Hot on the heels of my previous post comes an update on the rest of my weekend as me, seeing as daughter is struggling with the concept and didn’t want to see me, even as the male exterior that she knows. I anticipated this possibility, and made a ‘Plan B’ as the weekend approached… and Plan B it turned out to be, with my BF Kirsty for a bit of friendly support.
I left the house at around 1.00, a bit more organised than the previous day, and drove to Sprucefield retail park, where I went into M&S and had my breakfast/lunch at their main cafe, a toasted sandwich and salad, and a little sweet treat for dessert. As I was finishing up, Kirsty texted that she was almost ready, and it was arranged that she would pick me up at the entrance; rather than buying anything from M&S I actually returned three clothing items, and as I was exited the store I saw Kirsty coming towards me. We had a quick girlie hug, then got cash out the ATM and headed off in the Kirsty-wagon to the museum.
I have lived in Northern Ireland for over 15 years and have only been on the ground floor of the museum before that weekend, and that was only to pick up my daughter about 10 years ago from her aunty who works there… and as we pulled up, having had good chat and catch up along the way, that very thought struck me! Would said-aunty be there, and if she was, would she recognise me… for she has been told by my ex- about me being a woman! Anyway, we walked in blustery conditions to the museum and, after a hurried trip to the ladies to repair our hair, went to the cloakroom where a nice man took our coats and explained the best way to see the museum once I had stated that I had never visited before… which, from the point-of-view of being an interested visitor, I had not. We started on the top floor and worked our way down. The top two floors were largely art-related, although in some parts ‘art’ seemed a somewhat abstract term, for example when applied to a pile of three towels on a padded stool or a series of approximately 30 almost identical sheets of blank paper scruffily pinned to the wall of the modern art section! Kirsty has already done an eloquent job of talking about this area in much detail, so I won’t attempt to even half-match her, but needless to say, I felt totally confident and happy to be visiting with Kirsty, having a light-hearted time as we went. We started by viewing pottery and glass, then jewellery, followed by a Liberty exhibition of ladies dresses from various periods – see right; some of them were very elegant, some a bit plain and slightly worse-for-wear, and some rather, well, let’s say impractical for today’s general activities! Then we went onto paintings, which began with a series of what seemed to be largely half-finished portraits in a very dark room, but once out of that exhibition we entered a large, more traditionally-styled gallery with a variety of artists, including Reynolds and Gainsborough. There were some archetypal portraits of ladies in very fine dresses awash with pretty lace, stuffy men with white wigs, and families with alarmingly similar looking children… which, from our visit in October to England (see earlier post at that time, if interested) we knew was because one poor child had to stand and be the model for the whole offspring, whether they be girls or boys. There were also some very nice landscapes, including the one to the left which both Kirsty and I liked very much. Next was the modern art section and, while there were a few that caught the eye for the right reason, most looked liked they had either been painted by toddlers, by people who had used their hands and feet instead of brushes to make large, sweeping messy strokes, or frankly people who were trying to make fun of the word ‘art’. So we whizzed through that section fairly quickly and emerged into the nature zone, where there were some really interesting exhibits about animals, including ice age, dinosaurs, birds and butterflies, and more general sections explaining how so many creatures are related if one traces their path back far enough – so we are related to sea sponges… distantly! Onto an interesting display of minerals, with spectacular crystals, and fluorescent rocks which glowed in amazing colours only when viewed under ultraviolet light. The next section was to do with the earth’s treasures, with assorted displays of items made of particular elements and compounds; nearby was a full dinosaur skeleton, so time for a quick photo moment. Time was getting on, so we picked up speed, and whizzed quickly through the ancient history section (the one containing the old relics – no, I wasn’t referring to us girls), and past a section detailing the history of the last century of Ireland, something I know very little about. And then it was time to go, with little over half the museum done! We picked up our coats, had a nice bit of chat with the guy who asked us if we had enjoyed our time there, then returned to Lisburn.
The next item on our social agenda was dinner out, but we squeezed a mocha and cappuccino in at our usual Costa before returning to a chilly support group HQ for me to change; for some inexplicable reason, Kirsty had not brought a change of clothes… though she was smart enough for our venue I will say, but at every opportunity I will dress up a bit if I can – I wore the dress I had bought in Dorothy Perkins the previous day, once Kirsty had confirmed it fitted well enough. We went to the Pheasant, the same place as we had been not too long ago. We had a lovely time with lots of great chat, but the food was not quite as good on this occasion – my seafood starter plate was nice, my main course of chicken with brie and chorizo was nice enough though the meat was slightly dry with not enough sauce, and a dessert of sticky toffee pudding was good but almost too sweet even for me. So a mocha was called for to finish off the meal, and we both left a bit stuffed.
Just as we were leaving I received an email from my parents that bleeped on my phone. The day before I had sent them a reply to their latest Q&A email (though to be honest the number of questions are getting a lot less) where they asked if I could send them some photos now, and so I did; I assumed the reply would contain some kind of comment relating to the photos, but I was rather anxious as to what they might think and so decided to wait to read it until we got back to support group HQ. Once inside, with the heaters on, I read their email… and I was absolutely stunned by how positive it was – the following is the exact comment from them:
We are very pleased and, indeed, impressed by how natural and attractive you look. The wig is fine and suits you, softening the outline of the face, and all the clothes look well chosen.. We see what you mean by wanting to ‘blend in’ and why noone you meet seems to suspect that you are other than a normal, (there’s that word again!), woman. The photo in the Prezzo Outfit is a very pleasant portrait and Dad has printed it.
SOOO, my parents think their new daughter is ‘attractive’! WOW! Oh I couldn’t control myself, the tears started to flow and yet I chuckled with pure glee at the same time, it was such a positive opinion considering their initial reaction to finding out about me being a woman that I was totally overwhelmed. Luckily, my BF who is so good at hugs, was on-hand and I was given a very generous embrace as I cried softly against her; it was so good to be able to share that news with Kirsty as it arrived.
AND THERE’S MORE! My parents feel that they are now ready to go back to speaking to me over the phone, something they have not done since end-October when the news came out; so before long they will hear what their daughter Andrea sounds like!