Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hatteras

"Isn't it great that we can do this?" my friend Lisa asked.  Why yes Lisa, it is.  It's great that we can go anywhere we want to now.  It's great that we can just throw on some shorts, flip flops and a tee shirt (whatever) and head out the door like any other woman.  It's great we can go to all these places and no one gives us funny looks, says anything odd or calls us anything other than ma'am.  It's just awesome.

Lisa made this remark to me last week when we cruising down Cape Hatteras on NC 12 late in the afternoon.  The day started out at 10 AM when I hit the road for the coast and lunch at the beach with my BFF.  She had just celebrated her birthday a couple of days prior so I thought I would take her out to a cool restaurant in Nags Head that she had never visited before.
waiting for our table at Sam and Omie's
After an easy 2.5 hour drive through the flat farmland and forests of northeastern North Carolina, I arrived at Sam and Omie's right on time, at 12:30.  As unusual as it is for me to be on the dot on time, Lisa thought I was getting there at noon.  Oh well, we were in her neck of the woods so she found something to do while waiting for me. 

We had a great chat and a nice seafood lunch, then we needed to find something to do for a few hours.  The plan was to go pier fishing late in the afternoon when the Spanish Mackerel might be biting, as I'm still trying to find a good day to fish with Lisa on the Outer banks.  I didn't feel like burning up in the sun all day at the beach, as the summer weather has already set in down here, so we wracked our brains for something to do and finally came up with a surprising idea.  We would go shopping for awhile.
Mirror shot while shopping in Dress Barn at Tanger Outlets in Nags Head, NC
So we went to the outlet mall at Nags Head for awhile.  Because it's early beach season it was fairly crowded but not too bad to make shopping a pain.   There were a lot of people there though and a lot of kids running around.  No one seemed to give us a second glance or a second thought.  This is just typical for us and we don't think about it (anymore at least) but I mention this for those of you who are not yet comfortable going out or fear people's reaction in such open places.  Lisa and I are pretty passable, if that is a good word to describe looking and acting like any other women.  Well we are just any other women, but when I go out with those who don't consider themselves as passable we don't have any problems either.
Driving down NC 12 on Hatteras Island.
We got tired of shopping after awhile (yes, I just said that) and as it was still the heat of the day we decided to do something neither of us had done in awhile, drive all the way to Buxton and the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.  In fact we decided to go all the way to the end of the island at Hatteras.   We visited the lighthouse, the boat docks at Hatteras and walked out on the 2 ocean fishing pier's on the island. 

I have to admit to having an emotional moment as we passed by the KOA campground at Rodanthe.  My dad and I spent several days there a few years ago and I'm still at the stage where almost anything that brings a memory of my times with him will bring tears.  After that "moment" we walked out over the ocean at Rodanthe Pier and then I fixed my eye makeup in the ladies room before we got back in the car.

Having fun on Rodanthe Pier
The famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in the background...
The wind just wasn't blowing in the right direction for fish to be biting that day, so we decided not to fish that afternoon.  We just did the abbreviated tourist thing on the island which brought back different memories for each of us as we've both spent time there during our lives.  It was a beautiful day, though hot and humid, so riding in the car between the stops was a good way to stay cool and have some great conversation. 

We talked about our pasts' (other lives) but also about the paths we had taken to get to where we are now.  Lisa had actually been to Hatteras many years ago, dressed as herself, and walked into a grocery store to buy a few things.  She described how differently it feels now, as then she just nervously made her way in and out of the store and now she is comfortable going anywhere.  Times have changed but the biggest changes occur when we finally accept ourselves fully and begin our journey down the path of living our lives as ourselves all of the time.

Come see the Avon Pier..
After our afternoon at Hatteras we made our way back up north to Nags Head for dinner at one of my favorite little dives on the OBX, Tortugas' Lie.  We had an excellent seafood meal, a couple of margaritas and more good conversation.  An interesting thing happened there that became the subject of conversation on TBN Support, my Facebook support group.

Tortugas' is a little restaurant/bar but it gets very crowded and they have recently expanded by adding another dining room.  One thing they haven't expanded yet is the restrooms and there is only one, single stall bathroom for men and one for women.  As I was walking to the ladies room another women went in before me and locked the door.  I stood outside waiting and after a few moments a woman walked out of the mens' room.  I think she was one of the waitresses.  Right after that another woman walked up, looked at me and said, "I'm going to do what she did."  So she walked in the men's room and locked the door. 

I stood there for a minute or two, thinking about this situation, and I decided that I would go in whichever rest room opened up first.  It turns out that the woman in the men's room came out first and since no one else was there in the hall, I went in there, locked the door and did my business.  When I walked out there were two men standing by the door and I said "excuse me" as I walked past them.  When I got back to out our seats at the bar, I described to Lisa how that was not as weird as I thought it would be.

What I had done, in my opinion, was what any other woman would have done in that situation.  In fact, two women had done the same thing right before me.  A couple of people in our group stated that under no circumstances would they ever go into a men's room again and one even made the remark that this kind of thing could potentially set be a setback transgender bathroom right's.  I say that's rubbish and while I would prefer to never go into a men's room and hope not to anytime soon, if I do so it is because I'm doing the typical thing for a woman in this situation.  Yes, it happens all the time in places where the women's room is crowded and the men's room is not, particularly where there are individual restrooms.  I am pretty sure I will never go into a men's room in which the door doesn't lock, no matter what the other ladies are doing.


Lisa and I at Tortuga's Lie before going in for dinner
The point of this post alludes to my whole message in general and one of the main reasons I write this blog.  The fact that we can be ourselves (whatever that is for each of us) is something that can be an liberating experience.  Too often we let our fears govern our actions and keep us from doing what it is that we want to do, often what it is that we need to do.  This doesn't have to be the case and I am living proof of that. 

Lisa has a longer history of going out in public as herself than I do.  She made forays into "the real world" long ago but her fears kept her from really pursuing it although she did have a couple of very negative experiences that exacerbated those fears.  My fears held me back completely until about 10 years ago when I first began to unlock them and take the first solid steps toward coming out.

When our paths first crossed a couple of years ago, Lisa was amazed at how brave I was for going anywhere I wanted to but she knew she was getting a point that she needed that too.  Now she inspires others with her life and her amazing smile. 

Just like she told me earlier that afternoon, it Is Great that we can do this!