Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ashlyn--Hanging out with Art

It’s good to make money again

It’s official. I’m a Headlights girl. I’ve been one for a week and a half now. I’ve done really well money-wise; I have made close to making two hundred a night when baseball games are playing. I’m becoming a bigger and bigger fan of baseball all the time ;)

I still have mixed feelings about working at Headlights, but it is so good to be able to have some sort of plan to be able to pay my bills. I had to borrow some money from Matt to get through this last month, and it seriously depressed me to do it. I was lucky he was able to help me out; otherwise I don’t know what I would have done. Matt really came through for me when I really needed it—I’m lucky to have him in my life.

Wicked awesome fireworks

Matt had to work the Fourth of July—which makes sense, I bet the fourth is a busy day for all firefighters. I ended up hanging out with Heather and her friend Stacy for the holiday. We had gathered a couple of beach umbrellas, a bunch of towels, and coolers full of food and beer--and headed for the Charles River. We specifically setup in the grassy area across from MIT—yeah, that MIT, as in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where the super smart go to college.

We set up the umbrellas and put our towels on the wet grass--It had been a mostly wet Fourth of July. The rain never really came down hard—mostly it drizzled. We had got to our spot at about 10 that morning and the fireworks were scheduled for nearly 12 hours later. When I pointed that out to Heather she gives me a shrug. “You want a good seat right? You get here later than lunch you can forget about getting a good spot.”

She was right. 250,000 people came to see the fireworks—I was told later that number was way down from the usual half million people. I guess people probably didn’t want to watch fireworks in the rain. I’m glad I did. I had an amazing time hanging out with Heather and Stacy—of course drinking too much might have skewed my memory.

The fireworks ended up being the best I have ever seen, it was like something out of a movie.
“Worth waiting twelve hours for?” Heather asked as we picked up our stuff to head home.

“Hell yeah.” I tell her.

Art’s in town!

The Sheraton Commander Hotel stands out in the Harvard Square area. It is a seven story brick building with an unusual sign—it’s nothing but large bold red letters sitting atop the building, held up by scaffolding. It makes the hotel super easy to find.

I knocked on the door to 512 and Art opened the door. He was dressed in a robe, towel in one hand, cell phone in the other, in the middle on a conversation; he looked like he just got out of the shower. He mouthed “sorry” and waved me into the room.

“--I’ll meet you in front of the John Harvard Statue at 1pm.” He said to the person on the phone. He gently rubbed his wet hair with the towel as he spoke. I’ve got to go, I’ve got company. Yeah. Later.” Art clicked the phone shut with one hand.

I had only met “Penelope Lincoln” for a few minutes as Art was on his way to California. Art’s new body is tall and attractive with long brown hair and matching brown eyes. His new form screams fitness and vitality—he looks like one of those models on exercise machine commercials, the ones where the girl goes “If you want a body like this…” He was also sporting a perfect bronze tan which I was instantly jealous of—my skin is to fair to have a nice tan, one of the penalties of being a redhead.

The Trading Post Inn “voodoo” was in full effect. Even though I knew this was Art, something kept giving me the feeling I was mistaken, that this person was a stranger to me. I ignored the feeling, and gave Art a big hug.

“Has it really only been a month?” I ask. “I missed you.” I stepped back from him and motioned to his new body. “You know, Liz was attractive, but I think you’ve traded up.”

Art laughed. “I definitely like being taller, and being in really good shape doesn’t suck either. I feel like I could run a marathon.”

There was nowhere to sit, so I sat on a corner of the bed. “Hey, I was planning of going running along the river tomorrow morning. You want to come? I could use the company.”

“What about Logan, your workout buddy?”

“You told me once you thought he had a crush on me; you might have been right. Ever since Matt and I have gotten more ‘serious’ Logan seems to find reasons to avoid me.”

"Too bad. Yeah, I’m up for a good run.”

Art then grabbed some clothes and headed to the bathroom to change—I wonder if he was just being modest or still thinks I have a male brain buried under all this red hair? A minute or two later I hear a blow dryer, and a few minutes after that Art steps out, dressed and brushing his long brown hair.

“Hey, you do this trick with lipstick that makes your lips look fuller…could you show me? We’re shooting a Harvard segment and I’m doing my own makeup.” Art asks.

“Sure.” I jump up and look through Art's collection of cosmetics he inherited. I get him to sit in the only chair in the room and get him to look up at me. “The secret is to outline the lips with a pencil.” I take a lipstick pencil and do so and then fill in with lipstick. “If you want ‘pouty’ lips—“ I then add gloss to the center of the top lip. “—you do this. Done.”

Art get up and looks in the mirror and smiles. “Dude! That’s looks great.” He gives me a look. “You have a talent for this stuff.”

I shrug. “Not as much a talent as a learned skill. I hang out with hot women all the time, we trade tips--Also being vain has caused me to look through more than a few women’s magazines.” I change the subject. “Hey, you want to grab some lunch? Walk over to Bartley’s and grab a burger? I’m starved.”

An hour later we are enjoying burgers and diet cokes. Like always, Bartley’s is packed and we ended up sharing a table with a couple of Harvard students. Matt’s been educating me about the “unwritten rules” in baseball, things that are just understood, but not in the rulebooks. Life in Boston has unwritten rules as well. One of them is that if you are stuck in a small place with people you don’t know, you will respect their privacy and not eavesdrop on their conversations. Of course, if our two table mates did listen in on our conversation, they probably thought we were crazy.

“So no new news on getting your old life back? You still haven’t contacted Jeremy?”

Art shook his head no. “I plan to do it soon, it’s just—“ He paused.

“It’s hard. I know. Before I called Stephen I had a gut feeling that I wasn’t getting my life back.

I put off talking to him because I didn’t want to lose what little hope I had.” I say.

“It’s hard to believe one person could do that to another. Jeremy might be worse than Stephen, he sent people to the Inn to become victims.”

“Still no news from Nell?” I ask between bites.

“Nothing. I’m guessing she’s on the run or in a stockade somewhere. If she was in a stockade, you would think she would have called or written.”

“I ran into Liz a few days ago.” I say.

Art stops eating and gives me a look. “Really? How is she doing?”

“Real well. I ran into her at the Starbucks we used to hang out at. It really messed with my head. For a split second I thought it was you. We sat and talked for a while.”

“So, what’s the scoop? How are things between her and Ray?” Art seemed eager to know.

“She and Ray were able to work out their problems and get over the fact she disappeared for a few weeks…and she accepted Ray’s proposal and they are getting married. She actually asked me to be bridesmaid, said it would seem wrong for Ashlyn not to be there.”

“Wow. That’s—that’s great.”

“Yeah, I thought so too. You should feel proud, your goal was to not screw up Liz’s life and I think you actually made her life better.”

Art smiles. “It nice something good came from all this.” He checked his watch. “I have to go over to Harvard. You are working tonight, right?”

"Yes, but I’m free all day tomorrow. We’re starting the day off with a run, right? What time do you want to meet?”

We decide to meet up at seven, hugged, and went our separate ways.

Where everybody knows your shame

Around 11pm that night the Hostess at Headlights called me over the front entrance. Art and several members of the production crew were standing there, waiting for a table. Art gave me a grin and aimed a camera phone at me, taking a picture. “My crew didn’t believe that one of my best friends worked at Headlights. We decided to stop by for dinner.” I wasn’t exactly trilled.

When I work at Headlights I pretend to be the kind of girl you would expect to see at Headlights. Besides Heather, no one I know has seen me at work—Matt hasn’t even dropped by yet—so I was a little self conscious. I tried to shrug it off—Art knows the real me, right? He won’t think badly of me if do my imitation of a Headlights girl, right? So I turned on the Headlight’s charm and gave them a big smile and slipped into my routine.

“If you guys would follow me, I’ll take extra care of you.” I say to the group.

Art and his crew stayed until a little past midnight. I was self conscious the whole time—I guess I was seeing myself through Art’s eyes, and I was afraid of what he thought of me. I was relieved to finally hand them a bill. Someone produced a digital camera and offered to take a picture of Art and me standing together. I ended up taking pictures with everyone at the table. It was something I was used to doing—guests were always waiting to take pictures with a Headlights girl. Finally, they got up to leave. Art gives me a hug and says “See you in about seven hours!” and they were out the door.

I was feeling a little down—until I saw the size of the tip and the note Art wrote on the bill: ‘Lyn, Thanks for entertaining the guys, we had a great time. See you in the morning! --Nell

I only thought I was in good shape

I’ve admitted to being vain. I think I should be given a little leeway since the body I wear isn’t the one I was born with. Is it wrong that I look in the mirror and find the woman in the reflection to be attractive? Of course deep down, I know I have a problem, after all I’ve become highly proficient and doing my hair and makeup—mostly because of what I liked seeing in the mirror.

Working out kind of fits into feeding my vanity as well. Schedule permitting, I work out every day—so, I considered myself one of the healthiest people I know.

So going running with Art was a huge shock to my pride.

Art showed up at my doorstep exactly at seven. I was a little blurry-eyed, not quite awake; Art was totally alert and ready to go. He even looked good in his sleeveless tracksuit and ponytail.

“Nell’s body doesn’t need much sleep.” He says to me. It made me want to kick him.

We walk toward the Charles River, stopping to stretch occasionally. By the time we reached the river we were ready to go. The temperature was perfect and the river beautiful. There were even a handful of sailboats gracefully cruising along the river.
In my defense, I was fine for the first three miles. By mile five I was breathing hard. By mile seven I was dying.

Art looked like he had just begun to sweat. I collapsed onto one of the benches along the path.

“Are you not tired?” I asked between big gasps of breath.

“A little.” He grins at me.

If I could have moved I really would have kicked him.

He goes back into doing stretches. “This is such a rush. I feel great.”

“I’m so happy for you.” I said sarcastically, I was busy trying not to throw up.

I think Art finally realized I was done running and sat down beside me on the bench. We sat there for a while—I didn’t have any choice, I don’t think my legs were working—and watched the sailboats and crew boats go down the river.

Eventually, I caught my breath.

“So things between you and Matt are going well?” Art asked.

“I think so. We have a good time together, he’s a nice guy and the sex is pretty good, considering.”

“Considering?” Art asks.

“Considering I am really a man in a woman’s body.”

“Oh, that.”

“Tomorrow is Matt’s birthday.” I say.

I could hear Art thinking about the significance of that. I have to give him credit; he is finally getting “girl talk” down. “So… “ He said hesitantly. “ You make a decision on the whole oral sex thing?”

“Yes and no. I’ve decided I am not going to be pressured into doing anything I don’t want to do—so that is probably a no to blowjobs. Matt will probably have to learn to deal with disappointment.”

“That sounds like a fairly healthy, well thought out decision.” Art states.

“Yeah, I am as surprised as you.” It was my turn to hesitate. “Speaking of healthy, well thought out decisions, have you thought much about what you are going to do? I mean, if you are not able to convince Jeremy to do the right thing?”

“Some. I’m not going to dwell on it until after I’ve talked with Jeremy.” His tone of voice said he didn’t want to talk about it.

“Okay. I’m there for you if you want to talk about it. I’ve been through it—still going though it.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

I slowly got off the bench and stood up. I made the “old man noise”—I groaned loudly. “I am so done.”

We walked—slowly—over to the main road and hailed a taxi. “I’m never going running with you again.” I tell Art.

He just laughed.



Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to go to Boston for the 4th. The picture looks cool.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I'm going to try to use more and more photos. I'm still not comfortable with posting pix of myself--so sorry, no photos of me in my Headlights uniform ;)

I might do some more drawings--well see.