I've been finding it very hard to sit still and settle back into the life that is rightfully mine, because there is a lot of housekeeping that I have put off since returning a few months ago.
Every time I see Erica, she has gotten that much more pregnant. She's really starting to expand. Since she works in an office and I, ahem, have a tendency to sleep all day, we never did intersect that much in my regular life and we haven't lately. But when I do see her, it's like a reminder that the life I've come back to isn't the one I left.
But I did manage to get over to her apartment for dinner over a week ago, with Bryan in tow. She and Sean Flaherty cooked some pasta while we all awkwardly caught up on things. It's so weird having to withhold such a giant tract of my life from people I know. There are so few people who can know that I spent a year as Anne-Marie. In a way, it's a relief, because it means I don't have to explain it to them, don't have to field questions about sex or menstruation or any of that other crap I've pretty much touched on here (and if I haven't said something directly here it's because I really didn't wanna talk about it.) But it's also a shame since it means a very important slice of my life has to go unacknowledged. I feel like I've matured, but Sean and Erica don't seem to agree.
They explained their position. They are looking to have all the legal paperwork drawn up so that Sean is legally the child's father. I will have no responsibility for it, I will not have to pay child support, they're not even sure when or if they will explain the kid's real parentage.
At first it was a relief. Although it is my genetic stock, I felt, at first, as much connection the the child growing inside Erica as I do to anyone else's baby. I wanted no part of it.
Relief turned to disappointment. I thought the last thing I wanted was to take care of a baby that isn't really mine, but it's a little more complicated than that. I try to push it out of my mind, but there's a part of me that fears Alia will never make it back to her own body, and that I will never care about someone the way I do about her and so will never have a kid of my own, aside from this one. Paranoid as it may be, being suddenly transformed into a different person will have a drastic impact on the way you look at things. It feels now like anything is possible.
Bryan sat watching from the couch while Sean cleared the dishes from the table and I sat across from Erica and asked her why keep it a secret, why cut me out of the whole thing, why not ask for any money?
I could see her squirm, as she insisted that keeping it between her and Sean was a way of keeping things from getting complicated. "Plus," Sean chimed in, "We thought you would want it this way. You're not really the parental type, you know?"
I've spend a fair bit of time talking about Sean Flaherty indirectly. He first came up when Alia admitted she'd had a fling with him when Deb was me. He and Erica actually go back a ways, but unlike me and Alia, only broke up once, and hadn't been together for a while, I assume, when this whole thing between her and Deb went down.
The easiest way to describe him is... smug. He can be a nice guy, but he has a bit of a holier-than-thou streak running through him. It was actually hard for me to spend a whole evening with this guy and not punch him, adding to my annoyance that he'd be raising this kid. Part of that was also the knowledge that he'd slept with Alia, but even before there was that. I've known him for years. He's a good athlete, he's a pretty boy, has terrible taste in music, dresses preppy, he has a good job and comes from a family background not that different from mine. He's Bizarro-me. And he doesn't hesitate to let people know he thinks highly of his accomplishments.
Erica steps in to clarify. "What he means to say is that your life is pretty chaotic lately. We can't take your money, you need to get settled for yourself. Maybe when you stop running all over the continent when you get bored or angry..."
Now I was really upset, partly offended at the insinuations about my character, partly annoyed that they were pretty much right. As much as I want everyone to know that I've changed, that I'm not going to be that guy anymore, there's no reason anyone should believe me, because I still seem to be the person I always was. A rolling stone, a "ramblin' man" (Allman Bros. reference) who ran away from his problems instead of facing them.
After all, I wasn't working, I was living hand-to-mouth, lonely and pining for Alia. My life had actually gone several steps backward since returning to Toronto. I left in a huff. Bryan followed a bit behind me, taking care to get leftovers.
Bryan. I keep forgetting, while I haven't been posting, that although there's not a lot going on in my life, there are others like Bryan and Crystal/Alia, that you readers only get to hear about through me. Crystal, as I've already said, got a job writing ad copy (I suspect Alia was afraid she'd end up doing something like that herself, but Crystal seems to like it.) As wary as I am of this rather skittish woman in my girlfriend's skin, she came through for Bryan and helped him get a staff photographer position, where he can ply his skills as well as keep a close eye on Crystal. I hate to be the suspicious type, but knowing what's going on in her life is a bit of an advantage.
Anyway, now they both suddenly have decent jobs and I'm left as the loser. I've pondered getting my design/intern gig back but I know I wouldn't be satisfied, I know there's not a lot of room for advancement there, and I'd pretty much be back where I started. I haven't written it off yet though, I just need to figure out exactly what I want. Stability, or happiness?
Until then, I managed to get back into a record store job I had years ago. It doesn't earn me a ton of bread, but it pays the bills. But it's not going to impress anyone into thinking I'm parent material.
I don't know what upset me so much. I actually don't want to be a parent and should be fine with the whole arrangement, but something about the way the whole thing went down felt so insulting... it just hit a sore spot because of the way I've been feeling about my life lately. I'm faced with the fact that I've really got to start outlining my future, and it's... intimidating. I'm feeling the pressure to get my life in order before Alia gets back.
Which brings us to Nuit Blanche, which is an all-night event in Toronto where the city is pretty much transformed into a massive modern art gallery. They have them in various cities all over the world (it started in Paris a few years ago and migrated outward.) We managed to entice the somewhat-introverted Crystal into coming out with us despite the ridiculous rainy weather. Ironically, she was the one most taken by some of the exhibits while Bry and I were calling "pretentious BS" left and right. She enjoyed it more than either of us.
She was getting kinda loopy around 3 AM. I had an installation I wanted to see across town, so Bry made sure she got home okay and met back up with me later. Getting her out of the way made it easier to interact with people who know the three of us. For a long time, there is going to be the awkward disconnect between what people think "Alia" is and what we know about her. We've had to face that fact a lot already, and hopefully over the next few months it'll get better, because it seems like Crystal really wants to get out more.
Anyway, I guess I've said enough for tonight. It was good to catch up.