The 14th of February and I am packing things for my long drive tomorrow for a meeting that I hope will prove to be the start of transition in a life that I am need of and am striving for what has been so elusive all my life. Just typing this is bringing tears to my eyes and I need to keep my composure!
4.30am Thursday 15th – Hardly surprising that I am awake so early with a lot going on in my mind just now, and I will confess I’m a little anxious too. The day starts with the usual routine of feeding my cat, but instead of sitting and enjoying waking up gradually with breakfast, I head to the shower without delay.
My clothes are already and my small case is also packed and ready to go unlike myself. Oh, putting on makeup so early – now that is a challenge! Well the shower worked it’s magic, plus I did a good job of making myself look nice for my journey. As it approached 7am I did a quick check through the list I made so as not to forget anything before I set off. Great, everything is in place. A good-bye cuddle with Bertie who would be fed by Karen in my absence and I was off.
It’s been about two years since I have made such a long trip and my SatNav was telling me 6hrs 30mins for the drive – assuming no problems en route. It was still night and raining and that’s how it was. A few yawns and kilometres later I checked the time and the distance I had covered – not a great idea as there was so much further to go. It was generally an uneventful drive with the exception of a three roundabouts just before Poitiers where farmers had made a protest by dumping straw that appeared to be mixed up with animal waste to block traffic as a protest about cuts in European funding for them. That caused about a 25 minute delay and would have preferred not to have participated in their dispute .
Thank goodness for SatNav! Without such a device I seriously doubt if I would have found the address in Brest where I was heading. Actually, I was ahead of schedule which allowed me to check-in to the hotel just outside of Brest. I had booked a double room feeling indulgent and thinking I would sleep better in a double bed. I was pleased to note that there was a restaurant next to the hotel and immediately went in to find out when they opened that evening to reserve a table for one. Back to the hotel and check-in. I already had paid when I booked online but choose to have breakfast the following morning and paid at the desk. Arriving early gave me time for a short rest. After such a drive I had pain in the base of my back and one hip was aching slightly too, age is quite mean. Note to self: more exercise required.
I arrived a little before 3pm for my appointment at a private house in the outskirts of Brest. The gate I recognised from ‘street view’ on Goggle maps. What did we do before Google? I sat for a moment checking my appearance in the vanity mirror on the back of the sun visor. Bag in hand I stepped from the car, opened the gate, walked up the steps and knocked in the patterned glass window in the aged front door. There was a short delay before the door was opened to the point I considered I had come to the wrong address! Why would I do that?
Tom opened the door, we exchanged greetings and I stepped into the hallway and was led into the first room on the right where I sat in attendance. The room was a little busy for my liking. It had a mix of feminine and masculine about it. Pale yellow walls with lots of small shelves displaying a mix of model battleships, vintage cars and various old dolls. The walls had small gold stars here and there with a couple of very old paintings of figures and were yellowed in colour due to age. Spattered among all of that were decorative plates, while above the aged white freeze sat artificial flowers in the corners. A couple of old clocks ticked away in the background and chiming ocasinall . I sat at the yellow vinyl table-cloth covered table which had more collected possessions on one side. The room was neat and tidy, managing to convey a comfortable feeling to it.
Tom appeared in the doorway to offer me coffee and joining me shortly after at the table. I was asked a few questions to provide Tom with some personal background info. When did I first had feelings of not being happy being male and a desire to a female? We worked through a list of specific questions Tom had prepared until he had all the details he required noted in his journal. In between he informed me of certain things that would be available to me and where these could take place. As every minute passed I was learning of possibilities I had not even thought about or likely to be a part of the discussion today! My main objective was to acquire an attestation for safe medication and a possible route for surgery if I can be approved. But I discovered so much more. I was impressed by his knowledge. It appears that I may be able to get assistance and treatment for voice training, reduction of the Adam’s apple, electrolysis and hair treatment in addition to the key things I was chasing. It also appears that I may possible to be put in touch with a specialist doctor under a certain scheme. It was stressed that I would need to show committment with these or the treatments would not be forthcoming. I really don’t think that will be an issue if I choose any or all of these options. The one down side if there is one at all, is the diverse locations for this array of treatments. The ones that he was able to be specific about today were Paris, Nantes and Angouleme. From 1hr 20m to 4hrs by car with a train journey to Paris needing to be booked three months in advance to be the most economic. I am not sure if any of these will require overnight stays, the most likely to be Paris as the furthest.
I now have to be patient for the time being until Tom sends me his proposal by email. I shall not miss a drive to Brest again. Just such a pity I didn’t get to see any of Brest as it looks a lovely place. But who knows what may happen?
I had spoken with Tom prior to my visit. My French is ok but sometimes I have to ask people to explain or speak a little slower. But he has a partner the same age as myself, Alana. She spoke good English and was able to fill in some gaps and provided additional info for me. I met Alana on my visit and was surprised to discover she wrote and recorded her own songs. We immediately connected as you do with other creative people. Alana was also born a male, another reason why we connected.
That evening I took myself to the restaurant for an enjoyable meal which I intended to take a photo of the interior and of my fish and prawn meal. My waitress Françoise was such a happy and cheerful lady, we had a giggle every time she arrived at my table. I was a little naughty, I had a sparking white wine as an apero and then order a white wine to have with my meal. I clearly had not noticed it was not by the glass when a half bottle was placed on my table. Now what was I going to do with that? After finishing my fishy dinner I allowed that to settle and sat musing at he day’s events while sipping the wine. I suddenly wondered if they did a cafe gourmand? I caught the handsome young waiter’s attention and posed the question. Oui, and off he went to return with my espresso coffee along with mini desserts of crème brûlée, hot chocolate fondant, warm tart tatin and a tuille. Suitably stuffed and ready for bed, I went to the bar to pay. I didn’t put on my reading glasses and offered my bank card for payment. When I got back to hotel I looked at the bill think that it was quite inexpensive considering what I had consumed. I noticed that they had forgotten to charge me for the half bottle of wine. It was about 9.30 and I was far too tired to consider returning to point this out, such was fate. I was soon asleep in the double bed. Not thought about my return journey until I woke about 6am. Breakfast and then back home.
Onto other things: My exercise has been progressing well and I am feeling better mentally and physically. I have begun exercises on my abs with a mix od what I think I called crunches and a simple pulling in of the tummy 60 times on and off through the day. I need to strengthen those muscles to ease the discomfort I get when doing some of the yoga exercises.
Being a creative and artistic individual I have always enjoyed photography. I bought one of the early Nikon slr cameras about a year before I came to France. It is now so far behind in technology that my mobile phone takes picture that can often be better than that Nikon. I have managed to tap into that part of my being where the creativity hid from time to time and have had an idea for some portrait photography., Something I really love and would like to be better at. I began in the early stages of living in France, taking pictures of a few French friends but sadly I have lost the original high res images and only have the ones uploaded to social media. Anyway, I have begun to speak with a few local people who I have asked if they are interested in me taking a portrait shot of them. So far the response has been excellent. I want to make the images quite different from the normal type of portrait image. I will not say too much about the technique and hope to be able to show you some of the photos as the year goes forward. I am excited about this project and have invested in a new 24mg pixel Nikon which I hope should arrive in the coming week. If all goes well I would like to consider an exhibition of my work and use this as a springboard for a further photographic venture. I already have some ideas that could ride on the back of what I hope to achieve.
It’s only the 17th so time for even more this month…