After my last college exam, I went for drinks with two of my friends. We discussed how much we were going to miss each other over the Summer months (as is standard at end of year drinks) and we tried to make a pact to meet up every two weeks.
As I’m sure you know and I’m sure you’ve been thinking, these kind of pacts very rarely work, but does this mean that you shouldn’t make them? We acknowledged that it would be tough, but we each expressed a desire to meet up and held our glasses up to toast a Summer of actually seeing one another.
That is how, a week later, I ended up going on a night out with my two friends, something that I was happy to do.
I’m in a nightclub doing my thing. Loud music. Dancing. A packed floor. Jumping in time to the music. Staring straight ahead or laughing with my friends. Taking sips from a long straw or a wine glass. Tossing my hair. Swaying my hips. Occasionally catching people’s eyes and smiling. Enjoying myself immensely.
A stranger will approach. Say something into my ear. I have really bad hearing so I’ll just nod as I try to figure out what they’re after. An arm around my waist. Their breath on my face. I lean in and kiss them.
Or at least I feel like a hypocrite.
As I’ve previously mentioned, the fact that I present as quite feminine, but identify as male is a source of confusion for a lot of people. And even though I constantly say that I think it’s important that I be allowed to identify how I want to, regardless of how I look, I don’t always put that principle into action in my life.
It might be somewhat ironic for me to write an essay entitled “I’ve learned when to shut up” when I never actually seem to shut up but stick with me. I don’t make comments on people’s appearances, or at least I try really, really hard not to. That’s it. I’m not trying to convince you to copy me or to suggest that this makes me any happier or better or more easy-going than you. In fact I don’t really feel the need to broadcast this fact very often. I don’t take some moral high ground when it comes to personal comments, I just try not to make them.
A lot of people are surprised by the fact that I didn’t realise I was transgender until I was 18-years-old. I think when Caitlyn Jenner came out, I, as well as a lot of other people who were questioning their gender identity, finally began to understand myself that little bit more. With Caitlyn putting the spotlight on transgender issues, it meant that there were a lot more voices being heard around gender identity. Which really was a blessing, because up until then, the representation (as far as I could see it) was really less than stellar.
After I had moved out of the house, I used to miss Alfie like crazy. Because I could barely ever get an opportunity to visit home, I rarely got to see any of my animals (something I hated). When Christmas came along last year, I had finally put aside a large chunk of time that I’d be able to spend at home. Amongst other things, I was very much looking forward to getting some quality time with Alfie.
When I got home, I used to spend my days catching up on writing. I’d lock myself into the office in our house and do my very best not to get distracted, but Alfie would not take no for an answer. He’d scratch and jump at the door until I let him in and then he’d pace the office, coming over to me every now and again and putting his head in my lap. I’m ashamed to say that I was quite intolerant of this and would often end up putting him outside.
When I’d had my heart broken at seventeen and began to suffer from a bout of intense depression, I was in the house more and more often. Neither of my sisters lived at home and I felt embarrassed confiding my heartbreak to my Mam, which meant that I sought refuge in Alfie an awful lot.
I often used to sit in the garden, writing in my diary or reading on an old picnic blanket. He’d run around the garden checking on our chickens, cats and horse but he’d always come back to check on me too. Sometimes he’d sit on the blanket with me, his head in my lap or he’d just watch me while I wrote furiously. He could be incredibly inconvenient, stepping on my diary or my book as I tried to distract myself from my pain, but I could never be mad at him for it.
There were a lot of things Alfie did that make me laugh out loud when I think about them. He was such a funny and cheeky dog and my whole family couldn’t help but love him for that.
I remember I once walked out to the hall in our house and found him standing with all four legs squished onto our tiny windowsill. He tried to turn his head to look at me and almost fell, managing to balance himself at the last minute. I immediately collapsed into laughter for a minute before I could pull myself together enough to help him down.
When Alfie first moved in, he used to run away a lot. He’d go missing for a couple of hours before returning home to us that night. We were at a loss for what to do. We lived in an area where farmers would shoot any dogs that were on their land to stop them damaging their livestock, Alfie had his flaws but we certainly didn’t want that to happen. We set him up with a shock collar device, which sounds a lot crueller than it actually is, to keep him from going on his little trips where he did god knows what.
But he still used any opportunity he could to escape. Once, while I was taking him for a walk, I had to stop to tie my shoelace. I put the lead on the ground, resting my foot on it, but it slipped and the minute it did Alfie had no hesitation about bolting away from me.
I’ve always been obsessed with animals and I come from a dog family. When my elderly dog Mindy died tragically on Christmas Eve, it wasn’t long before I was on the hunt for our next dog.
The sad thing is, I could probably name a ton of incidents that have happened to me over the years where I felt blatantly disrespected. I don’t generally like to focus on things like this but I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting recently and when I do this, I can’t help but encounter incidents where I was blatantly disrespected. So I’m going to share some of them.
Watch Exposition here.
Are you annoyed with me right now? I can never really tell. It’s funny because I’ve abused you in some of the worst ways possible, yet you never seem to give up on me. Although I’ve not been very impressed with you in the last week or so. You’ve become awfully knotty and you have terrible flyaways that catch my eye every time I look in the mirror. But I’m probably being unnecessarily cruel.
Let’s delve back into our tumultuous relationship together.
This event occurred last week, but I wrote about it straight away. Hence when I refer to these occurrences as yesterday, last night etc. I’m actually referring to a week ago.
In the past I wouldn’t have spoken about stuff like this, believing that it makes me seem somehow weak if I confide my darkest moments in such a public way, but I’m learning not to think this way. Because to be honest, I don’t think I could really be weak if I tried to be. It’s time to own my darkest moments as just what they are, mere moments in this array of experiences that is my life.
I’m an awful moan aren’t I? Recently I’ve noticed that my writing has become a bit more serious, and that’s been a very necessary thing. I’m becoming more and more honest about negative experiences and that’s probably been very beneficial for certain people. But let’s take a little break from that so I can share some of the positive experiences I’ve had in recent times.
I sit with my Mam over a cup of coffee. “I’m getting tested for STD’s,” I bluntly announce before lifting the cup to my mouth and taking a sip. I watch for her reaction, worried she’ll be annoyed at me. It’s part of a new effort I’m making to be more honest and upfront with my Mam, brought on by the guilt of how dishonest and sneaky I was as a teen.