I see a new group of people heading back to the Inn, or there for the first time, and I'm tempted to join them. I feel like so much of the last six months has demonstrated that I'm just not cut out for this, and maybe if I go back to the Inn, I'll get myself a male body, and someone who can handle being a woman will get this one.
It's been practically New Year's since I wrote here last, so a bit of recap is probably in order: I met a nice guy at Lyn's party, we went on a few dates, and it was fun. More than fun, actually - I wasn't quite falling in love, but I was enjoying dating, which was a new and exciting experience for me as a woman. I should have written about it, but between work (which now includes live-blogging nearly every game) and the endless rewrites on the book, I kind of didn't want to do any more writing. Besides, whenever I'd meet up with Lyn to talk about it, she'd hit me with good advice about not ruining a good thing by over-thinking it, and blogging is incredibly conducive to over-thinking. So I stayed away while things were good.
And I didn't want to be all self-pitying when things went wrong. It started out small; there were kids running around the restaurant where we were having breakfast one Wednesday morning (yeah, I was enjoying the low-pressure sex, too) in February. It was a vacation week, and we started talking about what we'd done during winter vacations as kids. His stories were funny, but mine must have sounded strange, as I tried to merge what little I know about Nell's youth with a Penny-fied version of my own. It always sounded like I was holding something back, and even though none of it had anything to do with us right now, it must have looked as bad to him as it felt to me.
So we broke up. It sucked, but there's a life lesson to it: You know how it appears that you can tell people about the Inn and have them believe you during big, life-changing moments? Breaking up with someone you've been seeing for a couple months doesn't count. No matter how awful it may feel at the time, this is not a big enough event in your life that you can get anywhere by telling your boyfriend that you used to be someone else, and a cursed inn up in Old Orchard Beach reshaped your body, twice, and that's why you're so guarded and uncertain. It sucks, and it hurts, but apparently it's not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.
Lyn repeated that to me about a dozen times a night that first week. It sort of convinced me. After a while, I was kind of glad, because between my weird schedule, Chance's, hers, and her boyfriend Matt's, we hadn't been seeing much of each other lately, and now everything only had to work out a little bit. She doesn't mind swooping down on certain things like a vulture, either: Even in my first life, I got kind of worked up over breakups, not really enjoying anything that I'd planned to do with my girlfriend when it looked like we would be together for some indefinite period. The hormones I inherited from Nell seem to make it worse, so I wound up giving Lyn a bunch of tickets to games and concerts I'd either bought or been comped.
One of them was for a Bruin's game in early March. I give her the tickets, switch a shift or two to work from the pressbox that night, planning to meet her and Matt after the game. When I've gotten some quotes and filed a game story, I head to a bar down the street from the Garden where I've agreed to meet them after the game. I'm kind of surprised when I find Lyn and it's not Matt she's with, but Ray.
Lyn tells me that Mike had to cover for someone at the firehouse who had food poisoning, and she just happened to run into Ray after she got the call. Ray had to check with Liz, of course, but Liz is busy rehearsing and doesn't much mind him being out with Lyn (probably figures that Lyn, being a former guy and in a long-term relationship, is the safest girl for her fiancé to spend time with). Ray remembers me, from Lyn's party and before, and we all get to talking, and drinking, and laughing, and...
And I don't exactly remember Lyn leaving, because she's got an job interview the next morning. Ray and I had a good time without her, and then we went back to my place and had a really good time.
We were both horrified when we woke up in the morning. He was engaged, and I always figured that Lyn would be the one to make this kind of mistake, not me. He ran off as soon as I shook him awake, and I can't say I blamed him.
He felt bad, though; he turned up at the Boston Today offices to apologize, and I told him there was no need, that I owed him more of an apology than he owed me (left unsaid, of course, is how much contrition we both owed Liz). We went to the Sidebar, had one drink to show there were no hard feelings, and that was that.
A few weeks later, around the end of April, I was at the dressmakers getting something mended when I heard yelling from the next room; it was Liz, having something just short of a tantrum about how everything had to be perfect, and this wasn't, and... Well, I didn't stick around. Ray was going in as I was coming out, and I warned him that he did not want to go in there. He said he had to, but he was running from the room thirty seconds later, saying it wasn't his area of expertise and Liz had thrown him out. He spotted me, ran to catch up, and we chatted as we walked. After we'd turned a corner or two, he pushed me up against the wall and kissed me.
It must have been kind of a funny sight - Ray's around five-eight, and I'm a smidge under six feet even even when I'm not wearing shoes with a one-inch heel like I was that day; he had to stand on tiptoe. I also spend a lot more time in the gym than he does. I don't say this to make fun of Ray, just to point out that he didn't - couldn't, really - force himself on me. I kissed back, and everything after was something we both did, not just him, and not just me.
I say "everything after", but it's not as dramatic as that makes it sound. We would meet on nights when Liz had rehearsal - or, later, performances. He'd complain that she was getting to be a full-on Bridezilla, I'd regale him with what a Boston sports reporter learns that the locals eat up even though it's utterly trivial, we'd drink a bit, and then, about half the time, we'd have sex.
And it was good. Ray gave me my first female orgasm two years ago, and there was something familiar about hooking up with him, but it was new, too. My body type is divergent enough from Liz's that we approached each other differently. I'd let him be on top (I was a little scared of getting crushed as Liz), and there was an urgency to it, as we were stealing time. Both in the short term and in the long term - Ray and Liz had a mid-July wedding date set, and we both knew it would end then. Neither of us is going to cross that line, and we figured Liz would chill out after the wedding itself was over.
Of course, this depended on Liz not finding out.
I don't know how she did; it doesn't much matter. We were just drinking that night, and Liz showed up at the bar still in costume, just completely pissed off. Ray stammered that it was just a drink with a friend, but he's not a good enough liar to stand his ground when Liz asked about the other times. She didn't have much time to waste - she could only stretch intermission by fifteen minutes, so she just stomped out.
Ray followed soon after, saying he was sorry, that the tightly-wound thing was a relatively recent development. It only happened after the second time he proposed to her. Some girls just let the engagement and wedding get into their heads, and it would be different after it was all over and done with. She'd be like the girl who he fell in love with and proposed to.
I don't know about that.
That was a few weeks ago, the last time I saw Ray. I went to Liz's play last week, but she wasn't there. I asked one of the other folks in the audience, and she told me that "the Chinese girl" and her boyfriend had eloped, and were probably still on their honeymoon. I guess they worked things out between them, and I'm glad. Ray's a good guy, he and Liz have loved each other forever, and Liz went through a lot to get back to him.
And that gets us up to today. Let me just apologize to Lyn again for not telling her while it was happening; I suppose it's like Liz not wanting to tell the original Ashlyn about Stewart; you take the "high ground" toward someone who's more overtly sexual and it's just unthinkable to confess you've done something bad.
It does feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, though. It was terrible keeping that sort of thing bottled up. From now on, I'm making a couple rules: No guys with girlfriends/wives/etc., and when someone talks about my past, just say I don't want to talk about it. If that's a deal-breaker for them, so be it. Being in a relationship is supposed to make you feel good, and I'm sick of it doing something else.
Well for starters, it's good to see you back again.
I guess we never know how much our past affects us until it's taken out of our hands. That must be the toughest thing about a transformation like yours, that disconnect between Art's past and Penny's.
It's very nice to hear from you again. You've been missed.
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