Sunday, October 08, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--the new me

I mull things over. It’s what I do. Things happen in this new life of mine, and sometimes there is a delay before I share it on this blog. How can I write about something when I don’t know how I feel about it? So I mull, I dwell and I muse—until I feel like I have a good grasp on the situation. The return trip to the Inn is one of those things I have been dwelling on.

In the middle of last month, Art and I took a trip back to Maine to see what new info we could dig up—and to talk to our old selves if we could catch them before they left to live our old lives. If you read Art’s post then you know we did. Art is the real writer in our little transformed group, and I thought he captured what happened that day very well. There is one or two things I would like to add about that day.

First of all, we didn’t just listen to the radio as we drove to Maine—we sang to the radio. It is a minor detail, but worth noting because we sang along to all the women’s parts. Liz may have been a small woman, but she left Art with a powerful set of lungs and a great voice. I tried to tell Art this, but I don’t think I convinced him.

Secondly—there was all the time I spent with Stephen Jefferies, the guy who is now living my life. It was an eye-opener seeing myself walk into the Inn carrying pizzas. I knew there was a good chance I would meet myself, but no amount of mental preparation could dull the shock. There I stood—only that’s someone else now, I’m the busty redhead with the bedroom eyes.

It’s interesting to see yourself in the third person. I think most people when they look in the mirror make excuses for themselves: “I’m not that overweight” or “my hair isn’t thinning too badly” or “my teeth need to be cleaned, but they are not that yellow” and my favorite “This comb over looks so natural, no one will notice.” Seeing yourself in the third person removes the ability to lie to yourself.

I knew I needed to lose a little weight, but I never thought it was really noticeable—but it was noticeable and I just never saw it. I’m talking maybe thirty pounds, not the end of the world; it was just interesting being so objective about my previous personal appearance. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the form I am in now is so attractive, and I have gotten used to seeing something appealing in the mirror. Maybe I’m becoming a snobby vain bitch. God, I hope not. Thirty pounds aside, it was good to see myself, it was like my world was a little more right, now that it wasn’t “missing”.

Stephen and I spent the rest of the afternoon together, mostly going over the details of my old life. My hope was that maybe I could give enough help and information that maybe whenever I did get my life back, it was not a complete shambles. The kind of work I did was highly specialized, and even beyond artistic talent, it’s taken me years of work and study to become good at it—there’s just no way some random guy could step in and take over my job. I tried to explain this to him, but he just smiled at me and said he was looking forward to the challenge.

I have to hand it to Stephen; the guy is a stickler for organization. We talked for hours and he took a yellow pad’s worth in notes. I discovered that Stephen has a mind for business, that in his previous life he was a VP for a major corporation.

I guess my little one man band operation isn’t really that complex when you compare it to running a corporation.

I also learned that Stephen had gained more than twenty years in the transformation. He was fifty-five. This worried me slightly, what if he didn’t want to go back to his old life? My old thirty-four isn’t exactly young, but it is a hell of a lot better than fifty-five.

We decided to take a break and we jumped into the convertible I had previously rented, and he drove us to a local watering hole to get a drink. I guess he decided I might need one after going through all the details of a business that I might have lost forever.

We sit at the bar at an Irish pub, and he orders a scotch. I’m feeling kind of pissy, so I tell the bartender to bring me the girliest drink they serve. He brings me a cosmo.

“In your letter, you didn’t go into your personal life very much. And today we’ve talked about nothing but your business.” He made a statement, but really it was a question.

I stared at my cosmo for a while, before I answered him. “The sad truth is my business was most of my life. I struggled at keeping a relationship for more than a few months, my parents died when I was a teenager, and all of my hobbies are work related.”

I felt ashamed that my life was so shallow. Tears suddenly started running down my cheeks. “My life was all about my work…I'm sorry you’ve inherited such a pathetic life. The really sad part is I want it back so badly.” I was full on crying now, I couldn’t stop myself. I am turning into such a girl.

He wraps my old arms around me, and I bury my face in his chest. We stay like that for a little while, and I get a good cry out of my system.

Eventually I collected myself, grabbed my purse and excused myself to the ladies room—crying had messed up my makeup.

When I get back, I find a new cosmo waiting for me. “Sorry about that.” I say to him. “I think all these hormones floating around in my system is having an effect on me—plus seeing myself has kind of thrown me.”

“Don’t worry about it.” He smiles, and wraps an arm around me. “We’re all friends here.”

We drink and chit chat for a while. Eventually he leans in with a serious face, “Can I ask you a personal question?”

I joke that I didn’t think we had many secrets between us.

“So what’s it like? What’s it like being a woman? And an extremely attractive one I might add.”

I drink some more of the cosmo, and considered his question.

“I don’t think there is an easy answer to that question.” I tell him. “For one thing, I don’t think I get treated like an average woman.” I wave my hand dramatically over myself, like a girl showing a prize on a game show, “Not to sound conceited, but I am a total babe.”

He laughs, “I think I agree with you.”

“The world isn’t fair. Attractive people get treated differently.” I tell him about how I get free things all the time. “On the downside, I discovered people are hesitant to hire an attractive—sexy—young woman for an everyday type job. People make assumptions based on looks. If a woman is attractive, has big boobs, sexy green eyes and long red hair then she must not be very smart. People assume that a woman like that has never had to work very hard because she is has been given everything in her life.”

“Really?” he asks, “But other women probably give you the benefit of the doubt.”

I shake my head, “No, other women are worse. I think they HOPE I don’t have a brain in my head, because I would be unfair for me to get both beauty and brains. Some women are openly hostile towards me—angry at me because of my looks. One woman was honest enough to tell me she thought I would prove to be too much of a distraction to the other employees.”

“Amazing. I had no idea it was so hard being beautiful.” He shook his head in amusement.

I smile. “It’s a burden I’m learning to live with.”

We finish our drinks and head over to the library. I was supposed to meet up with Art, but was running late. What can I say? Up to that point I was really enjoying my own company.

In the parking lot of the library, I go to shake Stephen’s hand to say goodbye—he ignores my hand and gives me a hug.

“I’m going to miss myself.” I tell him.

I’m still in his arms, but he leans back and looks me in the eyes.

“You could come with me.” He says.

“Come with me to Dallas. You could help me run the company, and regain a little of what you have lost.”

It sounded too good to be true. My mind raced. “Where would I live?”

“You could live in your old apartment. We could live there together.”

Then the bastard ruined everything by putting his hands on my ass and trying in to lean to kiss me.

I realized then I had liked and trusted the new me without really knowing anything about him. I looked at him, saw the old me, and nostalgia must have colored my impressions of him. This guy was once a VP of a corporation, he was a shark, and he had read me as someone to be used.

I slapped him. It was a girly thing to do, but it felt appropriate.

“You are missing out Red.” Stephen glared at me. “I would’ve treated you real good. I would’ve taught you what being a woman is all about.”

“Don’t screw up my life, I want it back.” I shoved him and went into the library to meet Art.

Present day—

I did a little checking online. Stephen apparently did go back to Dallas, and did what I thought he couldn’t do. He stepped right into my life and picked it right up without missing a beat. He doesn’t do the work—he manages. I had always worked out of my apartment, but he rented some office space and hired some people to do the actual work.
He hadn’t changed the password to my email account, and curiosity overcame me—I logged on and read some of the emails from my old clients.

Every one of my clients were very happy—some even noted that since it wasn’t just me anymore, the projects seem to be getting done faster.

The bastard was running my business better than I ever did. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad.



Anonymous said...

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

Anonymous said...

So let it go. Unless and until the opportunity presents itself for you to revert, dismiss it from your mind. If this were happening to me, I would worry about whether my commitments were being met, my responsibilities were being handled... Well, you've got all that.
Now you can put undivided attention into the life you've got now, and make it more about what you want than it was when you moved in.
Start by making a list of everything you wanted to do with your life, over on the flipside, and then start crossing out all those which your current gender makes impossible; you'll probably cross off only one or two, if any. Now prioritize and then plan how to get from point A to point B.

Anonymous said...

Easy to say, hard to do. My life was fairly disconnected; I took what freelance work I could and didn't see any particular friend very often. And yet, now that it's on the other side of the country and being lived by someone else, all those little details seem all the more precious.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree with Art. It is really hard to let go. I have been thinking a lot about my life lately—both of them. I have resolved to live better—whether it be as Ashlyn or as Jake.
Anonymous’ idea of setting some goals is a good idea in any life. As Ashlyn, I’m fairly young; I can dig out of this financial mess I am in. Maybe go to college and get a degree.
It’s just feels like I am giving up on returning to my life as Jake whenever I think about making long rang plans as Ashlyn.