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....