Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Open book test

I am not Tori. Not yet, anyway.

I look like her, I wear her clothes, her jewelery. I paint her nails sometimes and have worn her make-up. Everyone calls me by her name. When I look in the mirror, it's her I see, but I think there's still a difference between my playing Tori and if I was being Tori. I think that takes time. I've read this blog cover to cover by now, some periods I've re-read too. Art and Jake aren't Art and Jake anymore, they're Penny and Ashlyn. Those are their lives and they have spent enough time living them, and they were handed over the controls to them. I'm still Cliff, and all the things I don't know about the woman I am supposed to be could fill a book. Several books, in fact.......

It all started a few weekends ago, after my little Halloween layabout. I've definitely bonded with Mae in a way Tori wouldn't have, probably because she, being a tomboy, has a bit of dislike for the girly-girlness of Tori. I'm trying to bring "Tori" and Cliff closer together so I can really be comfortable until I get my body back *(knock on wood!) And I guess that person is just someone Mae is more interested in talking to.

So of course there's still a bit of hostility but it's more kidding, more friendly. We've bonded.

And I mean, we've bonded to the point where she is telling me a lot about her life, specifically her relationship with Ed.

I mainly just listen, and when she asks for advice I try to give my honest opinion, but it's clearly not the same opinion as a girl of Tori's age and experience would have. It my be better, because when she complains about not understanding what Ed means when he says he's doing something, I might understand better than a real woman.

But understand how overwhelmed I am by this development. I have had female friends, but they kept me in the dark about their sex lives, and those few relationships I had never had sex lives to speak of. No woman has ever told me what she really thinks about sex or dating or anything. It's a complete mystery to me. Do women like having sex? I never even thought about it, I assumed it was just something they put up with.

I haven't... done... what Greg has done, because part of me does not want to know. I don't want that side of Tori to be opened up in me because in a way, I'd rather never know the answers than find out something I don't want to.

So Mae tells me last weekend that she and Ed have started to get serious enough that she wants to start having sex with him, to lose her virginity to him, in the near future, probably by the end of the year. And I really did not know what to say about that. She was clearly looking for the response of a woman who has had her fair share of sex, who might have regrets or advice or anything, but I was just... blank, obviously. Male or female I have lived my life sexually neutral, not for lack of trying.

Now, if I can barely imagine what sex is like for a man, then I have absolutely no clue what sex is like for a woman. I think she wanted me to either sell her on it, or to dissuade her and tell her it's not worth it. And I couldn't say either. As much as I've grown protective of Mae - she really is like my little sister, and I don't want some punk getting with her and hurting her. But it would be a bit hypocritical of me to warn her off that, because of how much time and energy I spent in my life trying to get laid, and I know not all teenage boys are supercreeps.

So I told her what any stupid book might've, which is, you know, be smart, be safe, um, don't make fun of his penis. She seemed underwhelmed by what I had to say. I was too. She actually got a little mad at me, because she thought I was holding out on her. She wanted to know what it was like for me. The fact that I couldn't answer the question "What was your first time like for you?" really seemed to set her off, set us back on our bonding. It really hurt.

When I realized what had happened, I started digging through Tori's stuff for artifacts of her life, things that would tell me what I needed. I hit the jackpot when I unearthed her diaries.

They were in a giant box in her closet, not terribly discrete but then again she'd just moved back home. Eight books of varying shapes and sizes, one a year dating back to junior high. They're not all full, but they're organized. I flipped open the first one, and immediately regretted it, and not just because it was, well, the very unfocused thoughts of a 12-year-old girl. I felt guilty, and I felt scared.

It's stupid to feel guilty. I know these thoughts were never meant to be read by anyone other than Tori, but at the same time, it's a part of the world I have landed in, and it's the easiest way to answer all the questions I have about the life I am living. This life is, at least for now, as much mine as it was the girl who wrote these. What right does she have to keep secrets from me? If I wanted to, I could go out and sully her good name, ruin her life, her fate is in my hands, and if she can't trust me with her past, what am I doing living in her present?

I respect her right to privacy, but speaking as someone who has access to her naked body whenever I want it, it's a bit much to ask that I not read any of these books. (And it's not like she has verbally requested I not do it. I haven't even spoken to her lately.)

So what's to stop me? Like I said... fear. Fear of what I might uncover. Fear that it might somehow mutate my mind beyond what's already happened. I know it's stupid, but you know, whatever's in those books, once I read them, can't be un-read. I'm worried that putting myself so deeply into Tori will force me away from Cliff. I don't know what I'm getting into here.

I know, it's... stupid. Stupidly complicated. I'm over-analyzing as always.

I think I'm probably going to get around to reading them, one way or the other. The curiosity, frankly, is killing me.

Lastly, I will also be going back to Buffalo this week for Thanksgiving. I have mixed feelings about this, but I've missed my family a lot and I want to make sure Willy is doing okay by my life. I know it'll be weird, my family seeing me in this state, but I just realized that the last three months have been the longest I've gone without speaking to my parents. Funny how they'll never know that. Perhaps I will bring those diaries for reading material on the bus.


Anonymous said...

Going back to Buffalo and seeing your home and parents while in the guise of Tori, would seem to have parallels to when the original Ashlyn returned to Boston as Jean-Michel and visited her(his) old apartment and spoke to her(his) old roommates...

As for reading the diaries... while the usual rules about privacy don't apply to inn victims, I would guess that there exists no clear consensus among inn victims on where the line should be drawn. My opinion is that landing in another person's body gives you the de facto right to read the diaries. Even if you only inhabit that body temporarily before getting your own life back, the contents of the diary are critical to doing the job of being a temporary caretaker of someone else's life -- kind of an extension of the letter that was left for you at the inn. And as for how Tori might feel about it, I would think that most inn victims would realize, as they are composing their letters, that there is no way to completely protect all of their secrets if any physical evidence exists where their successors could stumble across it. By default and by necessity, everything is fair game.

Anonymous said...

I'd say if you don't have the right to read them then you at least have a need to do so. You are living her life with all the history which comes along with it. I think there is a moral responsibility to be as considerate of the other person's feelings as possible while doing what you need to do. Read them and don't be judgmental. Everyone has their personal lives we almost never get to see.