A person is at a restaurant with some friends. It is their first time at that place, though they’ve been there before.

-I’ll be right back- tells their friends.

Gets up and drags the anchor.

-Excuse me, the loo?
-At the rear and right- replies one of the waitresses.

Of course, it’s always at the rear and right regardless of where is front or aft.

Pauses for a second in front of the two options to decipher which one to go through. The size of the anchor doubles. Their heart rate increases while pushing the door on the left. The thought of anyone inside is almost terror, like what a gazelle must feel crossing the starving-crocodile-infested river.

It seems no one is there. The anchor is smaller. They didn’t know that washroom though they’ve been there more than once. The washbasins are now to the right instead of the left as they were before. The small waiting area, with few but cute furniture, is on the opposite side.

While crossing they look in the mirror. It’s the reflection of the same person. It’s unfamiliar, it appears different; taller, clumsier. Smiles at their own likeness though the fear of the crocodiles suddenly appearing is omnipresent.

“How is this illegal?” they think to themselves feeling the drum beat of their heart.

Chooses a stall closing the door behind. It’s like any other; white porcelain and crystal-clear water. They sit. On one side is the toilet paper dispenser and on the other there’s an unrecognizable stainless steel box. It has a lid on top hinting to a place to offload sins. “What’s that for?” questions without speaking. “Ah, it’s obvious; I hadn’t thought of that!”

Peeing brings great relief but the anchor is still attached. Their pulse remains high. They yet have to leave the danger zone. Not much more, though the risk is very real.

While washing their hands somebody enters. The anchor turns into a two tonne wrecking ball. Their heart is about to burst through their chest. They lower the gaze to avoid any kind of contact with the two people crossing behind without saying anything.

“Gee, I just wanted to pee!”, repeats to themselves, looking at the anchor grow smaller while leaving the washroom and returning to their friends.

?? Versión en español.

One thought on “Relief

  1. Franches it is great that you are bringing into the light, this part of life for a trans person – from the ordinariness of it to the suddenly pounding heart. We don’t see or hear a great deal of reasonable words about this topic of going to the loo. And it is difficult territory for me personally – I typically feel self-conscious, feel not looking good enough, and yet needing to pee at the same time.

    Here I’m extending beyond what you wrote, into my own experience – I haven’t personally solved this area of difficulty nearly as much as you. Early on, I became conscious of checking out the bathrooms first, wherever I go, maybe even visiting beforehand – are they unisex or gendered, and is there a disabled or family restroom? And I’m tall, so standing up, coming and going, I usually extend above the tops of the cubicle walls, like a giraffe in its pen. One could hardly feel more uncertain and exposed.

    I’ll pee early and often along the way, any chance I get, if it’s easy where I am. That’s to avoid the point of it becoming both urgent, as well as unhandy or even terrifying at the same time. I also tend to minimize the amount I drink, even water – dry as a desert, at least if the bathroom situation is too difficult, I can just delay without excess anxiety or discomfort. Whatever the situation, I constantly repeat my mantra, “Everything is Fine” because – so far, it always has been. That’s the actual fact. The rest is just in my mind.

    I become stressed. Sometimes multi-layered clothing is involved, such that getting to the point of sitting down is an affair. Wearing fogged-up glasses and a mask at the same time makes me clumsy and half-blind, or at least so it seems. And then there is putting myself all back together again, almost never as well as when I left home. In the meanwhile, who will come into the same room? If our eyes meet in a moment, what will be the truths hovering about in the loo atmosphere? – and there is always more than one truth operating at a given time.

    I police the sounds I make – as any woman in Japan might do. Over there, they have the buttons to make ocean sounds or waterfalls, anything to minimize what is obviously generally happening – peeing. I ask myself – maybe sitting on the side of the seat will make a better sound, tinkling into the bowl of water? Conversation entering and leaving, washing hands and makeup – a good thing or a bad thing, a release or a trap? How will my first words sound, and what should they be? In truth, nearly always the actual shock and then delight is how kind and friendly other women are. And afterwards, outside – will eyes follow me back to my seat?

    These are a lot of things cis women worry about too, if they’re also a bit self-conscious. Thanks for opening the door on this topic, Franches. You made me cross my legs, but now I’m relieved.

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