grieve for her sadness; but how do I tell her, "You are twenty years younger than I am. Give it time! Concentrate now on finding a job and making money. The surgery will follow." It's easy for me to say, but hard for her to hear.

But we enjoyed the trip, thanks to similar tastes in music for the CD and tape player. We stopped several times for her to have a cigarette. Around 7:00 we arrived in Jackson and went to the Quality Inn.

After freshening up, we were ready for a good meal. I knew where to go for good food close to the hotel: Bill's Greek Tavern. Bill is a first generation American immigrant whose outdoor sign, menu, and decorations all carry the notation "God Blesss America". He is also a superb chef. Theresa had the filet mignon and I had the fresh panfried scallops. Both were magnificent. Atlanta's not the only place where a good meal can be found!

Monday, February 7

We awoke early enough for McBreakfast: two coffees, with a cinnamon roll for me and an Egg McMuffin for her. Returning from breakfast, I had to take just a few minutes for Sandra, whose electrology office was on the way back to the motel. Sandra and I had a wonderful visit. She remembered that it was now a year since I first made the frightened, tentative steps to starting electrolysis. "And how you have changed."

Seriously.

We checked out of the motel and drove to the bank, the post office, and finally the attorneys' office. I left the signed papers for Bettie and asked if my friend Dale, whose office is in the same complex, was available. The receptionist said, "I'll check with his secretary."

In a moment the secretary appeared. "What happened to Dr. Brian Anderson, who was supposed to see Dale?"

I raised my hand with a smile. "That would be me."

She was surprised and apologetic: "Oh, I'm sorry. It's just that - I was expecting a man." She doesn't realize how she did make my day.

After seeing Dale I returned to the car, where Theresa had been waiting. We drove to Northpark Mall and I left her with the understanding I would be back around 2:30. And then - beat a little softer, heart - I drove to Sheryl's house.

I brought out the present I had bought her, a gift box from "A Touch of Georgia": some peach preserves and peach julep. Anxiously I rang the doorbell. In a moment the door opened and there she was, smiling, saying, "Hi, come on in," just as I had heard her say so many times.

She made no comment on my appearance, but I knew her well enough to tell by her eyes and smile: she did not disapprove. In my jeans and light sweater, I looked quite comfortable and natural. The hairpiece and minimal makeup did not offend her. Most likely, she would have an emotional time after I left; but now she was in good shape for the visit.

She appreciated the present, saying (as I expected) that I didn't have to do that. We visited there in the breakfast room for well over two hours. She had prepared soup and sandwich lunch, and we ate at the kitchen island just like the old times.

When I left she clasped my hand and said, "I feel much better about you now. There was a time I didn't think you would be able to succeed in this transition. But since I have seen you I know you will be successful."

I was a bit emotional myself as I picked up Theresa and we left Jackson.

We were quieter on the return trip but still enjoyed each other's company. It was very good for Theresa to get out of town for a couple of days; she had been trapped without a means of transportation for too long.

Tuesday, February 8

A little over one and a half hours was all it took for the electrolysis today. Barbara is involved with some legal proceedings over flaws in her recently purchased house, so she had to leave early. But I was finished by then. We discussed her use of permanent eyeliner. It would be very helpful to skip that phase of the makeup procedure every morning. I decided to get the skin testing later to see if I could have it done.

I found myself so busy with household chores, I forgot to return several telephone calls left on the answering machine. They would come back to haunt me later.

Tonight after Spanish class I went to Taco Bell and bought a half dozen soft tacos. I remembered Theresa and Sheldon liked spicy food, so I got extra hot sauce and brought it to their house. I found them engrossed in their favorite late night pastime: playing computer games, the very complex combat type. They were very appreciative of the snacks.

I told Theresa I would help her run some errands in north Atlanta tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 9

Today I paid for not returning the phone calls. "Where have you been?" Angela chastised me. "Everyone has been so concerned about you. We were going to start making trips to Jackson to see what had happened to you."

I ended up apologizing to Angela, Robert, Jeanne, Michelle...but I had let people know my schedule. Dr. Powell and Rick both knew where I would be. But nobody thought to call Rick. I'm glad people are so concerned, and I don't want them to lose that concern. But how do you walk the fine line between too much concern and not enough? I would like the freedom to live my own life, without being overly selfish and inconsiderate of others.

I had prepared two copies of my resumé to send by fax in response to advertisements for cardiologists in Atlanta. I couldn't locate the instruction manual for my fax modem, so I just stopped by one of these mailbox/copier/fax stores which have proliferated everywhere. The phone was ringing as I returned home. It was a Mr. Bently from the personnel service I had just faxed. He was immediately impressed with my resumé and wanted to present me to his clients.

"Could I schedule a visit with you in person first?" I asked.

He was quite agreeable to that, so we made an appointment for 10:00 Thursday at his office downtown. This was fast results! I felt the excitement of plans coming together, but realized it was only a very preliminary step.

Tonight at music class we studied Mozart, with just a little bit of Haydn and Beethoven for comparison. I love the works of Mozart, male chauvinist though he was. I even found the movie Amadeus on sale at one of the video stores, if ever I have three hours to sit and watch it.

Thursday, February 10

"Get up, Becky. It will be even earlier than this when you go back to work," I coaxed myself at the 7:00 alarm. I had a light breakfast and dressed in my black and white lattice-check jacket, black wool skirt, and ivory silk blouse. The look came together nicely, I was pleased to note in the full length mirror.

Even at 9:30 the traffic on the Interstate connector was still heavy. I found the Courtland Street exit and parked, as Mr. Bently suggested, in the first garage I saw in the Peachtree Center complex. As a result, I came in the back way and had a minor bit of trouble finding the right tower; but I made it to the personnel office only a few minutes after ten.

The receptionist paged Mr. Bently, "Dr. Allison is here." In a moment he was there, smiling and looking very much like a slightly-younger Richard Gere. In other words, Joe Bently was quite attractive. (Goodness, how my thoughts have changed over the last year.)

In his office we had time to discuss my qualifications. "This is an outstanding resumé," he began. "I am sure many cardiology groups would be interested. And, with your permission, I will contact the references you listed here. But you said there were matters you wanted to discuss in person with me."

He still didn't suspect; or if he did, he was very discreet. "Everything on my resumé is absolutely true," I began. "But when you begin my background check, you will not find much information under my present name. I have recently experienced some major life changes including a change of name." After obtaining assurance he would hold this information in confidence, I proceeded. "I have also experienced a change of gender to conform to my lifelong inner feelings. Now I am much more able to function efficiently in my profession as well as in life."

Nervously I waited for his response. It could not have been better.

"While I can't really understand these changes fully, I can certainly empathize. I see the self assurance you portray now, and know you must feel secure in your course. I have absolutely no problem with this, and will be most happy to represent you."

We discussed specifics of my training and practice, and he told me he would contact his client group to tell them he had found a physician for them. Then at the interview with the doctors, it would be my decision when, or whether, to disclose to them. "But these qualifications will be most attractive to any group," he assured me.

As I left he smiled, "I just want to assure you, you made a very good choice to work with me."

Downtown Atlanta and the Hyatt Regency... as I walked back to my car I remembered 1978. I stayed at the Hyatt for a weekend medical seminar. The seminar became rather boring, so I sneaked out early and went shopping.

Compared to previous trips, that shopping was a little different. At the then-open downtown Rich's department store, I went through the ladies' departments, selecting a sweater, skirt, shoes, and makeup. Back at the hotel room, I nervously began to transform. In those days I had to stuff each side of a bra with a pair of socks. My hands shook as I tried to apply the mascara. Finally I was dressed and added the wig I had concealed in my luggage. I opened the door to the room and stepped out into the world.

Although at that time I had not chosen my name, I was free.... the person who would become Rebecca Allison took her first steps in public on the very sidewalks I found myself walking in 1994. Sixteen years ago I was surely not passable, but I tried not to notice the muttered comments. What a potentially dangerous position I had put myself in, out of desperation.

Now the only glances I got were standard male admiration of a tall, slim, well dressed and obviously happy woman. I wouldn't go back to 1978 for all the world.

Despite the gusty winds, my hair had retained its set well. It was a good day for a photo opportunity. I had been considering going to the Sears portrait studio for some time; so many of my friends had asked about a recent photo. But for me, photography no longer assumed the importance it had even a year ago. I live every day as Becky now. I need no photographs to remind me of who I could be; I became that person. It was another subtle change by which I realize my transition is proceeding so well.

The photographer was available and I had four poses made. They will be ready March 4. Having the portraits made at Sears might be slower and less guaranteed results, but it was certainly more economical than a private photographer.

Back at home I changed to jeans and a silk shirt, adding an oversized scarf as a shawl. I ran a few errands in the neighborhood, then began to prepare supper. Cecelia (make that "Don") called and wanted to come for a visit. And I still haven't learned how to say no.

Don/Cecelia is still somewhat insecure and needs validation of her decisions. Every time I see her I hear the same phrases: "My wife knew I was transsexual before I admitted it to myself." "The women at work feel free to discuss women's issues around me. They sense I'm one of them." And so on. I have to fight to keep from saying, "Cecelia, if you tell me that story one more time, I'm going to choke the living daylights out of you." But of course I would never say something so gauche. Would I?

Cecelia kept me entertained while I prepared scrambled eggs and hash brown potatoes; breakfast for supper, one of my favorite meals. I made a small plate for her since she had already eaten. Then Michelle called to visit. After a few minutes I made mention that Cecelia was here, which I knew would let me put Cecelia and Michelle together on the phone while I was up to my wrists in shredded potato. I chuckled to myself as Cecelia repeated her stories to Michelle. Supper was delicious.

When Cecelia left, I wrote a few Valentine cards, along with a note to Sheryl thanking her for our time together. My long time friend, Dr. Lloyd Cole, phoned. Lloyd and I graduated from medical school together and have remained close friends. He has had terrible medical problems with Crohn's disease and had another operation last month; if I had known I would have written him. He has always been totally accepting of my transition and consistently refers to me as Rebecca.

My last call before bedtime was from Angela, asking how my interview went. She is staying very busy with work in Charlotte, and I know that helps her mood for now. It will probably be March before she gets back to Atlanta.

Friday, February 11

This day started off innocently enough, with sleeping until 9:00, then preparing a hot brunch with oatmeal, French toast, and coffee. I finished washing the fine china I had brought back from Jackson. This was Bavarian china which belonged to my parents and had been in boxes in our attic ever since my mother died in 1979. Now, fifteen years and three moves later, the service for twelve was intact, except for three salad plates which were broken into numerous pieces. But everything else was in perfect condition, and I was delighted to move it into the china cabinet and put the sculptured daisy everyday dishes in the kitchen cabinet by the dishwasher.

I wrote several cards and letters and spoke to Lee Frances on the phone. Then I took my black flats to be re-dyed and polished. I drove to Theresa's house about 4:00 and we rented a movie (Hot Shots Part Deux) for tonight and another (The Breakfast Club) for tomorrow.

At 9:30 we finished cleaning up from supper and were getting ready to go to The Otherside when Ellen came over. She is a long time friend of Theresa's who lives with Jerry and Lynn Montgomery. She stayed about two hours, then it was time for our late night club act. I actually dragged home at 3:30 A.M.

Saturday, February 12

I suppose I'll never understand the emotional turbulence in so many of my fellow support group members. Events today left me shaking my head in disbelief.

I picked up Theresa and we made it to group therapy at Windy Hill. She continues to be very depressed, but being with persons like me and Joyce seems to cheer her. Today was a stressful day for Theresa, because today Joyce Rush got her letter from Dr. Powell stating she was ready for her sex reassignment surgery.

I myself was happy for Joyce. This was her special day, and she had brought three bottles of champagne so we could celebrate with her. But Theresa only became more upset, since now Joyce is moving past her and achieving a goal which still remains far away for Theresa. The stress made Theresa have to leave the room frequently to smoke another cigarette.

In the meantime Ellen had come in and offered some comments about how easy it should be to find a job. Many of us took her comments lightly, since Ellen hasn't worked herself in some time. Unfortunately, Theresa called her attention to that fact. Ellen, who can be quite defensive, became very angry and followed Theresa the next time she went out. The next thing we knew, someone came into the room and said Ellen had started beating and hitting Theresa.

Theresa refused to fight back, but that didn't stop Ellen. This person who had been playing video games with her friend the night before was now physically assaulting her. Someone called the police, but Theresa refused to press charges. The whole incident upset everyone greatly, but in the end Theresa and Ellen embraced and forgave.

Fragile egos, volatile tempers, and huge defense and denial mechanisms: the transsexual support group mix. It's not what I would want for the rest of my real life.

Sunday, February 13, 1993

Considering the lateness of my recent nightlife, I felt I was doing well to make it to church today. The sermon was on the Transfiguration, and Dr. Dodson spoke about the transforming power of Christ.. I am becoming more at home in this church each Sunday, and suppose I will join soon.

I picked up Theresa in late afternoon and we rode into northeast Atlanta to see the area which had been mentioned as a possible practice location. I liked the neighborhood and felt it showed a lot of promise.

Monday, February 14

I laughed to rememember the card I had seen at a Hallmark store recently. The outside showed a cartoon of a plain looking woman with a grimacing face saying "It's Valentine's Day! And you know what that means...." On the inside were the words "Other people are having sex!"

No sex today for this girl. Maybe next Valentine's Day... maybe not. If I have even had SRS by then I won't have had time to meet the man of my dreams.

But you never know, and there's always hope.

This morning I had my oil and filter changed, and at the same time got my Georgia inspection which I will need to get my car tag. Now I have a Georgia inspection sticker and a Mississippi tag. That should be interesting. Soon the court order will be available and I'll get the Georgia tag.

Then Theresa and I went car shopping.

I have decided to help Theresa. She is a genuinely sweet person, who feels very trapped in her present problems, and just needs a little help getting back on her feet. I am going to loan her the money to buy a used car. I realize I may not see this money again; I'm not naïve. But it's something I can do to help a friend. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't help.

I am also going to check with Angela to see what she would think about my offering Theresa a place here on the northside if she needs to relocate. Unfortunately I think I know what her answer will be.

So today we cruised the used car lots on south Stuart Avenue for several hours, ultimately finding a good buy. It was a 1979 Datsun 280Z, not a fancy muscle car, just good reliable transportation. It's brown (why would they make a brown "Z"?) which made it a little less desirable and easier to haggle on the price. After bargaining with the dealer, we felt we had a really good price. I told him we would be back in the morning with the cash.

It turned out to be a good day for Theresa. (She had certainly needed one.) Tonight she and I went to Taco Mac, where we met with the person who had offered to shop her photos around in Atlanta for modeling jobs. This person is also transsexual, and is well respected in the Atlanta modeling and fashion fields. She thinks Theresa will do well. I'm very excited for her.

Tuesday, February 15

I'm going to assume Angela was having a bad day when I phoned her.

Now, I expected her to say, "I don't think that would be a good idea for Theresa to move in with you at this time." I would have understood that; the condominium is still in Angela's name, and she wants to keep it in good shape in case she has to resell it. But she didn't stop so lightly. She had a lot of resentment which had built over the past months, and let it all out on me.

"I just feel you are using me very badly. First you tell me you cannot pay the entire mortgage note; then you loan money to other people in the community; and you go out and spend lots of money on living room furniture."

I was surprised to hear such resentment. But my past Angela experiences had hardened me to expect it a bit, so I just listened. I had never told her I couldn't afford the payments; I just didn't think it was right for her to move out and leave me with it unexpectedly. And I still don't think it was right.

"I may have to move out of the house here in Charlotte." (Not with me, I thought..) "By the end of March, I need to either be selling my share to you or putting the condo up for a quick sale."

Now we're setting deadlines. My attitude was, "I'm sorry you feel that way. It was not my intention to use you; let's talk about it later. I have to go to electrology." I shed no tears at all as I hung up the phone.

I waited until after the cash had changed hands and Theresa had driven the car back to her house to tell her about my phone call. She, as everyone else here, cannot understand Angela's lines of reasoning. I know I can't. But having the car made it much less discouraging to her, since now she can travel to look for a job.

 

Wednesday, February 16

How nice to sleep late and feel caught up on my sleep time. I began the day around 9:00 A.M. and worked on correspondence for several hours, including letters of introduction to five other groups of cardiologists in Atlanta.

Robert called. Jeanne was working late, and Robert was taking a sick leave day off from work, but felt well enough to get out in the warm weather. He came over around 2:30 and we went to the Chattahoochee River Park on the north bank of the river near the Roswell Road bridge. The temperature was about 60 degrees, sunny, and so pleasant. Many others had the same idea to go to the park, and we just joined the crowd and sat on the deck overlooking the river. Even in February there were brave souls on waterskis and jet skis.

It is interesting to talk with Robert, a nontransgendered male, who is in love with Jeanne, a male to female transsexual. Robert has anxieties and issues which deserve attention as much as any of us. I cannot relate to all his feelings, but I certainly have empathy for him and Jeanne. They intend to be married when she has her SRS. It makes me wonder about my possibilities of eventually finding Prince Charming.

Back at the condo, I suspected Robert would not have a good supper, so I invited him to eat with me. I already had the ingredients to make meat loaf and serve it with wild rice mixture and steamed broccoli. We both enjoyed the meal greatly.

Since I slept so late, I was feeling well to go to my late class. We listened to piano concertos by Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. How interesting it was to hear the distinct differences in style among the three masters. I find I can finally clear my mind and concentrate on issue which have nothing to do with gender transition. That's "real life" for certain.

Thursday, February 17

The drive over to Snellville for electrolysis was pleasant in the warm late winter sun. Barbara and I chatted about her family; one of her daughters is expecting a baby, and another has had some rather serious health concerns. Before I left, Barbara applied some skin tests with local anesthetics to see if I would have any reaction to a permanent eyeliner treatment. I'm considering having the eyeliner done before I return to work.

I picked up Theresa and took her to the bookstore to find a Chilton's manual of auto repair for her new car. Then we went to my condo and rested for a while. I prepared an early supper with the leftover meatloaf. I boiled and mashed potatoes and steamed some more broccoli. With pecan pie, we had a good filling meal. Theresa's appetite is returning, but she is still very nervous about her job search. We discussed the possibility of talking further with Angela. I really would enjoy having Theresa as a renter, and Angela shouldn't mind her paying half the mortgage.

The two of us drove over to Jerry Montgomery's home (or is it boarding house?) and visited with Ellen and Joyce. I think if Theresa can get a job and prove to Joyce she is becoming self-sufficient, Joyce will help her with money for surgery. Theresa will be able to support herself if some of us can just help her get out of this rather desperate situation she finds herself in now.

Friday, February 18

The temperature continues in the sixties and there are no clouds in the sky. The rest of the country is struggling under the worst winter in years, and Atlanta is basking. Even north Mississippi has been without power for nearly a week. I have resisted the impulse to call Sheryl or her parents and see if they are affected. I suspect her parents in Greenwood had a power outage. I'm certain Mark did in Oxford.

But I must refrain from insisting on communication before they are ready. Actually, I have heard from Sheryl's parents; each writes me separately, about once every two months. So today I composed a letter to both of them, very optimistic, just telling them of my classes, church, and job possibilities. They are like parents to me and I don't want to lose touch.

I took the car to the Regal Car Wash a few blocks down the road. All of Roswell seemed to have the same idea, so I had a little wait in the customer area. But it felt so nice to sit on a clean seat and turn the steering wheel which was coated with Armor All. I made several brief shopping errands and came home for supper.

Saturday, February 19

Some days I just feel... unsettled. There was no reason to feel any different today from any other day, but I couldn't sit still. With less than an hour before group therapy this afternoon, I decided to bake a recipe of oatmeal raisin cookies and take them to the group members. Perhaps I wanted to see a calmer group meeting than the controversies of the last two weeks. At any rate, there were no cookies left over after the meeting. Everyone raved over them.

I also had the opportunity to speak my mind on a subject that had been worrying me. Dr. Powell gave me a good lead-in when he said, "Rebecca, some of the group members have been wondering when, or if, you will be seeing patients for the community. Do you have any comments?"

My reply left no doubts. "I have to first be concerned with my own transition. I'm not here as a health care provider; I'm here as one of the group. I have to get established in a practice before I can even consider such a thing. Even then, if I have a cardiology position, and my colleagues want me to do only specialty practice, I will have to abide by the wishes of the group. So I hope no one misunderstands, but I just can't make such a commitment now."

It needed to be said.

Sunday, February 20

Today was the third of four Sundays for my new member class. We had speakers describing all the activities in the singles department, as well as the various class groups I might want to visit in the next few weeks. I have decided to formally become a Methodist next Sunday at the end of the service.

After church we were invited to a luncheon for new members, attended by all the staff. I sat at the table with the minister of singles and his guest, a nationally known speaker who had led a singles seminar at the church this weekend. I really enjoyed visiting with them. The guest speaker had been to Jackson First Baptist several times and we knew many of the same people. I'm no longer afraid to drop names; most everyone in Jackson now knows that Rebecca is the person who once was Brian. We all enjoyed hearing the pastor, Dr. Dodson, who is a most entertaining speaker and loves to visit with each of us. Finally at two P.M. we left for home.

Monday, February 21

Can a genetic male get PMS? Perhaps that's what was beginning to irritate me on Saturday. I have friends who swear they have this irritability on the same time each month. I don't keep track of dates, but I know this feeling has occurred several times before:

I awaken with a dull headache around one or both eyes (left today) and a little nausea. I don't have sinus congestion, my blood pressure is fine, and I just feel bloated. I take some ibuprofen and after about an hour, the headache resolves. Without taking any medications, I have a significant diuresis, several times over a few hours. And then I'm fine for the rest of the day, and several weeks till it happens again.

I can't explain it.

At least it was gone by tonight, when Mr. and Mrs. Gilphin from the church visited here in the condo. They answered several of my questions and then asked if I were planning to become a member. I replied that I was, and we made plans for me to join this Sunday.

Tuesday, February 22

Angela called to invite herself down for a few days Thursday through Saturday. In a way I'll be glad to see her, but I know she will be resistant to my taking Theresa in as a roommate. And, of course, Angela is always right.

After my electrology session at Barbara's, I took the country roads from Snellville to south Atlanta and Theresa's house. We went through all the necessary steps to get her car tags; it involved going to three different government offices, the last one in far south Fulton County, someplace I had never been. We found the office building and waited in line for half an hour before getting to the front of the line and finding they don't take credit cards. So, while Theresa waited in line, I dashed back to the car and looked all over Union City and Fairburn for an automated teller machine. I made it back just as she was about to go to the payment window. But it worked; now she has a drivable vehicle. We celebrated by going to Outback Steak House and treating ourselves to the prime rib.

Wednesday, February 23

The mail brought a most pleasant surprise: a letter from my sister in law. Kaye had wanted to contact me for some time, but didn't know how I would respond. It was wonderful to catch up on her family news. I miss all of Sheryl's family so much, since they have been my own family for so many years. I quickly wrote her a response, and assured her I wanted to keep in touch.

Theresa was here by mid afternoon and we were wondering how to discuss with Angela our wish to have Theresa move in. When Angela arrived, I tried to bring the subject up with her, but she postponed it, saying, "We'll discuss it in detail... later." In other words, when Theresa was gone. I felt her attitude was a bit condescending, but I had to let her do it her way.

When I returned from my music class, Angela wanted us to go to Grady's American Grill for a late supper. Afterwards we talked at length and I told her of my displeasure at her refusal to consider anyone else's opinions. I think this time she paid attention.. We talked long into the night and were able to say much to each other without either one being offended, although she resented me buying living room furniture and saying I don't have enough money to make the whole condo payment. I do think she will be agreeable to let me share expense with Theresa, since that will relieve Angela of any payment responsibility.

Thursday, February 24

Angela had to take care of some business for her repair service today. She's advertising in the Charlotte papers as - I am not making this up- "Angela in Repairland". But she says she has plenty of business, especially among women. Whatever.

We both needed to go to Gina for work on our hair. Angela had just some minor adjustments to her piece, but I needed more. I had seen some of the pictures Rick took, as well as the portraits I had made at Sears on the day I went downtown to the personnel office. I looked fairly good, but the hair is just too long. I needed a more professional look.

It was hard to convince Gina that I wanted two or three inches off all around, but I finally made her understand I just wasn't happy with the very long hair. I felt a bit apprehensive as I watched large chunks of hair fall to the floor. When Gina combed it out and styled it, however, I was delighted. The medium length bob was perfect for the professional appearance.

Back on the north side at Perimeter Mall, we had an early supper at Ruby Tuesday's. Then I drove to Linens and Things to pick up the bedspread I had ordered. (I could visualize Andy Rooney saying, "Whatever happened to bedspreads? Everyone wants a comforter now.") Well, I don't want a comforter. They are too bulky. And I knew just what bedspread I wanted: "Chateau" by Croscill. When we brought it home, it looked perfect on my bed.

I was hoping Theresa could join us for supper, but she called and said her car was having problems. It really was too late to drive to south Atlanta and pick her up, so I just told her we would see her tomorrow.

Friday, February 25

Driving the topside perimeter highway to Snellville was a "slow go" at the early hour. I managed to get through the session without any analgesics, as I have most of the time since changing to Barbara. She was very complimentary of my new haircut. I definitely like the professional look it gives me.

This afternoon we had a little free time. I had previously scheduled my routine appointment with Dr. Powell for early evening, before I knew Angela was staying over. When I called, the secretary said, "He can see you at 7:30 Friday." I made sure she knew it was not an emergency, but she said he routinely saw patients that late anyway.

The session went quickly, and much of it was just talk about Atlanta events and history. At the end, he stated what I already knew: "We can cut back greatly on these individual therapy sessions. Your issues are under control. Just keep coming to group, and give us some input to help the others."

Sunday, February 27

Today was my day to become a Methodist. I wanted to look my best, and wore a black jacket with white silk blouse and black-and-white patterned skirt.

The New Member Class included information on Methodist beliefs and how we differ from other denominations. At the end of the class, those of us who were joining the church went as a group to the sanctuary building. We were given our new member packets and instructions on where to sit and when to come forward.

During the closing hymn we rose and stood in front of the altar as a group. Dr. Dodson introduced each of us to the congregation, giving our name, neighborhood address, and where we were in church previously. "Rebecca Anne Allison is joining us from the First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi."

Quite a few people stayed after the service to greet us. I feel confident I have made a good decision.

Monday, February 28

I spent the morning cleaning house, washing the sheets on Theresa's bed, and cooking. Since I would have more company tonight, I made a Mississippi mud cake.

Theresa's car still was giving her fits. She had to work with it extensively just to get to and from the mall. Sheldon cannibalized his Duster for a working battery and we got enough life out of it for today. She was so depressed about moving, and Sheldon did nothing to relieve her mood.

In fact, while Theresa and I were in the living room watching Pink Floyd's "The Wall" video (as if we needed any more of a downer), Sheldon was boxing up her things to speed up the moving process. She didn't realize what he was doing until she went back into the bedroom. It was upsetting to me to see her cry, but I still am confident I did the right thing by inviting her to stay with me.

We loaded her Z-car and my Maxima with boxes and bags. "I can't believe all my worldly goods fit in two cars," she moped. Sheldon drove over in his pickup to help her unload. He stayed for an hour or so, and we all had cake and coffee. Surely there is still a good likelihood that these two can settle their differences, especially after Theresa has her operation.

© 1996 Rebecca Anne Allison


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