Lili and I enjoy cruising together, but for very different reasons. She likes being able to get away with one of her small number of friends and I like being able to travel as Marian. We accept each other for who we are, but neither of us ever really understands the other, as we come from very different places in life.
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When Lili thinks of a discount, she doesn't look at the real cost. She's the type of person who sees the phrase "30% off" over the rack of dresses on the wall and doesn't think that this is the "normal" base price for which these goods are meant to be sold. So when she talked about getting a discount on shore excursions, she didn't think to look at whether I'd be getting the same discount.
You'll note that I could always piggyback on Lili's internet packages and her phone call credit. But the $50 shore excursion discount applies only to her. This doesn't bother me too much, as once you've seen the highlights of one tropical island, you've seen something similar to the highlights of most other tropical islands in a region. So I may go one one excursion, but I won't bother seeing everything.
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I look at cruising as a way to get away from my routine of surfing the web, walking around clothing stores, and taking long drives. It turns me from a simple couch potato into a couch sweet potato. No, I'm not as bad as that. But sometimes I wonder.... Every time I go out as Marian, I am a little happier than if I had gone out as Mario. So to be able to spend 10 days away from home as Marian is a great pleasure for me.
When I'm home, I usually schedule my time in blocks of "Mario Days" and "Marian Days", where I can commit to a single presentation for a whole day. It gets trickier when I have to be in both presentations in the same day, such as when I have the dentist in the afternoon and game night in the evening. Then, I have to completely remove one identity and replace it with the other - a time consuming activity at best. This can lead to problems, as I can't afford for people who know only of Mario to meet Marian. So I sometimes have to jump through hoops to keep the associated engagements as separate as possible.
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It's always interesting to see how I'll be treated by people who see my legal identification. One time, the customs agent kept looking back and forth between me and my identification, and I dropped my voice to say:
"Yes, That's Me!"
"Get outta here!"
The next trip, I got called in for special screening. And yet, I got through the line quicker than Lili did. But each time I travel, I find out something new. For example, no one is allowed to help me with my luggage once on line to go through customs. I guess this is to protect them from being associated with a potential crime is something illegal is coming into the country in my luggage.
However, what is most interesting is how I get treated by the average person with whom I come in contact. Most people don't give a damn that I'm transgender. And others are totally oblivious to this and see me only as a female. I can remember walking in Boston on a humid day. One woman saw perspiration on my face and said:
"You must be going through the change."
And I responded:
"You don't know how true that is!"
This story still brings a smile to everyone I tell it to. And it kind of fits what has been going on in my life as a whole. I'm going through many changes, and not all of them are visible to the casual observer. And cruising allows me to see how much I've changed as it puts me outside of a normal comfort zone, while allowing me to have some degree of safety outside that zone.