03 August 2009

Feeling From Within

"Only her hairdresser knows for sure." I don't know who said that first about whom. But one thing I noticed is that I've talked much more with my hairdressers than I ever did with any barber I had as a man. Anna, my current hairdresser and Toni, who did my hair until she left to do theatrical makeup, know the very reason why I started going to them rather than male barbers. For that alone, they know more about me than any of those barbers did.

Now I'm noticing that the woman who does my nails (naildresser? nail-polisher? nail-finisher?) has a similar role, even though she speaks much less English than Anna or Toni and doesn't speak any other language I understand. Hannah--that's her "American" name--is a pretty Korean woman with a very warm smile whom I'd guess to be about 30, maybe 35 years old. I have been going to her for about two years now, but today was the first time I went to her since my surgery.

In spite of her limited English (I've taught her some. I hope I haven't handicapped her!) I find I can talk pretty easily with her. I guess someone in her line of work encounters all sorts of people, especially here in Queens. But she also has interpersonal skills that overcome her gaps in language. She seems to engage everyone who comes into her shop, even the boyfriends, spouses and children of her customers. I should also mention that I see her every week or two, whereas I go to Anna every two months or so.

And so Hannah knows my secrets--well, a lot of them, anyway, including the one that's not a secret. You know which one I'm talking about. I'd told her I was having the surgery, but I think she may not have been sure of when. So, when she saw me today, she remarked that she hadn't seen me "for a long time."

That I was having my surgery was a shock only because she thought I would be gone longer. She thought that, being gone for a month, perhaps I'd gone to visit my family or friends, or on a bike trip someplace. She, like many other people, thought that the surgery and recovery from it took many more weeks or months. Many other people think the same thing, as I did until I began researching it in anticipation of my own surgery.

She also thought I'd be in more pain than I'm experiencing. That part still surprises me: I haven't felt any pain, and now I don't feel sore unless I bend or sit upright for long periods of time. And I am starting to feel twinges like little electical shocks in and around my clitoris.

Back when I used to go to bed with the hope that I'd wake up as a woman, I used to tell myself that my penis was really an overgrown clit'. Marci did indeed use part of my old penis to make my clitoris, but the sensation is very different. Although I can feel those twinges and tingles on the surface, as there are a lot of nerve endings there, I feel as though those sensations are coming from within the clit. It feels more like a life force than a sexual charge. On the other hand, when I used to get an erection--or simply feel twinges on my penis--that sensation remained on the surface of the skin, as if the impulse began and ended there. I'm not saying it's like that for males generally; I'm saying only that's how it was for me.

Now, I didn't talk about that with Hannah today. But I think she knew that somehow I was experiencing and feeling things differently from how I'd experinced them as a male--and that, somehow, perhaps, my feelings were more like hers or other women she knew. "Welcome to the women's world," she said. And then, as we parted, she gave me a very tender hug and kiss: the kind a woman gives another woman because she understands how the other feels, from within.

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