We finally did catch a cab last Friday. I gave the address Nell had written down; the cabbie took us to a place on the Bay. Drew helped me with my luggage while the cab waited; when we got to the door of Nell's condo he said he imagined the neighbors had seen this scene a few times. I said I imagined that was true, and they probably couldn't believe how different this time was.
"Well, good night. Meter's running."
He started walking away. "Hey," I said, "give me a call when you wake up tomorrow morning. I'll show you around the city."
"Sounds like a good idea." He waved goodbye and then pressed the button on the elevator. It opened immediately, leaving me alone in the doorway. I tried two or three different key combinations to open the lock and deadbolt, then dragged Nell's luggage in.
Her condo is a studio, and though it's not small, there's plenty of stuff in it: The plasma television is on a swivel mount so that it can be viewed from either the bed, treadmill, or a love seat. The kitchenette has a floating bar with a couple of stools that must be where she ate her meals, since I couldn't see a table. One door leads out to a small deck; there was a window in that one. Another led to a closet, and the next one I tried led to the bathroom.
After disposing of the bottled waters I drank on the plane, I took the new toothbrush that I'd bought two weeks earlier out of its container and brushed my teeth, studying my new face in the mirror. I'd had a couple days to get used to it, but I was still noticing new things. There's a spot under my jaw that evidently just doesn't tan, for instance. I also need a little practice in dealing with this hair; while I'd let my hair grow to about shoulder length as Liz, the hair I'd inherited from Nell was longer, and I wound up spitting toothpaste onto it when I leaned over the sink. Suddenly, all those girls in college who'd told me that a true friend was one who held her hair back when she had to puke made a lot more sense.
I got it out with a towel and then looked at my watch. Three AM? That couldn't be possible... Oh, right, Eastern time. Winding it back to almost midnight didn't make me less tired, though. I stumbled out of the bathroom and to the bed, dropping shoes, socks, and shorts along the way. I kept the t-shirt on, though - I'd gotten used to wearing a nightshirt to bed as Liz, and although Nell's luggage indicated she was more a "just panties" girl, that wasn't me. I crawled under the covers and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
There was no alarm, but I woke up before seven, local time, anyway. I stretched a little to get the kinks out of my back, and it felt pretty good. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was Nell's treadmill and I figured, well, it's early and this would be a pretty good habit to get into. I spent a few minutes getting the TV turned on and around, smiling a little when I saw she had left it tuned to ESPN. I have to admit that the operation of the machine threw me a little; it was split down the middle, had poles on the side with which to work the arms, a strap to wrap around the wrist to measure heart rate, and controls to increase and decrease steepness, resistance, and all sorts of other settings. I just left it as is and started jogging in place.
I didn't stop for about forty-five minutes, by which point I'd only worked up a small sweat. I was kind of surprised; the odometer said I'd run five miles, and I never did that. I had a new admiration for the body I'd inherited as I took my shower; as much as the obvious physical differences between me and Lizhad been impossible to ignore, I'd never really noticed a difference in how I felt, not like I did at that moment. For the first time in months, my breasts weren't my primary focus as I observed my naked body - the overall combination of softness and strength was.
There was nothing edible in the refrigerator or cabinets - two planned weeks away and another two on top of that made sure of it - so I threw on some clothes to find some coffee and bagels. It was a little chilly - cooler than Maine, especially in the mornings and evenings. This wasn't my old neighborhood, but I'd been here before, and after so long in Boston, it was like rediscovering my home town all over again. I ate, and then jogged back to the condo to see what I could learn about Nell beyond what was in the letter.
It was almost one o'clock when Drew called me. I told him I'd be right over, and then headed right out. His new place was a little pricier than mine, with more rooms and a nice view of Telegraph Hill.
We basically spent the day zigzagging the town; I showed him how to get from his home to his office via public transportation, and then from there to the various places listed in his address book and day-planner for the next few weeks. He was hoping that's all that he'd need, and even took a call from New-Drew while we were doing this.
Dinner was at a little jazz bar I knew. He had a little too much to drink and I got him home.
"Why don't you stay? I've already checked - there's a drawer full of stuff for a tall girl in the dresser."
"And just one bed - not even a sofa, just a matching set of recliners."
"I'm sure we could find some way to share."
He smiled charmingly, and I kissed him on the top of the head. "Ah, Drew, Drew, Drew. If I were in your place, I'd want to try my new equipment out for something other than peeing, too, but you'll have to find someone else."
"Why? I am your boyfriend, after all."
"Ah, see, that's why not. Call it a 'New Body's Resolution' - no sleeping with anyone that the last person with this body did, just because she did. That got me in enough trouble already."
"Don't know what you're missing."
Maybe not. But after all the drama with Ray and Stewart, I think I can live with that.