And....I am feeling awkward about my gender presentation, etc. The way I dressed last time I was here was authentic to the way I felt then. The way I'm dressed today is close to authentic to the way I feel now. But those two pictures are different. Not different to the point of being unrecognizable maybe but.... And I can't help it. The way I feel about you calls out the feminine parts of me, makes them feel natural.
I've thought about this for a long time. I've always been an outdoorsy tomboy. Dresses and gobs of makeup and such weren't in my interest range. But I wasn't afraid to be female when I was a kid. I resented it sometimes because it meant I couldn't romp and climb and get dirty, the boys often wouldn't play with me because I was a girl, and the girls were insufferably boring (who wants to play house when there are insects to find?)...but it wasn't until puberty bloomed under the eyes of my leering stepfather that my body and I really began to conflict. It wasn't safe to be a girl. Those big grapefruit sized things on my chest just got in the way when I was working in the woods with the men, and made my stepdad grab at me. I had a very nice figure (except for being quite strong and muscular), and it was nothing but a liability and a danger. Even under layers of flannel work shirts and dirty old jeans, it was a problem.
In the years ahead, I would learn that being female meant being weak, being subjected to things I don't want to talk about. Being female meant being less...and not being safe, always feeling like prey, like chattel. Overcoming the homophobia I'd been raised with, coming to terms with being attracted to women instead of living in denial, realizing that I didn't have to try to fit into a cramped little mold just because of the parts I was born with, was incredibly freeing. It was such a relief.
Then there was you. If I have ever felt so safe before, I don't remember it. I can't say why or how you made me feel safe, but you did. For the first time I can remember, it was safe to be a woman. For the first time, I could be female without having it mean that I was going to be patronized, brushed aside, or hurt. It was like pouring water on a seed that had been waiting to grow. But seedlings are fragile...and so am I.