It’s Friday morning and I’m feeling dreadfully tired. I haven’t been sleeping well this week and last night was no exception, what with our dog waking me up at 3am by walking around the bedroom and whining for no apparent reason. Despite my exhaustion, I’m immediately struck by a sense of deep sadness. Today is no ordinary Friday. Today is the very last day I will ever present to the world as Robert the male. The enormity of my decision seems to crash in on me as I grab a fresh pair of underwear from my drawer and head out to the kitchen for my typical morning routine of taking my estrogen and testosterone blocking pills before a shower.
As my feet touch the cold tile floor, I realize that this will be the last time I enact this morning ritual. After today everything changes and the entire process of getting ready for work will look completely different. I fetch my half-drank ginger ale from the fridge and portion out the seven pills I’m going to take. Three of them are blue, two of them are yellow and one of them is purple (an antacid). I toss all seven pills in my mouth and take a long draught from the cold, yet completely flat ginger-ale. They go down with a struggle, always threatening to choke me should I make any wrong move. I should really take them separately, but I’m usually running so late that there just isn’t the time, as is the case this morning.
I turn off the snoozed alarm that comes to life on my phone, and head into the bathroom. My wife is already out of the shower and is standing in front of the mirror putting her makeup on. She smiles at me and says, “Hi, baby.”
I give her a tired smile and proceed to sit on the toilet next to her for a few moments to relieve myself. The first bathroom trip of the day is almost always the most relieving, isn’t it? I wrap up my business, flush the toilet, and then walk over to the scale to weigh myself. After weeks of half-assing my weight watchers diet, I’ve finally managed to lose 0.2 pounds. I have no doubts that this loss, however minor, is a result of me crawling back up onto the horse for the last few days and actually trying to track all my points (food consumed for those unfamiliar) instead of just winging it. Whatever, I’ll take the loss, however small. I still have a long way to go, but I’ve already lost 80 pounds, so I know I can do it.
I get off the scale and head over to the shower. The drain has been pretty pathetic lately so I try to minimize the amount of water that comes out of the bath faucet while I find a good temperature. Turning the center handle, the water stops flowing for a moment as it works its way up to the showerhead. Once the water is running and the temperature is acceptable, I get in and continue my typical Friday morning routine. Today is a body wash and shaving day because yesterday was a body wash and shampoo/conditioning day. In an effort to help my hair stay healthy and to encourage it to grow more quickly, I’ve taken to only washing my hair maybe three times a week. I’ve read that this supposedly helps the hair retain more of its natural oils and keeps it from becoming thin and splintered. I’ve found it to be effective, although that might just be because washing and conditioning my hair is becoming more and more difficult each week and not having to do it every day appeals to my lazy nature.
I’ve been growing it out for almost 8 months now, and despite my best efforts with a “healthier” washing regimen, and Biotin supplements every day, my hair has only managed to grow about 6 inches. In other words, just long enough to be a huge pain to manage, but not long enough to convincingly pull off a “passable” female presentation.
I proceed with the shower and finish it off by shaving the stubble that’s managed to grow on my face. I never used to hate shaving my face, but since I’ve decided to transition to the female gender, shaving has become a tedious chore. Up until now I’ve been able to get away with only shaving every other day, since the T-blocking pills have stunted the growth of my facial hair quite a bit, but that’s about to change. Having facial hair stubble is not going to fly when I begin my fulltime life as Emma (nobody really appreciates the bearded lady, after all). I truly just want to have laser hair removal done, but that costs an arm and a leg. Electrolysis is my next best option, but it’s not much cheaper, and supposedly hurts quite a bit more. Until I can save the money up to do either of those, I resign myself to having to shave everyday.
Once I’ve finished shaving, I shut the water off and stand there for a moment, allowing the excess water to drip into the puddle at my feet. I really need to try to unclog the drain again. My wife lovingly returns to the bathroom, despite being done in there, and hands me the towel I forgot on the rack that’s just out of reach. This is another ritual that will change after today. Beginning Monday, I will be showering at night, and shaving in the morning before putting on my makeup and wig. She won’t be around to hand me my towel when I inevitably forget it out of reach. Instead she will likely already be in bed.
I tell her thank you and give her a loving look as she leaves the bathroom again. She knows that I’d be lost, or at the very least cold and wet, without her, so she rolls her eyes on the way out and says “mmhmm”.
I proceed to dry off and eventually wrap my head with the towel to dry my ever thickening hair. I grab the new deodorant I’ve been using, not so much out of choice, but out of a lucky coincidence. My men’s deodorant ran out a few days earlier, and the only option I was left with was a canister of women’s deodorant that my wife didn’t like. It was almost as if fate arranged this switch just in time for my new life as a female. Either that, or I just forgot that I was running out and didn’t plan ahead. I decide that I like the fate explanation better, even if it’s less likely.
I continue my typical morning bathroom routine, putting rosacea medicine on my face, brushing my teeth, styling my hair, and putting on perfume. I leave the bathroom and go back into the bedroom where I proceed to pick out my clothes for the day. Although the sad feeling had subsided some during my shower and morning beauty routine, it creeps back inside of me as I put on my not-as-white-as-it-used-to-be undershirt. I’m struck again by the image inside my mind of my oldest friend laying on his deathbed, living out the final hours of his life. He begins to cough and wheeze, and I can tell that the end is near. He only has a few hours left to live, this I know, and yet… I can’t believe he is about to leave me. My therapist compared our relationship to that of one twin devouring the other. The second twin is gone, but it’s always a part of the first twin who devoured it. I think the image is somewhat fitting. As Robert’s life force wanes, my (Emma) life force waxes proportionately.
I take a moment to consider what other articles of clothing I’m going to wear and decide that since today is Robert’s last day, that I should allow him to decide. “Okay, Robert, what would you like to wear on your last day to work? Remember, it’s casual Friday,” I think to myself. Robert is me and I am him, yet we are also separate and distinct spirits with different tastes in fashion. Scanning through the work-appropriate shirts I find one that I can almost see Robert, in a moment of lucidity, pointing to from his deathbed. It’s a dreadful shirt, really, yet it’s always been his favorite work shirt. It’s an orange sherbet colored short sleeve button-up with square-patterned lines of varying shades of blue running through it, and it doesn’t match anything else in his wardrobe. Lucky for us, we get to wear blue-jeans today, so the combination will look less tragic that others have in the past.
I grab the shirt and button it up, feeling a sudden desire to cry. Robert will never get to wear this shirt again. After today, it will likely go into storage, or be donated to some clothing charity. I stifle the tears and quickly grab a pair of jeans to put on. After we are fully clothed I allow Robert to look in the mirror for a few moments to take it all in. We look pretty good, despite everything. I smile, turn the bedroom light off, and head back out to the kitchen to grab my food for breakfast and lunch.
Once I’ve gotten my typical work-food fare, I head into the mud room to put the food in our backpack and to put on our shoes. Grabbing a pair of shoes Robert got for Christmas six months earlier, I feel another urge to cry come over me. I don’t know that we will ever wear these shoes again. They certainly wouldn’t look good with my skirts or dresses. It almost seems a shame to let them go to waste when they are still in such functional condition. The fact that they were a gift from our mother makes it all the more difficult to process how I won’t wear them anymore.
My wife grabs her things and gives me her typical, “Come on, we’re running late” look of despair as I’m sitting on the bench, thinking to myself. I nod at her so she knows I’m hurrying along, but really I just want to sit there and mourn. The fact that she isn’t acknowledging that this will be the last time we get ready like this or that I’ll look anything like this is slightly frustrating, but I expect anyone who is in mourning feels the same way when they see others operating like normal. I have to remember that I’m the only one who can see Robert on his deathbed, coughing and wheezing as his strength deteriorates by the minute. I alone must bear the grief of watching him die.
Perhaps that is the price I must pay for my decision to take over our shared life. Before this week, and especially before today, the thought of me taking the driver’s seat felt amazing and exciting. I felt elated at the idea of finally getting to see the world and having the world finally see me in return, but that excitement is gone this morning, replaced by the feelings of loss and grief.
I strap on our backpack, and grab our car keys before stepping out of the house as Robert for the last time. I vow then, as the cool morning air hits my face and the sound of birds chirping in the trees strikes my ears, that I’m going to live today for Robert as best as I can. I’m going to make sure he has one final day in the light, filled with smiles and laughter and the good company of friends before he leaves me forever. Money doesn’t matter, obligations don’t matter, stress doesn’t matter; nothing matters today except that Robert’s final hours be worthy of fond remembrance. I will save my tears for when he is gone, and there will be many tears."