Hi all Readers,
First off, my apology for not posting in a while. Over the last five months, I have had to pack up Bangkok and move back home to Cape Town. This was not a forced move, rather one that stems from a great need to move on. I know that once you have learned from an experience that which you must, you will feel the drive or need to move on to the next experience or lesson that awaits.
But I digress – this post is not about me and my journey of discovery, but a continuation of Christine’s story. I left you with the story of her reveal and how I came upon a new girlfriend.
After Christine told me that she is transgender and the whole reason for her moving to Thailand was, so she could change into the sex she identifies with, the next steps and months to come were a lot harder and even more eventful. First off, once Christine told those that she was close friends with and felt sure would not judge in any way, she had to tell her family. The reason she told her friends and confidants first, was so that she could have a network of support around her should things go awry with her family. Having that network of support for all is so vital to helping us go through whatever problem we may face at one time or another.
Now the biggest hurdle to telling her family, as the fact that her family lived all the way in Africa. She did put it off for the longest time and I was in no way going to force her. The reveal to her family had to be on her terms and her time. All I could do was offer support for whatever happened after. Sometimes, that is all we can do as friends. Listen, support, comfort but never dictate, never convey advice unless asked and never assume that your way is the right way. Luckily for me and bravely for Christine, it was a few weeks after she and I had our moment that she called a Skype chat with her family. I was not there to witness the event. I requested that she call me after the event and I would be right over. I only lived a 10-minute ride away, so I could be there in a jiffy whenever she needed me.
I can only guess what Christine must have been going through during the run-up to the call, and during. I was a nervous wreck in my apartment. After much coffee and cigarettes for me, she called me at 10 pm. I answered the call, but all the while holding my breath for whatever was going to happen next. What happened next was a pleasant surprise. After my cautious “Hello”, I said “And. .?” Leaving the question hanging on the line between us.
After an eternity (not truthfully, more like 10 seconds), Christine let out a long sigh and said: “I’m OK Nols. It went well. Very well actually.”
I was both stupefied with relief and overwhelmed with gladness to hear that.
“I take it they accepted what you had to say and who you are without a qualm?” I asked.
“Yes, they did. It was surreal actually. Every worst case scenario I built up in my head, did not happen. All they said was that they understood and that they always suspected. My family thought I was gay and suspected the Skype call was me finally coming out, ” said Christine with a nervous giggle. She went on to say: “Well, I did come out and my family did admit that my reveal was a bit of a surprise. But ultimately, they just want me to be happy and to be whom I am meant to be.”
After hearing that, I immediately fell in love with Christine’s family. How many of us, know people that have come out to their families and have then been cast out, ostracized and disowned. Here was Christine, not only telling her family what they suspected but telling them that she is not who they have raised, nurtured, cared for and completely believed they fully knew and understood. That is all forms of amazing for me and takes the kind of person that has so much empathy and understanding. Perhaps that comes with being a great parent – I have no idea. All I know is, Christine’s family became my instant heroes.
Christine and I did not chat very long that night. She, understandably, was emotionally drained. I was physically drained due to anxiousness. We both called it an early night and made a tentative date to take Christine out in public for the first time.
It was roughly three days after her Skype call with her family that Christine and I saw each other. The plan was to finally get her to wear lady clothes, makeup and shoes. My job was that of wardrobe coordinator. She had already managed to buy some blouses, trousers (not confident enough yet for dresses or skirts) and shoes, as well as makeup and accessories. We had so much fun putting her outfit together and doing her makeup. It was amazing to watch Christine go through all of these experiences for the first time. What we women learned over a period of five years, perhaps more, she had to learn in a few days and months. And she handled it all incredibly well and took to it like a duck to water.
Once we got her dressed and accessorized, it was ready to hit the town. Well, not really, the plan was to go to the food court five minutes up the road for some inexpensive dinner. I love the food courts in Bangkok, so much food for so little money. Anyone, you know me well will know full well that it is my idea of the perfect food place.
Christine stood in the middle of her living room and I had my hand on the doorknob. “Ready?” I asked.
“Yes!” she confidently replied. As I opened the door, she just crumbled into a quivering mess. Christine was a wreck of nerves. She took her handbag off her shoulder and went to sit down on the sofa.
“Just a seccie Nols. I need a little more time, ” she said while sitting on the sofa all the while shaking like a leaf.
In no way was I going to rush this. I didn’t say a word. I closed the door, put my bag on the floor, walked over to the fridge and got out two beers. As I wordlessly handed Christine her beer, I sagged down on the sofa next to her. I sat slouched against the backrest of the sofa looking at Christine’s back. I watch my dear friend go through the biggest agony of her life.
Just before I took a sip of my beer, I said: “When you are ready. I have all night and a fridge full of beers.”
She turned around to face me and gave me a sheepish smile. We clinked out beer bottles as a way of acknowledging and just sat in silence.
It took us three hours and lots of beer just to get Christine to the elevator. It took encouragement and loads of back rubbing to get her out of the elevator. It took me saying: “You made it this far. Why not a bit more?” over a hundred times to get her to the food court.
When we got to the food court, Christine felt everyone’s eyes on her. She kept nervously touching her hair or readjusting her clothes. At this stage I was not overly concerned about Christine’s discomfort, I was completely absorbed by a beer-fuelled hunger that demanded immediate attention. Which is exactly what I was concentrating on. Christine in the meantime had barely touched her favorite meal. Eventually, after the hunger monster stopped tearing me up from the inside. I sat back and looked at Christine. Her eyes were darting everywhere, but not looking for anything or anyone, in particular, it was her way of keeping herself pre-occupied and not focus on the people around her.
I eventually couldn’t hold my tongue and said: “Would you relax. No one is looking at you. It is all in your head.”
She stopped fidgeting and squirrel-eye darting for a second to look at me and said: “I can’t help it Nols. I feel as if everyone is staring at me.”
I tossed my napkin in my empty plate, leaned forward and said to her: “OK! The next person who looks at you – show me, so we can both smile and wave at them. Let’s make your discomfort theirs to deal with.”
Christine bowed her head and patted the back of her hair down. When she flipped her head back up, she said: “OK, fine, let’s try that.”
We sat in the food court a bit longer. All the while I was asking her about work and how she found that blouse. Just trying to have girl talk with her. All of the sudden Christine’s head shot my way and said: “There’s one!”
I looked in the direction she was gesturing and true to her, there was a man staring at her. I gestured to her to follow my lead. We both turned our chairs to face him, smiled seductively and waved at him. The poor man did not know where to look after that. We caught him completely off-guard.
Christine and I burst out laughing. Gave each other a high five and I said to her: “Who was more uncomfortable right now? You or him?”
“Absolutely him,” she said.
“Exactly,” I said, “use your uniqueness to your advantage. Show these narrow-minded fools for exactly what they are. Never feel shame of who you are. They should be the ones to feel shame for their ignorance. Love and live who are you my beautiful Christine. You deserve it. Fuck these idiots.”
“Yes! Fuck these idiots. They are not important – I am” she said.
With that, we got up and headed back to the apartment. This time without any coaxing and encouragement from me. Christine left that food court like a calm, collected and mature women. It was truly amazing to see.