Raised By Wolves
Part Three: Across the Great Divide
Dave's Not Here...
January 4, 1991
This morning I had a very strange experience: I had to dress and act as Dave for the first time in weeks. As I have mentioned, the house we are living in belonged to my grandmother. With her death, I am to inherit the property. However, in order to conclude the probate I needed to meet in person with the lawyer who has been handling things. I first met with the lawyer several months ago, but have not seen him since, so I wondered how drastic my appearance and mannerisms might appear to him to have changed.
I arrived at his office at.11:15 am. He is a senior partner in a fair sized firm that occupies the whole top floor of the building. Just wearing Dave clothes (including a jacket to hide my breasts) made me nervous, even when I was in the car on the way to the appointment. But when I stepped into the elevator and the doors closed, I really began to feel out of place. I had no idea how I would be received.
The last few months in which I had tried to appear as Dave had always gone so poorly. I couldn't put my finger on it, but it just wasn't working anymore. However, I did not want anything to complicate conclusion of the probate, so I gritted my teeth, adopted slightly threatening pose, and stepped out of the elevator with a ridiculous swagger. At least it FELT ridiculous, but apparently, the secretary thought nothing of it, so she merely offered me some coffee and let the lawyer know I was waiting.
Interestingly, I noticed that the "vibes" I was getting from the secretary were different than what I had recently been used to. In fact, the entire emotional atmosphere around me seemed to have altered slightly. I was on the other side of some invisible fence and the meaning of "us" and "them" had been reversed.
I found it tough to try and be my old self. I caught myself several times sitting in a feminine position or placing my hands inappropriately. Its funny, but the only way I can describe the feeling of adopting a masculine posture again is that I just did everything stiffly and kept myself stilted. It wasn't so much that I felt uncomfortable: just very strange.
Eventually, I met with the lawyer. I had to second guess every move, inflection and nuance, but I made it through. All the papers were signed and notarized and I departed. As soon as I got home I literally ripped the clothes off my body.
It was quite an experience stepping back (however briefly) to the other side. All in all, its a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
Just an hour after returning from the lawyer's I had my first hair appointment since becoming Melanie. My writing partner, Chris, had given me a gift certificate to the hairdresser he uses (the guy also does Miss Universe's hair!) In an odd coincidence, the salon was just two doors away from the Rose City Diner in Pasadena where I had my first date as Melanie a year and a half ago.
I entered the salon feeling like I was breaching the inner sanctum. Sure, Chris (and a lot of other guys) go there, but that same emotional atmosphere that created the invisible fence at the lawyer cast me on the other side here.
I don't know for sure if I was read or not. Certainly not by the other patrons. Still I was nervous about having someone work so closely on me. Would they note anything different about this head, amongst the thousands they see every year? As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about at all.
An assistant gave me a luxurious shampoo and then I sat there with that stupid towel wrapped up around my head in a turban. Next, my hair was blow-dried and cut to the accompaniment of pleasant conversation between my hairdresser and myself (mostly about our mutual acquaintance, Chris). What a wonderful feeling it was to be pampered and primmed and made beautiful by a professional.
When it was finished the haircut was great, the hairstyle wonderful and I had to admit I felt my most feminine self.
Spent my afternoon editing the video I shot last Thanksgiving.
Later in the evening, I visited my longtime friend Mark and his wife Juni. We sat around eating pizza, drinking Near Beer, and watching Heckel and Jeckel cartoons until three in the morning. Juni and I talked about careers and social issues, while poor Mark wandered around, unsure of what to do and feeling a bit out of place. Later, we all get in a giggle session on the couch when Mark brings out some toys and we get in a mock war. Miniature robots, Food Fighters, and wind-up animals go flying: many casualties, no prisoners.
January 5, 1991
Another support group meeting. This is the eve of the first anniversary of my going full time. A bit into the meeting, the door opens and Andy shows up, only the second time in 18 months he has come to the meeting. I Still sense his attractiveness, but am no longer lured by it. Now I know who I am and don't need outside approval.
When it is my turn to speak, I tell of my success at making transition. Susan who full-timed one week before me and was inspiration to my taking the plunge also showed up. Later I went out for coffee with Lori and Susan. Looks like all of us are making it.
January 6, 1991
Today is the First Anniversary of going full-time. During part of today I looked back and made comparisons with earlier diary entries. Now, I look forward to the way things are headed. I have contentment and fulfillment. My emotional pain is gone. I feel myself more than ever.
The kids are okay, Mary is okay, my career is okay, and myself is okay. As a fitting end to the day, Mary and I go shopping as two women. We are redefining our relationship, yet it is stronger than its ever been. I love her for her patience, love her for her support, love her for herself.
January 11, 1991
This is one of the weirdest days I have ever had, although it started off normal enough. First, I went off to K-mart to extend my wardrobe. It was really nifty to shop, and pay for things with no fear of being read. Then I went into my video duplication business, wearing a skirt there for the first time. I asked my employee, Tom B., if that bothered him. He said he just thinks of it as a kilt. Oh, well... The ex-marine from the office down the hall stopped by to see how I was doing, and then asked: "When you have surgery, will you feel like a woman down there?" I told him that after surgery I'd be just like any other woman.
All that was kind of ordinary though, however, things were about to slowly start getting odd. First, Tom B. went downstairs to get some water from my car, and came back to report that my car was damaged. I went down to look for myself and found the whole rear body panel smashed in. Apparently, workmen replacing a large window in the building next to where I parked, took out the huge plate frame, which was heavier than expected, lost control, and smashed it into my car.
I conversed with the workmen about the problem and we exchanged phone #s and info. I was so intent on making sure I would get them to pay for it that only afterward did I realize I had done it all as Melanie. I guess its really me now, thinking about situations and incidents, not who I am.
Okay, so my car got damaged. Well, that wasn't enough to scuttle my day: it would get fixed eventually. So, that afternoon, I drove to Larry's office on Hollywood and Vine to work on some more editing for the video. That evening, as planned, I walked down the street a few blocks to see my friend Tom S., who had just opened an office with a new sound effects computer system. What I had NOT expected was that a very minor acquaintance from my Dave days (who knows Tom S. a lot better) would show up also.
Tom S. introduced me as Melanie, so I was confident that Andrew, the acquaintance in question, had put two and two together about me. We all decided to go visit Mark and Juni for dinner, so Andrew drove us down to Santa Monica to meet them.
We had a wonderful dinner, lot's of pleasant innocuous conversation. Since Mark and Juni had not seen Tom's new computer system, we all piled into two cars and drove back to Hollywood. Tom went with Mark and Juni and I rode with Andrew. We had a pleasant conversation during the 20 minute drive, but I kept wondering why he wasn't asking about my transition or bringing anything up about it.
When we got back to Tom's office, another old friend, Sean, who HAS seen me as Melanie met us there as well. We checked out the computer, then went downstairs to the entertainment room in this funky little office building. We played pool and ping pong and laughed and kidded and had a wonderful time.
Then, another one of the weird things happened. We were all sitting around, kinda played out, and Andrew asked, "What's the news on Dave?" There was dead silence. Everyone thought he knew that I used to be Dave, but apparently, even after having dinner together, sharing a car ride and spending the evening in conversation, he did not.
He looked around the room wondering why everyone had stopped talking. Tom said, "You, tell him, Mark..." Mark said, "Oh, no! Sean is much better at this kind of thing..." Sean just looked lost, so I finally said, "Well, Andrew, I'm Dave.." He STILL didn't get it. His mind simply couldn't imagine that the woman he had spent all evening with was the Dave he used to know.
I felt so sorry for him. He must've been embarrassed to death. After that, we kidded around a bit more and then parted company. Andrew was one of the first to leave. That's when Tom told me that Andrew was double whammied. Even after I said that I was Dave, he had just thought that I was Dave's WIFE and that is why his question was out of place. It took him the rest of the evening before he figured it out from something somebody said!
So, we broke up to go our various ways, and Mark and Juni offered me a ride to my car. Well, that would've been an evening weird enough, but it was only 11 pm and the evening was young. When we arrived back at my car, something was missing... MY CAR!!! It had been stolen while I was gone!
Now a lot of people might go into hysterics in such situations, but I always deal with them as if it was an everyday experience. So while Mark and Juni were getting all frenzied, I was just saying, "Oh, well... can you give me a ride home?"
So, I arrived home, carless, and called the Hollywood police, who refused to take a report over the phone, because the car was still registered to my dead mother (I never bothered to change it) and that made me NOT the registered owner. (What, did they want me to send HER down???) They did suggest that the Valley police might take the report as a courtesy, however.
So, at 1:30 in the morning, I showed up at the Valley Police department, dressed in skirt, with the long days worth of beard stubble poking through my make-up. The person behind the bullet proof glass at the counter took my name and told me to wait. This was a scary proposition. The part of the building where the police are is completely sealed off by locked doors. The lobby opens up to the street. So, here I am, alone in the police station at 2:00 in the morning with my face falling apart. Well, not quite alone. Sitting across from me on the other bench was a grizzled man with a white beard and beady eyes, who sat like an elderly Manson, staring at me and mumbling to himself loud enough for me to hear, but not loud enough to understand what he was saying.
Finally, after 15 minutes under that gaze, the desk sergeant comes to the window and takes the report. He was very organized, very precise: not unlike Jack Webb, "Just the facts, ma'am." That was a neat experience; I always wanted to be "ma'am"ed by the police!
Well, he took down the information from my license, and I smiled to myself when he wrote an "F" under "Sex" on the police report. Everything went fine until I realized on the way home that I had left two new bras and a pair of shoes in the front seat of the car, from my shopping trip at Kmart earlier in the morning, and they were on CLEARANCE, too!!!! Now THAT makes me mad!!!
January 14, 1991
Today I took Mary to work so I could use her car. Mindi said she wanted me, even as Melanie, to pick her up at YMCA day care that evening. When I came to get Mindi, her friends asked her if I was her grandmother or her aunt. She didn't want to say (laughing, but nervous). Her counselor stepped in and said I am a friend of family. She also took me aside and told me that Mindi is having a lot of trouble about "this". That's the first news I have had about it. It contradicts what I experience with her at home, but still bears looking into.
I stayed dressed as Melanie at home all evening.
January 16, 1991
This morning I got a call from our insurance lady about the stolen car. I explained my situation to her and she was very friendly and supportive. We shared some laughs and giggles. On her recommendation, I called a car rental place and explained my situation to the girl there as well. She was also very friendly. The two of them worked together to get my name situation worked out, since I have not changed it on the insurance yet.
This afternoon, just as I was about to leave to pick up Mary and go to the car rental place, Keith called to tell me war had broken out in the Middle East. I guess there are some things in the world going on besides my transition!
Both Mary and I needed to go into the car rental place because we have to use her credit card and name with me listed as "second driver" in order to get around have Dave on my insurance. I was surprised that she didn't mind going in with me. Cindy, the car rent girl, was great. As we talked while filling out the forms, Mary kept calling me "him", and Cindy kept calling me "her". I could feel Cindy's acceptance in her manner with me. That's happening a lot lately. I guess I'm really finally there and all the rest is spit and polish.
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