At a recent group therapy session, one of the women suggested that my beard was a safety blanket of sorts– that as long as I had it, I could excuse why I hadn’t “taken the next step” in my transition. As it turned out, she was right.
I blogged last time about shaving the beard, and indeed the facial hair went soon after that was posted. I had the day all to myself, so that meant getting comfortable as Her … which meant being cooped up in the apartment. Which wasn’t a big deal. I had some movies to watch, a new recipe to try (enchiladas, yum!), a bottle of wine chilling, and a bag full of new clothes from the Sal Army to try out. Besides, shaving the beard meant I could finally practice some “full facial” makeup.
By the time I finished dinner, however, I was feeling cooped up. I wanted to get out of the apartment. It was a gorgeous day, and it was turning into a perfect evening, and it sucked that I couldn’t go out an enjoy it. Well, I could have gone out, but not wearing what I was currently wearing. Or with the nails I had spent half an hour painting. In short, I could stay in and be comfortable, or go out as Him.
Only, I didn’t have the beard anymore.
There was no way I was risking going out in daylight. I just don’t pass at all yet. In particular, my belly fat is horribly prominent; also, I don’t own a wig and my own hair, while getting longer, looks like a shaggy mushroom on top of my head. But by the time I finished dinner it was getting close to 8pm, which meant that the sun was going down soon. Which meant darkness and shadows. Which meant …
Oh, yes. It was time for Ali to finally step out of the apartment.
The plan was simple. All I had to do was wait until nightfall, then make it out of the apartment complex without running into anyone. Once I was in my car, I could drive over to my old neighborhood, and the house that my ex still lives in with the kids. I used to walk around that neighborhood late at night all the time; I knew it would be (a) safe and (b) deserted. I could go out, and I could be Ali, and I could slip relatively unnoticed through the night.
So I spent the next hour getting ready. Outfit, check! Makeup, check! Hair? Um, well, I suppose if I tease it a bit, and comb it like this, and use some hair spray, and … well, it’ll be dark. And damn, I really need to invest in a wig. But I didn’t put all this effort into things to back out now!
My mind set, I grabbed my purse, swallowed my pride, and stepped out the door.
Well, no. First I glanced out the door to make sure there was no one in the hall. Then, still hidden behind, I slotted my door key into the lock so that I could turn it quickly. Then I stepped out, twisted the key, and tried to resist sprinting to the stairwell.
I made it to my car without encountering anyone and made the drive to the old neighborhood (carefully, driving exactly at the speed limit and doing nothing to attract the attention of a cop). As I expected, the place was dark, and quiet, and devoid of late night pedestrians. I parked under a tree between two widely spaced streetlights, to assure I could move in and out under cover of shadows. Then, after a moment of hesitation, Ali stepped out into the night.
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
For the next half hour, I just walked. The night was cool and there was a delicate breeze that sometimes tugged at my skirt and chilled my legs. Around me, the homes of my former neighbors were quiet. Occasionally, there would be a pair or a group sitting out on a porch, enjoying the night air; I just walked by them as inconspicuously as I could, hoping no one paid me too much attention (seriously, the hair would be a dead giveaway).
And … nothing happened. No one stopped me; no one laughed; no one called me out on my ridiculous deception. I walked the lonely streets and I enjoyed the feeling of the breeze and I was Ali, out and about for the first time ever. Was it a cautious and contrived outing? For sure. But it was an outing nonetheless, and I enjoyed every step I took in the open air.
At the end of my walk, I happened past my old house. It was nearly 11 at night by this time, but I knew my ex would still be awake. So I texted her from the street to make sure the kids were asleep, and then I stopped by for a few minutes. She may be my ex, but she’s also my best friend, and I wanted someone to know that Ali had taken those first steps out the door that night. I trusted her not to laugh at my expense, and she didn’t; instead, we sat on the couch as it neared midnight and chatted about our respective days.
So that’s it: the story of my first night out as Ali. I wish I could say it was momentous and important and noteworthy, but it wasn’t; it was just a safe, comfortable walk in the night. In honor of the occasion, however, I thought I’d share a rare picture with you all (still anonymous, of course — I haven’t yet gotten over the fear of exposure). Here’s the outfit I wore out, total cost $3 — shirt, cami, and skirt all came from Sal Army Thrift 5 for $5 sales. Not bad for a first outfit, if I do say so myself.