I could be wrong, but I got the feeling that the people I interacted with on this trip fell into two camps. One was very cheery and seemed really excited to be interacting with a crossdresser. The other comprised of people who treated me like any other person, not really paying much attention to me or to anyone else for that matter. Not once did I encounter anyone who made me feel the slightest bit uncomfortable.
I picked up my coffee and decided that my next stop was a little boutique about ten blocks away. It was such a beautiful day, so I decided to walk. Occasionally, I passed people on the sidewalk or walked in front of cars stopped at crosswalks. Each time, I just tried to breathe deeply and enjoy moment and not get too concerned with being inspected.
The boutique is in a little bungalow and is insanely charming. The owner was working the register and greeted me. I took my time looking at all the beautiful objects for sale. I’ll often look at clothes in women’s stores with my wife, but I usually have the subtle feeling that I’m not supposed to be doing it. I felt so at ease looking at these dresses. They were really expensive, more than I’ll spend on women’s clothes, so I passed. She also had some beautiful pottery for sale, and I remembered that I’d learned about a potter from her years ago and actually bought a piece back in LA. I shared this story and we chatted about the potter and how we both loved her work. It was a nice moment.
I took the bolder route back to my car by walking down the main shopping street. It was so nice to leisurely stroll and window shop my way back. I picked up lunch and headed to the hotel. After lunch, I packed a tote with a stack of magazines, my book and nail polish, and set up camp in a lounge chair on the sprawling hotel lawn. It was so peaceful. I painted my nails, read magazines, and just soaked in the experience. It was hard to tear myself away, but since my visit to the winery went so well, I made a reservation to go back at 4pm.
I headed up to my room and freshened up my makeup. I decided to switch handbags. As I walked into the winery, I was surprised and a little disappointed to see the host was a guy and not the charming lady from yesterday. He greeted me with a smile, checked my reservation and led me outside to pick my table. As we walked outside, a few staff members I passed welcomed me back.
My server was another nice young man. Unlike the day before which had been nothing but women, today was more mixed. I called my wife and we chatted about the trip and I texted her some photos. It wasn’t the same as being with her, but it was nice to share my adventures and excitement with her on the phone at least.
An older couple was seated near me. Their check was paid, but they were lingering. I was hoping they would leave before the sun started to set, so I could get my picture taken on the lawn in front of their table. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity, so I finally asked my server if he would take my picture. He was really sweet and helped me go through the background options. I decided to do it in the shade under a tree. I thought the light would be more forgiving with my face. He shot my picture and handed me back my camera.
I reviewed the photos and was disappointed that they turned out darker than expected. Just then, I heard a voice say, “You really should have your picture taken in the sun.” I looked up and it was the older man speaking. Then, his wife said, “You also need to get that mountain peak in the photo.” Her husband stood up and offered to take the pic and we found the perfect spot and snapped a bunch. They offered to take more if I wasn’t happy, but the photos were just amazing. I thanked them, we said our goodbyes and they left.
It was emotional for me. Of all the amazing moments of the weekend, this was probably the best. Here I was, with my preconceived notions of what this older couple might be like, only to have them be so friendly, generous, and helpful. The beauty of the entire experience engulfed me emotionally. I thought back on my interactions with the young people who treated me either with excitement and joy or as if nothing about me and the way I looked affected the way they interacted with me in the slightest. I thought about all of the physical beauty I’d seen on this trip. The winding roads. The huge oak trees. The “Pink Moment” when the sun is just starting to set, and the mountains are lit up with rich, intense shades of pink and red. I was overcome with positive feelings and optimism about my wife and our life together, as well as the world and humanity. I felt so at peace, so connected and balanced with both my male and female sides.
Sunday morning, I got ready to pick up coffee for the last time. I wore a long, black, pleated skirt, gold ballet flats and a green, boxy sweater borrowed from my wife.
I ordered my coffee from another delightful young woman who was very excited to see me. She was probably the most sparkling person I encountered. It wasn’t until I was back at the car that I noticed that she had written my name, “Marie,” on my cup in decorative lettering, and illustrated it with a darling flower. I was floored! What a sweet gesture! Seeing my femme name so nicely written was stunning. This simple gesture was the embodiment of my “acceptance over passing” mantra. It’s standard to scribble a name on the cup, but this was clearly something different. I believe she took such care knowing how good it would make me feel. In hindsight, I wish I had gone back and thanked her for making my day.
I did my mini-photo session back at the hotel before packing to leave. I was in such a positive mood from the weekend, feeling more connected with my femme self and as an extension, more content with my complete self.
Driving out of town, I thought about the twelve-year-old version of myself, longingly watching “The Bionic Woman” on TV, both having a crush on Lindsey Wagner, while at the same time wanting to dress and be like her. The weekend was a blast, and I definitely felt better and stronger, like a bionic woman, indeed!