Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Alia/Rob: Pinch hitter.

It seems no matter whose life you inherit, even if it appears to be an easy fit, there are going to be problems that prevent you from, let's say... enjoying the experience, at least to a certain degree.

For example, even though I am a woman (by nature) I don't envy how Todd and Bryan spent their "transformed" year. From reading their entries, and getting the extended commentary from them, it sounds like a Kafka nightmare. If I'd been in either of their shoes I would've cracked just as bad, and that's without the drastic physical gender change. At this point in my life I'm nearly as far from the domestic housewife/mother type as Todd was, more of an aspiring career gal than family type. And, being an independent-minded woman, I probably would've been a lot more stern with Anne-Marie's husband than Todd was, because as he puts it, his situation was so unimaginable he felt no option but to go along with it. I wouldn't have taken it in such stride, I'm sure.

The funny thing is, a lot of that was because of my relationship with Todd. I was exactly the type of shrinking violet wallflower damsel in distress that would've gone along with whatever a husband wanted before I met him, but he challenged me to grow up and take control. Part of the reason we fought, and occasionally broke up, was that I felt too much like his mother when I was learning to be an independent woman. See what I'm getting at here? I probably would've made an even worse wife and mother than my boyfriend.

And don't get me started on how insufferable I would've found high school, had I transformed into the girl Bryan was.

What I guess I'm saying is how ironic I find it that right now, I've gotten more comfortable in the skin of a man -- specifically this man -- than I would imagine being in that of a middle aged woman or teenage girl. Sure I wouldn't have chosen this body... I never really appreciated my youth or even my femininity so much as I do right now. But I'm more suited to this life than those.

I'm hesitant to interfere with things in Rob's life too much because I still feel it's none of my business and can be attended after he returns. I try to keep quiet and be a non-entity, but I still have the responsibility to exert authority as a teacher, which, as I outlined earlier, I've gotten fairly good at and have enjoyed somewhat. On the rare occasion I manage to talk to Cliff, I usually advise him/her to take ownership of Tori's life more. I rationalize my not having done the same by the fact that Rob's life is closer to how I'd choose to live anyway.

But in any life, there comes a number of problems. Ingrid, Rob's soon-to-be-ex-wife is breathing down my neck for divorce papers, a problem I keep shirking. It's hard to get wrapped up in other peoples' problems when you don't feel like they directly concern you. But I learned a little lesson about avoiding confronting problems.

That came in the form of a phone call from Rob's mother.

It only occurred to me after a few months that I should be answering Rob's phone. I'd been avoiding calls, a bad habit leftover from my real life, because I have what you might call telephone anxiety. I grew up with E-Mail and MSN after I got a cell phone, used it mostly for texting. It's silly, I guess, but the phone is my least preferred form of communication. So I don't pick up Rob's phone often and I don't check his messages as often as I should, especially since for a long while I had trouble coming to terms with the fact that when people want to talk to Rob, it's me they've got to get.

So when I finally got the nerve to answer the phone when the caller ID said "Garcia M" (for Marta) I got an earful. She chastised me for not calling recently and ignoring her, and cursed me out in Spanish, which of course I don't speak (fortunately it seems Rob wasn't much of a speaker himself.) She asked me what was going on in my life, why my phone number had changed. I explained it was because of the separation.

Her reaction was essentially an explosive "¡¿QuĂ©?!"

I can't believe Rob hadn't bothered to explain to his own mother that he was splitting up with his wife. It fell to me to fumble through some half-hearted speculative explanation about how things hadn't worked out and they realized they were out of love. to the highly Catholic and highly judgmental Marta, this was not good to hear. She insinuated her son was a failure. She insisted I come live with her in Phoenix.

I told her that was not possible, I had a job and a life. Then I happened to throw in that I had an obligation to try to fix things with Ingrid (although I really don't) and I could hear Mrs. Garcia snort, "Phht, she's not worth the ground you walk on." She then rambled some more in Spanish, bid me adios, and hung up.

When I got off the phone, I was exhausted. I feel like Rob owes me one for withstanding that. No wonder he put off telling her, but it was really, really unfortuante that task fell to me. Still, I'm sure that in his new life, whatever he's got going on, he's dealing with similar inherited problems.



Anonymous said...

Have you had any communication with Rob, in his new life? Has he attempted to contact you, or leave any information for contacting him?

Alia/Rob said...

We have played phone tag, and a few sparse e-mails but we have not directly conversed.

He and Tori are a married couple down in Louisville, Kentucky. non-gender-swapped, unless they are lying.

I get the sense that something has been keeping them very busy down there.