Early April 2018 – I don’t remember the exact date. It is around 8 AM on a rainy and dreary morning. The air is warm but very humid. Signaling a right-hand turn, my car pulls into the Interstate 81 Preble Rest Stop, almost with a mind of its own. Time to start the mission. Tucking the car away in a far corner of the parking lot, I hope to be inconspicuous. Shaking and a little sweaty, a bundle of nervous energy and opening my car door, my left hand is clammy and slippery. Reaching down, a quick pull on the lever opens the trunk, allowing access to what is needed next. Closing the driver’s door slowly and deliberately, trying to keep calm, I walk to the back of my car. The trunk lid is open like the gaping jaws of a crocodile. Reaching in, out comes a small duffle of treasures. Hands shaking and knees wobbly, invisible stares hit me from all directions, piercing my resolve.
Forcing a tentative walk across the warm, oily asphalt parking area and crossing the access road, the marble stone curb reaches up and grabs my shoe, almost dragging me down to the ground. Scanning furtively around, did anyone notice? Pushing on the door, it refuses to move. Nervously, I pull it towards me as It opens slowly with a loud groan, proclaiming, “See the pervert, the abomination.” I shuffle in, glancing around, searching for the family/unisex restroom, hoping it’s not occupied. There it is, straight ahead, the sign proclaiming “VACANT.”
Time slows down. The restroom door is heavy and slow to open. Finally, slinking in and pushing the door shut, I secure it, sliding the bolt across then turn slowly around and survey the safe space where there are white tiles everywhere. A large glass mirror, with a polished aluminum frame, is set on the wall with a white porcelain sink in front of it. In the far corner, a toilet with the automatic flush and the cyclopean electronic eye, staring at me, the seat raised with bleached white arms reaching for its next victim, to force them into the bowl and into oblivion. Hanging on the back wall, the baby changing table is open inviting me to change. I set my duffle on it.
Taking a deep breath, trying to relax, looking into the mirror, there is my ugly male self, scowling and sweating. Approaching the mirror and water basin with caution, turning the faucet to cold my cupped hands fill with cold water. Placing my face down into the fleshy container, I feel much better now. Breaking my gaze away I turn my back toward the mirror.
I walk over to the changing table. Slowly unzipping my dark gray duffle and pulling out items, I inventory what I packed from the hidden cache of female treasures. Skinny leg blue jeans, pink panties, long bright red knee socks, a pink frilly camisole, black shapermint long line shaper bra, cheap fake breasts found on Amazon, a long black synthetic wig bought online from Glamour Boutique, a jet-black fringed t-shirt, and a pair of black flats ordered online from Torrid. I shed my male clothes like a snake shedding its skin. Standing there, naked, vulnerable, head filled with fear and yearning and second thoughts, I fish out the silky, high-cut, pink panties, sliding them first over my right foot and then my left. Bending over, pulling them slowly up over my ankles, over my calf muscles, up to my knees, slowly over my rear, I pull them up over my waist. Standing there, a moment, enjoy the softness, then reach down. I tuck my male parts in between my legs and pull the panties up snug. A wave of liberation, of change flows through my whole being.
Waltzing closer to the table, picking up the long line bra. I slide my hands and arms into it, struggling to pull it over my head. Squirming into it, I pull the bottom down to my waist over the top of the panties. I reach out for the first jiggling white mass on the shelf. Into the left cup and then the second one into the right cup. Turning towards the mirror, trying to focus only on the position and placement of the falsies, I need to see more.
I step back until I can see my whole body. From the neck down, there is a woman, a bit chubby. A loud sigh comes deep from within me, I turn back to the table. Reaching for the knee socks, I roll up one and drag it over my toes, the ball of my left foot, and up my ankle to just below my knee. I do the same with the other sock, struggling to maintain my balance, on one foot like a pink flamingo. At last, the socks are on after a ten-minute struggle.
Waiting on the white plastic table are my skinny jeans from JCPenney’s. Unzipping them, pulling the left blue leg over my foot and up, struggling like a trout in a fisherman’s scooping net, my foot finally emerges from the blue tube. The right side is harder as I struggle to stay upright. I pull the jeans slowly up over my butt, jumping up and down and swaying from side to side to fit in them. At last, up over my ass and around my waist, I snap them shut before they can spit me back out. Struggling with the zipper, fighting for every quarter inch up the front of the jeans, success and I can still breathe. Slipping my feet into the size 12W black flats from Torrid, they are very comfortable and broken in from wearing them at home when no one else is around.
Now for the last piece of clothing. The t-shirt is 2X. It slides over my head with a bit of twisting and turning. Walking over to the mirror I start painting with my makeup, just foundation, blush, lipstick, and black mascara. Using techniques from several YouTube videos and practiced a bit, at home, over the years. I slowly spread the foundation over my face, using my finger like a pallet knife spreading paint over a blank canvas, being deliberate so as not to get the cream on my clothes. The mascara is my biggest concern, having almost blinded myself from practicing at home. Sliding the brush slowly in and out of the tube, I apply the black to my eyelashes. What is too much? What is not enough? It does not look too bad. I apply the blush just below my cheekbones, as suggested in the videos. Struggling with it and using too much, I wipe off the blush on my left cheek and start again.
Someone knocks on the door. “Are you okay?” I squeak out, “yes, will be out in a few minutes.” No response. Fumbling with my wig, I put it on my head. Having no brush or comb, I use my fingers, fidgeting with the wig. Another knock on the door, this time louder. I am ready to scream. I yell out, “Give me a few more minutes, please.” Grumbling from the other side of the door and heavy footsteps away from it. I need to leave. I pick up the shed skin off of the floor and pack it all away in my duffle. Slowly and deliberately, I zip it up.
Picking it up, along with a small purse where I have my wallet and car keys, and cell phone, I walk over to the door and put my ear to it. No noises other than the TV set hanging on the wall in the lobby. Slowly sliding the bolt back and opening the door a crack, it is wide enough for me to scan for onlookers and possible trouble. The lobby is empty. I push the door open and walk, in a panic now, almost running, to the exit. I open the heavy door and walk out into the brisk early spring air. It is raining. No one is around to see me. Elated, I run to my car, almost stepping into dog shit. I open my car door, having left it unlocked. Throwing my duffle onto the floor of the passenger’s side, I sit and take deep breaths. I do a silent meditation to calm down. I look at my Fitbit. Heart rate is close to 90. More deep calming breaths. Down to 85. It is heading in the right direction. More deep cleansing breaths. Now at 70. Now ready, I put the key into the ignition and start my car. Time to head out for more adventures in my first outing in full dress.
Sunday, March 27, 2022 3:40 PM
Driving north on I-81, heading home after a wonderful five days at Keystone, I feel wonderful, relaxed, and loved. I just finished a phone conversation with one of my best friends. I have known her for a couple of years from My Feminine Heart, our online community via Zoom and Facebook. We met for the first time in the real world at the Keystone Conference.
I need to stop and stretch my legs. Almost to the Preble Rest Stop, I haven’t been here since my first excursion out in public en femme in 2018. I signal to turn to the right and pull into the rest area. There are several cars and trucks around. I see a parking space near the front entrance. I am lucky. It is a mix of snow and rain with a cold north wind. Shutting the car off, picking up my cell phone and purse. I head inside. A young man holds the door open for me. I smile and say, “Thank you, sir.” He smiles back. I walk in and head for the women’s bathroom, striding past the unisex/family restroom, in the back corner just beyond the state police office. Several women with children are washing their hands and chatting. One looks my way and says “Hello.” I smile back and respond with “Hello, love your dress.” She smiles and compliments me on my two-inch heeled sandals. Heading into one of the stalls, I sit and get my business and paperwork done. Flushing the toilet, I slide the bolt back and glide over to the washbasin. Scrubbing my hands with soap and water, I sing Happy Birthday ditty to myself twice. I dry my hands under the hot air drier. Confidently, I walk out, singing to myself, “I am woman, hear me roar.”
Branwen Rhiannon Drew is a poet and an award winning artist. Her poetry and art are inspired by her journey into emerging as the authentic woman is that she now shows to the world and by the world around her. Branwen is a 71-year-old trans woman, living in the beautiful Mohawk River Valley of Upstate New York, in Rome, NY. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University and a Master of Science degree in library and information sciences from Drexel University.