Having actually not celebrated my first-year anniversary of living properly as a woman at all on the actual day itself I hoped that the week following it would make up for it… and, as it turned out, it did so rather sooner than expected!
I went into work on my earlier train on the Monday morning, although it was a bit late arriving… and once at my office it was rather obvious that someone had been rather busy at my desk preparing it for celebrations! This is what it looked like:
(It doesn’t normally look like this… although as I write the balloons are still mostly present). Lots of appropriately coloured balloons, a card, and not one but three presents!! I was full of big smiles and, after taking my coat off, opened the card and started reading very kind words… and then stopped as it started explaining the reason for each present, the main two appearing in the photo alongside. We had a good long chat, and I thanked the girl in my team who had created all my surprises a lot because I so appreciated her kind effort and words, it really picked me up after an eventless weekend… and, as it turned out, she was the only one who even gave me a card; thank you!
Another thing that made the day nice was a breakfast special at the work restaurant, waffles with chocolate and caramel sauce and maple syrup. Normally I have a pretty healthy breakfast, but it was a celebratory breakfast and so I pushed the boat out… and so glad that I did – YUMMMMMY!!
On the Saturday following that I went out for dinner with friends Kirsty and Michelle at a restaurant called Coco’s, as I had had the pre-theatre menu there once before and it was excellent. This time the food was still very good, although I didn’t like my dessert that much as it was very gingery; my rabbit pasta starter was lovely though, and my main of halibut bourguignon very good too… once I had asked for the sauce, which was missing from the plates. However, the meal was somewhat spoiled by a very noisy atmosphere – some people seem to think this is great, giving a place a buzz, but I have a soft voice and I don’t want to risk wrecking it by raising my voice continually… and so after a while, with the noise getting ever louder and worsened by ramped up music volume, I could not hear what my friends were saying and gave up any attempts at conversation… and so was fed up. If I want to out for a nice meal and catch-up, I don’t want to do it in a semi-disco atmosphere.
After dinner, and a drive back to Lisburn in Michelle’s nice new car, Kirsty followed me back to my house for an overnight stay; I enjoyed several hours with her until 2.00am, sharing a bottle of Cava, and playing an amusing chocolate-taster game… as well as some music and nice chat. The following day Kirsty rose at around 9.30-9.45 and I about 15 minutes later… and it was nice to be ready several minutes before her and much quicker for a change – now that I have my own hair, and have a much speedier make-up routine, this is now possible. After a bacon sandwich prepared by my own fair-but-limited hand we went to Ulster museum (after a quick visit to the palm house) as there was a Rembrandt self portrait on display, as well as several other pieces by other artists of the period – from the painting notes it became apparent that Rembrandt painted the most self portraits of all famous painters… and I don’t quite know why, as he wasn’t exactly, well, an oil painting… if you see what I mean. We also had a look round some other paintings, including many period pieces (on the one hand quite a few stuffy looking portraits, but also some nice landscapes, including some local scenes such as this one near Warrenpoint) and then the modern art section where, as before, some paintings interested me and some I just didn’t get whatsoever. After a wander around a few other areas of the museum we had a coffee and biscuit/cake, and then went shopping in Belfast city centre; I had a really fun time, and it was nice to have an honest friend who provided affirmations and the occasional negation on clothes on offer, and also nice to help her choose something too. As the shop-closing hour arrived we drove to Malone Lodge where Kirsty has a book group meeting later on, so beforehand we had a bar-meal early dinner, which was pretty tasty if a little fat-saturated. As 7.00 neared, book-group meet-time, Joanne from the group came to the bar and said hello to the two of us (I know her from a different group event), then Kirsty seemed to joke with me about coming along to the group… and I returned the jokey chat (“okay, I’ll see you there in a few minutes… ha ha”) even though I didn’t see the point in me going as I had not read the book under discussion and also I think I am a bit of a literary dullard compared to the average group person. So I drove home and did some wallpapering – like one does at 8.00pm on a Sunday evening – to round off a great, celebratory first-anniversary week of me living full-time as my natural, female self for a whole year.
Roll on the next 12 months, life’s feeling pretty good… even though, as I write, I feel like I am coming down with my second cold/flu of 2016