Saturday, February 27, 2010

Todd: All in the Family

In the late hours of February 17th 2010, the world met Katherine Anne LaFleur Flaherty. Katie. My biological daughter.

I'd be lying if I said I was immune to the sentiment. Even if I had nothing to do with the act of conceiving her, and will not likely be part of raising her, she's... out there in the world. She carries my DNA. She's part of me. When I held her, I felt a connection, but I can't exactly describe what. It's a little like the connection you feel to someone whose body you are occupying. Asked if I had any thoughts on a middle name, I suggested Anne, for Anne Marie.

Erica was absolutely bursting when she first saw the little peanut. Hopped up on the emotions of a fairly difficult labour, exhaustion, euphoria, she watched this little pink somebody squirming in her arms and just broke down in tears of delight, beaming. She whispered "You're here, you're here."

Sean was still out west, amidst the craziness of the Olympics and his reason for being there, which is a potential job. What kind of a job takes you two weeks to get (or not get) I have no idea.

The night before it happened, I'd had one of my recurring nightmares. I don't think I've actually mentioned them on the blog, because every time I have one I am just too weirded out to get a handle on myself and write about it. In this one, I was in Toronto, but sometimes I'm back in Connecticut. But the nightmare's recurring theme is the Inn: I look down and suddenly I'm back in Anne Marie's body. I've got her breasts, her chubby thighs, her little knees, her arms, her feet, her wide hips, her round bum, her pussy. I feel everything I did the way when I was her. It's a little colder, my muscles ache a little more, I feel a little lethargic and my breasts feel tender with age. I feel myself get a little wet, but not with arousal, with nervousness or fear (it's a dream, it doesn't have to make sense.) But everyone knows it's me. Alia was in this one. She was in her own body, but she wasn't acting like herself, but in the dream it was her and not Crystal. And I felt like she was getting angry at me for being Anne Marie, but she wasn't really. She was totally indifferent, but her seeing me like that made me feel so ashamed. Sometimes it's not Alia, sometimes it's my mom, or Bryan, or Erica, or my third grade teacher. But this deep, sore feeling wells up until I jolt awake. I don't get back to sleep most nights when I have them.

So anyway, I was up, and understandably freaked out. I was thinking about making a drink or smoking a bowl (except Erica doesn't have any at her place, where I've been staying, which is probably just as well as it is one of many bad habits I have been trying to leave behind.) Anyway. I was up on the couch, just not falling asleep, when suddenly I hear this rustling from Erica's room, followed by cries of intense (agony?) She calls out my name and bursts through the door. "Todd, Todd, it's happening!" she pants.

After a brief period of confused panic, during which I tried to figure out how to discern she was actually going into labour, I got her to the hospital (driving her car, a Kia.) While she was wheeled off, I called Sean in Vancouver to let him know he was going to be a dad.

I wasn't sure whether I wanted to be in the delivery room, but she did ask, so I thought, "Who am I to reject a pregnant lady's demands?" So in I went, to act as birthing partner, even though I hadn't done any Lamaze classes or anything (during my time staying with her, she did give me a primer on what would be expected, should she give birth, but it's one thing to hear, another thing to experience.)

What she couldn't know, and what I feel a little bad for thinking so hard about, was how traumatic it was for me. I mean, as far as she knows, I've never been a woman, don't know what having a vagina feels like, can't imagine something bursting out of it. But while no, I didn't know anything about the actuality of birth, I definitely lived through enough menstruation and other vaginal events to be able to synthesize it in my head. It's like imagining getting a finger cut off: you have fingers, and the rest you can fill in with your imagination.

This lasted a few hours, all the while I was wincing in sympathy pain in my imaginary vagina. 14 hours later, just before 11 PM, the cord was cut, and the little girl was in the open. Free and clear.

Bryan and Crystal were waiting outside, although Bry had nodded off. Crystal cooed over the baby like, well, a woman who really wanted one (which Bry took with self-effacing humour: "You're too young to want a baby.") Bry patted me on the back, and I joked "Hey, my work is done here. She's Sean's problem now."

I had only a little moment with her alone. I told her, "Katie, someday, you're going to wonder about this day. I don't know what your mommy and daddy are going to tell you, but someday they'll have to explain how you got here, and why daddy wasn't in the room with mommy, and who was holding her hand when... when she brought you into the world. I don't know who I'm gonna be to you, kiddo. I don't know if I wanna be Uncle Todd or other-daddy, or what. I don't want to be a stranger, but I think it's sad... I think it's sad that even if your mom tells you the truth, that still... you'll never be able to know the truth about where your real daddy was the day you were born."

When I got home, the first thing I did was e-mail Deb down in Florida to let her know that her daughter had been born.

Then I went to sleep for the first time in about 24 hours, going to work in the morning and returning to the hospital as soon as I could.

-Todd

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alia/Rob: Valentine

There are some cliches about women I've never cared for. It isn't that they don't have a grain of truth, but I think the truth is more nuanced than some people (men) assume.

One is that we're obsessed with emotions (romance, commitment, etc.) I think this definitely varies from girl to girl. I never felt passionate desire about another person (romantically) until I met Todd. Seriously. My whole teenage life was spent being shy and not very in touch with my emotions. There was a boy who liked me a lot, and I didn't feel the same way, and I humoured him a little bit before realizing how our perceptions of each other didn't match up, and when I finally had to be honest with him, he didn't take it well. I've seen boys, and men, break down emotionally. Don't tell me men aren't ruled by their emotions.

My first Valentine's day with Todd, we had just gotten together, and our relationship was very new and very passionate. I was definitely expecting something other than what I got, because he spent the whole night drunk to the point of incapacitation in my dorm room bed, with me handy with a receptacle for his vomit, rambling the entire time about how important I was to him (this was about three and a half months into our relationship) and how grateful he was to be with a girl like me. I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

That shouldn't be a pleasant memory for me. It symbolizes seemingly all the problems I had with him later, having to take care of him, having to put up with his immaturity, but the heart is a complicated thing and when I think back to that memory, I think of young love, and I barely remember the smell of alcohol-soaked vomit in a trashbin.

Flash forward 5 years to 2009. Apparently, my Todd was in Connecticut having "relations" (his charming word for it, alternating with "boner time") with Hal Adkisson while the man I believed to be him - in actuality a woman named Deb - was leaving me to my own devices. I've never felt lower than I did during that time, and the painful part of this whole ordeal is that even though I know the truth, that doesn't make the memory hurt any less. I mean, he had acted unfairly to me before, but this was the first time since knowing him he had flat-out ignored my existence. Imagine how hurtful, how baffling, it must've been for me at the time. And that led to certain actions of which I am not proud. But they were my choices.

(That miserable Valentine's Day was roughly on par with the previous year, which I spent observing the crumbling of my relationship with the real Todd. Amazing how things can change... but as much as Todd refers to me as "his girlfriend," the reality, as you can guess, is more complicated.)

So, even alone, far from home, male, paunchy, and frustrated both professionally and sexually, this was not fixing to be my worst Valentine's Day ever. But over the weekend I was feeling the need for some human contact, so I asked Cliff if she had any plans for the night.

She said no. In her group of six, four of them are happily coupled, while Raine was intending to go to a singles event to scam on guys. There was really no place for her. The content of our last posts notwithstanding, I think she's a really cool person, we get along well, and I feel like if we've got to suffer through this together, we may as well make the best of it (not in that way, though.) I offered to take her out to dinner.

She agreed, but pushed the chivalry, the "oh, why don't you let me pay" angle, and we ended up compromising and going Dutch. It wasn't a real date anyway.

I picked her up in a rental car. She was waiting at the door, saying she didn't want the hassle of introducing me to her "parents" inside, which I understand given the circumstances. We went out to the only place we could agree was sufficiently nice and yet still seemingly within our price range, a Sushi restaurant. Cliff was wary, she'd never had Sushi in her previous life, and apparently Tori did not enjoy it, but with a wry smile, she said to me, "I think if there's one thing we know about me nowadays, it's that I'm open to new things." That gave me a bit of a laugh.

We went inside - the place was packed but I had called the night before to squeeze in a reservation (but we still had to wait at the bar.) When she checked her overcoat, I saw a Cliff - make that a Tori - I had not yet met.

She had a very subtle make-up job, mascara and glossy lips. I couldn't tell whether someone had helped her with them or she just winged it (if so, doing a pretty good job.) She wore a silver necklace that didn't look like it matched the outfit and had been chosen at random from the jewelry box. The pendant, a heart, fell just at the top of her cleavage... she was wearing a rather low-cut black dress with a hemline that fell to the knee, and very obviously a push-up bra.

She caught me in my male gaze. She smirked, "See something you like, Rob?"

With a snort of flustered laughter, I replied "You can call me Al. It's a compromise." It's also a Paul Simon reference, a favourite dumb joke of Todd's, a way of keeping him in the conversation, and probably too obscure of a music reference for Cliff (not really shown herself to be a major music freak, but boy does she know computers.)

We took seats at the bar and I said, "You didn't have to do this."

"Well, let me have it," she said, "If I'm lucky, I won't have too many more opportunities to play dress-up."

"A lot of guys wouldn't be comfortable dressing that way."

"A few months in a body like this gives you time to get used to the idea," she replied.

"You pulled it off, except..."

"What?"

I said, "Your hair's a little wild." It has a tendency toward poofiness. Haircare takes a long time to master. She said she knows, and said she'd hoped she could get away with it. I said, normally, it would be fine, but with a more formal outfit like she had on, it looked odd. "I'd recommend a straightener, just to make mit more manageable."

At this point, smiling and saying "Thanks," she swept her hair behind her ear and I noticed something else.

"No earrings?"

"I wore them for a little bit, but they were hard to keep putting back in, so I let the holes close up. I keep meaning to get them re-done, but I'm a little nervous about it. I just wanna give tori her body back the same way it was when..."

She trailed off, so I completed her thought, "Yeah, I'm the same way. That's why I'm planning on putting those extra 8 pounds back on while I'm still Rob." She gave a little laugh. "Well anyway,, you look..." I paused and searched my mind for the right word before finally settling on "Nice." Yes, I have a Bachelor's Degree in English.

"You're just saying that."

"Well, think about it," I said "Tori's a very pretty girl. It must be hard walking the balance between her look, and your identity--"

"Yeah," she cut me off a little bit, "After a while, I got sick of thinking about how hard it is. It's all on the blog. I'm a guy, I'm a girl. I mean, have you ever really thought about how amazing this has all been?"

"Of course. Every day."

"I mean, knock on wood, Al, we're going home. I can stop holding my breath. I can really look around at the world around me safe in the knowledge that--"

"Don't jinx it."

She sighed. We ordered drinks - a beer for me and a rum and coke for her. She protested, thinking it would turn me into a drunk driver, but I insisted Rob's ability to handle alcohol was not slight.

We were eventually seated and she continued. "I read some of your posts about your relationship with Todd." I'd told her a bit about it as well, "You said you used to be real shy and introverted and not all that much into relationships."

"Yeah, that was pretty much it."

"That's me, Al. Except I never grew out of it." A waiter approached and I ordered for her, at her request.

She went on, "I've been thinking a lot about our conversation." (I thought, Jeez, this again?) "And you were right. It seems very complicated. I'm not built for that. I only asked you, because you know the truth about me, and I thought-- not that that would make it okay, but, I thought it would be wrong to be with someone who didn't know the truth about me."

I re-affirmed my belief that "It woukd be wrong for us to go after anyone."

She said, "Yeah, but that doesn't mean I can't want it. That's why it's so weird. that feeling I got when I met Willie... the way he seemed to see me, not Tori. That's what I want. And my main goal for when we get back is to find someone I can connect with."

Our food was served and she looked down at it noncommittally: both to the idea that she could find someone when she gets back to her normal self, and to the food.

"Hey," I said, taking the first bite, "You're surviving. That's all you've got to do."

She began to eat. After a few bites, she appraised the flavour and decided "It's not bad."

I raised my glass, "To new experiences!" She clinked a cheers. After we sipped, I added, "As my Mexican ancestors would say, Que Sera Sera."

She smirked, "That's not Spanish, I think it's Latin."

"Well, whatever. I know English, and high school French. That's it."

So then she said, with slight awe and envy, "You know, it's amazing. I'm here rambling about all my breakdowns and my sex-obsession, and you're just... you seem fine. You're like a rock. It's like it doesn't even bother you."

"Well, that's sorta true," I sighed, "It could be it just never hit me as hard as you. There are days when I feel absolutely shitty about this body -- sluggish, cut off from that feeling of... femininity, I guess you could say."

"Yeah, I'd say that," she winced.

"And there's days when I feel like I've got the whole world on my shoulders. The principal at this school is really on my ass, realizing I'm not, well, the most professional teacher ever. I'm trying, Cliff, I really am, but it does overwhelm me sometimes. I just have too much on my mind to stop and think Holy Crap I'm in a weird body. most of the time. When it does hit me, I feel like a total freak, but it's not often. And then there's the other difference... I have Todd to rely on. It helps to be so close with someone who's already been through it, and who's there for you. All you've got is me, and I haven't been so great at being your friend."

"That's not true," she protested, "You're a good friend. We're having dinner."

"Yeah, but sometimes, I mean, I feel guilty for not reaching out to you more."

"Well, you're here now," she said and we kept eating. She seemed to take to the sushi.

I still don't feel like I've excised my guilt over this whole situation. From the moment we sat down and realized how weird it was we had both changed our roles, we've both sort of stayed in our own spots, and she really seems to have had a tougher time of it. If we both make it out of this alive, it's possible I've made a good new friend. Hell, Cliff's family is only just across the border.

For now, though, the tough times seemed like they'd passed. We went upstairs to the Karaoke bar. Tori's voice is very nice, but not the way Cliff uses it to scream "I Want you To Want Me." I fared no better on "Satisfaction." I had no excuse though, because I was definitely sober enough to drive her home.

She wasn't so sober, though: she fell asleep on my shoulder on the drive back to her place. She looked so peaceful, it almost breaks your heart to know what she's been through.

-alia

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Greg/Priya: Worst Valentines Day ever

So its been forever and a day since I updated you on my life, but to get to the really important hanging question: Yes, I did get my reservation at the inn. Its the last weekend in June, not only giving me enough time to get back from Maine for my wedding, but it gives Priya enough time to get back to herself in time to be the maid of honor. It really put me in a good mood for about two weeks. Didnt feel the need to blog, since I only do that when something big happens or I feel sad, depressed, or lonely, which brings me to this late night valentines entry.

I did not go out on a date tonight, in fact I lied to Amber and told her I DID have a date so that she wouldnt set me up with one of her friends. Shes always trying to do that, I think its because women in couples want their friends to be in couples so that they can do couples things together. I actually stayed in hung out with Simone tonight. But just because I didnt have a date this Valentines doesnt mean I didnt put in a ton of work for it.

It all started last saturday, when I was at the mall with Amber. We were at Victoria's Secret, which has become one of my favorite stores. Not because I like buying frilly girly underwear, but because I get to help Amber do so. And since I dont ever get to have intimate moments with her anymore, seeing her try on sexy lingerie is about as close as I get. Anyway, this particular day we were chatting as seh tried on some complicated thing that was all lace and fishnets and she remarked to me that "She hoped this would light a spark between her and Greg"

I asked her to go on and she said that she and Dee had been having sex pretty infrequently lately, like once every two weeks, and even then he doesnt seem interested in it. This surprised me, but when you think about it, Dee is a straight woman on the inside, and I imagine things for her right now are like it was for Todd the first few months. The idea of having sex with another woman is probably still weird to her, and even though I know that she HAD done it in, I guess she didnt really like it.

After I got home from the mall, I started thinking. While I wasnt really comfortable with the idea of Dee having sex with Amber at first, I had grown to accept it. After all, as far as Amber was concerned, it was me, so it wasnt cheating. Now I faced the prospect of getting back to my life in July and being in a major rut, which is very hard to pull out of. I love Amber with all my heart, but I dont want to be in a sexless marriage with her. I was gonna have to make sure Dee did it right on Valentines day, and that she would take care of Amber, both physically and emotionally, for the rest of her stay in my body.

I called up Dee and asked her what she had planned, and she told me she hadnt really thought about it. This boggled my mind, since she, as a former girl, should know just how important Valentines Day is to them. Of course, she probably never had to set up the date, and she WAS divorced so she couldntve had THAT may great Valentine's Days, but I digress.

For the last week I've been coaching her. I had her get a reservation at Ambers favorite restaurant, which wasnt hard because its this little hole in the wall Italian Place that barely anyone knows about, so It actually had Valentines reservations. I also took her to the store to help pick out a piece of jewelry she like, its a gold bracelet with roses engraved into it. I also gave him tips on her favorite wine, favorite music, favorite cologne, and anything else I could think of to ensure that he would get laid.

And if all went according to plan, thats just what hes doing now. Me, in the meantime, I just got done with a pretty fun night. Simone is the coworker that went on the snowboarding trip with us, the also single one. Turns out she and I have a lot in common, which surprised her since shes known Priya for a few years. Im gonna make sure Priya trys to stay friends with her after we go back to normal.

Anyway, Simone fills a need in my life. A best friend sorta need. Something that if I were the real Priya, Amber would fulfill. But I cant look at Amber as just a friend, so it kinda makes it difficult for me be around her in that capacity. Simone is just like me insomuch as that shes single and enjoys it. Shes in no hurry to settle down and would rather hang out with her friends than search for a soulmate.

So we went to a movie. She wanted to see "Valentine's Day" but I told her that It would be too crowded and cliched. Also because it looks like it sucks something awful. Theres no way you can have a cast that prolific without the story getting too cluttered. We saw "When in Rome" instead, because I like Kristen Bell from her Veronica Mars days. It turned out to be a chick flick, but at least a well acted out chick flick.

Afterwards we went back to my place and ate Ice Cream. Cliche I know, but all my yoga and dieting has gotten me to 3 pounds less than what Priya weighed when I became her, so i deserve a little treat now and then, especially on a night like tonight.

As we ate our ice cream we watched "The Wedding Planner" and as well as being a reminder of weddings and being engaged and happiness and all the things im missing about my old life, it is also a terrible movie. Jennifer Lopez is not fun to watch when I dont have a penis. This is becoming one of the more difficult things for me. I can handle being a girl, I can handle pretending to be a teacher, I can handle being Indian, but so help me I CANNOT take pretending to like these movies.

Anyway, Simone had wine with her ice cream, which while gross also knocked her out cold, so shes sleeping on my couch right now, leaving me alert and in a contemplative mood. Hence the marathon blog post on this lover's night, even though the only lover Ill have is in Priya's top drawer

Hope everyone elses went better than mine

-Greg

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cliff/Tori: At home

I'm aware of how sad it is that I'm here on a Saturday night writing this. Hell, if I'd wanted to spend my Saturday night (the night before Valentine's) sitting in front of a TV screen or a computer monitor, I could've kept my penis.

I mean, sure I could get out (Snowmageddon notwithstanding) but where would that get me? there's no such thing as an innocent night out when you look like this. I even went bowling a couple weeks ago with Sara, Raine and Cyndi -- girls night out -- and we still got male attention. And hell, part of me likes it. A lot of these guys are the guys I would feel like I was in competition with a year ago, guys who under normal circumstances would have an easy time with a girl like Tori but have no idea what to with me. And in a weird, perverse way, I get some satisfaction out of that. It's horrible, it's manipulative, I know, but if they could see it from my side, if they knew who they were talking to, I think they'd understand. But there's nothing I can say to them.

But it's about keeping a balance. I would be miserable in my past life (I wanted to say my "real" life, but let's face it, for now, this really is my real life) spending a night like this, but I'm comfortable here. The bra is off, the comfy hoodie is on, so are the fuzzy socks and the pj bottoms. I am in for the night. Which makes me the only Pearce to do so, as the parents are out on date night, and Mae is off with her boyfriend. Seems like an ideal moment to go on a date with myself, but I'm saving that for later.

The mind boggles. From a guy, you wouldn't wanna hear about that stuff. Alia knows what I mean. Nothing fancy about a guy jerking off, but a girl, it's very romantic. It feels romantic.

Sad but true: I'm only a few drinks and one bad decision away from being one of those girls who guys pay to see fondle themselves on webcams. Except I think those girls talk dirty to the guys too, and I wouldn't know what to say. If I could pretend like nobody was watching, I might be able to go through with it, but in reality I am way too self-conscious.

Tori writes about doing it. She started seeing this boy in 11th grade, and started doing it on a whim because something about him made her want to (to put it vaguely.) And about two months into their relationship she gave him her virginity, and then it took a long while for him to live up to the expectation she had created for herself.

The thing that really struck me about Tori's writing occurs sometime after that, when it was over between her and this boy. before the end of that school year, her friend Danny, the boy she'd carried a torch for pretty much the whole time, even when she was dating other people, came out to her as gay. And she pours her heart out to the diary about how brave he was for doing that and how proud she was, but also surprised, and she admits with a significant amount of shame that this doesn't change her feelings toward him.

And then he flat-out disappears from the diary.

She doesn't write anything new about him, not to the point I've read. He just drops out of her life. No references. Then she starts hanging out more with Sara and Raine (Sara, practically a stranger, Raine, a somewhat annoying acquaintance until then.) More talk about fashion and style than before, less introspection.

It's like she cut herself off from her feelings. Maybe she couldn't live with her feelings for Danny knowing they could never be together. Maybe she just toughened her shell, became more of a well, a cliche.

Well, I can only speculate. I am curious enough to want to ask but I know it must be a sensitive subject. We all are entitled to our secrets and if this is something she kept from her diary maybe it's not meant for me to know anyway. I feel like, at this point, I've gotten to know this girl whose body I've been living in all these months.

My God, how long it's been.

It will always be etched into my memory, the sudden realization one morning that everything about me had changed, as my t-shirt was loose against my suddenly flabby, swollen chest and my slim shoulders... the feeling of my long hair against my face... the curious lack of testicles hanging off my groin. I'm not that person anymore, none of that is shocking to me anymore, but for so long, I couldn't pull up a pair of panties or zip up a pair of tight jeans without feeling somewhere in the back of my head that I was going to snag something, that I was bundling myself up too tight down there, even though I knew perfectly well there was nothing to worry about bundling.

Oh, I remember it all, and I wish I'd had the presence of mind to write it all down on this blog (I did make a few notes privately by hand, but looking over them they are largely under-detailed.) I remember when I first looked at myself in the mirror naked I utterly wanted to cry. No, this can't be happening, the mirror is wrong. but look down, look through your own cleavage and you will get an unobstructed view of the floor between your feet. Now that's just then daily view for me. I'm totally bemused by the entire setup. "Oh, yeah, looking good today, boobs. Might give the pubes a trim later."

Comfort. At first I felt utterly oppressed by the bra. How could I not? Panties are one thing. You barely notice there's anything different between a standard-cut panty and a men's brief, since there's nothing to really gauge the difference by. But the bra, that was just so... I mean, I resented having these two bags of flesh hanging off my body to start with, the last thing I wanted was to make them look all perky and appealing, and strain my shoulders with straps. And then one day I got out of the shower, and I thought to myself, "God, these things are just hanging there." So life has a funny way of making you change your viewpoint, especially after your body's changed.

All these things I remember from the first few weeks like they were a whole other lifetime. It's been a growing process, but it's like I changed twice, once in my body, once in my mind.

I had to get really comfortable with my body before I could do what I did on January 1st. It goes beyond dressing nice and doing one's hair. I had actually tried to start it during one of those hectic "Oh God what is going on" days back in summer. It was a typically male "Might as well try this" moment, since it had been such a huge part of my life as a guy, but it was almost too good, it freaked me out after just a little touch because I really did not want to enjoy myself. So even as I grew more and more comfortable with my body, it wasn't until Thanksgiving that the idea even re-occurred to me as something I would actually want to try, and then over six weeks later before I actually tried it because, well, sometimes you just need to wait for the right time. You need to feel at home.

And now I do feel at home. Because as weird as all that body stuff was, that was private: the really tough part was feeling safe and secure in this house. For so long, I felt like the stranger in the house, the liar, the fake. Like they were looking at me, sizing me up, compiling mental evidence that I was their fake daughter. I wanted to get out and stay out as much as I could, hence my drinking nights with the girls (and their boys.) But now that time has passed and I know when I'm getting my body back (knock on wood) I feel comfortable just relaxing and being... myself. I like Mr. and Mrs. Pearce a lot, and Mae and I have really grown close. She's the little sister I never had.

What bothers me is the obvious fact that it's not me they care for, it's the person they think I am. At the end of the day, I don't see myself as that girl. I'm just a girl who looks like her. I'm both at home, and not at home. But I'm trying to make the best of it.

I don't know what the future holds. I don't know if life can keep going like this until July, but I have my routine, and I like it. I'm comfortable here, which is so weird to say, but I think you know what I'm getting at. It's not like an earthquake destroyed my house: I have food and clothes and something to do with my time. My life could be a lot worse right now.

One last thing I want to say before I leave is that I think maybe Alia gave the wrong impression of the conversation we had about hypothetically having sex. It's not like I went over there with the intention of seducing him. But I'm a girl and he's a guy, and whether I have sex with a guy while I'm in this body is my decision, because I definitely know that if I wanted it, I could. I've entertained the notion of having sex with a male partner; I've also entertained the notion of having sex with a female partner, but I don't have much in the way of options there. I think Alia and I agreed that it would mess things up for Rob and Tori if we were to do it with each other, but that wouldn't stop it from messing things up for ourselves, which I kind of get. I feel like I could handle it, if it was him and me. Five months is a long time to be left to my own devices. I feel like that would just take the pressure off (as well as get everyone off my back about finding someone.) But he trusts that I am a strong enough person that I don't need that... and hopefully he's right.

And if he thinks I think about sex a lot... he should meet Raine. Or Sara. Or 18-year-old Tori for that matter.

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Todd: Peacemakers

Given the fact that my relationship with Sean Flaherty and Erica LaFleur you would be surprised to find out that I am writing this post from Erica's apartment.

I had barely seen her since Sean made it very clear, last summer, that he was going to raise this kid, and I was fine with it, but I felt like it was a loose end in my life, one of, perhaps, too many. There's no way I can rationalize it, but something didn't sit right with me about the idea of some poor bastard child being conceived during my time away from my body. The last time I had seen Erica and Sean, it was at a New Year's party we all happened to attend (hey, we run in the same circles.) Sean was shooting me death glares anytime I looked in their direction. Erica, sweet kid she is, had the look of a sympathetic, somewhat remorseful, and very, very pregnant captive.

I didn't know how to reach out to Erica. I didn't want to overstep my boundaries or get in a conflict with Sean. Frankly, I sympathized with him. From his perspective, I took advantage of a difficult time in his relationship with Erica. In some perverse form of retaliation, he and Alia started hooking up. After Sean and Erica patched up their differences was when she learned she was pregnant. I became his enemy.

I should note that Sean and I were never the best of friends to begin with, but we had hardly been enemies.

Bad feelings, man. It's hard to get over something like that, and as much as I want to be big about it, the only thing I could do was separate myself from them and let them live their lives. But it was always felt like that thread of my life was hanging, and apparently, so did Sean.

A couple nights ago, he showed up at my door. It was a Wednesday night, and someone was buzzing at my intercom. Sleepily, barely cognizant of what was going on, I unlocked the door, unsure if I had heard him correctly when he mumbled "Sean" into the receiver. He must've been halfway up to my place when I awakened and was struck with a sudden sense of dread. Did I really just invite Sean Flaherty up to my house, at 2 AM on a Wednesday night? (Well, now Thursday.) My heart began to beat. It was the kind of stress I hadn't faced much since regaining my own body.

When he arrived, it was pretty clear he was drunk. He sat himself down on the couch and proceeded to drink from a half-empty mickey of vodka that looked like something a 17-year-old pinches from his dad (I'd know.) I offered him something to mix with, he chose orange juice.

I wasn't sure whether he'd come to make peace or to beat the shit out of me. I think he hadn't decided between the two, because his attitude was shifting wildly. I just sat and listened patiently while he rambled, finally telling me exactly how mad he was about the way things had gone this past year. I told hi he wasn't alone, and he told me to shut the fuck up, and asked "What the fuck do you know?"

He continued, "What are you, mad about not having Alia? You could have her. I know she loves you, and I don't know why she's with Bryan right now, so I figure it must be because for some reason you decided you don't want her. But if you wanted her that badly, you'd just have to walk in there and tell her so. I know that's how she feels about you." She must've been very honest about the matter when she was with him. I wanted to tell him it was more complicated than that, but I didn't feel like outlining the reasons why. So I let him go on.

"But me? It's like, there's no hope for me anymore. This baby is coming, and it's yours. And no matter how close I am to it, it's always, like, going to be something that's between me and Erica, something that's keeping us apart. It's not taht I'm afraid of being a dad... it's just... I'm afraid I won't be able to be one when the time comes."

I was about to console him on the matter when he said something startling. "I proposed, you know. She said no. I tried to make this right, I'm trying to make it work, we've been together almost as long as... I was gonna say almost as long as you and Alia but I guess you're not together now are you."

"No, I guess not."

"But that's how long anyway. I don't want to be with anyone else, and we've all fucked up and I want to move past it."

I asked "Do you know why she said no?"

"Fuck no. Do you?"

"Nope. This is the first I've heard of it."

"It's not like we broke up or anything, she just said now wasn't the time for it. I don't know. Do you get women?"

I sighed. "Now less than ever."

He finished his drink and continued to ramble circularly. I had poured my own drink by this point. As he turned to leave, he explained why he had come to me. "I've got a chance at a job, at a hospital out in Vancouver." Sean is a male nurse of some kind. "I have to fly out for an interview, but Erica, she's, like, due any day now. I hate the thought of leaving her alone like this, so I was wondering if you'd, you know, take care of her. Just in case. Until I get back."

It was a very humane gesture, a real olive branch moment. I told him of course I would, and we shook hands, and he disappeared into the night.

It's been good, coming over here after work, just to be out of the house with someone, away from the Bry/Crystal show, to be social again, in a way, like I was with Ginny. To be on good terms with the women of the world. To have something of importance going on in my life. Not that this is Earth-shattering work, making dinner and watching TV with a pregnant lady, but it's the most tangible thing I've done with my life since I got back to it.

I think, in theory, it could've been anyone looking after Erica. She has any number of female friends who would've been more sensitive to her needs, most of whom Sean wouldn't have to fear her cheating with. But it's the gesture more than the practicality of it: I suspect Erica has been on his case about the cold war between us.

We haven't talked about any of the serious issues. She hasn't seemed keen to talk about, you know, the circumstances under which I impregnated her. I haven't asked why she rejected Sean's marriage proposal. But Erica is a smart cookie and we've had some interesting conversations. I'm starting to wake up out of what feels like my post-return coma.

-Todd

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