Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cliff/Tori: A Christmas Story

Sometimes I worry it's hard to keep up with all the characters in this blog. I mean, I never thought of myself as a "character," or any of the people in my life... they're real people to me. But to you good readers, they're just names on the computer screen and it probably gets confusing. We're just characters to you, not people you're likely to meet. But if you live in Philly and you see a short pretty girl with long dark hair, that might very well be me.

I was thinking about that because I've been reading the diaries and it's a very tough task to keep all the "characters" straight, because she writes about them for herself, and since she already knows all of them, she doesn't have to explain them to herself, which means for people like me, it's awkward... especially when she uses codenames for people she doesn't like, which occasionally she does. Mostly, superficial remarks about people she doesn't know very well, which I find privately amusing considering my condition.

So right now I'm trying to limit the number of characters in my story. A person's life has many minor characters, you know?

Mrs. Pearce and I had pretty much made up by the time Christmas came around. We actually had a very nice moment where, after I decided to stop hiding from her, I went right up to her and I delivered a little speech I spent a long time drafting on in my head (and on my computer,) a plausible explanation for Tori's reluctance to help her do her hair. I kept it vague, basically telling her I've been "going through some things" lately, and that I didn't feel that hairstyling and the like was a part of "who I am" anymore, and that I needed to find something I was more comfortable with.

She seemed to understand. She didn't hide her disappointment, though, and told me "It's a shame it's taken you so long to get to this point. If this is what you mean, I think it's too bad you wasted a lot of time and effort throwing yourself into something that was a dead end, if you're not going to pursue it, if you're not going to use those skills." And that kinda touched a nerve, because it echoes how I felt about my own knowledge of computers, all my male experience, just being packed away until I can get my body back.

I backtracked a bit with a half-hearted attempt to suggest that "I might come back to it later" (after everyone gets their proper bodies back... assuming that even happens, which it bloody well better.) She shrugged at this and simply apologized for making such a big deal, that she only really wanted to save "a few bucks," and really it was all up to me what I do with my life... something I am learning is, and isn't true. After all, right now, it's up to me what I do with Tori's life, that's for sure, but my own fate is not in my hands. I could ignore Tori's wishes for me (and she hasn't made any explicit ones) just as easily as Willy could ignore mine. I'll consider my options, as soon as I get some.

I made it through the holidays with a lot of advice from Tori. I like giving gifts. A lot of the time my friends consider me a cheap guy, but at Christmas and Birthdays, if I really care about someone, I like to give. I definitely wanted to give to Tori's family enough to rest my soul from having been a bit of a burden over the last several months. She gave me some good ideas what kinds of things Mr. & Mrs. P liked (make-up for the mom, gadgets for the dad, the latter of which I was more able to come up with ideas.) She was a little unsure what to do for Mae, and I suspect I am getting to know her better than she ever did, because off the top of my head I could think of four or five albums and DVDs she had expressed interest in. Tori was very explicit what to get for her older brother Ken: a very particular bottle of wine.

I think I've only mentioned Ken once since I've been here. He's a few years older than Tori (I think about 25 or 26) and they apparently have a very warm big brother-little sister relationship, in contrast to her original relationship to her younger sister. Despite this, he's busy with his own life - he lives in New York with his girlfriend - and I haven't tried to talk to him, and he's made a few attempts to talk to me that I've only been able to respond briefly to. When I got back from Thanksgiving, Mrs. Pearce told me that "Ken had missed me." It seemed like he had been genuinely disappointed to miss his sister, which I found sweet. There's a fair bit about him in the diaries, mostly about amusement park trips and movies they go see. Bonding-type things.

For Christmas, we were all going over to Mr. Pearce's brother's place. They have younger kids, so they're deep in the thick of Christmas madness; they're also a lot better off than Tori's family, too, much nicer house, a good space to host a big family gathering. there were way too many relatives there for me to keep track of. I mostly kept to myself, and when Ken arrived, he ended up taking most of my time anyway, thankfully.

When we got there, Ken came and wrapped an arm around me, saying "Hey kiddo." I smiled and hugged him back, even though this was the first time I'd met him. He's one of the consistently positive presences in Tori's diaries, so I felt a weird sort of attachment to him already. He took me down to the basement where there was a pool table. He set up the balls and began to ask about my life.

I told him there wasn't much to tell. Trying to figure out my next step, working a crappy job in the meantime, staying out of "mom and dad's" way.

"Listen, I know it's been a while since we've talked and all," he says, "I guess that's as much my fault as yours... mom told me you're not seeing anyone lately."

"Nope," I say bashfully, "Not lately."

It's not hard to understand why that may have surprised Ken. I've gotten halfway through the tenth grade in Tori's diaries, and she's already on her third boyfriend, not including casual "dates."

Ken looked over at me, approvingly. "Don't take this the wrong way, but it's good to be alone sometimes. It shows you who you really are."

"True," I agreed, lining up my shot, "But I'm starting to get tired to trying to know myself." He laughed as I missed my shot completely.

"Haha, see? you're a totally different person. You used to be a lot better at this."

In my head there's a whole other conversation where I say "Give my a break, my tits are in the way," but I've learned not to comment on anything that, as Cliff, would've been weird in the last few months. Besides, they're not really, I'm just that bad. This all continued, and we kept making conversation. I've long since grown accustomed to people who know "me" better than I know "myself," but Ken seems always to have full access to Tori that nobody else did. I felt weirdly comfortable just hanging out with him. Short of telling him the Inn story, I probably could've told him anything. I haven't felt this secure around anyone except maybe Alia, and even then, there are limitations.

He asked about Mae, saying "I know you guys have never really gotten along." I told him things had gotten a lot better.

That was the other big thing. The night before, after Christmas Eve dinner, Mae went off on her own with her little boyfriend Ed. Nothing unusual about this, as she often steals away to hang out with him in the evening. She came home late, as is usually the case, and I was the only one up, just hanging out watching TV. She was kind of spaced out and she just came and sat next to me on the couch. Without looking over, she said in a hushed voice, "So... I did it. With Ed. It was like, our Christmas gift to each other." Then she turned to me to search my face for a reaction.

I was pretty stone-faced. To be honest, I assumed she had already gone through with it, so my face probably didn't show much surprise. What did surprise me was that she even bothered to tell me right away.

So I asked, "How was it?"

She shrugged, "It was cool, I guess. I dunno if I like him that much anymore though. Maybe I was just using him, or whatever. I guess we'll keep doing it until we get sick of it."

I didn't know what else to say "Sounds like a plan, I guess..."

We sat there for a little while, I wasn't sure how to respond, she wasn't sure what else to say, so she added, "I just needed to say it out loud to someone. I think if I told my friends, they'd make fun of me for being the first to do it. And they don't like Ed, I think. Thanks for listening." And then she went to bed.

"Aw, I didn't need to hear that," he laughed to himself embarrassed. "It's one thing if you talk about your sex life, we grew up together... Mae's just a kid!"

"Well, she's growing up," I smirked, watching him sink another ball.

"Yeah, well, she's still my baby sister," he said, still with a hint of humor,

"And what does that make me?"

He missed his next shot, "You're the one I still have to tell my friends you're off-limits."

I took my shot, finally sinking one, "Always looking out for me, Ken."

"You know it, kiddo." He patted my head and we finished the game. Like I said, I felt the weird ability to be familiar with him, maybe because I was picking up on his way of dealing with his sister. I've gotten really good at interpreting how to act around people I barely know. Six or seven months ago, I would have found it awkward just to talk to strangers, unless I was putting on a lame attempt to hit on a girl.

I like Ken. He seems to genuinely care about his sisters, and he's the first person I've met who isn't either a guy who sees me as a potential sex partner, a girl who sees me as a bitch, or a family member who seems burdened by me. I felt more like myself than I have in a while.

Before we went back upstairs, he told me that when he and his girlfriend got home, he was going to propose, and he hoped I was okay with that. I found it nice he cared about his sister's opinion so much. If I had to guess, I'd think that there was probably some unspoken resentment between her and Tori, because that seems like the pattern that I've kept finding since stepping into Tori's life. I told him "You've gotta do what you've gotta do."

At the end of the night, after dinner and everything else, we parted ways. He hugged me with his big broad arms and shoulders and told me to stay in touch. I told him I'd try. And I meant it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Appearances

I've spent a lot of this weekend holed up in my room reading Tori's old diaries, among other things. I've kind of been hiding from Tori's mom, of all people, because we had a bit of a fight.

I obviously don't think of her as my mom, even though I have to act like she is. She's very different from my mom. Mrs. Pearce is quite up-front about her feelings whereas my mom is kind of a passive-aggressive type... maybe it's not fair to say that about my mom to a bunch of people who don't know her, but if she doesn't like something she'll never confront it, just pick away at it and repress her feelings rather than make a scene. Sometimes I'm like that. It probably has to do with why it took me so long to terms with my current womanhood, (as much as I have.)

Mrs. Pearce is always talking about what she likes and what she doesn't like, in a very non-judgmental way. I actually kind of like her better than my mom, in that way. Mom never admitted it, but I could tell she saw the paths my brother's life and my life took, and picked which one she was proud of (he's an athlete and soldier, I was an asthmatic computer nerd. Not a hard choice.)

Anyway. Tori's mom and I generally get along and I do my best not to ruffle feathers with any of them. I look at it like being in a new workplace - as an outsider of sorts, I have to do my best to get along with these people, no matter their expectations of me. I have tried to be a very minor irritant during my time here, which is probably not how most people act around their families. Most people are not afraid of irritating their families at all.

So to the extent Mrs. Pearce and I have been in each others' lives, we've gotten along well, and she seems to really like her older daughter despite the fact that she left her job as a stylist and moved back home before having her body taken over by a man. I asked her if it bothered her that I had moved back in, and she said no, as long as I was working, but very matter-of-factly said, "It had better not be permanent, dear." Fair enough, I say!

So we get along well but I don't really know her, I just try to stay out of her way. Then on Saturday she tells me she's thinking about changing her hair color and would I mind doing it for free? And we could bond and stuff. Obviously that was Tori's thing, but what am I supposed to do? I can, and have, faked a lot over the last few months... sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but this is obviously something I don't want to try, so I tell her I can't, but I guess I couldn't give a good reason why not, so she unleashes all this ranting on me about how it's bullshit that "Tori" wasted all this time and money on beauty school and gave up on it so quickly and won't even help out her own mother, and she feels like she doesn't know "me" anymore, and, well, obviously I am just not her favorite person anymore. And it didn't help my situation that I was menstrual-cramping something awful at the time, so my baser instincts got ahold of me and I actually felt the need to get some stuff off my own chest, (stuff that mostly had nothing to do with her and I couldn't explain in a short amount of time, about my real life, my current life, my sexuality, my job, etc etc.) even though that's exactly the kind of thing I had avoided doing this whole time... I guess bottling up all my frustration doesn't help.

So I ran upstairs and shut myself in my room and started reading the diaries again. I mentioned some references to her little friend, Danny, a boy she obviously liked. As middle school gave way to high school he's still around, and yet Tori has started dating older boys instead of him. Funny how entire threads of our lives can be pulled out of place. She never explains whether she admitted her feelings for him, not yet anyway. And when she talks about these other boys she goes out with it's not with the same language and enthusiasm and passion as she wrote about Danny. I can see her starting to get shaped into the girl she ended up becoming. Sara has been referenced only as a vague acquaintance, Raine hasn't yet appeared.

She talks about her looks a lot, going back and forth about whether she thinks she's attractive. I guess that's the kind of insecurity a lot of teenage girls go through.

Let me tell you, being in Tori's body has made me appreciate a lot of things about a woman's body. Call me a caveman, but I guess before I was a woman I often just saw women as pretty faces and nice boobs. Typical superficial stuff. I've learned so much as I've gotten more and more accustomed to the face in the mirror. The way my eyelashes curl, the way my chin comes to a subtle little curve, my cute little ears... the curve of my hips and legs, the way I look in a set of bra and panties and the way my stomach just drops right down without a bulge, curving just at the top of the panties because hey I'm thin but I'm no skeleton... so many little details I never would've noticed if I hadn't had time to examine. I don't know. I wonder if she ever thought of herself that way. I know she didn't when she was 15, getting awkward, desperately watching her weight, nervous about her boobs... she wrote a whole paragraph about how she hates the way her nose sticks out, but you know what? I like her nose, too. It gives her face character.

I guess I can see why that would lead someone to obsess about beauty and go into it for a living... always judging and comparing herself to the other girls... but I wish she had someone like me who could tell her how beautiful she is just the way she is.

But hey, this is coming from a guy who hasn't been past second-base in about three years, not including with himself...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Greg/Priya: Vacation time and Chain Links

So its been a relatively long time since I posted, and thats only partially due to the content of my last post. I mean, at the time it seemed like a good idea but as time wore on I kinda got embarrassed by it, although im not the first guy turned girl to talk about that on this blog. Anyway Im over it.

The main reason I havent posted was that the last month or so has been a busy time for teachers. I have to fill out state required progress reports for each of my students and assess their developmental levels. This is actually a lot harder for Kindergartners because I dont give them tests. This is why elementary education requires a specific degree and not just any bachelors. This stuff is also pretty important, a bad evaluation here could put a kid on a wrong educational track that could do irreparable damage. I found myself digging through Priya's old textbooks and calling her at all hours of the night to ask questions as I checked and double checked it for each students report. Finally I was comfortable enough to submit them.

So now I find myself on a Tuesday afternoon with nothing to do, because one of the greatest things about being a teacher is the vacations. Its not just the 3 months in summer that allow you to do things like go to Maine and have your identity shifted, but its also 3 whole weeks for Christmas. (Officially its called winter break, because Christmas Vacation is politically incorrect).

Thats why Im siting alone in my apartment on a Tuesday afternoon, because all of my non teacher friends are at work. Its a great time to catch up on blogging too. I think I would go insane after two weeks of this, but fortunately a bunch of other teachers and I are going snowboarding in Denver, and we leave tomorrow. Im not really close to any of Priya's teacher friends, but I can fake it, because they bought the tickets back in May and besides, I LOVE snowboarding.

The best part about having some time off is that It gives me time to work on my plan to stop being Priya. After reading some other posts it hit me like a ton of brick that Ive been in this body for almost 6 months now. Ive been taking it one day at a time and those days have added up. I might just make this.

Anyway, early January is when the Trading Post Inn starts taking reservations for next year. But before I can do that, Ive got to figure out how long a chain to make. Ideally, you could have the last person who stayed there in the fall be the first person to stay there in the summer (Like Brandon did) and they would turn back into themselves. You could then work backwards and put people back where they belong until everything is right. This is impossible due to deaths, people getting lost, and body theft like that guy who made Art into Penny. Either way everyone deserves a shot at their body back so I'm taking the next few weeks to form a chain and make the reservations in that order.

So far all i know is this:

My old body is in another part of town, with Dee inside of it pretending it to me

My new body's real owner is in New Jersey, pretending to be Emily David.

Who is in the real Dee or where the real Emily is I don't know, but im gonna try to help find out, and then find their correct body, and so on and so on until we get a break in the chain.

Im gonna take my laptop to Denver in case i get an email so Ill probably do an entry from there.

Ill keep you posted


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Lady friends

It's funny how I think of Sara and Raine, and to a lesser extent Sara's boyfriend/my co-worker Thom, our co-worker Cyndi, and her boyfriend Leo, as my friends. They're not really my friends, they're Tori's. They are only interested in my because of Tori, they know more about Tori than I do, or at least, a certain side of her. But as awkward as it can be to just insinuate yourself into someone else's group of friends, knowing they believe they've known me for years has made it easier to go along with it.

Alia and I have actually gotten quite close, since we know more about our "real-selves" than anyone else around, we can relate. But the time I can spend with him are limited, since he's teaching during the day and I'm often at work and then when I get home I'm tired, or I'm hanging out with Tori's friends. We do chat, though. He's been helping me with some girl-stuff.

I have my anti-social moments, times when I don't even feel like pretending. Sometimes it feels like the hardest thing in the world to put up with "my friends," sometimes it feels easy. Without them I'm just a girl who goes to work every day, comes home and reads, eats and sleeps. And sometimes blogs.

I'm being more and more myself around them, or as much as myself as I can be with girl-parts. They seem to be accepting the "new Tori" to some degree. Raine asked me why I wasn't interested in guys lately. I squirmed in my seat, having sudden flashbacks to Willy's hands on my thigh and butt in Buffalo, and I blurted something about being tired of them, but if I meet somebody, who knows.

The thing is, I half meant it. Who knows? That's a question that I keep putting to myself. I used to really like girls. I don't have the time or the effort to put into finding a girl who likes girls, and I would feel too awkward about it, especially if she had a negative opinion of men. I don't know, I don't think I've ever known a lesbian. And I don't feel like one, not after Buffalo.

It's just funny, I guess - and a few months ago I would've found it totally Earth-shattering, but now I just accept the fact that I haven't even realized all the ways in which the Inn has changed me. Now that I've withstood the last 6 months or so (wow!) I feel like I'm ready for anything. And I say "who knows" what might come my way.

That's not to say I'm suddenly... what's the word... man-crazy? I haven't felt attracted to anyone, male or female, the way I was attracted to "Willy/Cliff." I don't feel the great need to share my life with some guy, or even a girl, because of how much it would complicate things, but I feel like if I wanted to... maybe I could.

I don't know, it's embarrassing, and I'm not totally sure what I'm saying. It wouldn't have been right to stay with in Buffalo with Willy, that would've been weird, but it was nice to feel something for someone. So I'm keeping an open mind.

It reminds me of my early years, those pre-teen days when you just start to realize you're attracted to girls, when the innocent interactions you might have had with girls become less and less innocent... and it was my inability to deal with that that led to a lot of embarrassment. Some people got over it quick, I didn't. Maybe this is my second chance. Reading similar passages of Tori's diaries has put me in that state of mind. Maybe I just want a more innocent type of relationship. With a guy or a girl. Wherever I might find it.

Raine, on the other hand, wants to get laid. Badly. It's a little unnerving to me how much of herself she throws into picking up boys. She's quite smart and self-confident, and you'd think she would be more independent, yet she complains on and on about it. The funny thing is, she puts herself out there desperately, which is certain to attract creeps, when she complains she can't meet a nice guy. She's never going to meet a nice boy that way.

Sara, oddly enough, approves of the fact that I'm staying single -- I think she's seen Tori waste too much of her time with losers. It's nice to feel cared for.

But hopefully, in 6 months time, this will all just be a crazy dream... so who knows?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Alia/Rob: Follow-ups

I feel like I don't spend enough time on this blog actually talking about my life as Rob. Especially re-reading my last post which was more or less a therapy session.

I know there are some people reading this; maybe even more than those who reply, including fellow "victims" (such a negative term.) If you have any questions about me or Rob's life, or just any Inn-related topic that I might be able to address, feel free to comment and I will be glad to discuss it (or explain why I might not want to discuss it, haha.) I know there's an "official" e-mail address on the corner here but I don't personally have access to it... so if you need to contact me and don't feel comfortable using the comments section, feel free to do so at alia.rob[at] -- an account I set up just for this.


Alia/Rob: Common Sense has no place in this

I feel like, if I hadn't become Rob, or somebody like him, (but still went to the Inn) I would've completely lost myself by now. I am able to get up the morning and go do something and focus on it, and it has nothing to do with me or my transformation, it's just a job. At times a frustrating job, at times a somewhat rewarding one, but definitely something to occupy my mind. When I get home, I'm at ease, I'm usually marking homework or relaxing, and there honestly isn't a lot of time for me to worry about Inn-matters.

I think December is that sweet spot, for me, anyway, where I'm really used to being Rob, no longer utterly freaked out or repulsed by it, but I haven't made the plans to get my body back, which Todd keeps reminding me will be soon.

I think about the way Todd has described his time as Anne-Marie, the poor guy sitting around a nice big house (probably feeling guilty about it) with nothing to do but sit and think about being a woman. Or Bryan, a guy I try to imagine in the face of many 14-year-old girls I see in my classes, and when I do so, it makes me laugh from the sheer awkwardness of the notion.

I asked Todd what he really felt about having sex with Hal. He's always been very vocal about his idea that sex and love are different. I never totally bought it, because for a long time I had only ever had sex with him, and only loved him. And maybe they're not the same thing, but when you have sex with someone you love, it's different.

He gave me a bunch of reasons why he did it. Curiosity, pleasure, convenience, pressure. Curiosity, I buy for the first time. He's never had anything particularly good to say about the pleasure he may have felt, which makes one wonder why he kept doing. Convenience, I buy -- there must've been something very appealing to him about being able to get it whenever he wanted it. I wasn't terribly guilty of turning him down during our time together, but let's just say there were times when he knew not to ask.

When I asked him what he meant by "pressure," he told me that after a few months, after he got used to being someone's "wife," he thought he was obligated to... keep things going. The remarkable thing I find about his story is that it was the real Anne-Marie who insisted he go through with it, to keep the continuity of their sex life intact and not disrupt things. The idea that her husband was effectively banging another woman did not seem to bother her, from what I've heard, because the other woman was her.

I asked him on a scale of one to ten to rate how sexually attractive he found Hal. He said "point five. I'm attracted to women, but I thought he was a nice guy and Anne-Marie's body was rigged to go with it." There are forces beyond our understanding that compel us in these situations. When you're a man, you will fuck virtually any woman who can get you hard. When you're a woman... it's a bit more complicated.

So he told me he looked at it as masturbation. The penis was his, he just didn't have access to it as often as he used to. Interesting way to think of marriage.

We talk about sex a lot, as you can tell. I want to ask him about the cooking and cleaning and taking care of the kids but for whatever reason I have an even harder time dealing with that idea. He has more frame of reference to deal with sex. That's just him.

He is of the opinion that I should pursue Ingrid. Maybe he wants to justify what he did with Hal or what he did with Donna by seeing me through the same situation. I've forgiven him, for whatever reason, we're in a situation where it feels like the normal standards shouldn't apply, and when they did I did some very wrong things so all my guilt has come back to me.

Ingrid seems to me to be a perfectly interesting woman, and maybe in another life I'd allow myself, as a man, to be attracted to her. And if she were a (decent-looking) man, she'd certainly inspire some guilty feelings in Alia. She's mature and smart, but has a clever, subtle sense of humour. But she can be very cold.

I have a feeling she wasn't meant for a meat-and-potatoes guy like Rob. and if I pursue her, then when I go back to my life, and Rob Garcia presumably takes his back, I am setting them up for more failure and I can't let myself be responsible for that.

Early in the archives, I read about Art/Liz's two suitors and him permitting himself ot fill Liz's role with them as a way of not screwing up her life. And that's the same as what happened with Todd... but that's not me, that's not Rob. Rob is just a guy who teaches by day, and goes home and tries not to think too hard about how he is really a woman named Alia by night.

And if I'm being honest, that's about the loneliest I've ever felt, realizing that just now.

Using common sense, I should probably just stay lonely, stay the course. But every so often my vision drifts over to the bikini calendar that I have left on July the way I found it, and I wonder how long it's gonna be before I go ahead and do something stupid for myself.

In happier news...

I was rather surprised to hear that, in the 21st century, a high school is not too timid just to throw a Christmas party. Granted, I'm talking about the faculty party, not anything that might involve the students and therefore potentially-oversensitive mothers. I mean, look at me -- I was raised half-brown and I love Christmas.

We're doing a Secret Santa exchange. I got Dean, which is fairly lucky since he's a friend of mine, but also I'm having some trouble with it. I simply have no clue what to buy a man. Most of the gifts I ever bought Todd were a) relationship gifts, or b) because I knew his very particular tastes. Dean, I don't know nearly well enough, and I'm guessing some guys might be prone to analyzing gifts given to them by other men.

(And so what if I did want to sleep with Dean? He's handsome in a creepy-nearly-middle age way.)

Maybe I'll just get him beer.

The semester is winding down and I'm going to have a lot of marking to do, so if you don't hear from me until after Christmas, I'll try not to freak out and go on a screwing-spree.

Happy holidays

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Todd: When the Levee Breaks...

Everybody lies, you know. I've thought this for a long time, and I definitely thought about it when I was Anne-Marie. So I probably had a bit of a screwy facial expression when I read Cliff's post about Thanksgiving where he said he tries not to lie to you people. It amused me a bit. Maybe he doesn't think he''s lying, maybe he's trying not to.

Maybe I'm just a suspicious person. Maybe I'm just exhausted from the last few months of mental self-abuse. I haven't been on here in a long while, definitely my longest absence since I started on here last October. At a certain point you gt tired of thinking about the Inn. Plus, I have Alia (don't I?) and we talk about her experience. We talk about it a lot. In a perverse way, it's become sort of a bonding thing. Penises and vaginas for both of us. We have little disagreements about whose situation is better or worse. It's cute in a gender-fucked sort of way.

By and large I have tried to leave Connecticut in Connecticut. I work a stupid job that I had in University and am well-overqualified for (stooging for a CD/DVD store in Toronto) and when I do so I turn off my brain, much the same way as I found myself doing when I had to be Wife/Mother Anne-Marie. I try to offer my advice to my compatriots when I can, but I usually find myself at a loss. A lot of the time I appear offline on MSN so that nobody asks me about it. Alia knows this and accepts it, or she's lying and thinks I'm being a jerk.

Bry takes this to an even greater degree than I have. Even though it's hardly his dream-job, he's thrown himself into his photography gig. He keeps an eye on Crystal, [NOTE: in the first draft of this entry I referred to her as "Alia." Freaky.] we don't hang out with her too much and Bry's been scarce too. For the most part, Inn-related matters are off the table with him. I wondered for a while whether that means he's dealing with it better than me, or worse. Shellshock. Ever read any Hemingway? Check out "Soldier's Home" from In Our Time. Sometimes it's like that. Maybe not so dramatic.

I still have a life and on the odd night when I'm not exhausted I go out. But I'm limited because I don't really wanna talk to girls and I'm not usually with Bry or Crystal. It freaks me out when I am with her because even though I knew from the start she's not really Alia, she has become so at-ease in Alia's skin that it makes me uncomfortable. She doesn't seem to doubt her identity much, confidently does things I told her Alia wouldn't. Drinks things she wouldn't dances like she wouldn't. Sings like she wouldn't. Very nice voice, even though Alia couldn't carry a tune to save her life. I remember playing Rock Band with the kids on Christmas...

After rescheduling plans repeatedly, Bry and I decided to hang out on Saturday night. We went to a strip club. A nice one, of the variety we wouldn't have been able to afford a few years ago. He's being well-paid and took me, I guess, as a treat to his neglected pal. I didn't know why, I never liked those places even before I had been a woman. Talk about lying. The simulation of sex without any intention or feeling of sex. i have fucked many a girl in my day without being in love with her, but to instill those feelings in a dude just to get his money... seemed so wrong to me. Now I think of myself handling Hal Adkisson's penis. "Wake up buddy, let's go for a ride."

That said, I think I get strippers. They've got to get paid like anyone else, they provide a service, a fantasy. There's definitely a market for it, but I was never a part of it. With or without Alia, I usually had someone who was willing to get naked for me, and go a lot further than a lapdance.

I wanted to ask Bryan how, after being who we'd been, seeing and living what we had, he could bring me to a place like that, but that's just Bryan. The one thing you can say about him is that he's got a very healthy love of the female body, not the least was demonstrated during his lesbian phase. We sat at a table away from the stage. Topless waitresses mingled with customers. A blonde took our drink orders. I thought of my fingers running over Anne-Marie's nipples during a private moment.

I've been living like a monk since July, since the incident with Donna. This is my second-longest period of inactivity, right behind the span between July 2008 and January 2009 when I was far from enthusiastic about getting fucked. By the end of this one, I expect it to be far longer than that one. Onstage, women writhe half-nakedly and the thought of having sex with one of them is both appealing and gravely disturbing to me. Didn't stop me from getting hard, though. I'm still a man, thank God.

"I didn't bring you here to gawk, man," Bry laughs, "I brought you here to talk. nobody's going to be able to overhear us." I can barely hear him, the music is so loud, and anyone tempted to eavesdrop would be distracted by the naked girls. This is not an intimate atmosphere.

"What do you think the odds are that Crystal is lying to us?"

The thought had crossed my mind.

He explained, "I've noticed some inconsistencies in her story. She changes her age every so often. She's never shown a picture of her original self, no Facebook or anything." Not unusual for a woman of her supposed age. "No listing for her surname in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where she told us she was from. When I ask, she dodges."

I don't know what it might mean. Maybe she's just trying to build herself up (Apparently Shaker Heights is a rather wealthy area) or maybe she's hiding something. I tell him to look into it, but I'm worried what he might find. I need to know exactly what sort of person is in my girlfriend's body. She knows about the blog but as far as I can tell does not read it.

We talk some more about it and go home. I resist the urge to ask him how he's feeling because I sense that's a dead end. Instead, he asks me about Erica, my baby-mama. I tell him all my attempts to build bridges between me and them have been shot down, mainly by Sean. I suspect he is still bitter about what happened between his girlfriend and my body. It's a shame, too, because he was a pretty nice guy before we fucked each other's girlfriends. And I didn't even get to do any of the fucking.

Then he gets this faraway look in his eyes, matched with a goofy grin, and he says something I can tell he's been refining in his mind for months. "Maybe it would've been a lot less trouble if we never came back."

I nearly choked on my objection. "Guh! What??"

He laughed. "I mean, dude, if you think about it, we came back to a life that was nothing but problems for everyone. Look at you. If Deb-Todd never went back to Connecticut, Alia would still be herself."

"And I'd still be Anne-Marie! And you'd still be Ellie! And as I recall, you weren't dealing with that too well!"

He handwaved that, "I was just being a teenage girl. It happens. I would've gotten over it."

"Sure, uh huh, I believe that. You really would've stayed a girl the rest of your life?"

"Sure. I got used to it real quick--"

"Too quick."

"--I had a pussy, and I was getting pussy."

I tell him, "It wasn't that simple. You're lucky you managed to keep it hidden from Ellie's mom. She would've flipped out."

"Totally, but she was a bitch anyway. I mean, I always felt, as long as you and I had each other to hang out with, we'd be okay. but now? Dude, you never hang out, you're not yourself."

"We didn't exactly go to strip clubs when I was your aunt."

"No, but we had something, man. Now I don't even know who you are. Who are you gonna be if Alia can't come back?"

"Don't say that."

"Well, what if, huh? What if she has to stay as Rob in Philly for the rest of her life! I can't take any more of this shit. You were more yourself when you had tits than you are now. It doesn't matter if my life is awesome now - it's not, but it's okay thanks for asking - I would've stuck around Connecticut and let you be happy to be a mom instead of fucking all this shit up by messing with the natural order of things."

Well, I didn't know what to say to that. I never thought "we turn into girls" was the natural order of things, but Bry did for whatever reason.

Then he went to bed, and we haven't spoken since.

More later, though.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Thanksgiving Saga Part 3

I'm going to try to wrap this up quickly, because I should be getting ready for work and this story has dragged out too long anyway.

That night, I didn't really sleep that well, as you can imagine. A combination of identity confusion and potential horniness will do that. I just lay there in the dark for a while, untying the braid in my hair. Finally, when I realized I wasn't going back to sleep, I picked up one of the journals and started reading.

I got to the point where, in the eighth grade, Tori admits to her journal she has a crush on a boy she knows. She had mentioned him quite a bit earlier and it seemed like, whether she admitted it or not, there was some kind of unspoken thing. for pages and pages it goes on about what happens when they spend time together and speculation about whether or not he likes her back. It was so sweet and so innocent and made me long for those days when it was all so simple. I was tired before I got to the end of the story (if there is an end) and managed to fall asleep at 3.

However, I had to get up early the next morning because the four of us (me, Willy, Justin and Randi) were going shopping on Black Friday, at the Walden Galleria, which is of course the biggest mall around here. We decided to split up into guys and girls and meet up for lunch at the food court. Despite my desire to go with the guys, there was a very important matter I wanted to discuss with Randi.

As you can imagine it was ridiculously crowded, meaning every place we went to took way longer to deal with than usual.

She took me around to all the women's clothing places she liked. As I guy I'd be super-bored but at least as Tori I can occupy myself by trying things on if they interest me. After all, no matter what body you're in, you need clothes, and certain clothes are made for certain people. It's quite a bit like my trip with the real Tori, but Randi of course didn't know who she was really with. So I just went along with it and tried to have fun. I ended up buying only a few items for myself, and a few gifts for Mae and "mom." I also bought some trinkets for my real mom as a "thanks" for having me over.

Randi was a lot of fun to be around. I'd known her for a few months before I changed, but only as part of a couple with Justin. Obviously there wasn't much excuse for the two of us to hang out one on one. I'm a little embarrassed to admit but even in my first post here I talked about how I'd kinda had a crush on her. I mean she's beautiful, smart and funny. And she really seems to love Justin. I asked her about their relationship, things I already know ("How long have you been together, how did you meet?") but had never really heard her side of. After a while, I was able to put aside my male feelings for her, and just be her friend. It made it a lot easier to talk to her than I ever did as Cliff.

Apropos of nothing and with quite a bit of embarrassment, I asked "Hey, Randi, listen, I wanna ask you... did you ever have a lesbian experience?" Obviously she was put off by the question, and it was probably way, way too personal for someone I'd "just met" (hell, even if I was myself,) but it was my secret scheme to talk a little bit about my situation. I clarified my fictionalized version, "See, my little sister keeps bringing this girl over, and my mom thinks they might be, I don't know, together. And I never did anything like that, but I'm trying to see if it's maybe normal just to... try." Yeah, now that I write it out, it was awkward, but she handled it like a champ. I should also add that Randi is studying to be a social worker or a counselor or something, so she's maybe a little more comfortable about this sort of thing.

I added, "I know, I know, we're practically strangers, but that's kind of why I wanted to ask you. We're all girls here, aren't we?"

She smiled and said in a hushed voice, "No, yeah, it's okay. It's actually normal to have doubts about yourself. When I was a little younger, in college, I had this friend, Michelle. And neither of us had boyfriends so we spent a lot of saturday nights together in my dorm watching movies and drinking, and... I don't know why I'm telling you this, but it was pretty much a relationship."

"What, really? Did you guys ever, like, kiss and stuff?"

"Exactly. It was like a secret little affair, but we had to be alone to deal with it. And then she got a boyfriend, and I got a boyfriend, and we never talked about it again, even as our relationships came and went. For us, it was only a passing phase, but I think it's definitely healthy to explore that side of yourself."

I thought about what she was saying as it had to do with my life. It made a lot of sense.

Of course, the funny thing is, I've actually met Michelle, and when I get my body back, I probably will again. I'll have to keep an eye out for any strange behavior! Haha.

We were early for lunch so we got seats and texted the guys where to find us. While we were waiting, I was struck by an image from my past -- a girl I knew in high school and was hugely attracted to (even though she was popular and kinda dumb and bitchy, and it was never going to happen, I spent a lot of time... thinking about her.)

I was staring at her, and before long, I realized how far behind me those feelings were. I was drawn to Randi maybe a little bit because I know her and she's a nice person and yeah, she's still beautiful. But this girl, whose name I even had trouble remembering, did nothing for me.

Around that time, I realized, maybe it really isn't about liking "boys or girls," it's about liking people. I still don't know what any of it means but I feel like I made a really big step.

After regrouping and eating, we made a few more stops (I picked up some gadgetry at Best Buy for my dad, the same as I got a little something for my mom.) After we dropped Justin and Randi off, Willy and I finally talked... a little.

"Listen," he said, "I'm sorry about last night, really, I never--"

"It's okay. Really. You didn't do anything wrong."

"It's just, well... when I first saw you, Wednesday night, I didn't expect you to look so good, I guess. I think I may have gone into flirt mode, and that was unfair of me. It's just, you feel like a friend, but you're a beautiful girl if you don't mind me saying, and I've never had such a close bond with someone so quick. I guess I should be looking at you like you're just a fella, right?"

I laughed, "No, you don't have to. I haven't acted like one in a while. I mean, it's not like you hypnotized me or anything." He laughed, and I did a little too, "Look, we get along well, and I got carried away last night. You've been very good about this, Willy. And if it's possible I'd like to come back and see you, and see my friends and family again... but, I've got to work, and save money for my big trip to Maine next summer. I mean, I may be okay with this, but I'm still getting that body back one way or the other, got me?"

He smiled "Yeah, I gotcha."

We had dinner, and he peppered me with a few obvious questions about womanhood, then we watched a movie. Around 11, he drove me to the bus depot, and we hugged goodbye.

The next morning, I was back in Philly.... back in "my own bed."

I hope it makes sense to you, how this all ties into everything. I haven't got really concrete answers, and I probably won't as long as I'm Tori, but my eyes are a little more open now as to what I am to other people, and what other people are to me. So I understand a bit more about who I am now... now to read those diaries some more....

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Thanksgiving Saga Part 2

If you haven't read the below entry yet, please do so, as you can tell, this is a continuation.

I woke up Thursday morning somewhat surprised to find myself in my own bed. It was that little moment between dreaming and waking where I forgot I'd come to Buffalo, and for a very hopeful moment thought maybe the last six months (~!) were just a dream. A brush of my hand over my left breast confirmed that.

I do that sometimes. Early in the morning, in the shower, times during the day when I find myself randomly on my own. I feel my breasts, run a finger over my pussy. It's not a sexual thing, most of the time I don't even get noticeably turned on, it's just a reflex. Hell, when I was a guy, sitting at home alone I often used to just cup my balls in the same manner. Just to feel. As much angst as my predicament has given me, I know - or hope - it's not permanent, and then for the rest of my life, it's back to my old ways, so I steal a feel every now and again. It's my right, especially given how rare my interactions with the female body were before I became one.

After I got out of the shower, things weren't going well for this gal. I had intended to dress casually for Thanksgiving at my family's place - a pair of jeans and a t-shirt - but Tori's body decided to rebel. I don't know what it is about a woman's body that enables it to suddenly not fit into a pair of jeans that were just nice and snug days earlier. It wasn't even a matter of putting on weight, I've been hovering within a few pounds of the same weight I was when I got Tori's body, plus or minus 5. I guess my ass just chose today to get fat. If I could barely get them on in the morning, there was no way they'd hold out through a turkey dinner.

Plan B was a dress with one of those high-waist belts that sits right under your boobs. It was more along the lines of what my mom would want to see a girlfriend of mine wear (pretty and feminine but not revealing) but not really the style of clothes I choose to wear for myself; I dress boyishly whenever I can, which is usually. But that's more out of convenience than fear. I crossed the mental threshold against "girling up" a long while back. It also meant I had to put on a pair of nylons, especially given the frigid Buffalo weather (which I've missed only a little bit.)

The other problem was, my hair wasn't doing what I wanted to do. We still had plenty of time, and Cliff asked if I needed help, I told him no, I'd just pull it back into a ponytail or something. He offered "If ye like, I ken pull it back for ye into a braid." (I apologize for my ridiculous rendering of his accent, BTW.)

"What, seriously?"

"Oh for sure, I had three sisters, I know a thing or two."

I thought it over. "Sure, why not." He sat on the couch, I sat on the floor, my head between his legs as he tied my hair together.

"Y'know, I admire yer guts, Cliff, I really do," he chuckled in his thick British accent, "I mean lookit ye. Deep down inside, you're this bloke, but here you are. If it were me, I'd lock meself up and never let a soul see what became of me, but 'ere you are."

"Well," I laughed, "I tried that, it didn't work so well, so I wasn't left with many other options. Believe me, this was not my first choice of lifestyle..."

"Well, you ken at least consider yourself in the lucky few who probably get a chance to see the other side. Best take advantage, I says, while you've got it."

I rolled my eyes and laughed, "Yeah, you try having these things and see well you deal with it."

"Well, if I knew it weren't permanent I wouldn't mind having a go." I could tell he was joking around, but it still hit a nerve and I didn't feel like playing along with the joke. He apologize, "No for real though, you seem to be taking it okay and I'm very impressed." He slipped into his goofy American accent, "Well, I'm about done here. Have a look."

I went to the mirror and was most impressed with how nice my hair looked pulled back, but more neatly than I ever could. He came up behind me, I turned and gave him a "well done" pat on the shoulder. Once again I felt so small looking up at my old face.

He let me drive my own car over to my parents' place, although I haven't driven in months and getting behidn the wheel in this body was an odd prospect... my reaction time felt down and I felt very small behind the wheel.

We got there at around 3. I hesitated at the door. It's a very special kind of horror when you walk up to your parents' house wearing a a bra, a dress, pantyhose, earrings. I knew they'd never know it was me, but part of me just imagined my dad taking one look at me and crying out "My God son, what have you done to yourself?"

Most of the family had already arrived. My dad was in the living room with my uncle Lou, watching football. My aunt and mom were in the kitchen. Willy "introduced me around." I was all locked and loaded with the cover story, but dad and uncle Lou just smiled and turned their attention back to the game. Willy looked a bit baffled by what he called (to me) "The American Football Game," but hey, I was never that into football either.

Being one of the girls, I was called into the kitchen. Well, that's just sexist, frankly. My cousin Bette's husband Gerry manages a restaurant, but he isn't asked to help; when they arrived shortly after we did, it was Bette who came in to do the stuffing, while Gerry joined the football club. What chance did I have?

My mom seemed rather interested by me, though, and made sure I didn't stray too far from the kitchen. "I'm not really much of a cook," I said. She just looked at me and put her hands on her hips, "Well, then what good are you? Get outta here!" And I must've looked awfully uncertain about what to do, since she immediately dragged me back in and said, laughing, "I'm kidding! I'm kidding, nobody here gives a shit if you can cook, just have a seat and tell me about yourself." That confused me more than anything else because I've definitely never heard my mom swear before.

I nervously ran through Tori's general backstory - growing up in Philly, meeting "Cliff" online (then she asked me who I meant, and I had to explain that "Cliff" is the nickname her son uses.) She asked me what I thought of him, and I just wondered, what would a real woman say? What would I want said about me? What would my mom want to hear? It all just congested in my head and I started babbling about how he's such a nice guy and we're "taking it slow" and such. Then I felt stupid for bringing up sex to my mom. I wasn't thinking, I just didn't want her to think I was some slut!

She, too, seemed puzzled at what to make of that remark. She just kept basting the turkey. Then she sat next to me and took my hand in hers. "Well, it's very nice that he brought you over for dinner. And all the way from Philadelphia? It must be serious."

I laughed. "Well, what can I say? We clicked. Plus, any excuse to get away from my family..." heh.

Thankfully she didn't investigate that question further and just went on saying "I'm just happy. I love my son, but he's very shy, and it can be hard to ask him about himself. I'm glad to know a little more about how he is. He hasn't brought a girl here in a long time, I worry." And that certainly did not do much to make me feel better about myself, knowing my mom pities my love life.

One other important note, when I last saw my cousin Bette, she was pregnant. In fact, she was probably giving birth right around the time I was getting settled in Philadelphia with the Pearces. Little baby James was sitting with us in the kitchen. He woke up while Bette was still occupied with food, so she invited me to pick him up. The instant I held that little guy in my arms, I melted. I'll admit, this isn't a girl thing, I have a soft spot for babies and was looking forward to meeting him. But to the women in my family, I must've seemed like some young girl who couldn't wait to start a family of her own.

And then, as I had him held by my breast... he threw up on me. Right on the shirt that was keeping this dress respectable.

Rather than go the rest of the evening with a pukey top, or remove it and become the most cleavaged woman at the table, my mom offered to lend me a top. She had just the one, brought me up to her room and presented it to me. She left to give me privacy - changing into it necessitated removal of the dress.

I sat on the edge of my parents bed, looking at this top in my hands, and like so many things that have happened over the past months, all I could do was laugh. Some boys get caught trying on their mothers clothes when they're young, and it's embarrassing for everybody (I tried it once, I admit, but never was caught.) And here was my mom, lending me her clothes, rather enthusiastically. I'm sure there were times she wished she had a girl, rather than two boys.

I was probably taking too long getting lost in my own thoughts because before I knew, there was a knock at the door. Willy poked his head in, then removed it when he saw I was not ready. I slipped the dress back on and answered.

"Sorry!" he cried out in his phony American accent, "Uh, mom thought it might be a good time to show you around, if you wanted to see my room."

I smirked. "Sure. Let me show you around."

Like many grown men, my childhood room has not been changed much from its original configuration. Bed just big enough for a teen, alt-rock posters of bands I'd now be embarrassed to like, and women who, in real life, are probably not as attractive as they used to be. Numerous comics, particularly from my Manga phase, some action figures, outdated video games I didn't bring with me... I was frankly embarrassed to be standing in that room, especially to be a girl in that room. It was not the type of room I ever envisioned getting laid in, but maybe that's self-defeatism.

Willy was just amused, saying his room as a kid wasn't all that different. Once the embarrassment wore off, I got a bit of a nostalgia kick. It was his first time seeing the place, of course.

"Listen, Cliff, I wanna thank you for coming here with me. I've been scared to meet your folks, I wasn't sure what to say to 'em."

"Oh, you don't have to say anything much. They're not overly interesting people," I joked.

"Well, now that I know them, it'll be easier. Your dad's a decent bloke. He's open to football - ugh, soccer."

"Just let them know I'm okay, okay?"


I hugged the guy. Then we were called for dinner, by my dad rudely asking we "Get our pants on and get down here."

It was a good, uneventful dinner, I mainly kept to myself, politely answering the expected questions when needed. We drank a toast to absent family members. I've talked about my brother Bret a fair bit, but the truth is he wasn't there, because he hasn't been there in years, he's been in Iraq. I don't like to talk about it much because people tend to get political, and personally I just don't like to think about him being in danger. The truth is, at my most self-pitying moments after my transformation, part of what kept me sane was knowing he was out there putting his life on the line, and the worst I had to deal with was a bit of bleeding. Keeps things in perspective.

We left early though, to meet up with Justin and Randi, who ended up not showing, Randi sending Cliff a text saying Justin had gotten too drunk at his mom's, and they were going to sleep it off. So we drove home. And then...

I don't know. I don't know how to say it, despite my promise of honesty yesterday. You might want to know why, or how it started, but I can't really say, because it's just something that happened. At some point during the drive home, instincts kicked in, and I got an idea in my head, and I didn't waste too much time deciding what I was going to do about it. I was feeling happy about what a nice guy he was, how well he seemed to go with my family, and how good he made me/Cliff look, and how understanding he'd been with me/Tori.

On the way into my apartment building, I brushed up against his arm. Stepping onto the elevator, I had my arm around his waist. By the time we got to my floor, we were kissing.

He didn't say a word, didn't object. Maybe he should have, but I didn't want him to, I just wanted to go ahead with it. I was so caught up in all the feelings of being at home and being in the presence of my former body, that every possible objection I could come up with, I was able to do away with. 'It's my body, I've seen and done everything to it, if this is ever going to happen, it should probably be here and now.' We were just really caught up in the moment. It was one of those "kissing while unlocking the door, kissing while taking off jackets and shoes, into the bedroom, flopping onto the bed" types of deals you see in the movies. I think if we had stopped kissing, if either of us had said anything about the situation, it might've ruined the magic, called attention to the fact that we were not who we appeared to be and should probably not have been doing that.

I didn't know how far it was going to go. I don't have a lot of experience stopping situations like this, as I've mentioned my one previous serious girlfriend was not sexually active. So by the time he started undoing the belt on my skirt, some alarms started to go off, but I ignored them. They didn't drown out this overwhelming surge I felt rushing through my body to keep going, keep going. I was down to the top my mother had lent me and my nylons when my hand happened to brush underneath my pillow and snag on a foreign-feeling piece of fabric, which somehow I'd missed sleeping on the night before. I pulled it out from underneath. A bright pink thong, the kind I had most certainly not packed.


I asked him about it. He hastily explained it must've belonged to a girl he'd brought over a few nights earlier. It was like being splashed in the face with cold water.

"You mean you brought some girl back here and... and had sex with her? Just a few days ago?"

"Yeah. I mean, no big deal, it's nothing serious, just a little booty call."

"Just a little booty call? Willy, I don't get booty calls, I've never had a booty call in my life! I'm a... a virgin, remember?" At 27, it gets harder to use that word every year...

"Well yeah, sure, but... just because you are, doesn't mean I have to be. It doesn't change anything for you. I don't understand what you're on about here. It means that, hypothetically, a girl will sleep with you."

I slipped my dress back on and sat shyly on the bed. "I don't know, I just... I guess I thought people shouldn't be like that, like if I'm going to have sex, I should be in a relationship, and you... you can just go out and get it when you want? It's not supposed to be that way, it's never been that easy for me." I looked at him. "We can't do this, Willy. I really don't want to do this right now."

I thought he'd be confused, upset, but he just looked at me with those brown eyes of mine and said "I understand. I should've stopped you. But you should know I don't intend to refrain from bedding women when I can."

I sighed. "I don't expect you to. Hell, maybe if they like you, maybe they'll like me when I get my body back." I winced at how disingenuous that sounded as I said it. "It was just very shocking, to learn how good you are with women..." privately, I worried that he had had that effect on me.

So that brought the evening to an abrupt halt. I learned what it's like to kiss a man -- my neck hurt a little from craning upward, but mostly it's the same as kissing a girl, just a bit more forceful. We didn't do anything, um, too advanced, obviously, but it opened up a whole lot of thoughts about what I am right now that I really didn't expect or want to have to ask/answer.

The last part of this soon I promise.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Thanksgiving Saga Chapter 1

I don't think I have ever lied on this blog. It's a really bad idea, because if something happens that I can only explain by revealing the truth, it's pointless. I might as well not even write here if I am going to lie to you good people. I want to share my story, and I have, including some parts that I find myself embarrassed to discuss.

The upside is, you don't know me. To you, I am just a bunch of words on a screen, not a person. An idea about a man in a woman's body. I assume you believe me, or are willing to pretend you do, even though if you met me in person, you'd probably think "This woman is crazy." So I have nothing to hide. Not to mention, you have all proven remarkably understanding about what's going on in my life, willing to hear my stories about putting on panties and bras and wondering if I am still the man inside I feel I should be. Through interacting with fellow victims and kind anonymous readers I have felt safe and secure, and reassured that things will go okay. I don't know how people have lived through this Trading Post ordeal without a blog like this one. It has helped me grow comfortable in this skin well beyond what I ever dreamed, in such a short time, when I first got changed (if that sentence makes any sense, please don't judge me, Alia!)

So I want to thank you, by assuring you of my absolute honesty here and hoping it all comes out well. In the past, I'll admit, I have omitted details, but never anything I thought would be important later, and usually I'm right. Thanksgiving was a big story, and I intend not to omit anything I think is important... it may end up being multiple posts. But I want to get as much out of it out there as I can.

It was the kind of vacation you need a whole other vacation to recover from. It started with a long, long, long bus trip, (drive from Philly to Buffalo it's 6 hours, take a bus and it's double that) early Wednesday morning. I decided to bring a couple of Tori's old diaries for reading material. Foolishly, I decided to begin at the beginning, and it's a long story. The first entry is dated to her twelfth birthday, January 30th 1999. I never realized how much older I was than her, until I thought about the fact that at the time she was writing on that page, I was a 17-year-old boy in high school. Not long after that I was in college studying computer sciences, a field that you'll probably understand grows as time has gone on... it put me in an odd nostalgia trip.

As you can imagine, there's very little that a 12-year-old might have to say that has to do with my current life, but I felt it was necessary to browse anyhow. It's full of the necessary prepubescent complaints. Her parents control her life too much, school is boring, her little sister is a pain... little Leah Mae was only six years old in 1999. The girl who just last week was asking whether I thought it was the right time to give up her virginity. Ick.

The handwriting was also scratchy, the spelling bad, the grammar awful, not that I'm holding it against her I'm just saying it made it tough to read. I found myself thumbing over pages that I couldn't decipher, and where nothing seemed to jump out at me. Many of the entries were spare, short summaries of what she did that day or what she was mad about, or how she had fun with her friends.

One helpful commenter on my last post noted that the diaries could be considered an extension of the letter I got when I woke up as Tori, which to a degree is true. It definitely helps me understand her better. But at the same time, the letter was written by a 22-year-old girl, to put her life in a context a stranger might understand. The bare essentials. The diaries were clearly never meant for someone other than Tori to read, and they sometimes make puzzling references (names, places, events that are never explained, but later become slightly more clear.) This is all access, but a lot of it is locked out. As the book goes on, she writes longer entries with more references and explanations that relate to what I'd already read, so I assume that as the books go on I will gain more understanding as my frame of reference builds.

I guess if my original intention was to learn specifically about sex, 12 was definitely the wrong place to start, and as you can tell there's more at work here. Learning more about how Tori talks to herself has helped me learn about her as a person. There are times when she seems very analytical, like me, and she was still only 12. Other times, she's just gossipy.

I arrived in Buffalo after dinner. Willy had told me he'd be busy and unable to meet until a bit later than that, so I arranged to meet with him at a favourite bar of mine and Justin's.

The commenter also mentioned a parallel with something the original Ashlyn/Jean-Michel had done, which I'll admit was partly my inspiration. I was eager to see my old friends, my family. Willy and I had cooked up a none-too-original (and slightly unbelievable, if you know me) cover story, where I was a girl "Cliff" had met online, and we hit it off, and I had agreed to meet him in person. The unbelievable part is that I could never envision myself hitting it off with a girl like Tori... girls like Tori don't tend to be interested in guys like J.H. Clifford, and to be honest I had written girls like her off as not being my type, personality-wise (not that I wouldn't have stared impotently if she came into the bar.) But I figured, we have Inn-magic on our side, people will believe whatever we say.

I arrived at the bar and didn't see Willy there, so I took a seat at the bar. About halfway through my first beer, Justin arrived. I pretended not to notice him, because I didn't want to act like I knew him without Willy around so we could keep things straight. But he sat next to me anyway and ordered a draft. I kept my eyes forward and drank up.

"Excuse me," he said. I didn't move. "Miss?" I looked over. He had this odd smile on his face. "You're drinking awfully fast, I just thought I'd point that out."

"Oh, um," I blushed, oddly embarrassed, "I'm just nervous about something. and I like my drink."

"I can see that," he joked, "Why don't you let me get you another one?"

"No, it's okay," I was off-put, "I'm just waiting for someone."

He smiled at me and said "Well if they don't show up, feel free to have a drink with me. I'm Justin."

Reluctantly, I shook his hand "Tori." It suddenly because very obvious that Justin was coming onto me.

Full disclosure: I've had guys look at me with desire quite a bit since I've been female. There are days it makes me feel nice, there are days it makes me feel absolutely shitty, depending on how I feel about my body/my mind that day, and who's doing the looking. By and large I am able to ignore it, and when a guy seems like he is about to proposition me I've got the art of polite rejection down.

But this is my friend. He's supposed to know me. I know all about the Inn magic, but part of me wishes that the fact that we've known each other for over a decade meant he was able to see past my long hair and nice breasts and realize he was talking to his best friend. And hopefully that would stop him. This not to mention the fact that he's dating a really great girl, Randi.

Then just as things were about to get super-awkward for me, in came a shockingly familiar face -- my own. I never thought of myself as a particularly tall guy, but my real body is head and shoulders above the 5'5 Tori (I am on break from heels.) He bounded in with confidence. "There you are! Justin, I see you've met Tori."

He spoke with such zeal, so boldly, so friendly to Justin you'd think they really had been friends all their lives. When I spoke to Willy on the phone he had a rather British accent, but I could tell he was putting on an "American" one that made him sound like the guy from House (who is British) and doesn't sound local to Buffalo at all. But I guess that's one of those things people don't think about.

They looked at each other and laughed, and I was deeply embarrassed to find out that Justin hadn't been hitting on me at all, they'd set the thing up as a joke. Randi came in after that and we got a booth.

Obviously, I was the object of conversational interest. They asked me all sorts of questions, things I expected to answer, my likes/dislikes, my background, stuff I could handle. My mission was to seem like "Cliff's" perfect girl, someone who shared his interests and understood him as a person. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but it was really amazing to play that role (only later did I get sad when I thought about the fact that such a girl may not exist in real life.)

By the end of the night, we had made plans to meet up again the next night after our family thanksgiving dinners, and then brave the Walden Galleria on Black Friday. Justin seemed suitably impressed (despite my just-off-the-buss look) and Randi seemed like she had found a new girl-friend... which is sad, because I will not be in her life for long, will I... as Cliff drove me home in my own car (I had wanted to drive but was definitely not sober, I hadn't seen him take a drink all night) we talked about what a success we had been, what a "smashing" couple we made, as he reverted to his more natural accent.

I made fun of his American accent. "Wot, d'ye not like it?" he asked, "I been practicin' for months, you should'a heard me when a'first got out here. I'da thought the accent changes with the body, but no. People was lookin' at me like I's an alien back in August, and now listen!" He switched to American "My name is Cliff, it's nice to meet you. Let's watch the Bills this Sunday."

I laughed at his antics. He's a very funny guy, very charismatic. he told me he learned accents because he used to act a bit, but never really had to polish up his American. I guess considering that, he's pretty good, seeing as how bad my British accent is. And that's having spent a lifetime watching Monty Python...

We got back to my apartment - Cliff's apartment - and I walked around, taking note of all the things he'd moved, and all the things he'd kept the same. "I'm gonna make a pot of tea, you want some?" Sure. We spent the evening talking, late into the night, just talking, him about England, me answering his questions about who John Henry Clifford really is... it's sad to realize there are things I don't even know about myself.

Around 2 AM, we were on the couch and I was drifting off, but a thought occurred to me, so I told him, "If you want... you can tell them we did it. I mean, that's what they think I'm here for. It'll make you look cool, and I don't mind..."

"Now, that wouldn't be very gentlemanly," he sighed, "I don't intend on tellin' them anything that didn't actually happen. I respect yer virtue too much."

He smiled, I laughed. "Well, that's nothing they haven't heard before... Cliff can't close the deal."

"You're all right, Cliff. You're a sharp guh--" I could tell he was gonna say "girl" but stopped himself and changed it halfway to "guy."

"Well, I'd better get to bed..." I said, "Thanksgiving is a pretty exhausting day even if you're well-rested."

"I have to admit I'm a wee bit excited to see exactly what the fuss is about. We haven't anything like it back home, from what I seen on the telly."

I laughed again, still slightly inebriated, "Haha, the telly. If my dad heard the way you talk... oh, brother."

He ushered me into my room even after I offered to take the couch. "Now now, we won't be having that," he insisted, "I am only a guest in yer body, and I insist on treating you fairly."

I changed into my pajamas and slung my bra over the side of the bed, taking a moment to take in how foreign the image of women's clothes in my room really looked. not only that, but being undressed, letting my breasts see the air, in a room that was once my private sanctum, felt more scandalous than it should have. This used to be my place, but now I really did feel like an outsider.

I noticed the lingering body odor of Cliff on the pillows and sheets. The strangeness of it, nothing I would have noticed when I was me... I fell asleep nestled deep in the mattress trench made by my old body.

More to come