Tomorrow afternoon, I am headed off to the annual retreat of my spiritual community, The Celebration, which I have previously mentioned is where I came out at the end of my big coming out week last December and where I gave a talk about my transition in January.
The retreat takes place at the beautiful Ghost Ranch, a ninety minute drive from Santa Fe, now owned and operated by the Presbyterian church, where artist Georgia O’Keefe once called home. In fact, she designed the logo for the sign, a cow skull, because the original real skull that once marked the road into the ranch had disappeared. Parts of the ranch have been used for major films including “City Slickers” with Billy Crystal and the now late Jack Palance who did some one armed pushups for host Billy and audience at the Academy Awards that year. It was also used as a location for last summer’s “Aliens and Cowboys.” Since I moved to Santa Fe with my wife and son over two decades ago, it has been the only getaway with which I have been able to indulge myself for the last decade and which I missed last year because of my hip surgery.
The first of two “firsts” for me is that to save money I decided to stay in the women’s dorm which has a shared bathroom and the only question I had to ask was “Do the shower stalls have curtains?” From past experience at these events, I could find a time to take a shower when no one else was around anyway but the answer was gratefully affirmative. In fact, as I recall, even the men’s showers had curtains after I had time to think about it. The only problem that remained was that the rooms are doubles and unless by chance I was the odd woman out, it would cost me almost double to stay by myself. The coordinator asked if I would register as a man because none of the men had chosen the dorm option and I emphatically said no. As it turned out the room coordinator put it to the management to say that I snored so loud, which is probably still true, that no other woman would care to share a room with me and I was able to get a dorm room by myself at no extra cost.
The other “first” is that this is my first overnight trip and although it is only two evenings, two nights, two mornings, and one afternoon, and I am driving by myself, it is the first time I’ve had to pack as a girl. I have attended this retreat with my spouse but she had started staying with a girlfriend instead after the first two, probably for the same reason I mentioned or perhaps because we didn’t even share a bed at home anymore. I used to kid her about all that she needed to pack and for the fact that she always waited until the last possible moment to pack whenever she traveled.
Now that I am on the other side of the fence, so to speak, I am feeling just like I think a woman should feel about packing because one or two changes of clothes, a small shaving kit with toothbrush and paste, mouthwash and comb, just doesn’t cut it with me anymore. At least I don’t have to worry about my hair because I have a choice of wigs in different lengths, which I can pack easily.
I bought a couple of capris especially for this trip and I have skirts, tops and dresses galore that some of my women friends have said that maybe they should ask me for advice with shopping because I always seem to look gorgeous. And since most my clothes are usually hung up instead of folded in a drawer, I have been thinking of just using the hanging pole I still have hung over the back seat of my car from my last move and doing what most women probably do, decide what to take at the last minute and just keep them on the hangers. As for shoes, because of this “fashion boot” I have to wear for a month still, because of my broken toe, I only need to take right shoes and sandals. After that, I have a small suitcase I can use for all my bathroom needs and one of those wheeled bags that fit into overhead storage on airplanes for everything else. Simple right?
Actually this is going to fun to see what I actually do tomorrow morning after I get back from the doctor who is removing the stitches in my toe.