Yes, it’s that time of year again, the weather alternating between autumnal stillness and a wind that sends objects scudding around the sky. In this Welsh town at the weekend, the streets seemed to be full of diminutive witches clutching broomsticks, pointy hats and masks. Halloween, great fun for the kids, parties,pumpkins and pranks. It’s also a time associated with the death, ghosts and spirits of the past. Meetings with ghosts and can be frightening, unnerving and disconcerting, even terrifying so I’m told.
When my long term relationship died after I came out as Trans myself and my ex entered a new relationship, as sisters. It seemed a shame to trash 29 years of knowing each other. Meeting in our mid-teens, we had grown up together, sharing as much common ground as many siblings. What started as a close friendship morphed into a marriage, probably not the best idea, but then I felt so much pressure to conform and I hadn’t the courage to talk openly about my sexuality and my mixed up feelings. That marriage has now morphed back into a friendship with the enhancement of so much shared experience. No ghosts there then, or are there?
The close relationship with my ex extends to our parents. She lost her Dad some years ago and I lost my Mom. Now that my Dad is terminally ill, we take it in turns to visit him. I value her support, she values mine. That’s how I found myself at her house Saturday whilst she was visiting Dad in hospital. The phone rang and I answered it after some hesitation. I dread phone calls these days in case they are THE phone call, in case it brings news that Dad has lost his fight with the cancer he’s battled for so long. Today however, the call came from a ghost, a voice I thought I would never hear from again.
The caller started talking to me, assuming that she was talking to my ex, she wanted to meet up. It was a phone call, just a voice, no body. I had to imagine an image of who I was talking to and it was one from a good many years ago. I recognised her immediately as a friend from College but someone who had been a friend of us as a couple. When I announced who I was, her tone changed completely. Friendliness was displaced by a detached sense of pleasantry and of politely enquiring about me but not appearing to listen to what I said My enquiries about her life now were brushed off like dust from a coat and the call ended quickly.
What had I done to require this dismissal from someone I once new quite well, but when I was apparently male? It left me wondering. Was this a case of someone not wanting to talk because of ‘what I had done to me ex?’; the sort of loyalty which keeps someone friends with ne side of a former marriage but not the other. Was it unease about the fact that I was now female, and even disquietingly, sounded like one? Or was it a prejudicial view of anyone trans/gay/lesbian/bi? Without ringing and asking, it would be impossible to find out and it was clear that wasn’t interested in talking to m ever again.
I have so many new friends now who have never known me as anything other than who I am, a woman with a short bob hairstyle called Jane, as a female musician, as my daughter’s Mom or as their friendly Teacher’s Assistant. Like any meeting with a ghost, that conversation with a disembodied voice from the past unnerved and disconcerted me utterly. It came as a complete shock to meet rejection like this from someone I used to admire and spend time with, with a ghost from the past.
I’m still trying to make sense of it.