I'm guessing new-Kalli and new-Julia were at the Inn with Greg down there. I have yet to hear from them, or Anne-Marie on the subject of them. Despite having returned to my body, and being eager to get on with my life as best I can, I feel a responsibility to help those who have been transformed. So if there's anything any of the new folks need, feel free to seek me out. In the meantime, though, Bry and I took flight. first stop NYC, then Philly.
I had wanted to go visit Darren/Jaime, but hadn't thought to bring her contact information, and wasn't in the mood to go on a (wo)manhunt. The fact that I couldn't reach her was a bit of a relief. As much as I wanted to check in and see how she was, our last meeting was not exactly the easiest thing for either of us. I was kind of a dick to her and I wanted to apologize, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized my presence might just upset her more. Last time I checked, she was slowly growing more comfortable with being a woman and starting to get on with her life, but I think some of what I said rattled her a little bit. If she's made more progress, seeing me and Bry as the guys we are might just undo it. Maybe what she needs is to move past the Inn and the blog and everything, like Ginessa.
So it wasn't much of a stay in New York and we headed out to Philadelphia, a city we stopped in briefly last year before we ever transformed. It was the last place I ever had sex with a woman, after a concert by the Bloody Knuckles, the guilt of which inspired me to reconcile with Alia, and then go to Maine. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was just over a year.
Friday night we arrived at Alia's, or rather Rob Garcia's place. It was a small ground-level apartment. Pretty cramped, but neat and tidy -- after picking up after the likes of me for a few years, Alia can clean for anyone. Actually, that's something we fought about, but in the future will very doubtfully be an issue.
We were too tired to do anything that first night, other than have a couple drinks and catch up on old times. I tried very hard to get over the awkwardness of seeing the girl I've known and loved so long sitting in the body of this 200-pound almost middle-aged (about the same age as Anne-Marie, maybe a bit younger) guy. She vented a little bit about how irritated she'd been, back when she was herself and she thought I was totally ignoring her. I repeatedly said it was all in the past - not even my past - but she said it was during that time she realized how important I was to her, because of how frustrated she got with my absence.
I sighed, "Now look at us. I feel like an idiot for following you to Maine. god, if I'd trusted you, or the person who said he was you..."
"Well," I sighed, "What's done is done, that's what I say. I mean, look. Not three months, ago, I had a vagina."
"Me too," Bryan piped in.
Alia laughed, "God, guys. I still can't imagine it. you, Todd, are the biggest gynophobe I ever met."
"Is that a word?"
"It is now. you never wanted to know about my periods or birth control or anything."
"That's typical!" I defended myself.
"You didn't even like looking at my pussy. I remember you used to clamp your eyes closed."
"Too much information!" Bryan covered his ears. I was embarrassed.
"I'm just saying, Todd, I would've loved to see the look on your face the first time you got your monthly. or the first time you had sex. You had sex with a dude! I still can't believe that!"
"I used to do this trick," I explained, "It's like, double-consciousness. I would imagine that I was Hal - Anne-Marie's husband - and you were Anne-Marie."
"That doesn't make sense."
"it was a psychological thing, to like, deal with the pleasure. I imagined the times we fucked, and substituted whatever pleasure I felt for pleasure I imagined I'd given you."
"Gee, that's real romantic, thanks stud," she said sarcastically. "How'd that work for you?"
"Surprisingly well. I had a couple badass orgasms, I tell you."
Alia glanced over at Bryan, who was just shaking his head. "Don't look at me, I stayed celibate the whole time out of respect for Ellie's purity. Believe me, I could've gotten to third with Leanne, probably after only a few weeks."
"Somehow, I'm skeptical." I shook my head.
"Well, okay. I mean, whatever I did with myself, that's my own business. I sure as hell won't tell you guys, because I know you'll just write it on the blog, and I think that might be illegal since I was 14 friggin' years old."
"True enough. I hope you did restrain yourself."
"Damn right I did."
Alia turned back to me, "So Todd, are you, like, worried about any lingering effects?"
"What do you mean, like I'll want to wear a bra around the house or something?"
"No," she laughed half-drunkenly at her own awkward question, "I mean, like, after having sex with Hal all those times. What if you don't like having sex with girls anymore?"
"Are you kidding me?! If anything I'll like it more now that I know how to be good at it. I don't wanna be anywhere near anyone else's dick, no offense sweetie."
"Of course, if you get back to Toronto next year and decide you dig girls, well, we'll deal with that when it happens."
"Uh huh. Sure. Don't count on it, buddy."
Around 1 AM, we started to get sleepy. There was a lot of awkwardness about sleeping arrangements. I could sense Alia trying to accommodate the 'whole she's a guy, I'm a guy, we're not really together' thing, but in the end I just cut the crap and said "Look, Alia, you know I love you, and we're both mature people here. I'm capable of sleeping in bed with you and not fixating on sex."
"I dunno," she said, leading me back to her room, "Can I trust you not to just whip it out? You've pulled that trick once or twice."
"Like I said," I told her, "I'm done with other guys' dicks. No offense."
She extended her hand - her big ole man-hand. "Friends?"
So we slept, fully clothed, in Rob's bed. And that's all that happened, pervs. Although, when I woke up, I guess we had started spooning at some point during the night, because my arm was trapped under her. Awkward.
Saturday, we invited Cliff to hang out with us as we went for lunch, movie, dinner, drinks. We were sitting on a patio, and she came up wearing short shorts and a camisole with a bag slung over her shoulder, the strap crossing between her boobs. From her last post, I'd expected her to arrive wearing baggy trousers and a large overcoat, but I guess she's turning toward the "girl clothes" thing by degrees, which is good.
I mean, I take it from my own experience - it's a constant tug of war, yes, between the way the world sees you and the way you want to see yourself. But you're not doing yourself any favours if you don't make the compromise, because there's not a whole lot you can do about the way your body looks. Unless you've got the time, energy and money to track down a whole wardrobe of more gender-neutral stuff, it's best to work with what you've been given. Anne-Marie had that kind of time and money, but I didn't feel it was mine to spend. Cliff clearly doesn't, until she finally gets herself a job she's living off savings.
Because the truth is, whether you're wearing jeans or a skirt, you still haven't got a penis, so nobody's going to look at you the way you want them to. I hated it, believe me, and it took months before I was secure enough with myself to put it out of mind. I don't expect Cliff to reach that conclusion any faster.
She's a nice person, but the change has really put her into an awkward frame of mind. She seemed shy, out of her element, awkward. Rigid. Not that I blame her. I felt my own personality being suppressed for months after the change and I hated it. I wanted to reassure her, tell her everything was going to be okay, but if someone had told me in September how I'd feel about womanhood in April, I wouldn't have wanted to hear it. So I just let her be.
I've called Cliff "her" and yet also called Alia "her." I was hanging out with this guy, Alia-in-Rob's-body all weekend but in the abstract I still think of her as a girl. I think it may just be because I know Alia so well, and see her personality emerging from behind Rob's face, whereas not only did I never really know Cliff, I didn't sense "him" letting "his" personality out much, so to me, Cliff is this shy girl, and Alia, despite her appearance, is still the girl I always knew, which is in a way quite reassuring.
So there's that. Bry told me later he was fighting off the urge to hit on Cliff the entire time. Nice.
We hit the road again Sunday but have yet to reach Toronto. We stopped off in Niagara Falls for the night/day. As soon as we were over the border, Bry kissed the ground.
We'll be having dinner here, and then head home in time to go to bed tonight in our own beds. That's going to be weird. But in an awesome way.
We're only a few kilometers away from putting this entire experience behind us. And, I guess, our lives will be beginning again at last.
I'll get back to you soon as something happens