Saturday, June 20, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: All my bags are packed, I'm read to go...

Yeah, I realize that song is lame, but how appropriate right?

Day One of Maine 2009 was... surprising. In a lot of ways.

I wanted to swing by Donna's place, to have some final words with her before I left. For once, she wasn't around. I have no idea where she might've been, or what I would've said to her. Chances are she would've just said something to piss me off anyway. I still don't know who she was or whether I'm going to go back to Connecticut after this trip to find out more about her.

But what I really wanted to say was how grateful I was that she had been... a friend, sort of, or whatever. It's been nice having her to talk to these past few weeks, no matter how much she gets on my nerves. No she's not the best friend I ever had, but knowing there was someone, other than Bryan, who had some idea what was going on, even given her different attitude about it... has been comforting. So in that weird way I'll miss her. I'll miss a lot of things, but I'm going to try to get on with my life. Once I get back to it.

I also saw Anne-Marie, and she wished me luck. That was an interesting scene but not really an important one.

I was really worried about going by Bryan's place and picking her up around 4:00, especially since Trudy was there. While I was helping her load her bags into the back of Anne-Marie's SUV, Trudy took me aside. It was tense.

"So you're really going, huh?"

"That's what we agreed on."

She looks at me like We didn't agree on anything but didn't say it. She went on, "I don't know why you're so fixated on this, but I want... I want what's best for Ellie. You... take care, okay?" And she gave me this look - disapproving, but accepting in a way.

All I could do was smile and pat her on the shoulder - kind of a masculine gesture - and say "Trust me. When she gets back from Maine, Ellie will be a lot better." She didn't believe me, but I guess she'd made her peace with it. Bryan climbed into the passenger's side.

"We ready?"

"Rock and roll."

Trudy gave off some motherly "Be safe" slogans as she leaned in the window and kissed her on the cheek. Bry gave a very authentic-sounding goodbye as I drove away.

I didn't even have the radio on. There was silence as I began to drive away from town. Bry was uncharacteristically reflective.

"We've been through a lot this year."

She scoffed, "Tch. I'll say." Just stared out the window at the passing houses.

"You gonna miss it?"

"Like what?"

"The house. The family. The life."

"The periods, the boobs, the horny teenage guys and the... equally horny girls? The bitchy moms and the homework, my God the homework..."

"Okay," I stopped her, "I get your point."

"I'm so done with this fuckin' place."

I didn't believe her, though. The way she was drinking in the landscape as we drove by told me there was something about this place she didn't really want to leave behind. I didn't want to press her, though. I wanted to say how weird it was, in those first couple days she had been the one so gung ho about this whole thing, she was the one who encouraged me to go with the flow and, well I'm not inside her head or anything but somewhere along the way she lost that.

I dug my iPod out of the glove compartment. The one I brought home after being transformed, full of my Todd music. I hooked it up to the radio and set it to "London Calling." As soon as that opening chord struck up, she started to bob her head. She turned to me and smiled.

"Oh hell yeah, turn that up!"

The drive lasted nearly five hours, after traffic and food stops. We put an unofficial moratorium on Inn-talk and got to talking about old times. People we used to know. Sometimes, the Inn came up, peripherally, when we'd link some old experience to a recent one, but we were really just chilling out shooting the shit like we always did. It was so nice.

We pulled up to the Inn around 9, when the rain was starting to let up. The clouds made night fall sooner. I got out of the car and opened the rear. I saw a figure coming toward me from the entrance of the Inn. It was a middle-aged Asian guy in a trucker cap and plaid work shirt.

"Need some help?"

"Um... sure." He grabbed some bags and followed after me. I was wary, but we did have a lot of luggage.

He commented, "Guess you don't believe in travelin' light?"

I laughed, "Guess not."

We got to the door of the Inn. There was a white woman sitting on a chair on the porch doing a crossword puzzle. She looked up and acknowledged me with a friendly smile. He paused and said, "This your first time at this Inn?"

I stopped and looked at him. "Nope. We've been here before."

He smiled and took off his cap, brushing his hair with his fingers, "Yep. You can always tell when someone's coming back. They have this... look on their faces. Like they're expecting something out of this place."

"So I guess you know about this place, eh?"

"Oh, I know." He laughed. "I know." We continued to carry things to the room. I hadn't yet opened the door. I asked, "Have you seen anyone else around?"

"You're the first souls we've seen around here today. I guess you're early for the show."

He paused, then continued, "If you need anything at all, don't hesitate to come find me. I'm George, the lady on the porch is my wife Jan."

I extended my hand and we shook. I've gotten so used to being under cover, so I introduced myself, "Anne-Marie," and then paused before adding, "Todd."

"Well, Anne-Marie Todd, I'll see you around." And he went back out front. Bryan caught up with me, giant bag trailing behind her thin little arm.

"So, who's that guy anyway?"

"He's like us, I guess." I'll have to make a note to talk to him, but at the time all I really wanted was to get my stuff put away.

I took a deep breath and opened the door. I don't know what I was expecting, but the room looked just how I remember it. Twin beds. Window. Closet.

Some very familiar-looking luggage sitting on top of each bed. On top of the luggage were envelopes. The one Deb left for me outlined her situation with Amanda - how they'd landed in the wrong bodies - and theorized that they had slept in the wrong beds. So our luggage was used to demarcate where we were to sleep. It gave a general status report on our lives and a "goodbye" or sorts, "Nice knowing you." Maybe I'll summarize it later. I cracked open the suitcse, and breathed in the heady scent of freshly-laundered male clothes. They were neatly folded in a way I'd never have done, but Alia had done for me on a few occasions.

I dug out my laptop - my Todd laptop, as Anne-Marie doesn't own one - the one that, a year ago, I had used to write my wandering memoirs, so I could get online and start writing this. The internet connection here is outdated and slow though, so I don't think I'll be doing much casual browsing... which is a shame since I'll need something to keep myself occupied.

Bry's note contained a pleasant surprise, indicating "Look in the closet." She did, and there she found a guitar case - an old acoustic we used to tinker with when we couldn't plug in, and when Bry was considering getting his busking license.

She immediately started warming up. Having little fingers and little arms, and only played bass the last few months, she was a little clumsy - still better than me though. "I'm feeling a little Beatley tonight," she said, and began to play "Two Of Us." We had a little singalong; our harmonies were atrocious. It's a good thing only George and Jan were around to hear, if they could.

That's all for tonight. I don't know whether people will show up immediately or just trickle in - I'd have thought more for a weekend like this, but whatever - but I'm guessing we'll at least have a few nights to rest.

I'll try to post every day while I'm hre, but don't get too upset if I don't, it probably just means nothing interesting enough happened to warrant me suffering these load times. I still have no idea what I'll do to pass the time, since Bry can't even drink.

We'll figure something out.

-Todd/Anne-Marie

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