I haven’t written a blog post for a few weeks because I have been studying for an exam, so most of my free time has been going into that. But the exam took place yesterday afternoon so thankfully there isn’t another one until September and I’m free again. Yippee! It went ok by the way.
Over the last few months since I have been out to my children and siblings, the need to hide away my female things has pretty much dissapated. Back when Mrs K told me she wanted a divorce, one of the things that she said was that she couldn’t face the prospect of living with another woman, having another woman’s woman-things everywhere. It appears like this is coming true anyway, because my woman-things are everywhere. Nail varnish on my side table at my end of the settee, shoes lined up at the foot of the bed, make-up and jewellery on my bedside table, more shoes at the back door. Added to the fact that I’m spending so much of my time outside work as a woman now, it just all means that I feel completely confined in this space, this family that I’m supposed to be the male part of. I need a proper space of my own, somewhere to be who I really am, to store my stuff just like any other woman would, and it’s still about seven weeks away. I am so ready to be there now, but the new house isn’t quite ready for me. It’s quite frustrating in fact.
It has occurred to me that being in transition really means there are two somewhat distinct transitions occurring. The major one, the big headline, is transitioning from male to female, with all the changes that brings in personal and professional relationships. But there is also the transition from being part time to being full time, which is a different set of challenges. Things which you might be able to live with if presenting female for a few hours maybe once or twice a week (an obvious if trivial example being wearing clip-on earrings) become unsustainable as a full-time woman. In the case of clip-on earrings, because they hurt like hell after a while. Similarly, squeezing your feet into shoes which don’t quite fit because they look suitably girly and glamorous is ok on occasion, but it’s not an option if I need a few pairs of professional-looking heels for work which will be work for 9-10 hours at a time 5 days a week. Then there’s storage. Much of my female-specific items – shoes, make-up, jewellery, perfume etc – has spent most of the last 3 years hidden away, stuffed into the darkest corners of the wardrobe lest either daughter should uncover them. Now there is no need to hide, but there just isn’t scope in the current family home for me to store things in an appropriate manner. So it all just bursts out and messes up the bedroom. Hopefully by the end of June it should no longer be an issue.
I’m afraid to say the divorce is starting to become a little less amicable than I had hoped. The reason for this can be summed up in one word. Solicitor. Mrs K and I had worked out an agreement between ourselves that both of us could live with. I thought it was very generous – in fact, my friend Jonathan who worked for the Child Support Agency for many years, told me I was cutting my own throat and would get a better deal from them – but still Mrs K’s solicitor is giving her little brain weasels about this and that. Sniping at the edges, seeking to take an extra bit here, and another slice there. It’s not on, and if anything on that agreement gets changed, all bets are off. We had an amicable agreement that left us both with the same surplus income after both our unavoidable expenses had been covered. If her solicitor tries changing any of it, that agreement is null and void and I will fight for every penny. I have told this to Mrs K. The ball is in her court. I have no idea what she is thinking though because she doesn’t speak to me. Not a sulking sort of not speaking, she just seems oblivious to my presence, either as Kirsty or as Bob. Maybe it’s for the best. I can’t wait to be out of here.
On a happier note, things are progressing nicely with the new house. Both mine and Mrs K’s individual mortages are formally agreed and signed up to, so the finance is all in place. I have also received formal acceptance of my offer on my new house. The vendors of my new house have also agreed the sale on their next home, but their vendors don’t want to move out until the end of June as they have kids and school and don’t want to give them the upheaval of moving house until the school year finishes (which is end of June in Northern Ireland). So my moving date looks like it’s going to be early July, which is fine. This is where I’m getting the 7-week figure from.
Last weekend I began ordering furniture for the house. My younger daughter Melissa and I went to DFS where, unbelievably, there was a sale on. I have ordered two 3-seater settees for my living room, which is much better shaped to accommodate those than to take a settee and two chairs. Plus, two 3-seater settees can accommodate an extra bum compared to the more traditional suite. Delivery for early July, but it can be delayed if my moving date slips. Most importantly, I went to DFS as Kirsty and the order is in the my new name.
Then just this afternoon, I ordered my bed from Bensons. Also astoundingly, they had a sale on too. What a coincidence! I ended up having a nice wee chat with the lady selling me the bed, and after pleading poverty due to the divorce, she knocked another £40 off the price of the bed which was already in the sale! A different woman-to-woman sales experience, with her pointing out that the drawer at the foot of the bed was perfect for storing my bags and shoes – nobody ever said that to Bob! So I told her I was moving to a new house because I was getting divorced and she said “New house, new man?” Well, one thing at a time. I had asked about beds for kids too (which I think will end up coming from IKEA) so she asked if the kids were coming to live with me. When I explained that we were splitting custody and I would have them half the time, she then finished my sentence for me “…and he has them the other half”. I didn’t feel it would have been appropriate to correct her. Plus, it felt so good to me that the way she had said that and the previous comment about a new house and a new man made me feel completely sure that she didn’t read me as anything other than a woman splitting up from her husband. I don’t mind admitting that I felt so positive as a result of this. And a nice bed too. Looking forward to much sleep on it. We’ll leave the new man till another day. He’d only snore and fart in it anyway.
Immediately before my exam I had just returned from a country hotel a few miles outside Dublin. Every year my brothers and sisters, partners and a few friends go away for a golf weekend, although the golf is of secondary importance to the craic. This year’s event was scheduled for Friday 12th to Sunday 14th of May. It’s the only time I play golf all year and I am hopeless at it, but it’s still good fun. As you may recall from when I came out to my siblings, my sister Hilary and I were also planning on going to see Bob Dylan at the 3Arena (aka The Point) on the evening of Thursday 11th. So this week I had 3 days off work. Wednesday was study leave for my exam, and then annual leave Thursday and Friday for the Dylan gig (my 11th!) and the golf. Except this dumb blonde got the date of my exam wrong when agreeing the dates for the golf weekend, and it was only about 3 weeks ago that I realised my exam was on the 13th not the 6th and I would have to leave after one day. I was very disappointed to put it mildly.
As I was off work on Thursday but didn’t really need to get on the road to my sister’s house until late morning, I had arranged first of all to meet my friend Graham from work for a coffee and a chat, but mainly to introduce him to Kirsty. He had in fact asked me for this. It was after I told him about meeting up with Angela a few weeks earlier, he said he would really like to meet up with Kirsty too, as he didn’t want the first time he meets Kirsty to be Kirsty’s first day in work (do you like the way I talk about myself in the third person? A career in hip-hop beckons). So around 9.30am I was standing outside a branch of Caffe Nero awaiting his arrival. It was, let’s say, a wee bit awkward at first, although he did say to me that he understands what Angela meant when she said I looked better as a woman than as a man. I concur. But we sat in the coffee shop for a good hour and we had a great chat. He is a good friend and ally, and he was very keen to say that when I come out to the general populace in the office he will be there for me to tell them all will be well and he has met the new me. In the middle of our chat something slightly concerning happened. Two men who work on the same floor of our building as Graham and I came into the same coffee shop, and took a seat at a table immediately behind Graham, sitting beside each other on a bench so that I was in both their fields of vision. Now they work on the same floor, but not the same department (there are at least 70 people on my floor) so we’re on no more than nodding terms, but I did feel a little nervous. However even though they both looked me straight in the face on a couple of occasions, there wasn’t a flicker of recognition from either of them.
After coffee with Graham and a quick bit of shopping, I was off on the road down to the town of Naas in Co Kildare, where Hilary lives with her husband Adrian and two of their three daughters, the other daughter and only son having flown the nest. Hilary had only met her new sister for the first time the previous weekend at our other sister Patsy’s house, but it was fine. It was really nice to see her as my real self, and after an hour my niece Norah also arrived and gave her new aunt a hug. Norah told me that she had been a little bit nervous about meeting the new me, but was happy to report that it was all fine and whatever fears she had had had been unfounded. 3 consecutive “had”s in that last sentence, go me!
After a bit of dinner (lasagne) Hilary and I got into her car for the short drive to Dublin for the concert. Traffic was heavy and we ended up cutting it very fine, only getting to our seats about 5 minutes before Mr Dylan took to the stage. He was excellent as ever, grunting his way through much of his back catalogue, including songs from albums all the way from 1962 through to 2017. My particular highlights were the trio of songs that he did from Highway 61 Revisited, one of my favourite albums ever; the title track, Desolation Row, and a stunning encore of Ballad Of A Thin Man. He’s great. And a 1 hour 50 minute set isn’t too bad for a man who turns 76 very soon.
It was a 30-minute walk back round to the car park from the arena, and we spoke about how Hilary felt upon meeting the new me. It was good. She did admit that she felt her own place in the family was a bit at sea, as her self-image for the last 60 odd years has included only having one sister and being the youngest girl, neither of which are true any more. But she can live with that. What she did note, and it’s something that our other sister Patsy has commented on too, is that she didn’t ever think there was a particularly strong family resemblance between me/Bob and my sisters – if anything Bob looks very like my brother John. But Hilary says that as Kirsty she can see me like both her and Patsy. In her words, we look like sisters. Because we are sisters.
She then told me about my niece Clare, the middle daughter, who went to the hairdressers recently and got a change of hairstyle, plumping for a bob style cut with her mousey fair hair. Clare says that when she saw herself in the mirror her immediate reaction was “That’s Kirsty!” And she has only seen photos of me! Hilary thinks that Clare looks most like her out of all her daughters. Oddly enough, it reminded me of way back when I went for a wig fitting at Tresses in February 2015. I tried on a huge range of wigs before deciding upon the one I have to this day, although there was one wig that I tried on and I immediately looked at myself in the mirror and thought “That’s Hilary!” so it works both ways.
In fact, there is another similar story. When I went to meet Patsy’s three daughters for the first time a few weeks ago, it turns out that one of Patsy’s grandsons (i.e. my great-nephew, aged 10) was disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to go. He was told by his mum (my niece / Patsy’s daughter) that he wasn’t allowed to go to his gran’s because his mum was meeting someone and it was adults only. Thinking about this afterwards, my niece decided that she might as well tell him the truth, explained the what was happening and showed him a photo of me. His reaction? He said “Looks a bit like my gran” and went back to what he was doing. So my great-nephew thinks I look like one sister, and my niece who looks like my other sister things that she looks like me. Look at that photo of me and Hilary together at the Dylan gig, so what do you think? Is there a resemblance? I’m not sure I can see it myself but maybe others can. Not the best lit of photos either.
When we got back to Hilary’s house, her husband Adrian had returned. He had been out at a corporate golf day at The K Club, one of the most prestigious golf courses in Ireland and venue of the 2006 Ryder Cup. Getting in some sneaky practice for the family golf tournament at the weekend (he was the defending champion). And Adrian had brought presents for Hilary and for me. It is in fact my first female-specific golfing accessory – a pink K Club pitch mark repairer. I can’t believe I missed this, but when I later showed it to Andrea she immediately asked if it was personalised. How did I not see that? The Kirsty Club, membership expanding all the time.
I had to revert to being Bob for the golf weekend. I felt rather sheepish turning up to breakfast with Hilary and Adrian looking rather different than I had done the previous day. Hilary said “You probably feel naked” which wasn’t a million miles from the truth. I announced that I was going to load up my car, to which she replied “Good man, er, woman, er, whatever!” It was a valiant attempt and does illustrate just how confusing this final few weeks pre-transition is. Although Hilary did also add that on Friday morning “you looked a pale shadow of your former self”.
Just one more thing. On Saturday morning in the hotel, I had breakfast with my sister Patsy and sister-in-law Marie (my brother John’s wife) as they were partaking of a late breakfast due to being the only non-golfers. And at the end of the meal Marie reached into her bag and pulled out some rolled-up paper. She then said that she wanted to give me this, and she would have liked to get it framed for me, but never mind, she just thought the words were very appropriate. She said that she realised that this was probably the last time she would ever see Bob, and that whatever lay ahead everyone was 100% behind me and “I just want you to know that we all love you very very much”. She gave me a big hug and handed me the paper.
The roll of paper contained the poem “The Road Not Taken”, by Robert Frost. I read it when I returned to my room.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I sat on the bed in my room, put my head in my hands, and cried. My family are truly amazing.