Well where do I start with the past couple of days? The feeling of knowing I’ve really found myself now? The feeling that Hubbie and I have really figured out the dynamics of our relationship after my coming out? I don’t know because my head is in a giddy, happy mess right now so I’m just going to plough on here.
The past couple of days have been wonderful. It’s that time of the year again where a nearby town holds it’s winter Dickens festival. It’s an event I’ve been to many times with Richard but this is the first time I’ve gone as myself so I’ve been looking forward to this more than I have in the past, and in another first I went to my first ball last night.
Now I’ve had invites to balls and dances in the past but I’ve always turned them down and I’m now not sure why. I just didn’t feel comfortable dancing and being in that kind of social situation. Maybe it was a feeling deep down I would have been in the wrong role and envious of all the women and the wonderful dresses that I couldn’t wear. Who knows for sure? I learned Richard had been invited a few days ago by a friend of his and something inside me felt sad that I hadn’t been told or been invited to go with him. In a way it’s understandable given I’ve always turned them down in the past, but all of a sudden I wanted to go with Richard to this.
One mad scramble and a favour from a friend and a ball gown was found and Richard had also made a reticule (it’s a Victorian ladies’ handbag, literally bit enough to fit a hand in) and I came home from work the other night to find a wonderful white dress waiting for me to try on. It fitted me like a glove and I pretty well burst into tears because I was so happy. It was beautiful and I felt amazing wearing it.
Richard had also been working hard in finding an old dress he made so many years ago for his mum in order for me to wear to the festival and then making a matching bonnet and another reticule as well as a crinoline for the dress. This kind of thing he loves. He loves making period uniforms and dresses and with my transition he’s had a chance to get back into making dresses, which he’s not done in a very long time. It’s been helpful to him as having such projects is keeping the blues at bay that have been caused by all the upheaval from recent bereavements and this is very cathartic for him. I’d go to work and come back to find yet another piece of the project finished and a husband happy that his wife is over the moon with what he has created. It’s been one of many wonderful ways he’s been supporting me through my transition and I am so grateful that he’s stuck around and once again been my rock throughout everything.
Anyway so last night came and we got dressed and went out. Me in my wonderful borrowed ball gown as an officer’s wife and Richard in his Crimean Artillery Captain’s uniform which is another creation of his. We met up with some lovely friends of ours, some of whom we only see at these kind of events and I got some lovely compliments on how I looked and for doing what I’m doing. A couple of people didn’t recognise me until Richard pointed out that it was the same person he’d been together with for the past 13 years so I’m guessing I’m doing a few things right here. I won’t lie, it feels wonderful that everyone’s viewing me as a woman.
Anyway, we had a lovely meal (the first of six Christmas dinners this month. How the hell did I manage that?), some fine rose wine and a lovely chat with our friends. Then came the music and dancing. Now a lot of things have changed over the past few months. Sadly, my utter inability to dance hasn’t lol. My knees and I suspect my hips too are subjected to arthritis and are generally fairly stiff and not very fluid moving. Still that didn’t stop us from taking to the dance floor and enjoying being us, a dashing officer and his wife who was enjoying every minute ans singing to him. After years of re-enacting and running around as a gunner and mucking around with cannons this was a welcome change and one that I felt so much more at home with. I also thought ‘Why the hell didn’t I do this sooner?’ I felt amazing, I felt like this was who I really am and this is what I was meant to be doing as a re-enactor. This was me, my life and one more massive affirmation that this is what I need to do for myself. I was happy, probably even happier than the day I tied the knot with Richard. I was me, at one with myself, doing something new and everyone was happy for us both.
Now with transitioning we’re told we need to do a certain amount of time living in the role, social experiences and so on before being surgery is considered, if you’re going down that route. I wonder how many other transgender women can cite going to balls and historical re-enactments as part of that experience? Or experience the fun job of tucking while wearing a crinoline? I certainly experienced what a wonderful and impractical faff using the facilities is while wearing such an item of clothing the past couple of days. You might want to google what a crinoline is to get a better idea of what’s coming up next.
Basically imagine a dress that flares out to a good couple of feet either side of you when it gets to ankle level, and this is being held so by a series of metallic hoops. Now between these, several petticoats and the actual dress you somehow have to hitch this lot up to reach your undergarments and sit down. This is just about possible if you’re careful and damn sure everything is safely out of the way. Now imagine this and then trying to get your arms under this lot to rearrange and tuck everything in.
For those of you who are unaware of the magic art of tucking I’ll just warn you googling it might be NSFW. Basically it’s hiding your (in my case very much unwanted) bits in one method or another to achieve a flat front but that’s a blog all to itself if I ever choose to write about it.
If you can get one hand near enough to make said arrangements you’re doing well. Do this and somehow keep everything in place long enough to reach your undergarments, pull them up and then arrange petticoats and so on so they sit properly and you’re doing really well. I’m lucky in that all I need for the job is a tight set of undies to keep everything in place and not some of the other aids that other women use. Oh and this is all taking place in a normal sized ladies’ cubicle that you’ve done damn well to get in and close the door to in the first place thanks to said dress.
Yep, I think that definitely counts as real life experience and a very small inconvenience for wearing such lovely dresses and being myself at long last. Below is a couple of pictures of me and Richard all dressed and ready for the ball last night. He’s really enjoyed the fact I’m now getting involved in these kind of social events he’s always had an interest in so I think this is going to be the first of many for us.