Saturday, 30 December 2017

Night Hungry

"Baby we both know
That the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can't say tomorrow day" - "Do I Wanna Know?", Arctic Monkeys
Self-portait, 2012

Before going to sleep, I enter this dream state where everything seems a little clearer than it does when I wake up. It all starts to dawn from 5pm. Now it's approaching 1am and here I am unable to sleep because I'm excited about getting ready for tomorrow's party. Trying on outfits earlier, automatically I plump for a soft Foxy Brown-esque alter ego - it never occurs to me to go as a boy. I went for a baby pink afro and leopard dress.

My Big Fat Greek

A few years ago when I was invited to a fancy dress party - the invite vaguely said, "Come as someone European" - I went as a Greek bride. It wasn't until I entered the Hall at the last moment - in my local average town - that it dawned on me that a full bride's outfit was a step further than others had gone.

A few years ago, around the same time as now, I spent the day with a treasured friend and we made videos as different characters; her a Halifax mum of two, me Beau Bow, an Amy Winehouse-esque East End girl who played Heads Up! on my phone (a digi take on charades). We had tremendous fun, laughing all afternoon, no shame or embarrassment (or similar) from me whatsoever. It felt so natural.
Heads Up

I've always had a habit of wearing hats. I've always felt super exposed without a hat on and it resulted in becoming an apprentice for 18 months to the fabulously eccentric Mrs King in Hebden Bridge then taking on a commission for a local theatre. Wigs seems like the next best thing. I've considered a helmet but that is a step too far. I wanted a big glass fish bowl, like an astronaut. Maybe next party.

Heavens Above

So now when I ask the heavens, as I am always inclined to do, to show me where my happiness lies, it asks me to surrender. And uncover the cause of my dissatisfaction, the reason to scratch an itch I can't seem to find the origins of. As a teen, I would be drawn to documentaries on transvestites and transsexuals, dated labels they had 10 years ago. Fast forward to a time where the word trans is much more in the every day sphere and the subject is no less fascinating to me. And, in conversation, my nana still refers to me as 'she'. No-one corrects her, including me. My BFF made the slip the other day and I enjoy it.

Self-portait. Mexilhoeira Grande, 2015
To be clear, it's never appealed to me to be trans. Or dress in women's clothes for sexual pleasure. My journey through gender as a child is well-documented on this blog and now as a adult, a real proper man adult on my way to 40, I still wonder about identity and its fluidity, the massive spectrum. The most brutal procedure I chose was at 18 when my facial hair began to thicken. I underwent painful laser surgery to have it removed. Once blisters healed and all the hair fell out, I couldn't have been more content as my fingers stroked a smooth face. But it soon returned and I couldn't face, or afford, more treatment.

Earlier, on holiday at 14 or 15, horrified at the sight of my legs getting hairier, I just felt humiliated, somehow. As if my body had let me down, that's the closest I can describe it. I feel very differently now and appreciate body hair but what a peculiar turn around. And what the catalyst? I really have no idea. But if my niece were to feel out of sorts and "like a boy", for this reason alone I would advise waiting, seeing how those feelings transform so the physical body doesn't have to undergo life-changing surgeries or lifelong medications.

On the badminton or tennis court, or when I am weight lifting, the hilarious thing is that I feel my most aggressive, the most cis-gendered. My muscles respond very quickly, I am super competitive and I bellow despair and victories. And then, off-court, a transformation - the elegant dancer, maybe, the studious reserved reader, the loner.

I'm still dangerously in love with the myth of the man. Recently, experiencing a friend opening the door for me, holding my shopping bags, paying for lunch...I was absolutely thrilled. I have never experienced that and I felt so in my role, he so in his. As much as I question the Hollywood-fed love mythology around us in films, storybooks, theatre, I am its victim well and truly. Not intellectually, but hormonally, bodily.

In relationships, the EQ levels of the partners I've had had altered, depending on the moment and the person as it will with opposite sex couples. In the last serious relationship, coming out of the shower with a turban towel around his head and another bath sheet pulled up under is armpits, I was forced to laugh then become to the archetypal man. I felt genuinely moved to care for him and treat him tenderly, and vice versa when I entered a softer mode. Beautiful, really.

Self-portait, Lancashire 2017
And so I continue to be in love with the idea of love, of the 2 doves, the swans, the elegance and intimacy of 2 people together, the private nest in the sky as clouds pass by. Tomorrow night, I will boogie with my girls as a the foxiest girl, absorbing all the attention that falls on me from the men who for one night only will hold all the glamour and restraint of the vintage men from the Fitzgerald books I cherish so dearly. And as the morning must come, so will reality again with its shattered slipper and stack of books and pdfs to read for uni; the soil, the flowers, the seaweed will call again to a person dressed simply as a man who no-one would suspect is still a girl underneath, somehow. A 2-4-1 Human Being. How cool.

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