With my job ending, I’ve no longer allowed myself the “luxury” of how I choose to present in public. I just go out as myself, wherever and whenever, or I have to choose not to go out at all. Six weeks ago, there were places I most certainly would have chosen not to go, particularly places with large, unfamiliar crowds . Happily, I’ve become comfortable in public spaces in the past month or so.
Two weekends ago I had the chance to attend the Detroit area Maker Faire with my son. We’ve attended previous years, but obviously this was the first one with me during transition. Pleasantly, I was “ma’am”ed by a pickle vendor (giant ones on a stick — they were sooooooo good, I bought a second one). More importantly, I felt comfortable there, even though there was a large crowd of potential stares or nasty comments. And I think I detected a few — and I know I got at least one, from a woman who was not at all subtle about it — but I was happy and comfortable and so I chose to ignore them.
This last weekend, I took my kids to a municipal street fair the next town over. This is a big event locally; they shut down the main street through downtown and they bring in artisans, food vendors, a music stage, etc. Again, large and unfamiliar crowds, but after experiencing Maker Faire the week before I was far less reluctant to go there. I was in total “Mom mode” — three kids, comfy clothes, and lots of having to chase the three-year-old when she decided she wanted to see that. In some ways, I think having the kids with me when I’m out enhances my “passing” somehow. I don’t know for sure, and I could be completely wrong, but it feels good nonetheless.
I am also seeing more mixed and guarded reactions from the clerks, sellers, and shopkeepers I interact with in these venues. They are less quick to leap immediately to “sir”, at least some of them are. I don’t know if they’re genuinely seeing me, or just being polite when they note my presentation, but I will take it however I can get it at this point.
It feels great to be so comfortable in my own skin. Finally. I’ve got another big crowd situation coming up in Gen Con (next week), and I think it’s going to be just fine.