Most of the restaurants here are franchises of chains. We went to one of them: Ruby Tuesday's. I didn't mind: The food is better than what's served in most other chains, in my opinion, and the service is professional and friendly.
Probably the only people in Florida who are happier than she is to see me are my mother and father. And I really enjoy her company. Today, I understood why: I don't feel like I'm explaining myself or rationalizing (or, worse, defending) things I've done. I simply feel like I'm having a conversation with another woman who happens to be sympathetic and empathetic. And, knowing her as a friend of my mother's makes me feel closer to my mother, which is something I appreciate.
In some ways she is like my mother: She doesn't have a lot of formal education, but she is very intelligent and wise. Her religious faith is also important to her, as it is for my mother. Both are what people would call "practicing Catholics": They go to church, observe all of the religious holidays and pray. Plus, they are what some people would say are the "true" adherents: They defer judgment to the God they believe in, and try to be loving and helpful to people.
As it happens, I have another friend like them: Millie, who rescued Max. With her, with my mother, with my mother's friend, it's not a matter of being "accepted as" a trans person or a woman. I simply feel like a whole, integrated person around others to whom I can relate, and who understand me. I'm not a case study or a subject for experimentation--or, worse, someone who fits, or doesn't fit, into what they saw in some textbook in a gender studies course or manual from a workshop.
That said, I do have friends who are educated in the sense that most people mean. And they have accepted me on my own terms. But I don't think their friendship has much to do with their schooling. By the same token, I don't think whether I can become or remain friends with someone has much to do with that person's religious beliefs, or whether or not she or he has them. I take that back: I've actually encountered love, acceptance and pure-and-simple helpfulness from people who were motivated, at least in part, by such beliefs.
Back to my mother and her friend: The time I get to spend with them will make me at least a little sad, for a little while to go home. At least I know I can have similar experiences there--whether by having lunch, going for a bike ride or just talking with someone to whom I don't have to defend anything I've done.