I apologize in advance for this longwinded post but I have a lot to say covering almost seven hours out by myself. Despite the somber title I promise this is a happy story. This is not a stroll down the boulevard of broken dreams that Green Day sang about but rather a walk down a boulevard of broken barriers and shattered fears. Unfortunately I have no pictures. My selfie game is not on point and I didn't feel right asking anyone to take my photo, so my narrative will have to suffice. I hope that's okay.

My family went to a get together today so I had the house to myself. I had some work to do and I didn't really want to go. Most of my extended family live three hours away and they're all really socially conservative so if any topics about my weight loss, life, or the first steps of my transition got out, it would not have ended well for me, so I decided to take the day for myself. I got myself ready to go around 10:00AM. Did my makeup, styled my hair as best I could and put on my favorite top. I snapped a quick photo of myself in makeup and then a big wave of anxiety hit me and I sat around my house for like 60-90 minutes trying to work up the nerve to take this step. I've never gone out alone before. Finally, I did. The weather was just too gorgeous for me not to try and the opportunity was too perfect. I thought about how my friend has invited me to come to SF for Pride and I thought "If I can't handle a walk around my hometown how on Earth am I going to handle one of the biggest gatherings of people in the world? That got me up and moving and I headed out the door.

As I walked, I found myself at times humming David Bowie's "Rebel, Rebel." For some reason it felt appropriate After all, U was dressed in makeup a womens top jewelry and (for utilitarian purposes) male shorts and underwear over my panties and mens shoes (I don't have womens walking shoes yet). The initial walk down my street had me about ready to turn back go inside and throw up. I was so nervous but somehow I found it in me to push on. I made it to my bank and withdrew a little money. I received compliments from the teller on my shirt and jewelry. First human interaction cleared! And it was positive! I had wanted initially to go to a coffee shop downtown but I turned the other way toward one that is a little closer that caters mostly to the university in m y town because I was getting tired. One of the servers smiled at me and greeted me warmly. I asked for a low calorie drink and eventually settled on an unsweetened iced tea which I drank and then turned my way downtown after purchasing a bottle of water for the trip. A girl has to stay hydrated

I made it to one of the coffee shops downtown (not my original intended destination but again I needed a rest. I'm still very big and moving isn't very easy. I ordered an iced coffee (which was just espresso water and ice and some sugar free caramel syrup. It tasted great. While there, I noticed that the plackard was full of advertisements for trans sensitivity in healthcare among other things. Including advertisement for a Pride 5K (I'll be out of town that day) and a Pride festival in July. I was so touched I nearly cried. This region really does care about us.

Finally, I reached my destination. It was just a little up the road from the other one but I thought "I set out to go here so I should just do it." I did and ordered a seltzer water soda with lavender and lemon. It tasted pretty good. I noticed an older guy sitting alone reading one of the "Game of Thrones" books. I have never seen the show (I know. Shocker.) but I had to ask if the books were better than the show. He obliged me and allowed me to sit down at the seat across from him. I learned that he was a very well-read man. We talked about a variety of topics like George RR Martin's writing style, how it compares to other famous writers like Tolkien and Steinbeck, whether the show does the book justice, and even famous old movies and the actors that played in them. It was a wonderful conversation and I shook his hand after he turned to leave. Finished my soda snapped a quick photo of an inspirational sign that hung on the wall, and left. Here is what the sign said:

"The best way to deal with an unfree world is to be so radically free that it is considered a revolutionary act." I nodded and smiled.

About that time, I realized that I had been out for over three hours and talked to more people than I could count. And I didn't care anymore. I was having fun. Even though my voice still needs SERIOUS work. I sound way too quiet and I still don't know if my frequency is right. But it's the voice I have right now so it's the voice I use. And no it's nothing like my male voice though I probably just sound like an effeminate guy I did wonder if anyone cared or was laughing at me or could tell that I'm an early stage social transitioner but I couldn't let any of that bother me. I continued walking to a newly opened burrito shop that i had been wanting to try. I ordered the vegan burrito and a water. It was delicious. Just what I needed. (I'm neither vegetarian nor vegan but I needed to conserve calories so I went with the leanest option.) After chatting with the person who took my order a little bit about how business was since opening, I paid for a second water and hit the road again. This time pointed towards home.

Right as I walked out, it started to rain, so I ducked into a toystore downtown to get some ideas of what to buy for my new nephew who is only 3.5 months old. Then I headed to an organic juice cafe right across the street (an unscheduled stop) to ride out the rain. I had a lemon ginger tonic iced with turmeric and cayenne sprinkles. It was good but a little too hot and sour for my taste. The young lady who took my order (and also complimented me on my shirt and necklace asking whether I was a Pisces (I am and I exhibit many of the traits of one) came by with six big orange slices on a plate for me. I asked her how much and she said they were free. I gleefully ate them as I finished my drink. All in all it was a lovely experience except that she repeatedly called me "sir." I can't blame her. I still look like a guy. But it was repeatedly hearing it in a short interval of time that gave me my first real instance of pronoun discomfort. I don't know yet what my pronouns are but I wasn't liking this. I know if I had corrected her she would have apologized and addressed me as I wished but given the way I looked it seemed silly to correct her so I just let it go.

The rain subsided and stupidly I decided to browse one more store. It was a little knick knack store that changes its stock frequently. I have no idea why I went in but I was glad I did. I found some things that i think I'm going to get my friend for hosting me during Pride and the novelty magnets section I found very amusing. I also saw some books and things that might be interesting for my nephew. I decided to wait on purchasing anything because I had already done so much walking and didn't want to carry a bunch of bags home.

As I left the store the heavens opened up. The downpour was absolutely torrential and I felt soaked in under a minute. A bus stopped close by me so I asked if they could take me home and they told me they couldn't since my house wasn't on their route. I could tell that the driver and passengers felt really bad for me but I told them I understood that they have to stick to their route and I respect that and we parted.

In an attempt to get some temporary relief from the soaking I went into my local 7 eleven and purchased some water for me to drink over the course of the evening. I bought two since they were on sale. At this point my body felt like I couldn't take it anymore and it was the slowest slog I had been on in weeks to cover the last little bit to my house. My dad who got home about 45 minutes after I did told me I probably walked five miles today which is amazing considering the fact that last month I was winded just walking short distances. I'm tired. I'm exhausted. And I'm happy. I faced a big hurdle today and jumped it with relative ease. If I keep this up for the next month and a half I know I'll be able to handle the Pride festival and my friend and I will enjoy walking together just as we did years ago. I can't wait to see him, and for him to see me as I am and as I was always meant to be. I know a shopping trip is in order between now and then so that I have appropriate things to wear. We've talked about going to the opera and even possibly to a baseball game (My love of sports didn't die just because I'm transitioning ). I can dress casually for the game but I want something nice for the opera and possibly the parade. I think it's time for me to go get my first dress and maybe some skirts soon. I can't wait.

Did anyone notice? Sure. Did anyone laugh? I bet they did although I never heard anything. Did any of it affect me? Not really. I can't control their reaction but I can control how I react to it and I am in control of my happiness. Right now I'm doing what makes me happy so I will continue to do it, and if anybody has an issue with that well that's not my problem or cross to bear.. This is a far cry from the confused crying mess I was earlier this week but it really is time for me to take charge and grow a thicker skin by not caring what other people think of me as I walk this road. I need to face the world as my true self whoever that is. Some people are going to love and accept me and I welcome them warmly and openly. I need all the support I can get. Some people aren't and that's okay. They might even be really mean about it but if I let their slings and arrows pierce me I will never survive. So I will continue and let folks decide whether they're with me or not. I will not allow them to decide what I do, especially on an issue this fundamental that I need to do. I need clarity on my gender identity and this is the only way to get it. To quote Invictus: "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul."