Today is a friend's 40th birthday. She has travelled home to be with her family, and although I saw her just over a week ago at a pre-birthday dinner - there were nine of us - on the day itself an exchange of texts has had to be enough. Yesterday, on the eve of her 40th, she sent a reflective email to her closest friends and family - I was included, which was really nice - and I was prompted to reply as follows:
That's such a frank and sincere email.
A new decade in your life really is significant - I felt just the same last July. It suddenly became easy to let go of all the bad times and failures and anger of the past, and concentrate instead on what was best about life now.
I felt I'd arrived, had an unchallengeable identify, had talents and emotions and a body that cried out to be used. I cast aside all regrets, and turned my face to the future. Years that must not be wasted. In fact, this 'mustn't waste the years left to me' idea is now my justification for being hard-headed and no-nonsense about how to spend my time and money.
I'm certainly not going to dissipate either on people and projects that seem dead-end, or pursue lost causes. Some will think me too single-minded, even ruthless. But one's life is a fuel tank with no refills allowed: I've got less than half a tank left, and I'm not going to squander that on useless journeys. On the other hand, there's no sense in staying at home, and going nowhere at all. So I intend to travel as much as I can, but be careful and discriminating about where I end up.
Does this make sense?
Anyway, have a lovely 40th Birthday tomorrow!
Love, Lucy XX
I've left out her name and the eleven words after 'tomorrow', to preserve my friend's privacy. I wrote it all straight down, and didn't have to ponder my words. I meant them. It was my way of expressing how it feels to enter a fresh period of one's life. There was of course a difference between myself and my friend, an important difference of twenty years. For me, the lack of time in which to accomplish whatever I now want to do is a matter for very serious concern. Some long-term projects are simply not worth attempting, because I'd be too old to fully enjoy the eventual outcome. An example would be a fresh relationship, and adopting a very young child to bring up. Not that I'd actually want to do that! I would consider it unfair on the child, anyway. But that kind of thing. So I think a certain discrimination is indeed warranted. In fact I think it's the responsible approach. To do only those things that are really within my grasp, and not try to kid myself that I'm as young and fresh and energetic and long-lived as young person would be, even though there is this myth - seductively dangerous in my view - that trans people who have 'gone through the Process' are literally reborn and rejuvenated. Certainly, we are transformed, and may look younger, and perhaps will live longer, but that body clock is ticking the same as ever. In twenty years, I will be eighty and getting a bit tired, even if I do look fabulous for my age. So a lot of well-focussed living needs to be done in a short time. And without messing up anyone else's life.
One point in my email needs especial comment, that mention of a body crying out to be used. Since I turned 60 last July, I seem to have gone through some sort of mental or emotional development. I'm much more aware of how my body feels, of what it looks like, and I'm starting to be touched by sexual desire. Last week I finally managed a fully-conscious, self-induced orgasm. (As opposed to this being the outcome of mere dreams) Actually two of them, several hours apart. A repeatable experience, then! I wondered how this had come to be. Because this was orgasm female-style, with myself most definitely in the woman's role. I decided that finally saying goodbye to the things of my 50s, the male-type things that had been wrong for me, had let my femininity have a much more complete expression, releasing strong emotions and urges that surprised and delighted me. Well, I'm very happy with this new world of sensation and emotion and frank desire. All my life I thought I was emotionally deficient, that I lacked passion, that sex was just for now and then, but here was evidence that I'd been mistaken - tricked by upbringing, misinformation, and the standards of my former social circle into accepting a false view of myself.
So whither now? Here I am, free of the past and sexually self-aware as never before, but time-limited and still wanting to act responsibly. This needs much thought. Fortunately I am now on holiday again, in North Devon, and if the weather is kind - even if it isn't - I will have many opportunities to mull this over in depth.