A couple of days ago an old friend, E---, came to lunch. She had been one of my step-daughter's school friends - exactly the same age, in fact - so she was in her teens then, and is forty-two now, long married and a mother of three.
I thought I'd lost her when I transitioned, but early last year I got in touch, and she was really glad I had. She came to my 60th birthday Family Gathering in the following July. And we've met up every couple of months since then.
Thirty-odd years ago she was a kid and I was parental. Nowadays we are both a teeny bit more mature, and relate to each other simply as adult friends. And that's nice, being on equal terms, although if anyone was hurtful or unfair to her in my presence, I expect I would kick into protective parent mode! That's not likely to happen, however, and we generally spend our occasional meetings chatting away over lunch, visiting somewhere nice, and having an afternoon tea and cake, exactly as any two friends who know each other well might do. I get to say hello to her husband and children before I hop in Fiona and drive home. We seem to have plenty in common. Just two ordinary women: and it seems irrelevant that one is natal and one is trans.
Anyway, this time she came over to me. I gave her a decentish lunch. The starter was a thin slice of rye bread topped with fried mushrooms, bacon, onions and red pepper. Then fish for the main course: sea bass, potatoes and sweet-stem broccoli. Starter and main were served at the big round table in my sunny conservatory with the garden view. We moved to my lounge for dessert: Cornish ice cream (with clotted-cream in it), mango sorbet, raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate seeds. It looked rather colourful:
Three hours had passed, and we decided to go for a short walk, then return for a cup of tea. So we found ourselves in a park, and there were some public all-weather exercise machines that I think had been installed sometime last year.
There were three machines: one for energetic walking; a rowing machine; and one where you just swung the lower half of your body from side to side. Hitherto I've been very self-conscious about trying out any of them, but emboldened by having E--- there, and no doubt vice versa, we each got on one and gave it a go. Here's me on the walking machine:
I wasn't well co-ordinated, and walking was difficult! We both found the rowing machine really hard work. If the real thing is anything like this, I can perfectly understand why crews look exhausted after the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race! I gave up very soon after getting in the seat, not wanting to risk straining my back, but E--- (taller and younger and more lissom than me) was made of sterner stuff, and managed to 'row' quite expertly. Here she is, demonstrating how to do it, and doing well despite a big lunch:
As you can see, it helps a lot if you have long arms and legs!
To me, having E--- over is like having a bit of the old life, but fully adapted to the conditions that obtain now. I wish everyone whom I used to like and love could leap the gulf like E--- has.
Socially, it's been a busy few days. Hair done in Brighton on Friday. All of Saturday afternoon with friend A--- at Brighton Marina. Dinner on Sunday evening with four other friends - and it went on past midnight. E--- for lunch and the afternoon on Monday. Out with various friends in Brighton yesterday evening (Tuesday). And today it's electrolysis in Bexley, then onwards to see my cousin R--- in Gillingham.
The frantic social whirl doesn't stop there. On Sunday it's a champagne picnic at Glyndebourne with friends V--- and K---, followed by a piano recital (Schubert's Piano Sonatas 19, 20 and 21). A breast screening on the Tuesday, then another meetup in Brighton later in that day, with a meal. And then, just over a week ahead, Fiona gets her annual service and MOT, with a funeral to attend in between taking her to the dealer's and collecting her later. That's the funeral of my neightbour T---, who died last month. It's at the local church and cemetery, and I''m going with my next door neighbour J---. Everyone's then adjourning to the village pub to raise a glass or two in T---'s memory. I'll just have enough time for one drink.
You can see how blogging might get crowded out somewhat!