Passing, through, on

  • Posted on October 4, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Bed designs, 1982

(The two fish won)

I sat on the end of my bed this week to pull on socks, and broke the rail. No big deal, except that it’s the bed I made very soon after my wedding, out of about £20-worth of wood, to a design sketch that I still have (left), in biro on a scrap of ruled notepad. Degree finals exam notes are written on the back! It is still a bit special, and I’m glad I was allowed to claim it when I left. The problem is that it’s pine, and this is the one place where a large knot shouldn’t have mattered, but did. I left it at the time because I couldn’t afford one more spar of pine; it was a break waiting to happen, supported by the rest of the structure. That knot has been sat on many times since 1982, and presumably been bounced on by kids too. But now it must have finally dried out enough.


Here my mind divides. On one side, I think ‘how symbolic’ – the marital bed, flawed from the start, lasts all these years and finally fails from one single fault when the strain finally tells and can’t bear the weight. Actually, more than that – as I realise from moving on, how different we were in many ways. Would we be attracted by each other’s spirituality, interests, life motivations – even sexuality – now? Probably not. Is our concept of love and commitment the same? I don’t think so. Attracted by complementarity and contrast? Yes, maybe. My life has expanded to fill different spaces that were previously shut off, and it is getting easier to let go of the person I still love for herself.

I will mend the bed. The part isn’t actually load-bearing unless you happen to sit on it.


On the other side I think practically. My first thought was: ‘Oh, never mind, I’ll fix it. Right; I’ll just get the little workbench out, make a new spar with three tenon joints, and replace it. No knots this time.


No workbench. I have the chisels and saws. How do I make a neat tenon, let alone two tongues and a socket? It used to be easy and obvious. If it was sunny, the patio; rainy, the kitchen. Now even if I rest on the floor, knocking chisels on the downstairs neighbour’s ceiling isn’t an evening job. OK, I should be doing it now instead of writing. But the electric drill is charging. I don’t use it much these days. I miss the facility of just doing, so this isn’t going to happen as planned, today.

The corollary to this little story is the feeling I get as life settles down, that being an unquestioned woman brings with it changed expectations and inclusions. I feel it in other places where male primacy, polite as it may be, brings male bonding exercises, even where women are present. I might have had an open conversation of my dilemma, but among women without chisels – but with a man, or men who all have sheds and workbenches (or wouldn’t know what to do, full stop), it would have been an unequal conversation.

I would love to be the woman with a workbench who designs and makes things to enhance and maintain the home, has a garden, cats – and can mend things.

I used to be, didn’t I?

  • One day (quick poem from 2012, and still very meaningful to me)


It is time to move on, and I haven’t lost track of last week’s closing thoughts about perhaps retraining (if I can find a way to finance it) and doing something person-centred, where being myself really matters. I like where I am. I liked being on the girls’ bowling team this week, and not being competitive. I like being a dancer. I lay in a hot, foamy bath last night to undo the rigours of bowling and dancing, and really liked my body.

I have worked hard on ‘passing’ and I have come to a satisfactory place.

I have worked hard on passing through and I have emerged the other side, fulfilled and at peace.

I am now working hard on passing on, remaking life on a new basis, using my freedom, and releasing old things (not beds) more easily.

I will never, however, pass by on the other side. This has been an experience that, if useful to anyone else, I will always be willing to share. I keep toying with the need to pause this blog for long enough to gather the best ideas and writing together into a book of observations and perspectives, to toss into the pot of helpful literature for future trans travellers. Transitioning is sometimes like looking at a rope-bridge across a ravine, disappearing into mist. Is there another side with a new path? Is the bridge strong, or will you fall off? How long is it? I hope that at least I can shout back through the mist that it’s OK. More than OK.

If you have any ideas for that, feel free to contact me. Meanwhile, that bed …


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