In mid-September I went to a pub in Nottingham. No big deal you might think: except it was. A very, very big deal for me. It was the first time I went out in public as Alice.
I feel that needs saying again: it was the first time I went out in public presenting as Alice! For the first time.
Standing by the door of my hotel room, my heart was beating like a drum and I could hardly breathe. Those first few steps were the hardest: we got to the lift unseen, but then I had to walk through reception. I held my breath as the lift doors opened and walked as quickly as I could, not looking right or left. Past total strangers in the lobby and outside drinking.
And guess what happened: nothing! No thunderbolt, no jeering, no catcalling: nothing! Yes people may have looked and noticed, but were unconcerned.
I thought I had timed it perfectly so I would be on the pavement as the Uber pulled up, but no such luck – I had to stand there feeling exposed waiting for it to arrive. A nerve wracking few minutes.
Then the next hurdle – going into an unknown pub and having to queue and ask where our table was. Gradually I started to relax as friends began to arrive and I was in a larger group.
Yes, it’s true that I looked “normal” apart from the skirt, but this was a big deal for me!
By the end of the evening, I felt comfortable enough to walk the mile or so back to the hotel in just a couple. It was Freshers Week and the city was packed with pissed students everywhere. They never gave me a second glance!
Two months later, in a different city, with a bigger group of friends and a private room booked in a bar, I was ready to do it again. But this time, properly. I knew I was among friends who all know me as Alice and to appear as anything else would have been as odd to them as my vanilla friends seeing me in a dress would be. Still my heart was beating hard as I stepped out again, but among people I love, I felt comfortable and loved every moment of it.
Same city, same friends, another night out. This time there was no question whether I would wear a dress or not, but rather “which one?” (You may have noticed I have one or two to choose from…)
Again, I felt relaxed and comfortable with my friends, and the barmaid even remembered me. I could not have been happier.
(The more observant will have noticed I am not wearing the same dress at the end as at the beginning: well that’s a completely different story…)
I guess the question is now when, not if, is my next night out as Alice.
With heartfelt gratitude and love to my Twitter friends, without whom, etc.
Till next time… (see you on Saturday)