It's been a while since my last post. I guess having sex and meeting Donna within the same weekend really threw me off and put me in a weird state of mind about how much I should be saying on this blog.
Not that I don't enjoy being open and honest with whoever is out there reading this - and really, thanks for your support and understanding, but really... when I tried to put into words the whole sex thing, the man-part of my brain (which I like to think is still over 50%) put down a block and told me "No, it is not okay to admit you enjoyed this." After all, if I did, that's a notch in the "don't go back" column, which is admittedly bare. The only points there are "slightly inconvenient" and "possibility of failure." I don't get such a rush out of seeing Hal naked that I think it warrants that kind of analysis. Actually... the first time we did it, it was a little hard for me to keep from laughing.
But I'm not putting it down. It feels pretty good, and I can even see how some women could really enjoy it (I should hope that most women enjoy it more than I have.) I can stomach it. It's a bit like exercise... at first you feel averse to it, then it becomes a welcome part of the routine. But as you can probably tell, I never loved exercise. And this, I can go without.
Ugh, see what I mean? I've just typed all that and I feel so exposed. It's been like 2 weeks and I still don't feel like I can really form a coherent sentence on it. Forget it. What I really want to talk about is Donna.
She had just told me she had been to the Inn once before and it stopped me in my tracks. She led me back into her kitchen, and she served me a cup of tea. I felt something inside me frozen.
According to what I've read, and my experience certainly agrees with this, some kind of magic prevents people from (immediately) drawing the conclusion that you've been magically turned into someone else. This could very well be called common sense, because if you haven't seen such magic in action, there wouldn't be any reason to assume it existed, but there's probably more to it than that. Trying to decipher the notes Anne-Marie and Ellie left before becoming them gave us a headache, but when we woke up in their bodies, well, it became quite clear. So I guess the best way to understand is that seeing is believing... but it's still not that simple.
I looked at Donna, and for all her odd qualities I didn't sense anything supernatural about her. I surmised she must have been a woman, and visited the inn so long ago that she was Donna long enough that Donna became her natural state. But nothing inside of me believed she could ever not have been Donna.
There was a long lull in the conversation around this fact. The reverse, it seemed, has also been true. Yes, it had been a long while since she'd been to Maine, but she could hardly forget what that Inn did. We both just kind of sat, silently sipping, waiting for the conversation to begin itself. I started, by asking a dumb question that was not the most pressing.
"So when did you figure it out? About me?"
She sighed. "In a way, I knew before Anne-Marie did. She was visiting me one day, explaining about this trip she was planning, when she showed me the photographs she'd gotten of the Inn. I recognized it immediately. I wanted to grab her and shake her, and scream 'Don't go, find someplace else to stay!' but she was so enthusiastic about this place. So I rationalized it to myself... oh, it's been so long, maybe the curse is broken and it doesn't do that anymore. After all, it's not like this kind of thing turns up on the news as often as you'd expect."
I thought for a moment about a headline - 12-year-old girl breaks into Manhattan Loft claiming to be high powered executive, institutionalized.
"Then you came back and nothing seemed off about you. I mean seriously. I feel so stupid for not seeing it sooner. I thought either the Inn was fixed, or maybe she stayed at a different place after all, or something."
"And the fact that it took nearly a month for her to come back from the trip?"
"Just didn't register with me, I suppose. Well, then you started avoiding me and being very guarded and I thought, what could possibly be wrong? I knew you and Hal had been having some troubles, but that had nothing to do with me. And slowly, slowly I became more convinced. When you fixed the TV - my Goodness, Anne-Marie couldn't turn the damn thing on half the time - that was the moment. I just knew it right then. And I don't mean to bring up any... awkward emotions or anything, but I just had to ask you. I had to know. And I knew that that the only way to convince you was to tell you I'd been there myself. So what do you think?"
I felt stone-cold. "I don't know what to think. I have a lot of questions."
"Is there anyone else around here? Like us?" Other than the people I already knew about.
"Not to my knowledge. When I was... changed... I - Donna - was in high school, and all the other girls at the Inn were on her debate team. But we all grew up and spread out. I lost touch with all of them."
I hinted that I wanted to ask who she'd been before.
"Anne Marie," she said. I glared at her - she was calling me by what she knew was not my name, "If it's okay, there is a lot of stuff I'd rather not re-live. I've spent a lot of time building and enjoying my life here."
"Well," I shrugged, "Everybody's got a story, don't they?"
She smiled modestly, "My story wouldn't interest you, I don't think. And you don't have to tell me yours, if you don't want to. I mean, the sooner you let go, the easier it is."
I glared at her. "Uh, what?"
"Well, I mean, in the long run, it doesn't really matter who you were. If you were old or young, black or white." She didn't say 'male or female' but I sensed she meant to, "You're here now, and if you let go of whatever you used to be, you'll be able to appreciate what you have been given."
I started to get hot under the collar. "Uh, I don't really want what I've been given. I don't belong here. As soon as it's possible, I'm going back to Maine and I'm getting my life back."
She seemed shocked. "You can't do that!"
"It's been done."
"I just mean you shouldn't. I don't know who you are, who you were, but you seem like an honest person, and I think Hal and the kids are in good hands with you. You've got a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and you can't just hand it away."
"I didn't ask for this!" I was practically screaming.
"Nobody asks for anything in this life! And everything we do ask for, we don't get. We get what we get, and it's our job to deal with that. That's a lesson I've had 25 long years to learn."
I just shook my head. "I'm going back. I'm giving Anne-Marie her life, her family back."
"They're not hers anymore, wherever she is."
I wanted to tell her she was close by, and that she wanted them back very dearly. Instead, I just stood up.
"I'm going to Maine in June," I asserted.
"What exactly do you think you're going back to?" she asked.
I didn't want to answer that. I just stared at her. Then she said something really unexpected.
"I'm sorry." Talk about a shocking statement. "I stepped over the line. I just think it's a... bad idea."
"Not any worse than going there in the first place."
"That was different. I'm assuming you didn't know what was going to happen. I sure didn't. But look at me. It's been 20 years and I... am so much happier than I ever was before."
"You're telling me that within a year of going to that inn, you wouldn't have gone back if you knew you could get your body back?"
"Things were different back then. People didn't communicate the way they do now. We didn't have e-mail or text messaging... if somebody took your body, it would be no easy feat to get it back."
"Not easy... but not impossible."
"I wouldn't have gone back, no."
I paused for a moment. "I guess you just really didn't have anything to go back to. But that's where we're different."
That's when I turned and left. Things are tense, but I think she's eager to maintain lines of communication with me because of what I know about her. I don't know why she's trying to keep me from going back, but she won't succeed. I still haven't learned who she used to be, but I get the feeling that I wouldn't have liked that person very much, either.
That's all for now.