I had my electrolysis session on 20th December, and I'm attending my sister-in-law's family gathering on 30th December. In between there are no social engagements or meetups. That's ten days alone over Christmas. All my local friends are on holiday, or away visiting their parents or other family, or else have social arrangements in place that I feel disinclined to bust into.
It's not a big deal for me, that 'alone' bit, because there's several things I can always get on with to fill the day. And the emotion of 'loneliness' is (for me) simply a bad feeling I occasionally get when out of doors in the dark, a sort of primeval panic that I'm exposed and vulnerable, and need to get to a place of safety. It's cured by bright lights, cheerful voices, warmth and closed doors. It's not a depressing state that endures for day after day, and can only be resolved by having someone special constantly at my side.
Still, ten days is still a long time without some company. My answer to this is to do what I would do if on holiday: drive off and find a place where people congregate. That does the trick every time. I'm quite happy in the casual company of strangers.
What I will not do, especially over Christmas, is impose on people I know, to 'use' them as a 'people fix'. I don't think that's right. Christmas is a Family Thing, and it would be improper to invade a family space without an invitation so warm, and so insistent, that it would be rude to refuse. Similarly with friends who live alone, but who have made definite arrangements with another friend: no way am I going to turn a twosome into a crowd, by suggesting that I join them.
The upside is that there is no pressure on me to rush around, nor do anything in particular, for days on end. I've covered all the essentials: I have for instance bought a lot of food of all sorts, so I can dine off steak, or monkfish goujons, or posh bangers and mash, just as I feel inclined. If I really want a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, then there are plenty of pubs around that I can go to. I've got apples and dates and cheese and cold meats and pickle, but no chocolates or sweet stuff, no biscuits, no ice cream or Christmas puddings, and no booze at all except a wine bottle or two that I keep strictly for meals out in other homes. The central heating's doing it's stuff, and I'm dressed casually for comfort. The little ceramic Christmas tree looks fantastic in the afternoon and evening gloom, and, at night, my lounge looks like a soft colourful Aladdin's cave. And there's Ted for company.
So far I've received twenty-six Christmas cards. I don't think that's a bad total for someone in my position. All my family have sent a card; some of my friends (not all of them do send cards, and some really can't afford to buy them and post them); the professionals that I see regularly; and I got three cards that were especially significant.
One of the three was from a couple I met when caravanning at Cirencester in May. They were very pleasant. The warmth of their greeting shows that they must have found me pretty good company! They were the couple who treated me to a meal out at a hotel. I do hope we can meet up on a site in between Cumbria and Sussex during 2013 - they live just east of the Lake District, in Penrith, which is unfortunately a long way away from me.
Another was from M---, addressed to 'W D Melford' - note no 'Miss'. 'W D' means 'Water Dragon' (which is what I am in the Chinese astrological system). Inside, no kiss; the tone was strictly neutral; and she called me Water Dragon, not Lucy. But I was nevertheless very pleased indeed to get a card from her. It keeps the communication door open, although I'm becoming convinced that she will never now step through it.
The third card was from am old friend of Mum's, who still lives in Barry in South Wales. She'd sent a card to my home last year, addressed to Dad - she obviously didn't know that he had died. I wrote back, explaining what had happened to Dad, and also what had happened to me, that I was now Lucy Melford. Well, the card she sent this year was addressed to Lucy, and was very friendly, and included her phone number! Clearly she wasn't fazed at all by my transition. I will ring her up in early January and take it from there. I intend to spend a week in South Wales during March, and if she's up to it, I would love to visit her and catch up on the last fifty years, for I haven't seen her since 1963. She must now be in her eighties. It just shows that you can't be dogmatic and assert that 'old people can't cope with transition, it confuses and upsets them.' That's not my experience at all, whether you're talking about old ladies or old men. There are always exceptions of course, but very often old persons put younger people to shame, and not just on the subject of boys discovering they are really girls.
Neighbours across the road have popped a lovely card through my front door. Twenty-seven!