Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Under Pressure

Family gatherings are weird enough for me. I was proud of myself for the way I played Hayley's birthday, with the whole New York thing, I didn't really see Conner's coming. Sunday was his 11th birthday.

The next day was his grandfather's funeral.

Talk about surreal. He died on Friday, so while Hal and his siblings are making funeral arrangements, I'm still thinking about the birthday stuff and trying to console the kids. Hayley was very upset, and Conner was just blank... I guess everyone handles death in their own ways. I haven't been to a funeral in years, and again, this isn't really my family, but I tried to will myself to feel it during the service.

Anne-Marie and Ellie appeared during the visitation. They kept a low profile. Anne-Marie offered her condolences to her "boss." Kalli didn't introduce herself to anyone, and spoke only to me, Julia and Bryan. She looked really upset I think that might actually have been the first time they met. They went off to talk, and probably so that Ellie could cry without people wondering who she was and why she was there. It was actually quite busy, as Mr. Adkisson had a number of acquaintances come to pay their respects, as well as people from various volunteer groups he'd been involved with (that's probably where most people thought "Kalli" came in, come to think of it.) His widow, Lucille, was very stoic through the whole thing. I offered her my condolences and she just gave me a hug and told me, sadly, that it was his time.

After Anne-Marie and Ellie left, we held the wake at Trudy's house. I found Bryan sitting apart form the other "kids." It was a gorgeous day, so she was sitting on the back porch by the pool. It had been a little while since we'd had a good talk so I took of my shoes and dipped my legs in sitting next to her.

"How are you holding up?"

She shrugged. "He wasn't my grandfather. I'm okay."

I told her "That's now what I'm talking about. You seem like you've been really stressed out lately."

She said she didn't want to talk about it. I told her she could always talk to me, no matter what, because we were still best friends and she was still the most important person I had. The person I cared most about in this place.

She still didn't want to talk about school, but then said something else. "Todd... have you ever wondered what would've happened if we didn't turn into Anne-Marie and Ellie? If we were someone else?" I nodded. Sure, the thought had crossed my mind. "Do you know how easily we could've been him? How easily we could've woken up old, and sick?"

I told her people who were that sick didn't typically go on beach vacations to Maine.

She responded, "My great uncle. He used to travel all around the world. I never really knew him much, he spent a lot of time in Africa and Europe and Asia and stuff. He was a photographer. Hearing stories about him was what inspired me to buy a camera. He was back in Canada for a little while two years ago, preparing to go to the Australian Outback. Then he had a heart attack and died. He was well enough to book the flight and make his plans, and then he was dead. He was like fifty. How can you tell me that couldn't have been us?"

I thought for a moment before responding, "Because it wasn't us, Bryan. We've got two months before we go back. Why are you fixating on this?"

"I'm just... afraid, I guess."

I didn't have much to say to that. I wrapped my arm around her, she rested her head on my chest. After a while I told her, "I'm worried about you, man. I just want you to know things are going to be all right, okay?"

She said, "I just wanna go home."

"Me too."

We've both been through the ringer this past year. I think now, just the waiting is the hardest part.

-Todd/A.M.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bryan/Ellie: Nothing between us

It's nearly 2 AM and I can't really sleep. I'm stressed out of my mind.

For a while things were pretty good. I was hanging out with Emily plenty, but was getting less and less jealous when she'd ditch me for her boyfriend Mike - since I had Leanne to turn to. Leanne was becoming my secret little affair. I let myself believe it was a healthy arrangement.

I dunno if Ellie - the real Ellie - would be into girls. That's not my place to say. But I am. And I was in a position to have one when I needed one, when I needed to prove my manhood (even though she only liked me if I was a girl.) It's a shame that being a girl doesn't make it easier to deal with them.

I'm keep Leanne a secret, based on the reasoning that Ellie is young and possibly confused, why make a big coming out deal when I'm not even gonna be her in a few months? But until then, I want my fun. So on nights when Emily won't care whether I'm around, I head off to Leanne's place for a little study session.

It has been great having someone else to relate to. Emily's great and all, but I feel like there was only so much of myself I could share with her. Leanne...... she gets me, as much as anyone could without knowing my whole story. And she's in a better position to understand Bryan-as-Ellie than Todd, no offense, because Todd is a grown woman and getting laid regularly (whether she likes it or not -- and part of her defs does, no matter what she says.) Until Leanne I had nothing but sexual frustration.

Now I've got some release... but also some guilt. Because I care about this chick, but I feel bad for lying to her. I'm making out with her under false pretenses. If she knew what I really was, she'd probably be disgusted.

I never thought I'd say this, but it feels... wrong to take advantage of this.

But every time I try to man up and end it, I just take one look into those eyes of hers and they take my breath away.

And then I get so wrapped up in Leanne that when Emily's relationship with Mike goes rocky - the girl is a walking drama bomb - I'm not around to be her counselor, and then a rift forms between me and her.

I mean come on. I've got to have room in my life for more than one friend, right? I was a pretty popular guy as Bryan, I was in high demand. but between the secrecy of my relationship with Leanne, my girltalk with Emily and my occasional meetings with Todd - not to mention boys who still want to know me because they think I'm on the market, and the band we've sorta formed, it's exhausting as hell and I don't feel like I'm as satisfied as I ought to be. It should be easier! I'm overeating, not sleeping (as I already said) and getting zits.

Fuck it all! Too much drama! augh!

This has been... sorta helpful... but maybe I've gotta get something done for once in my life (like homework? Fuckkkk my marks are low.) I can't get out of here soon enough.

-Bry/El

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Easter

Have I mentioned what a chore it is to put up with the Adkissons sometime? Not Hal, and not the kids, I mean, but... the family unit. Sure, as Todd I've had some family gatherings, but those were pretty tough to deal with and they were my actual family. With all the crap I deal with while playing Anne-Marie, my trip to Maine can't come soon enough.

Take Trudy (please.) Hal's judgmental sister, who has found every bit of incompetence I've shown to be more evidence Anne-Marie isn't right for her brother, even though they've been married for like 12 years and have two kids and everything, and all those mistakes have more to do with me having less than a year's worth of experience as a wife and mother. Like when she sees me and scoffs, "I swear it's like you don't even know how to dress yourself," it hurts more than it should, considering the circumstances (why should I be offended? I just am.) It's just a really bitchy thing to say.

This weekend involved more than the usual amount of family BS. Hal's and Trudy's (and Wayne, their other brother) father is in the hospital. He's in his 70's, has been undergoing chemotherapy, and had a stroke. Things do not look good. So we brought the kids over to see him, and he couldn't say much, and we wished him a quick recovery before being sent off. It was weird to me... I have never met this old man, he's just somebody's sick grandpa. And I feel bad, and I don't feel bad, and I feel bad for not feeling as bad as I should. The entire transformation has thrown my perception of life and death out of whack (and don't get my started on the way my mind wandered when we went to the Easter service... religion is so different when you've been part of a profoundly bizarre experience like this.)

So Trudy chastises me for not seeming concerned about her father, and I say of course I am (not really but she has no right to accuse me.) So, having had enough of it, I just close my eyes and let Todd out for one little moment.

"Trudy... you are such a bitch."

Okay, that's probably unfair of me to say considering we had just gotten back from the hospital where her father is lying, possibly on his deathbed. But I'd seriously had enough of her treatment toward me. I've tried being nice but she snipes at me at every opportunity. I've left it off the blog because it doesn't enter into the Inn-related things I tend to talk about, and I don't wanna remember her bitter old face when I'm back in Toronto, but this has really been getting to me lately. And all I ever wanted to know is why, and I guess I got a little closer to the answer when she retorted, "Oh, don't act like I'm the one who started this."

Not having Anne-Marie's backstory to draw on, I just sat there silently, while she smugly walked away. In a rather emotional state, I called up Anne-Marie to ask her what just happened, and she sighed and said she had some things to explain to me.

Apparently the animosity between Trudy and Anne-Marie has been there from the start, going back before Anne-Marie and Hal were married. Trudy and her husband were going through a rough patch in their young marriage and had a trial separation, during which time the husband, Chris (I think?) met Anne-Marie and began a fling with her. Then he reconciled with Trudy and somehow Anne-Marie fell in with Hal and eventually they got married. That would seem to be the end of it, but I guess Trudy has never come to grips with the fact that her brother's wife has had sex with her husband, and has always been suspicious of the two of us.

And here I thought this was all because Anne-Marie wanted to be Ellie's cool aunt.

So, the rest of the weekend proceeded like that. Bryan's getting weirdly aloof and I don't much like it, but I guess there's no problem so long as things get back to normal as soon as they can. After that confrontation - and finally learning what it was about - I just tuned it out. So, she doesn't like the way I cook the ham, or how I clean the dishes. Whatever. Just more impetus for me to leap back out of this life and forget it. It's not my fault she can't let go of grudges from over a decade ago. In fact, if there's one lesson I'm going to take with me from this profound experience, it's that life isn't worth holding on to stupid things like that for too long. It's hard to say, if you haven't spent a year in someone else's body, exactly how one reaches that conclusion. I used to think all of our experiences were what made us, what set us in stone, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's that nothing is so monumental it will always remain. Things change.

And of course, I'm ready to change back.

-Todd/AM

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Living my lives

Considering everything that's been going on lately, I sometimes forget to mention what life is like as Anne-Marie. Between all my misadventures with Donna and Julia, my hanging out with Bryan and meeting Darren and Ginessa, it might seem like my entire life is based around me, Todd, just happening to look like someone else.

I guess all the other stuff just seems so much more mundane. Like it's less relevant than the stuff pertaining to the Inn. Like, my mind's been overwhelmed lately with preparations to go back (2 1/2 months if I'm not mistaken!) that I hardly have time or motivation to mention my Anne-Marie life. After all, does anybody care how accustomed I've gotten to doing the laundry of a prepubescent boy, and a pubescent girl? Or how good I've gotten at preparing different meals to fill the weeks, fewer and fewer of which involve the microwave?

Maybe not. but sadly that doesn't mean I can skip doing those things. It's just that, while I'm doing them, I tend to block out the part of my mind that is Todd (this happens during sex as well,) and then when I sit down to write my occasional blog entries, it's usually because something dramatic has happened with a fellow Inn-visitor, not because I mixed a red pair of panties in with my whites.

A few days ago, I was grocery shopping. I was reaching for the last box of Honey Nut Cheerios when I see another hand grab at the same time. I look over at the man attached to that wrist. He smiles awkwardly and lets go. "I don't need them," he says. I shrug and go on my way.

A little bit later I run into him again, this time in the coffee aisle. He's staring at the different types of tea, eyes glazed over. I happened to need tea as well, so we got to talking.

"I didn't used to drink tea, but my girlfriend got me hooked on the stuff," he chuckled. "Now she's gone and I've got no idea what to get."

"I didn't used to drink tea either," I mentioned. I neglected to add, "Until I became a woman." It's a weird affectation I've picked up from acting more mature.

After a little bit of pleasant chit-chat, mostly tea-related, he tells me his name's Jack, he's a Grad Student at some University around here. He looks to be about my age - the age I was when I was a man. We actually ended up doing a little joking around, making up funny stories about each different type of tea ("Who is Earl Grey anyhow?") As we started to hit it off, I suddenly got very wary, and asked him "Say... you've never been to Maine, have you?"

He just shrugs and says no. He asks me why I'd ask and I play it off, "You just reminded me of someone. Never mind."

He's about to say something else, starting with "I don't know if I'm out of line here, or anything, but..." I stop him and hold up my hand, specifically my ring finger. "Little word of advice. If you're going to hit on chicks in the middle of the day at the supermarket, check their hands."

"Ah," he looked embarrassed, "I was hoping you were divorced or... a widow, or single for whatever reason. I'm not very good at this. Did I mention my girlfriend just left me? Six years. I transferred out here to be with her. All of our friends were hers, pretty much."

"Well, it was a nice try," I consoled him, "I mean, try not to dwell on the sympathy angle too much, but you seem like a decent guy."

He was about to walk away. I stopped him, "Look. Don't get the wrong idea or anything, but why don't you give me your e-mail address or something? If you really don't know anybody around here, maybe I can help."

He shrugged, hesitantly, "I don't see why not," and handed me his business card. I wasn't sure what I intended to do with it... maybe pass it along to "Julia," or whatever. I'm definitely not in the market for an affair or anything, but I guess I just took the compliment too well. Anne-Marie isn't a young hottie or anything but I've always looked in the mirror and thought she had a certain milfishness. It's just that I never get looks out in public.

I checked my reflection to see if there was anything in particular that might've seemed overly appealing about me today, but no. No significant cleavage, no bare legs, bum looking nondescript... I just look like a normal lady. Not even wearing makeup, barely brushed my hair. So whatever this dude was looking at, it must've been very genuine, and, I dunno, I thought that was nice. It reminded me of those times on public transit when I'd find myself making casual conversation with a pretty girl. Left me with a similar feeling... minus the mild arousal.

It's the kinda feeling you hold onto, no matter what life you're living... it's hard to explain.

-Todd/AM

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Decisions

I've had a lot on my mind lately, and I've made some decisions.

Bryan and I have agreed to stay in Connecticut - to stay as Anne-Marie and Ellie.

It's just too much hassle to go back to our real lives, and honestly, I'm starting to love this. I get to go to bed every night with a man I am slowly realizing I love, and raise two beautiful, wonderful, well-behaved children. Plus I'm rich - it's awesome to be able to just sponge off a successful dentist forever. And anytime I want, I can just climb on top of him, and he gives me what I need. He's like a stallion. He makes me weak in the knees.

Bryan, too, agrees that we're better off. She - I might as well start calling her Ellie now - is loving the chance to re-do high school from a girl's perspective. The leering boys, the cheerleaders, the hormones. She's also told me she's lost interest in the whole "Leanne" thing. It was more of a phase where she was just denying the truth - she couldn't want to find some guy to mess around with.

Now that we've accepted our fates - hell, embraced them - the future looks pretty good. Honestly, I'm considering going down to the sperm bank, getting some of Hal's guys, and squeezing out one of our own. After all, my clock is ticking, and that's something I'd really like to try, now that I can.

I'm really excited. Suddenly, I know what I want in my life. And that feels wonderful. Mrs. Hal Adkisson. Anne-Marie.

OH, yeah, one last thing.

Check the date.

April fools!

-TODD!