My mood was completely positive this morning. I awoke to sunshine, and although it's got a bit cloudier as the hours have passed, it's still dry and bright. I've got a lot of coming-home jobs done already, and my to-do list is shrinking. To cap it all, a leap onto the scales revealed that I'd actually lost a small amount of weight while away. Just how I do not know! But it's encouraging.
Funny how your brain works at things while you sleep. I now feel really good about becoming sixty. It feels like a corner turned. A new decade of my life. Time for a fresh outlook, and a fresh start.
And of course the next ten years need some goals. Let's take stock first.
Where I am now
# Apart from personal possessions, and a mass of photos, all the old life has been blown away. If I ever had an ambition to complete the essential parts of my transition by age sixty, then I've done it, and done it properly. The transformation is ongoing of course, with some additional feminisation, fuelled by the hormones, yet to come. And of course I am still an 'apprentice woman' and will remain so for a long time. There's so much to learn. But it's substantially 'job done'.
# I am not merely passing, I am living a full female life. I don't think there is anything that a woman can do at my age that I can't attempt with assurance. All the proper documentation is there. And I don't think, on the evidence of how I interact with people, that I have any handicap that would - for instance - prevent me getting a job, apart from ordinary age and sex discrimination, or lack of relevant work-experience. I am quite sure that so far as looks and voice and manner go, I'm as good a proposition as any other sixty year old woman.
# I admit there is no romantic side to my life, but then I don't want to pair off with anyone. I'm a thoroughly independent person, and love it that way.
# I have friends. I value them all. There must be an upper limit to the number of friends you can realistically spend your time with, but my friends base is still growing. And all done without Facebook.
# I have no immediate family, no dependents or other family responsibilities.
# There remain some unresolved issues. There are people who used to know and love J---, and can't accustom themselves to Lucy. I don't know how this will get dealt with.
# I am in good health. My weight is too high, but if I build a bit more exercise into my life, and resolve to eat just a little less, then I can slowly shed some kilos.
# I have a varied range of interests, the principal ones (such as photography and driving) requiring me to get out and around. I'm pretty restless, certainly not a couch potato. I simply can't watch TV or films for long, or do anything so passive. I have loads of 'serious' books to read.
# I have a decentish pension. It's less than the average wage in the UK, and I have to run a house and big car on it. I'm also minded to give priority to a social life, some cultural pursuits, and my caravan outings. I also like to spend money keeping the house and garden looking nice. These things mean that I can''t save much at the moment. I'm struggling to maintain an emergency fund of £1,000. It'll be better once my State Pension kicks in, but that's two years off.
# On the other hand, I have no debts. Nor any expensive habits - I don't drink much, don't smoke, don't party, don't entertain, don't gamble in any form whatever, don't belong to any clubs, and don't collect things. Nor do I spend nearly as much as I used to on clothes and shoes. I wouldn't claim to be thrifty, but I'm weaning myself off the spend, spend, spend of the past. The psychological need has gone.
So, to summarise: I'm presently in good health, confident, solvent, and free to do as I please.
Where I'd like to be in ten years' time
# In good health, weighing less, and fit enough to do another ten years with no problems.
# In a future-proof house that will last me through to the end of my life. The house I'm in now will do well enough. But I inherited it, and it wasn't my free choice. That said, it's a very nice little house, very well positioned for shops and services and hospitals, and I have great neighbours. Why move at all? And Sussex weather is the best in the south-east.
# I'd like £10,000 in my savings account. More if possible, but £10,000 is realistic if I can save the geater part of my State Pension when it starts in November 2014. The snag here is that the State Pension has ceased to be 'extra pocket money' and will instead be a vital part of my income. I suspect that rising prices, particularly rising fuel prices, will limit what I can save. But I will try.
# I'd like a large network of friends and contacts. You can't know too many people! You need a reason to get out of the house.
# I'd like to do more travelling while I have the energy. And I can't do it all in the caravan. So there's the cost of flying and hotels to consider. This is probably not consistent with accumulating £10,000. So what's it to be? Unforgettable experiences, great photographs, or the security of some cash in the bank? It's a hard one.
Some would aim for different goals. At 70, quite a number of people might well be in regular employment, or running a business they've built up. But I don't find the commercial life appealing. And despite an interest in art, or at least artistic pursuits, I can't quite see myself learning how to be a silversmith or sculptor or actor or any kind of amateur musician or performer.
I still haven't abandoned the notion of singing. And I dare say it would be possible to take up a skill such as bellringing. When in Cornwall, I saw this photo in Blisland church (click on it to enlarge):
Taken two years ago, these are the St Breward and Blisland Church Bellringers. They look a jolly bunch. Both men and women in there, you'll notice, and a spread of ages. The trouble would be that I'm not someone who joins anything. Partly because I'm not around when fixtures come up. I'm always away somewhere. Should I change my mode of life, to become one of such a merry band? A twice-weekly commitment, albeit with real ale thrown in? (The Blisland Inn was a renowned Real Ale pub. I chatted there to two male rambling types, who clearly loved the stuff. I stuck to gin and tonic) Adapt or stay apart? Tricky.