Friday, May 11, 2007

Ashlyn--Here I go again on my own…

Yes, I just quoted the band Whitesnake in the blog. What can I say, I like 80’s music and I have it playing on my iPod as I write this.

Before my parents died and I was sent to live with my uncle Garry, I grew up in a suburb of Dallas. We lived in one of those cookie-cutter housing communities. It was great. There was an empty field nearby to play football, and a community pool to help survive the Texas summers. There were bike trails and parks connected to those trails. There was everything a boy needed growing up.

Including a best friend.

Billy Sanderson—I called him BS to the annoyance of my parents—lived next door. He was there from day one; as we moved into the house he just seemed to appear out of nowhere and started helping move things inside. There were no introductions—he acted like he had known me and my family forever and we became instant friends.

I thought Billy was the coolest guy on the planet. Billy was the instigator of bad behavior and I loved him for it. He had a motto he lived by “If you’re not doing something that might get you grounded, then you are probably not having a good enough time.” We spent large amounts of time debating who was cooler: Batman or Spiderman. We glued firecrackers to my ‘six-million dollar man’ action figure and lit them. “Oh No! Col. Austin’s bionics are going haywire!” We would yell as the doll would bounce around from the small explosions. We also spent countless hours trying to build bigger and higher ramps to jump with our bicycles. Billy’s parents would ask why we were so obsessed with jumping ramps and Billy would say “We’re training to be the next Evel Knievel! Duh”. Yeah, life was fun with Billy.

Being best friends with Billy had one significant downside. Billy lived with his mom and stepdad. Every summer Billy would go away for a month—sometimes two—and spend time with his dad. Those summer months when Billy went away were brutal for me. There I was, out of school for the summer and no best friend to do things with—every spring I would dread the approach of summer.

Worse, Billy would go on these amazing trips with his dad during those times away. Billy would come back and tell me tales of white water rafting, swimming with dolphins and traveling through jungles. Billy embellished all of his stories of course—I didn’t call him BS just because they were his initials—and his stories really captured my imagination. After a while, it wasn’t just being lonely in the summer that was the problem—I started feeling like Billy was going on these incredible adventures, and I was being left behind.

Which brings me to this morning.

I waited until I knew Ray had left for work before walking over to Liz’s place. I knocked on the door and Art opened the door.

“I thought we were meeting up at North Station.” He asked.

“I thought I would check and see if you needed help with anything—besides, it gives me the excuse to hang out with you a little longer. You packed?”

“Mostly. I packed a few thing last night for my—“ He made quote marks with his fingers. “—trip to New York. I waited until Ray left to pack more things for a longer stay at the Inn. I didn’t want him to see my bags and wonder why I packed so much for a short trip.”

“Smart, but if he asked you could have played the girl card.” I tell him.

“Girl card?”

“Yeah. You know: I need to pack all these clothes because I’m a girl.” I smirked.

“Well, not for much longer.”

We headed into the bedroom where there was an open half-filled suitcase lying on the bed. I found an empty spot of the bed a sat down.

“I can’t believe the day is finally here!” Art said while digging through a closet.
I didn’t reply right away. Art was practically bursting with excitement, but I had mixed feelings. I wasn’t as giddy as Art was about his return trip to the Inn. “So, you and Zoe have a good time last night?” I asked.

“Yeah, we did. Sorry about not inviting you along, but you know how Zoe is about you.” The original Ashlyn and Zoe didn’t get along, so I inherited the animosity. She doesn’t seem to care for the way I like to dress as well.

“Yeah I know. It’s okay. It gave me an excuse to go see Matt.”

Art turned away from the closet and gave me a curious look. “Oh? How’s that going?”

I shrugged. “We had a great time. Matt is fun, his friends are fun….”

“I hear a ‘but’ coming.”

“Not really. It’s just that sometimes I feel so old around him and his friends. Our tastes in music are different, movies, a lot of things. Sure, physical I’m in my early twenties, but mentally I’m closer to forty. As odd as it sounds, I think we have a generation gap.”

I pause for a moment. “He referred to me as his ‘girlfriend’ last night. I’m somebody’s girlfriend. Is that crazy or what?”

Art rolls his eyes. “Some of us have been dealing with that for months.”

“Yeah, true, but this is someone Ashlyn had never met before. This is a—God, a relationship—with someone who likes me for myself. It’s different.”

Art looked contemplative. “Yeah, I could see how that could be important.”

He tossed a few last items into the suitcase and zipped it up. “Done! And look, gender stereotypes be damned, I didn’t pack that much.”

Art carries his suitcase into the front room and called a cab. He then went to his purse, pulled out an envelope with ‘Ray’ written in big letters, and set it on the kitchen table.

Eventually the cab shows up and honks to let us know it was there. I grab the suitcase and Art gives the place one last look around.

“This was a nice life…it just wasn’t mine.”

We find an empty bench at North Station.

“Lyn, there’s something I’ve been wanting to say to you, and I’ve been putting it off.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry.”

I give him a blank look. “Sorry for what?”

“It was because of me this all happened to you. If I hadn’t invited you to the beer festival, you would still be Jake.”

“Dude. There was no way you could have known what going to happen. I don’t blame you at all—never did.”

“Still, I felt I should say something. I feel guilty about being able to go back to my life—“

“When I’m stuck here.” I finished for him.

“Well, yeah.”

“Art, I am so happy this is all going to work out for you. I really am. Sure, I’m going to miss you—“ It was at this moment I could feel my throat tighten and tears well up in my eyes.

I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry. I don’t want to be one of those girls who cry easily.

I just about had it under control when Art suddenly burst into tears. It put me over the edge. Soon we were holding each other, tears running our faces.

“I’m going to miss you ‘Lyn.”

“Same here.”

We eventually regain our composure and Art looks at his watch. “Time to go.”

I reach for my purse and pull out a drawing of Liz. “It’s just a pencil sketch. I’ve scanned it, but I haven’t colored it yet. I’ll finish it and post it on the blog. I thought you would like the original drawing.”

“Yes! Thank you.” He takes the drawing from me and puts it with his things.

We hug one more time. “Take care of yourself Art. Come visit me sometime.”

“You can count on it.”

He grabbed his things and headed off.

I stood there a while. My best friend had gone away leaving me behind—it was Billy Sanderson all over again.

The Inn is back to its old tricks…

The T is right there at North Station, but I decided to walk home because the weather is incredibly nice right now. I eventually make it home and sit down to write in this blog—but before I got that far I checked my email. I was in for a surprise.
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Dear Art/Liz:

Please help me. I just checked out of the Trading Post Inn, but I am not the same person I checked in as. I am trying very hard not to lose control and become hysterical here, but it is like some really bad nightmare.

I still have the laptop computer I checked in with, and theAT&T Data Card which allows me to surf the web. I did a search forthe Trading Posting Inn, which led me to your blog. I read througheach one of the entries, only to realize that this has happened toother people too. So, I am desperately turning to you for helpbefore I lose it.

My real name is Paul Miller. I am an attorney from Philadelphia, Pa., and my specialty is intellectual property litigation. I am, or was, very good at my job. It allows me to stay very cool under very tense situations. Please refer to the blog I was doing before I changed for details. It can be found at http://pxmiller.blogspot.com/

For some reason, it is harder to stay in control in this body.

I am in a different body. At some point between Wednesday Night and Thursday Morning, by body somehow changed from a near 40 year-oldCaucasian man into an African-American women. She . . . I . . . look very young, so I can't tell you how old this body is. I am a lot shorter than I was before. And the body has half-healed bruises all over it.

I went and looked for a suitcase, or anything to tell me who this girl is. She left nothing behind, so the identity of this body is a mystery to me. I had to sneak down to the laundry room of the Trading Post Inn to find something to fit me. I only booked the room through the weekend (it was an impromptu get away to clear my head before a big trial), so I had to check out.

I left my suitcase, clothes, and all of my belongings, including identification in the room. I did take what cash I had, about $425.00 with me, and this laptop. I also took the rental car that I drove all the way up here from Boston.

I don't know what to do. I am turning to you for some advice. I am afraid that if the police find me with my laptop and the rental car, that they will suspect some type of foul play regarding my real identity Paul Miller. I know that the police will be more likely to believe I did something, considering I am nowblack, and I have all of these bruises. I cannot have the police investigate the Inn, or else nobody will be able to get their real body back. I am going to have to ditch the car and laptop somewhere along the road. I will have to wipe everything down with a cloth to take my fingerprints off of it. I just hope that I can get to you in time before you leave.

So, I am going to have to get as close to Boston, as I can, and then find a ride the rest of the way. I have a flight from Logan Airport back to my place in Philly, but I don't think I'll be able to get on the plane without any I.D., especially without any I.D. that looks like my current self.

I had better describe myself, my current self, to you, justin case you find me before I can check in at the internet café. Iwould say my age is between 16 and 21. Very young looking. As Isaid, I am African-American now, and, from the reflection in themirror, extremely beautiful. I am only about 5'2" tall. My hair isstraight and black, and goes about ½ of the way down my back. Iam wearing a pair of jeans that are a little too tight (and the pantlegs are just slightly rolled up), and a white v-neck t-shirt. Ialso have on a pair of sandals (that are a little too big for me).

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I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In the back of my mind I knew the Inn was open again, so that means more victims. I checked out Paul’s blog: http://pxmiller.blogspot.com/It brought back a lot of memories of my own experience. I emailed him back, so hopefully he’ll contact me again. I don’t have all the answers about his new situation, but I have a few, so maybe that will help.

Ashlyn

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2 Comments:

At 5/11/2007 11:27 PM, Anonymous cj said...

Well... you lose one friend... and find (perhaps) another.

I would say that you are pretty lucky... but let's see... turned into a girl, can't get your body back, have someone you were close to move away, and you get fired AND blacklisted.

If you're lucky - that's some really rotten luck, girl. :-(

Let's hope that something can come from this new victim of that Inn.

 
At 5/11/2007 11:29 PM, Anonymous cj said...

ooops... something GOOD... Let's hope that something good can come from this new victim.

 

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