The caravan is mostly loaded-up, and I hit the road early on Tuesday, aiming to arrive at my regular North Devon spot around 4:00pm. That's early enough to think about dining in Bideford or Barnstaple (or indeed at any country pub) if I don't feel like cooking. A restaurant (as opposed to a pub) lets me glam up a bit - a dress, instead of leggings. And pearls if the mood so takes me. All part of 'eating out'. It would be the same if Something Special were happening in one of the main towns that evening: I'd wear something very smart and chic, a small contribution to making it all an Occasion. Unless of course the festivities involved a lot of Joining In - in which case I'd come prepared to get hot or wet or splashed with beer!
But let's suppose that I'm in that restaurant on that evening, in a long dress, say. Would I be fully content with the meal and the staff as my only companions? I used to say 'yes of course' but now I'm not so sure. I think this may be the first muted rumblings of 'post-op companionship deprivation'. Or at least my personal take on it.
What am I lacking, and vaguely wishing for? It isn't clear. I have friends (and indeed there are bloggers) who are absolutely certain what they need once post-op, more-or-less recovered, and embracing ordinary life. And that's a romantic connection with someone special. But I don't want that. I can't be independent and free to do as I please, and at the same time wholly committed to one person, with all that implies. The urge to be in absolute control of my life - which has so far let me carry through my transition at a fair pace, with nothing in the way to trip me up - is completely at odds with ordinary notions of meeting and keeping a soulmate.
So if I don't want a 'relationship' is it something less or different that I want? Such as to be simply chatted up, and made a fuss of, by some interesting person? And indeed share a meal with them. That's closer to it. But what happens next? Despite shifting emotional and sexual responses, a general wish to experiment with flirtation, and a strong natural curiousity to know how 'the new parts' will perform, I can't see myself throwing caution to the winds, letting myself be seduced, and abandoning myself to a brief but sweet Holiday Romance. Too much would hold me back, at least at this point: a virgin's terrors; fear of rejection or humiliation; a lifelong inability to handle intimacy; a lifelong inability to 'let go' and completely surrender myself to pure physical sensation. The hormones and surgery haven't cured those problems.
So if some man or woman (I don't think I'd mind which) made a beeline for me - or indeed I for them - and we embarked on a deliciously enjoyable evening, I would be fretting about the outcome long before dessert. And longing for the quiet, uncomplicated safety of my little caravan.
But watch this space. The compulsion to move forward and engage with people may prove irresistible!