From March 15th to March 23rd, I was in Memphis, Tennessee, visiting two wonderful, supportive and close friends, and in turn making nearly a dozen more friends. It was a 10 hour drive from Texas but quite doable and as a side note, that old Z-28 that I drive managed to get 24, 26, 25, and 27 mpg on the four tanks of gas to and from Memphis. Of course, that car loves to cruise at about 75-80 mph, so letting it flex its muscles was the perfect opportunity for it to stretch out and run, like a thoroughbred horse.
I arrived in Memphis late Saturday evening, gave friends a couple text messages, then got unpacked for the evening. Now to put things in perspective, back home in Texas, I’ve been living a more and more female/androgynous mode but hadn’t gone all out yet and wasn’t presenting fully female full time. Memphis was going to be a week where I didn’t have to soothe anyone else’s discomforts and could just be myself.
Sunday came and we went thrift shop hopping for several hours. I picked up several new items, all of which I loved and we did dinner together and spent time chatting. Monday was more shopping and more clothes to take home. Tuesday was various activities with friends as well as a visit to one friend’s Pagan temple. The wonderful woman there who was the priestess did a tarot card reading for me that seemed, to me, to be very positive about the future, and especially about the question I asked (which she did not know until after, when I told her). That question was rather simple – will I always be alone? And her answer suggested no, I would not. I hit it off well with her and we’re going to keep in touch via Facebook.
Wednesday was a rest day, in which we got together a bit in the evening but mostly we took the day off to catch up. We’re not that young anymore! Thursday was the zoo, with lots of walking, seeing exhibits, admiring the expansion of the zoo, which the friend from Memphis was more than willing to explain to us. The Memphis Zoo has come a long ways, with many larger open enclosures versus the small cages of years ago. That evening we did barbeque and Central BBQ and then I chose to retire, being rather worn out from the long day. Several others went to another friend’s house and played board games. I wish I’d felt up to doing so but it didn’t work out that way with me falling asleep a bit after I got back to the hotel.
Friday was more running around getting eyebrows waxes, manicures, and then followed by a ceremony at the temple specifically for me. I was taken into the women’s circle, embraced as one of them, and really felt some overwhelming care and love from those there. I cried a lot, which I fully expected, hence avoided eye makeup that evening, else I’d have been a racoony mess!
On Saturday, my friend from Wisconsin had to depart with her family. We all had lunch together, chatted a bit, exchanged hugs, wished each other well, exchanged hugs again, and then they were off on the first leg of their drive home. On Saturday evening there was a large gathering at the temple but I skipped that, given my hearing problems when among large numbers of people, and because I needed to pack for the drive home Sunday.
On Sunday, I checked out of the hotel, had lunch with the friend who was local to Memphis, then finally got back on the road. This time I took I-55 south to I-10 west (with a few dog legs along the way). This trip was also about 10 hours overall.
One thing I was not aware of until one of my friends told me was that different men had asked to be sure I was going to be safe going to and from my hotel alone. As she noted, that question isn’t asked for men but it is for women.
It was an amazing week for me, and one which completely reaffirmed my own belief in my transition. I’ve never been that completely comfortable with myself anywhere and I was not misgendered once the entire week there. Below is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.