It is never just one thing of course, but work has much to do with it. Coming up on three years of independent, freelance, pajama-clad consultancy, my client dance card is filling out nicely. I am a slow learner but have, it seems, figured out how to make this lifestyle work for me and the bank.
Here is the thing though: The moment that the clay starts to round into shape is precisely the moment that the universe and I conspire to hit the brakes on the potters wheel and start peddling in the opposite direction.
My favorite client and I have decided to deepen our relationship, to go steady. It is a big, interesting job with a big, challenging revenue number and plenty of financial upside. I like the people, there is an enjoyable amount of travel required and nobody gets hurt when we succeed. Ramping up for this effort has eaten into Petra time.
I was anticipating this, and a few weeks ago started to empty my purse. First thing out, Twitter. That saved me a couple of hours weekly of poking about in the global yard sale of random bric-a-brac that this interesting community represents. Next up, Facebook. Here, good number of old friends and I commune, and I do find much to gaze and graze upon there, but as it happens, nothing essential to my survival. Soon, Pink Essence, Chictopia, Stylehive, local Yahoo! groups and the like spilled out too without a drop in quality of life. The endless river of inbound emails from favorite fashion retailers no longer merit reading, and now get the "select all, mark as read" treatment.
Done, thusly, with the metaphorical emptying of the purse, I must share with you a thought I had while emptying the actual contents of my purse a couple of weeks back.
It was a lovely crisp autumn day in Atlanta, Petra was out and about, resplendent in pink, having enjoyed a nice lunch at The Heretic and the gorgeous musical stylings of Miss Edie. I had enough time before a Very Serious Conference Call© to browse a couple of shops. I did, and finding nothing, I strolled along the crowded sidewalks back to my car.
Three minutes and two unhinged fingernails later I was still furiously rooting around in my purse not finding my damn keys. Purse on the hood (bonnet to mes amis de l'Angleterre), hands on hips, windblown hair strands adhered to my glossed lips, in a moment of mounting despair I heard a voice from deep within the recesses of the wig cap:
“What the hell are you doing?”
A part of this inquiry was rooted no doubt in the practical. If indeed my keys were lost, the day would spiral out of control entirely. It was time for a deep breath, and a methodical, bit by bit emptying of my big black shoulder bag. The keys were found, the last thing exhumed of course, from the closed interior pocket I had pointedly used in the first place to avoid such heart flutters. I swear to the heavens, I am a natural with bra clasps, delicate jewelry fasteners and back zips but I turn into Helen Keller with hand prosthesis around a purse.
But the question lingered in the crisp and beautiful air.
What the hell are you doing?
I was, in hindsight, not doing much. Not attracting untoward interest and not feeling in any way self conscious. I was loving the look, the feel of things, and was meeting the worlds eyes with my own squarely, yes. But the phase of the moon or who knows what had turned the voltage of the moment down just a bit, a noticeable bit.
The responsibilities of the day were calling for my attention. At that moment.
In this moment, I can see on one of my monitors a vain collage of snapshots of ... well, of me. Smart skirts, silken blouses, proud postures. It is still a source of amazement that I can look this way. Honestly, startling is the word. My appetite however for the work to achieve this look is lessened just now. And now, my principal resource for this dreamy life, time, is lessened too.
I must say that I feel OK with this. For starters I am man enough (woman enough?) to know that there are tides beyond my contol. Que sera sera and all that jazz. Beyond that, I see two other influencers.
One, methinks, is the impulse I mentioned earlier in this post. I am discomforted by comfort. I welcome “problems”, and love to solve them. The problem of “Petra” has been pretty well knocked down, largely solved over the last couple of years. This part of my life is naturalized to a large enough degree that I callously missed my own 2nd Blogiversary (ed. sorry honey, I will make it up to you on Valentines Day…). For the curious amongst you, or for budding literary agents, click here if you care to read the Overture movement of Voyages en Rose.
The other influencer is that Mrs. Bellejambes and I have not yet figured out precisely what to do with all of this. The life of Petra lurks quietly around us, but this life does not yet pull up a comfy chair at our marital table. Mrs. B has been terrific, but she harbors very sensible concerns about prospective downsides. “What if …” is a good question too, and she has a few questions of that sort. What if we take in a movie together and bump in to friends? I can take my lumps, and be that Cross Dresser, at some cost. In a way, I have spent a lifetime preparing for that moment. Mrs. B however, has not spent a life time preparing to pay the cost of being publicly married to a Cross Dresser though. Different stakes on the table for her, and fewer obvious upsides.
We have not gone out together, other than the brave evenings she took with me in the safe confines of this past Southern Comfort Conference. As such, my orbits have been Mercury solo missions. We are not Gemini, and we might not get there. In fairness to our mutual commitments and to the really enviable possibilities we enjoy, that mission may not be the appropriate one for us, for me. We have not fully mapped it all out, and we will wrestle surely with our limits, but I must know now, for myself at least, that we may simply reach a truce and not reach the stars. This is not a fully shared enterprise, and that likely (unavoidably?) takes a little edge off the appetite.
Surely though, the occasion for all of this exploring and discovery has been in part enabled by the luxuries of time that my lack of formal employment has provided me. I will not cite the Devil, but I must say that through some agency, pretty work has been found for idle hands. With formal employment back in the mix, I have less time on hand now.
I think now that much of the interior that has been enlivened by and matured through this wonderful exploration of the self will emerge in my work and in my interactions with people. Perhaps too in my patience with the patently suicidal drivers I expect to hover near me on my new commute. This splendid and loving relationship with my “Petra-ness” has changed my outlook entirely, regardless of how “out” my look is. I feel ready to apply much of what I have learned to great effect in life.
So, there we are for now. More here when I have more. Thanks for your continued support of my various voyages.