Yesterday, I did a few things that pushed my comfort zone. Surprisingly, things that I feared so much that I simply hadn't done them turned out to be remarkably easy.
On Thursday night, Su, one of my friends on Facebook who I originally knew from the forums on Beauty Heaven, asked who wanted to go to Fashion Weekend Sydney, on Sunday afternoon. My immediate reaction was that I'd love to go but wouldn't have time. After some lively discussion on Facebook, I decided that I'd try to get there. At least one of the other women that I met at the Beauty Heaven open day last year, Christine, was going, and another two of my online friends might also have been going.
I considered driving, catching a train or perhaps a combination of the two by driving part way then catching a train from there. Like my former fear of using lifts en femme, I had never used public transport en femme for fear of being abused or assaulted by somebody and being unable to get away from them. That's also why I still haven't managed to get to Sydney during the week for a shopping trip that I had planned to do in January!
By the time I went to bed on Saturday night, I had chosen my outfit and decided that if I went at all, I'd walk to my local railway station and catch the train to Central station in Sydney, then walk to the venue at Moore Park rather than try to figure out buses. It was less than 2.5km walk each way, which really isn't a problem for me in flat shoes. I set my alarm for 8am Sunday. The goal was to make a 10:50am train, which was supposed to get to Central at about 1:12pm. Walk a fairly flat route to meet up with the others around 1:45. Easy!
When I woke up and looked at the clock in the bedroom, it was 7:59. I turned off the alarm so that it wouldn't disturb my wife and got up. I started with the usual morning things of washing my face and having breakfast. I could have wimped out and gone back to bed, and seriously considered it several times. Fortunately, I continued instead. I did my makeup and dressed, and walked to the railway station with 6 minutes to spare. I took a seat on the surprisingly busy platform while I waited, and boarded the train when it arrived. I took a seat and was almost universally ignored. It was a bit of an anti-climax. On the way down, I had 2 women sit next to me at different times along the way. Neither spoke to me, but that's fairly normal for the majority of people on trains around here.
At Central, and on the walk from there to the event, it was the same story. Everybody was too busy with their own lives to take any notice of me.
After the fashion show, we spent over an hour wandering around looking through all the stalls, and generally not spending money. Su bought one dress for $10 that was probably originally priced over $100. When she and I went up to the VIP lounge so that she could pay without queuing, we discovered that we were supposed to have received VIP goodies bags and could get complimentary mini-manicures (a new coat of nail polish). Even though I'd been slack and was still sporting my 18 day old nail polish from my last salon visit, I decided against the manicure since it would take a while and I'd have to clean it off and go back to boring beige before the morning anyway.
When we found Christine outside, we explained about the goodies bags and she went back in to get hers. There was a little mix up, and we stayed outside waiting for her to come back out, while she thought that we had gone back inside and waited for us just inside the door. While there, she bumped into Olivia, one of the staff from Beauty Heaven. We chatted briefly, got a few photos then Olivia headed back inside while we set off home.
After a little confusion trying to find the bus stop for Christine to get back to Central, I decided that it would be better to spend $2 to get a bus to Central with her than walking and risking missing my train and having to wait a full hour for the next one. We got a bus, and were very fortunate that the driver told us at a stop that this was the stop for Central, because we wouldn't have known and would both have missed our trains. As it was, I got the train with just a few minutes to spare. When I arrived, there was a large crowd on the platform as there was a 4-car train at the platform and another 4-car set was being shunted and coupled to form an 8-car train and nobody could get aboard until the coupling was completed. I waited in the crowd, again finding that nobody paid me any undue attention.
The trip home was as uneventful as the trip there, but it was a bit cold on the train, and even colder on the walk home. Because I had the VIP goodies bag on the seat next to me, nobody sat next to me on the way home.
While it was quite a long day, I accomplished several things. I met Su, who I'd known online for years but not met before, I took two quite long train trips totalling about 5 hours, and a bus trip of a few minutes in Sydney en femme, I sat in the front row at a fashion show, browsed a large fashion sale amongst hundreds of people and was treated as the woman I presented as for the whole time. I know that a few people looked at me funny from time to time, but there was no direct negativity and certainly no aggression aimed at me in the whole time.
I'm also finally starting to shake a feeling that I've experienced when I'm en femme with other people. I've often felt like I'm an amusement or a diversion to people, or that they are just humouring me. It's not something that I've ever put into words before, and I know that I don't get that feeling from some people, such as Marian, who works at the cafe where we go for dinner on Tuesday nights. With other people, I'm not so sure. I really didn't feel that way with Su and Christine. Instead, I felt like I was with real friends who accept me as I am. The part of my mind that has been telling me for years that I'm a freak is getting shouted down, and that's probably a bigger breakthrough for me than overcoming my fears. :)
There's already an indication that Su and I might meet up with Jasmine, one of the other girls who didn't make it on Sunday, to go shopping sometime in a few weeks. Don't worry, I'll be sure to post about it if it happens. :)