So, back to Thanksgiving.
My mom turned out to be psychic. She said I would show up with a guy and she was right. No one was more surprised than me.
The day after my “mom” called me and invited me to Thanksgiving dinner, I had the condo to myself. All of my roommates had left to visit their various families for the holiday. Normally I might take the opportunity to put on some music, slip into some lingerie and do a little dancing in front of the large mirror in my bedroom. I managed to resist the urge and gave into a different one—I decided to clean the condo.
My roommates are slobs. I’ve always been a neat freak. I like clean surfaces and can’t stand to see dirty dishes lying around. If anything, turning into Ashlyn has made my need for cleanliness even worse. Suddenly I can’t stand certain smells. My ability to handle anything gross is way down since turning into Ashlyn: A week ago I walk through the kitchen and for the millionth time noticed the apple sitting on the counter. It had been there for a month and looked like it. I had told myself that my roommates were not going to change their behavior if I kept cleaning up their messes. I couldn’t take it anymore. I angrily grabbed the apple to throw it into the trash—only when I grabbed it, the rotten apple squished in my hand.
The feeling was disgusting. I screamed.
To my embarrassment, Logan came running in wanting to know what was wrong.
I meekly showed him my hand covered with apple guts.
He sighed and grabbed a towel then handed it to me. “Shit Ash, you can be such a girly girl sometimes.”
I don’t think he could have said anything else that could make me feel worse.
So back to cleaning.
I did dishes, I dusted, I vacuumed. I put up the video games and put them in alphabetical order--I know, I’m crazy.
I start to try to rearrange the furniture in the living room. It turned into too much of a job to do by myself. Three months as Ashlyn and I still forget I am not as strong as I was as Jake. Annoyed, I give up and decide it was time to clean myself up.
I undress and walk around the condo nude, it feels sexy. I was on my way to the bathroom to run a bath when my cell phone rings. According to caller ID, it was Josh, the ex-boyfriend. I decided to talk to him later, and continued to the bath.
As Jake, I was a shower man. As Ashlyn, I’ve started to take more baths than showers. I fill the tub with water so hot I can barely get into it, and relax. It feels amazing.
Almost an hour later I get out and discovered I had a problem. I don’t know why I bothered to close the door—I was the only one home.
The door was stuck. I tried everything and every ounce of my strength. The door wouldn’t budge.
Worse, our condo is on the upper floor—so if I could manage to squeeze through the little window in the bathroom I had nowhere to go. Not to mention nothing to wear.
I couldn’t imagine myself shimming down the side of the house in nothing but a towel. I was so screwed.
Fortunately, the one thing that did go right was the fact I had my phone. I had brought it in with me when Josh had called.
I give the ex-boyfriend a call. He was wwwaaaaaayyyyyy to happy to hear from me.
I explain my problem, and after a good laugh, he said he would be right over. He still had a key to the condo.
Twenty minutes later, I hear a knock at the door. “Hello Ash, are you going to be in there much longer? I need to borrow the bathroom.” It was Josh.
“Ha. Ha. So can you get me out of here or what?” I gave myself a look in the mirror. I had used the last twenty minutes to blow dry my hair and apply a little makeup. I had also wrapped a towel around myself.
It took 3 tries of smashing his shoulder into the door, but eventually Josh came busting in.
He sees me in the towel and gives me an appreciative smile.
“My hero.” I tell him.
I leave him in the living room and slip on some clothes. When I get back I offer him a beer and we sit around and talk for a while.
He looks around the place. “You’ve gone on one of your cleaning sprees. The place looks great.”
“Yeah, maybe, I wanted to move the couch, but it was too much for me.” I say.
He jumps up. “Where do you want it?”
I shake my head in disbelief. This guy has it bad for me.
A half hour later we are relaxing in the newly rearranged living room. It looks so much better. We make small talk and he asks what I am doing for Thanksgiving.
“I’m going to Providence and doing the family thing.” Being without family for so long, it felt kind of good to say that. “What about you?”
He shrugged. “I really don’t have much of a plan.”
“You’re not going to see family?” I asked.
He gives me a funny look. “What? Go visit my foster parents? We were not that close. You know that Ash.” He sounded hurt.
I felt terrible. I totally understood his situation. Until I was turned into Ashlyn, it was my situation as well. Holidays were the worst. Nothing like a holiday to remind you how alone you were.
“I wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry. Why don’t you come to Providence with me?”
He resisted at first, but after some gentle prodding from me, he gave in.
“Besides,” I tell him. “Now I can ride with you in your new car.”
I decided to dress casual—and to my amusement I put on jeans and a grey Henley top—it was the outfit I first wore when I decided to wear Ashlyn’s clothes for the first time. With my hair and makeup done, I looked very different than that first day.
Providence was only an hour and a half away, so we decided to leave around 10am.
Fortunately, Josh’s car has a high dollar navigation system, so we entered my “parents” address and it gave directions. I told Josh it was fun to use the system—the truth was I had no idea how to get there.
My parents live in a large two story. With the price of housing in New England, it was a pretty good indicator that my new folks were reasonably well off.
We ring the bell, and the door opened to a woman I recognized from some of Ashlyn’s pictures—this was my Mom. I would’ve been able to guess who she was without that knowledge; we had the same red hair color.
“Sweetheart!” She gives me a big hug. Moments later my father appears and he too gives me a hug.
“Welcome home pumpkin.” He tells me.
I introduce Josh to them, and my folks warmly welcome him in. I immediately like my new parents, they were warm, nice people.
We had a houseful—and since my folks had a large house, that was a lot of people. Cousins, Aunts and Uncles and well as friends of my mom and dad were there. It was slightly overwhelming, because of course, I didn’t recognize anyone.
I didn’t cook anything—I don’t think the real Ashlyn cooks anyway—but I did bring some things from the Lounge I work at: mac and cheese, green beans and a peanut butter pie.
All the men had gravitated toward the game room. There was a pool table, a card table, and a big screen tv. I wanted to stay in there with Josh, but I knew I a least needed to make an appearance in the kitchen. I figured it was expected since most of the women were in the kitchen and dining room.
I walk in and ask where I needed to place the things I brought. A cheerful, rotund woman takes my items and hands me a glass of wine. “Happy Thanksgiving Ash!”
I’m a little nervous, so I down it quickly. Someone refills my glass. They might not have a pool table, but these women were having a good time in their own way.
Lunch happened not to long after Josh and I arrived. People sat everywhere, with most of the food set up on a buffet table in the dining room. The food was amazing. I ate so much I new I was going to have to put some extra time on the treadmill after the holiday.
After lunch the women cleaned up as the men shot pool and watched football. It pissed me off. I thought about saying something, but deep down I knew if it wasn’t for being turned into a woman I might have never thought twice about it.
There was a park nearby, and a bunch of the guys started to get a flag football game together. I tell Josh I wanted to play.
“Really?” He asked surprised. “I thought you hated football.”
“I was a cheerleader. How could I cheer for the team if I didn’t like the sport?”
I was the only girl to play. Everyone put their names in a hat and two team captains drew for teams. Josh and I ended up on opposite teams.
I had a great time. Being the only girl the guys greatly underestimated me. Early in the game I was left completely uncovered and easily caught the ball for a touchdown. I spiked the ball and did a little dance.
I also had an unfair advantage—people were very careful around me. I think everyone was afraid of hurting me.
We had previously decided that whatever team was ahead at 3:45pm would be the winners. At four o’clock was the Dallas, Tampa Bay football game and most of the guys wanted to watch it—that included me, as I am a huge Cowboys fan and they are having a great year.
So at 3:30 things didn’t look good for my team as we were 7 points down.
Fourth and goal and if Josh’s team made this there probably wasn’t enough time for my team to catch up.
They hand off the ball to Josh. He had been on of their better players—he was built like a football player, and he was fast. He ran right at me. I panic, and instead of going for the flag that was hanging out of his pocket, I jumped at him and tackled him.
He ended up flat on his back, and I ended up on top of him. Our faces were inches apart.
“This is flag football Ash. Tackling is against the rules.” He laughs at me.
“Sorry I got caught up in it.”
I awkwardly get off of him and reach down, offering my hand to help him up. I wasn’t much help, as he vastly outweighed me.
We lost the game. Because I tackled Josh, they got a first down and basically ran out the clock before scoring a final touchdown.
We walk back to the house. Josh reaches down and takes my hand—so we walked holding hands. I considered saying something or pulling my hand away—but the day had been so perfect, I didn’t want to ruin it. Besides, it was just holding hands.
When we get back my mom takes one look at me and shakes her head. “You’re a mess. If you want to take a shower, you still have plenty of old clothes in your old bedroom.”
It sounded like a good idea—besides, it gave me an excuse to look around Ashlyn’s old bedroom.
Ashlyn’s bedroom was a slight surprise. There were tons of photos—many of them were Ashlyn in a cheerleader’s outfit. There was a megaphone in the corner with “Ashlyn” written in script. The truly surprising thing was the plaques, certificates and trophies—sure a few of them were cheerleader awards, but most weren’t. Ashlyn was an honor student. She won some acting awards. A quick perusal of the room gave the impression of someone who was highly intelligent and highly ambitious. This wasn’t how I pictured Ashlyn. I assumed Ashlyn was the kind of girl that got by on her looks. This room told a different story. I know she hadn’t been doing much with her life when I took it over. I wonder what happened to her? I wonder what knocked this young woman off track?
I showered and found some things I could wear. My mom came into the room as I was getting dressed. It felt odd being nearly naked in front of a total stranger—I just reminded myself that this was my mother. I had nothing she hadn’t seen before.
“Josh seems nice.” She says to me.
“He is nice.” That was true.
She looks at me funny. “Are you acting again? Do you have a roll in something? A play?”
“No.” I say surprised. “Why do you ask?”
“Your accent. I can’t tell what it is supposed to be, but you don’t sound like you are from around here.”
“Some of the people I work with are from out of state—maybe I am picking it up from them.” I lie.
Before I realize it, we talk for nearly an hour. It felt nice to have someone so interested in my life—even if it wasn’t really my life.
We head back into the game room and I find Josh glued to the Cowboys game. The room was packed. Josh was sitting on a couch with several other people. I didn’t see a good place to sit, so I decided to take advantage of being a girl, and went over and sat in Josh’s lap. He didn’t seem to mind.
After the game there were plenty of leftovers—for the second time I ate more in one sitting than I ever had before as Ashlyn. I knew I was going to regret that later.
Eventually it was time go. I had tolerated the hugs when we had first shown up this morning, now I was giving the warm hugs. I liked these people.
“I love you sweetheart.” My Mom says to me.
“I love you too Mom.” I got choked up again when I realize it was about seventeen years since I said that last.
In the car Josh turns to me. “Thanks for inviting me Ash. Holidays are hard when you don’t have any family.”
“I can imagine.” I tell him.