Thursday, March 08, 2007

Arthur - Jobs

I want to quit.

I want to quit being Elizabeth Lee. I'm sick of having periods and taking birth control and not being able to reach something on a cupboard's top shelf without standing on a goddamn step-stool. Every once in a while, somebody tries to talk to me in Korean; yesterday afternoon it was the woman at the dry cleaners. I had to be rude, saying that I was sorry but I didn't have a lot of time to chat. She's probably a nice lady who has been asking about Liz's and Ray's work and family for years, but this just hammers home that I'm an impostor, and I hate that.

I'm almost jealous of Jake/Ashlyn sometimes. She doesn't have to watch her step twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If she does something, and someone who knew the real Ashlyn looks at her strange, she can just keep doing it. If that person thinks it's strange, well, tough, that's just the way "Ashlyn" is going to be from now on. I can't wait to have that kind of freedom again. Just another two and a half months, and I'll be myself again. I wish I could just hide in a corner until that day came.

But I can't, because I've got these other jobs. The hardest one, right now, is being Raymond Kim's girlfriend. Personally, I've always thought that when a relationship starts to become a job, then it's time to get out. That's not an option, though, so I have to try to make things better with him.

It's not easy. I don't think I've ever really had to try to make something work before. Either it did, or it didn't, and when it didn't, we broke up. Sometimes I was the jerk, sometimes she was. Sometimes we both were and sometimes we both knew it wasn't going to work out that way and remained friends. But we'd just do what came naturally. It's crazy to have to think of what you're trying to accomplish with each thing you do. I know there are people who do - people who go about seduction deliberately and obsess about details once they get beyond the initial fear of approaching someone.

Like, yesterday, I brought Ray lunch. It was a totally deliberate, manufactured thing - I spent like a half hour on make-up and hair, went downtown, did a little shopping to justify being across the river, then stopped in Bull Run for a couple steak tip subs and specialty-label sodas so that I could drop by his office and eat lunch at his desk with him.

And it works. Doing that shows that you're thinking of him even when you're just going about your own business, that you remember things he likes. That sort of thing is great when it's real, but when it's an effect created deliberately via a contrived set-up... Eating that delicious sandwich feels dirtier than anything we do in bed.

Scratch that. The sandwich isn't quite as bad as slipping into bed after an evening's work, pulling my body close and draping my arm over his body to rest on his chest. I can practically feel him smile at that, even when he's fast asleep. That's almost playing dirty - anything you do while he's awake, he can at least recognize as an attempt at manipulation. This is screwing with his subconscious.

Of course, he's giving a little, too. As much as the deep freeze is mostly over, I can't help notice that when he picked me up from work the other night, he made it a point to kiss me where everyone could see and thus be in a position to mention it to Stewart, should the topic come up. I'd kind of like to quit that little game, too.

And, I suspect, that once Stewart gets wind of what's going on, I'll want to quit Liz's job, too.

-Art

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