As I settled back into my home town (approx 80,000 peeps then) I was able to scratch out a living on one of the local radio stations as a DJ and pocket a few more dimes from the bar I co-owned. My Dad described it best when he said "Well at least the flies didn't have to stop when they flew through one of the two doors."
As always, I was drinking heavily and making early plans for Halloween around July.Well, a girl can dream, right? My first year back party was notable in that I thought I looked damn good in my black dress, heels and beret until a guy in a mask came up and said "I know who you are." Finally he said I looked like my Mom and I knew who he was. Over the years that followed, he turned out to be quite the homo/transphobe, so his comment that night was probably the nicest thing he ever had to say about me. (Like I cared.)
Time went by, my daughter was growing and the recession of the early 1980's claimed the bar as one of it's victims as my town was dead center in the infamous "Rust Belt". Times were rough and I ended up taking a job in a fast food chain and taking over a store in Yonkers, New York-which was quite the shock.
As luck would have it though, here I was in a part of the country more liberal towards a growing LGBT community and I still couldn't take much advantage of it. One notable exception was when my new wife stayed home and I went to a "transvestite mixer" on Long Island. This evening turned out to be a real eye opener for me, for a number of reasons.
First of all, the mixer was being held in a motel bar with several "admirers" in attendance. And, I was flattered by the women at the door who weren't going to let me in because I was "real." To make a long story short, I was hit on a couple of times before I packed my inflated ego and went home.
The evening caused so much pain between my wife and I she finally said "That's it, be man enough to be a woman." One of the most profound things I have ever been told-and ignored until after her death decades later.
In the meantime, we moved back to Ohio and set up special times when I would go get a motel room,dress and mainly go shopping, Which was good and bad. It was good of course because I could really learn the ropes as a woman and bad because I started to cheat on her and go out when I thought she wouldn't know.
All of that worked well enough until one day she got off early and caught me driving past her in the other family car or the time I accidentally ended up walking right past her boss in a parking lot. Later he would mention the "Big redhead" he saw, and she knew.
What really hurt me was lying to her and the ripping and tearing I was going through as a person. It was about that time in the 1990's after one of my "adventures" I set up gender marriage counseling appointments in nearby Columbus, Ohio. The counselor came right to the point and said I had and will always have gender dysphoria but did I know I was bi-polar? Well, that made sense too-but what the hell? Something else wrong with me? Since that time it seems like half the world is bi something so it was nice to be on the cutting edge.
About that time too, I was getting much better at my overall feminine presentation and started to volunteer to go grocery shopping when she was at work etc. The problem became too we moved to a much smaller town and getting recognized was an even bigger risk. So. I began to wonder was the "thrill factor" of dressing like a woman was drawing me to it?
Coming up next "validation versus reality."