Between interesting things going on around here, I have to amuse myself. I can only spend so much of the day vacuuming and folding laundry and other mom chores. Unfortunately, I find myself staying in character as Anne-Marie more and more until something weird hapens that snaps me out of it. Today, it was reading advice columns about Valentine's Day.
As you might expect, I had totally forgotten it was coming up, and nearly had a panic attack until I realized I'm the woman now and it's not really my responsibility. Hell, all I have to do is get naked and mince around a little and Hal will be putty in my hands.
.......not that I want that per se. I'm just saying, from this perspective it's easy to please someone else. I don't know whether Hal actually intends to do anything about it, and I wouldn't mind much if he didn't. What do I need to be fawned over? All he'd be doing is buttering me up for sex anyway. Still, I'd be impressed with a card, and I don't think a rose or two would hurt. It'd be good practise for when his real wife comes back.
(By the way, Bryan, I know you were kidding, but I was hardly "basking in the afterglow of my sexual awakening." When you write stuff like that it's hard to convince people you don't secretly try to write well.)
Anyway, all this is just my roundabout way of thinking about how complicated life is, and how many connections I've got with other people now that I clearly wouldn't have had before. It's like I've gone from being a loner with a few friends and a distant family to, well... part of a unit. Look at what I've got:
Hal & The Kids. Hal can be a huge pain in the ass, stubborn, even obnoxious guy... But we all can, really and but he's not hard to get along with as long as you are willing to play along with the idea that he's the guy in charge. I do follow his lead a lot... he doesn't know that his wife's life has been turned upside down, and all the little things I screw up - peoples' names, recipes Anne-Marie used to be able to do, even the whole "not really being that into sex" thing, he's taken in stride. He has shown me - and vicariously his wife - a great deal of support without being able to understand what she's going through. I don't mind taking care of the Adkissons. They've grown on me, and taught me, I dunno, responsibility, I guess. They can be damanding, but it gives my life kind of a... purpose, for now. Hayley, Anne-Marie's daughter, has grown a little distant, and I feel bad about that. Maybe I've been neglecting her, or maybe she just needs to pull away as she grows up (apparently her 13th birthday is in March. Yikes.) And it's hard, since despite my months of experience as a woman, I don't really know what it's like to be a girl. But I'm trying to fix that. Connor, meanwhile, really seems to like his mom (or maybe just me?) and he's a nice kid. I've been reading with him before bedtime lately. Maybe it sounds corny, but this is the kinda childhood I never had and didn't realize I might've liked. I think I might actually be a pretty okay mom. Half the time, anyway.
Bryan... also known as Ellie. My little niece who has been one of my best friends since grade school. we got put into this weird situation and it's changed the way we relate. Sometimes I have a hard time looking at him, with his girlish face and twinkling eyes, and remembering exactly who is beneath that exterior. And then he speaks, and I remember, it's pure Bryan. Having him to lean on in this time has really helped things for me. to know that I don't have to be Anne-Marie all the time. Things aren't exactly as they used to be... I'm hoping they'll change back when we do, but... well, I'm just thankful for his presence. He's going through a lot right now (hormones, as one astute commenter noted, are clearly part of it.) He's got a lot of parental friction, and some none-too-surprising social anxiety. He'd hate me telling the world this, but I've seen him at his most vulnerable. I just hope he knows I'm there for him.
"Julia" and "Kalli." The real Anne-Marie and Ellie. It's gotten to the point where Hal knows that Julia and I know each other and might not think it so weird that we gal-pal around a bit. At first, I had this assumption, based mostly on her letter and the facts of her life, that Anne-Marie was some tightly-wound frigid soccer mom. But seeing her walking around in Julia's body, I've seen her as a really cool, fun, warm person who deserves her life back. It's weird though. She looks 21, and seems to think, act and talk 21, too. I don't know if she always did, but I just wonder what this experience has done for her. But she's keeping Kalli safe, and trying not to let her grow up too fast (although she can't help herself from sneaking some wine now and again.)
Now, the problem is that Anne-Marie professes to want to go back to Maine, expresses a real desire to get back her life, but trying to make arrangements is like pulling teeth. She's got this idea that Hal might think something is up with the both of us going to the same place within weeks and not coming back for so long. I understand her concern (after all, something is up, which we couldn't explain to him if we tried,) but how else does she expect it to be done? And she's on about money. She doesn't make a lot from Hal, and has to keep both her and Kalli in their low-rent apartment (Ellie contributes what she can, which given her youthful inexperience, isn't much.)
So I went ahead and made the arrangements in her name, because she needs the same room as me, otherwise this entire scheme is for nothing, and some random just walks into her life (not to mention Ellie's...) Which brings me to...
Deb and Amanda, the current Todd and Bryan. Every time I get nervous that something is going to go wrong with this plot, I e-mail this very detail-minded lady in my body and she reminds me that everything is under control and going according to plan.
There are times when I wonder what things are like for those two. I take for granted that everything about being a woman is wrong, and that I'd rather go back to being a man. But for someone who grew up as a woman and is now a man, would the same hold true? Do they yearn to get back to bras and tampax? Are they eager to spend hours browsing the boutiques and hauling purses? I keep getting this awful feeling in the pit of my gut that manhood is inherently superior/preferable, and that they'd probably just want to keep my body, but Deb seems so sincere... you should hear her go on about the man who should be her husband.
In any case, it just puts me in mind of how much I need to put things right with Alia. I don't want to lose her and I don't know how good a job Deb might be doing of keeping her interested. I want to tell her, "We all make sacrifices, I just banged Anne-Marie's husband, can't you do me the same courtesy?" But no. Anne-Marie never made me do it, and I can't make Deb have feelings for Alia.
The extended family... I mean, consider the real Julia and Kalli. I haven't heard anything about them, and have no idea if Anne-Marie is trying to give them back their lives. Then there's the new Deb and Amanda. The way Deb talks it seems like everything is a go with them, but what is there's a foul-up there? Are they getting their bodies back, or did Deb convince them to roll the dice? We are attempting a chain of no fewer than three physical transitions here. I can't believe I'm just talking about it like I'm planning a vacation. There is so much potential for disaster it is terrifying and makes me want to follow Donna's advice and stay home. But no. It would take a thousand Donnas to keep me from going back to Maine this Summer.
Speaking of whom... in our funny little family, Donna is like the crazy aunt nobody wants anything to do with, but is part of the family portrait nonetheless. I can't ignore her, as much as I want her to go away and leave me be. Those things she said really stuck with me, and now I just want to know who she was, and what happened that made her feel this way. It's going to take some coaxing. Everytime I try to engage her on the topic, she gets pretty evasive.
Art, Ashlyn, Darren, Kat, Brandon, Jessica, Marie... all the rest. Let's face it. We all share a secret that is bigger than life itself. We have nobody to support us but each other (with all due respect to the wonderful readers of this blog who sit patiently through my ramblings like this.) We've shared an experience that is so difficult to communicate or even understand. Whether you have gotten your life back, are still trying to, or have made yourself comfortable in your new one... we are all kin, and we should all share that understanding. I mean, think about how many people go to that Inn every year There must be so many of us floating around, waiting to have their stories told.
It's overwhelming. We're such a big, funny family.