A Letter About Me-Danú Connolly Fanning.

Now that I’ve made my ebook “Just Saying” free to the public (you can download the full thing here), I’ve decided to publish the unseen chapters here on my website. Below is a chapter from this book which was published in September 2016.

A few weeks ago I set Danú a task; to write me a chapter for this book. I did this for two reasons. 1) I knew how sick of my voice every reader would be at this point and 2) Her and I have one of the most special relationships that’s currently in my life. I told her that it could be however long and be about whatever she wanted. I wanted it to be honest and reflective of our relationship. The result was slightly more honest than I actually expected but I appreciate that. I’ll shut up now and let her speak.

It’s funny thinking back on it, but my first impression of who is now one of the most important people in my life was not a very good one. I first met David on our college induction day. We were put into groups, told to go around and take selfies around Dublin city, the winners would get something nice, etc. etc. Stereotypical first day tension breaking stuff. I had noticed David the moment he sashayed into the room, as a 6”3 platinum blonde wearing bright clothes, he is kind of hard to miss. When we were told to move into groups, he ended up with me. Introductions were made and I promptly managed to completely forget his name, only remembering it began with D. I didn’t remember the name until the next week.

Off we went, myself and four randomers I now had to take pictures and bond with. One of the conditions of the judging was that the pictures be uploaded to one of the group member’s Twitter accounts. David, being the only one with internet and an account (who would admit to it), ended up being the one having to show the world our beautiful pictures. And he was not happy. There was much moaning, much fuss about “how many people will see these, they’re going to think I’ve gone mad, it’s embarrassing” and so on. I thought David was self-absorbed, more focused on image than anything useful, unwilling to participate, almost unfriendly to a point. By the time we were finished and I got home, all the pictures had been deleted off his account, no record existed of our valiant team-bonding efforts. I was torn between being annoyed (cause some of those pictures were hilarious and I wanted them to laugh at) and amused. David was happily chatting when he first sat down, but got less and less into it as time went on. I got the impression, at that time, that he found our company lacking, the entire induction pointless and childish.[1]

I’m not done slating David yet, but for the record I think I should mention that I do not actually detest this human being whose book you’re currently reading. We now live together (which I’ll get onto later), he’s one of my best friends I have ever been lucky enough to have and I love him as a person. But I was asked to be honest, so honest I am being. I didn’t consider David any kind of a friend until a few months into college. We hung out with the same people, had the same friends, went places with the same group, but hardly ever talked, especially not one on one. It took me a while to figure David out, because for the first while I never quite knew what to say or how to act around him. It always seemed like he’d arrive at the worst times, or tune into the conversation when I’d said something strange, and I genuinely never thought we’d get close, especially not as close as we are now. I always thought that he considered me childish because I’d die laughing at the stupidest things, and I enjoyed his automatic step back when I said something dark, or unsuited for the conversation. When we did talk it was only ever about college work or our mutual friends, and in those first few months everything I learnt about David was through someone else. I’ve never been scared of talking to people, or let myself feel intimidated by someone, but a part of me was wary of talking to David because we seemed to be from such different worlds (which turned out to be a hilariously wrong assumption). David just seemed so well put together, so effortlessly classy and sure of what he was doing and where he was going, and I’m basically that hippy who turns up, eats all your food and falls asleep on the couch. I never quite knew what to say, or what to talk about, as I could never predict his answers or reactions to whatever I was on about, and I don’t like not knowing how someone will generally react.

I’m not even all that sure when this all changed. We went on nights out a few times, and wine did bring us together as it tends to do, but it really was just like one day something clicked with us and we were suddenly talking easily, laughing together, sharing memories and secrets and stories. It’s weird thinking of it, because it was a zero to sixty kind of thing, in my memories at least. I remember awkwardness then I remember complete comfort and I have no recollection of the transition between the two. In less than a year we went from strangers to awkward acquaintances to happily living together, keeping in constant contact even though we see each other virtually every single day. And we’ve talked about it, how weird the fact that we’re not completely sick of each other is. Normally there’s only so much of someone I can take, no matter how much they mean to me, before I need to run away and hide in my bed for a while, but there’s oddly been none of that living with David. We’ve only had one issue, with him blaring Lana Del Rey as I lay in bed recovering from a torturous night shift, but literally one message was sent and we were sorted, no arguing, no hard feelings. They say you don’t really know someone until you’ve lived with them, and that’s a point I’d have to concede. Watching crisps being crumbled into pasta because “it gives it more flavour” really does change your view of a person.*[2]

Speaking of views, one of the reasons we probably get along so well is because ours match up almost perfectly on nearly every issue going. We have the same opinions regarding issues like abortion, we’re both feminists, we’re both furious about how so many people are treated for stupid reasons. It’s so nice to be able to sit there with someone and know that they share the same basic viewpoint, are supportive of everything or anything you’d do. We can talk for hours, or just sit there and bulk-watch programmes (and I do mean bulk-watch, up to and including accidental all-nighters).

We must make quite a pair, walking down the street. David is tall and slim, six foot three, bright blonde hair sparkling in the sunlight, impeccable clothes, never without a scarf and sunglasses. I’m five foot five on a good day,*[3] with mad curly orange hair, normally in leggings and runners wearing an expression that dares people to stare, to comment. Because people do. Where ever we go people turn and blatantly stare at David. Some gazes are appreciative, as they should be because David is one beautiful human being, but many are just nosy bitter people unused to anything or anyone out of the “accepted norm”. David struts past them all, head held high, but I’ve always taken on the role of over-protective friend and at times I feel like one of those little yappy dogs being dragged for a walk, ready to fight anyone and anything, including someone’s granny or that tree in the distance. The fact that David is transgender, that David was “born in the wrong body and is actually a woman” changes nothing about our friendship and how I feel about him, although I always seem to encounter people who act shocked that I don’t think it’s a huge deal.*[4] He is a woman, always has been, always will be, and when he decides to switch to female pronouns and be Laylah it’s not going to in any way change how our friendship is. Why should it? All that matters, all that should matter, is a person’s happiness, is that someone can be happy and comfortable being themselves and living their life how they want. We’re all going to die someday, have fun while you can before the eternal darkness consumes you. We’re getting dark and off topic. Moving on.

David is a very good person to have as a friend. You know there will be no judgement no matter what you end up doing, or what you’ve done in the past. We’ve talked before, after some wine, about how we try to act with our friends, to treat them. Treat being the key word, because David has these moments of generosity that come completely out of the blue, like a message saying “hey I got a face cream for you” or buying an extra random chocolate bar. And he shares food a lot, which is great, because it means I’ve spent the last month living off the supply of beans hidden in one of our cupboards that just accumulated.

I now laugh at just how wrong my first impression was, because David is nowhere like the person I thought he was. We’ve laughed about the whole induction day debacle because he is mortified about what I thought he was acting like, we can both be very childish people who laugh at the stupidest things and make idiots out of ourselves but we can both be very serious and grumpy (but never with each other, which does kind of worry me because at this stage we should have had at least one blow-up argument). I’ve had no choice but to develop a taste for Lana Del Rey because she’s pretty much all he listens to no matter what he says, we’ve milled through many a bottle of wine, cried over TV series,*5 laughed until we’ve hurt and then kept laughing, despaired at the state of the world, shared stories and talked about deep, deep stuff at four in the morning.

In the space of a few months we went from occasionally talking to never not talking, and it kind of freaks me out a bit when I realise just how co-dependant we’ve ended up. At this stage we’re basically a married couple without the actual relationship element (or the bickering). I trust him, I’m delighted he trusts me, and I’m so proud of everything he has accomplished and everything to come. I look forward to the not so distant future, walking the streets of London with Laylah by my side, wineglasses in hand and sunglasses shading our eyes.

*1 Note from David: I have no idea why I gave that impression. I think I remember feeling the slightest bit nervous and although I started out really chatty, I just drew more and more into myself. It didn’t help that I despise the cheesy, forced attempts at bonding that seem to be constantly inflicted on people who are my age.

*2 I asked Danú not to disclose that bit of information. I am horrified that she did. It only happened once because her intense horror convinced me to never do it again.

*[3] Yes. On a bad day she’s 3 foot 7.

*[4] I laugh about this too. People seem to believe that my transition is this huge thing that myself and my loved ones either need to tiptoe around or discuss constantly.

*5 I do not cry. Some eye cream must have been running down my face.


Read the lessons I’ve learned since starting college here.


Find out How I Deal With Street Harassment below:


 

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