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It's been a long time coming, the feeling building up inside of me like a balloon with way too much…

It's been a long time coming, the feeling building up inside of me like a balloon with way too much air, so close to popping in a loud boom of dysphoria. This week, Crystal finally got to be more than an image inside my head.

It all started on Monday. Kerri and I were both off of work, and at a spur of the moment, I decided that I wanted to take my wig to a store and see if it could be fixed… or if I could get a better one. We ended up at a store about 15 minutes from home, called Wig Allure and met an amazing woman named Danielle who was so welcoming and made me feel incredibly comfortable. She didn't think that fixing the wig would be worth the money it would cost to fix, and while at first, part of me wondered if she was only saying that because she wanted to sell me something more expensive. Sadly, this is an issue that happens all the time for people. That feeling disappeared a few minutes later when I started trying on the new wigs. Danielle had me try on a few wigs of varying styles and color, some of which looked nice, but not really my style. Then she pulled out a wig that was very similar to my original, but in a lighter color. In her hand, I wasn't too sure about it, it was nice, but was it me? That question disappeared as soon as the hair was on my head and my face lit up. As soon as the smile hit my face, I could see Kerri's face doing the same. It was as if I was looking at an entirely different person in that mirror, and despite the 3 days of stubble on her cheeks, she was beautiful.

I didn’t walk out of that store as much as I floated out on cloud nine. I don't remember the last time I felt so good emotionally, and I wanted to keep riding that high as long as possible. So our next stop, despite the lack of funds for any purchases, was Sephora. I had been desperate to try their Color IQ scan, which promises to match the best foundation to your skin tone. I thought it would be cool, but was not prepared for the short interaction I was about to have. The employee scanned my neck and cheek, and put a dab of foundation on my face. She used so little of it, I almost didn’t think there was anything on the brush that was about to graze my face. But a moment later, there was a nickel sized gap in the middle of my beard. The result was so good that a random passerby would have thought that I had shaved a tiny hole in my face for no reason. The girl then gave me a small sample amount to take home for free and sent me on my way.
The next day, I started thinking about the upcoming Halloween party that the Transgender Resource Center of Long Island was hosting and decided that since I wear a costume 365 days a year, I would attend this party as the real me. I then made an appointment to return to Sephora before the party and have my makeup done professionally. As I thought about the amazing job I was hopefully going to get, I looked at my slightly bushy eyebrows and decided that after work, I was going to get them waxed. I made an appointment at Ulta and went on to meet another wonderful new friend named Kayla who not only did a great job on cleaning me up, but later in the week, she did a repeat performance for Kerri.

I couldn't have felt better, and as the week progressed, I couldn’t have imagined anything damaging my mood. But then Thursday came and almost ruined everything. I have a small collection of clothes, but I'm not fully confident in the sizing that I calculated on my own a few months ago. Most of all, I needed a good quality bra that would hold my forms in and not roll up on my chest causing discomfort. I turned to Mila, who runs TRCLI as well as the Transgender Universe web forum and we made a date to go shopping at the nearby Tanger outlets. We went into Torrid to start, I love their clothes… but apparently their physical store doesn't love me. Everything I liked, they only had up to the size right below what I needed. Being 6'2" and 315lbs is quite the curse when it comes to shopping. So we left disappointed and headed into Lane Bryant, another store that famously markets towards plus size ladies… we walked out empty handed less than 5 minutes later.

After 3 more stores and even less success, if there is such a thing as being less successful than nothing, we started heading back to Mila's house. I was on the verge of tears, calling myself a "fat fuck" and wanting to cancel my appointment for the next evening. But I knew I could not let the negativity win. So 24 hours later, I was sitting in Sephora, having my makeup done by a girl named Imani, who like Danielle and Kayla before her, could not have been friendlier and more excited to be helping me become me. When I walked out of the store an hour later, face made up and my new wig atop my head, I felt like the woman I had wanted to be for my entire life.

I had my makeup done in jeans and a t-shirt, so as soon as we arrived at the party, I practically sprinted to the bathroom to change into a beautiful, slightly sexy dress that I had got online months ago (I wish I remembered where). When Crystal emerged from the bathroom a few minutes later, the reactions almost made me cry. My friends were practically bumping into each other as they all rushed to hug me and tell me how good I looked. And while part of me couldn’t help but think that they are just being supportive friends by saying that, I never really doubted any of them. I didn’t feel beautiful, I was beautiful. I struggled a little throughout the night, mostly due to my lack of experience with having hair. The bangs were constantly in my face and every bite of food I took came with a few strands. It took some major getting used to, but by the time we went home, I never wanted to take the wig off.

This last week has been the second greatest week of my life, beat only by the week that Kerri and I got married and went on our honeymoon in Niagara Falls. I can never thank all of those involved in helping me finally feel like Crystal in the truest sense.

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