I haven't been on in a few weeks, barely even checked the blog (I mainly do when Alia tells me he posted) because I'd been, as weird as this sounds, enjoying life.
I know, I feel extremely guilty about writing that right now, but at the time, it was the truth. The weather got very gorgeous very quickly and unlike last summer I was not feeling self-conscious about my body. I've long since (well, depending on your count) accepted that for the time being, I look like this, I wear these clothes, I should make myself comfortable. So if I need to shave my legs and underarms so I can show some bare leg and shoulder, so be it. I was feeling good about feeling good. On the home stretch of my return to the Inn, time started to fly.
I don't know. It was just a good time to be Cliff being Tori. As miserable as the work days sometimes are, I got through them, then hung out with "the gang" at Raine and Sara's place, or the bar, or wherever. I didn't even feel bad about taking the night for myself occasionally, just to come home and relax, because I've been more social in the last few months than I've been in years.
Then I logged onto the blog late on April 1 or I guess the 2nd by then, and there was Greg's post. And it just hit my like a ton of bricks. All the carefree attitude I had the last few weeks just disintegrated in the harsh reality of it.
Suddenly all the fun I'd been having didn't seem so fun. The clothes, the hair, the boobs, and everything else that came with it, felt very bitter to me.
Greg, I'm so sorry about what's happening with you. Seriously. I don't even know what I would do if I found myself in your situation (crawl into a hole and die maybe.) Suddenly all the paranoia about not getting my body back has hit me again. The first thing I did after I read that post was e-mail Willy to make sure we were still cool. The fact that he took several days to get back to me (two days but it felt like a week) did not ease my mind.
He assured me that yes, everything was still going to plan, and that if I was really uncertain about it I should come up to Buffalo and check in on him for Easter. As much as that would set things straight for me, I still couldn't go through with it. I still carry a sneaking suspicion that he might want to try picking up where we left off, getting a few bonus miles out of our bodies before we go back. And my own suspicions that I may not be strong enough to resist the urge to try, because I already know how I'd rationalize it (oh, it's my body, he knows who I really am, it's not like he loves Tori or anything.) Best to avoid the problem altogether.
Not to mention, separating myself from the Pearces has become very difficult lately -- it's not like those first few months where I just stayed out of their way. "Mom" and I cook together and we all have movie nights and other weirdly home-sweet-home stuff. We're not the Brady Bunch but this isn't Married with Children either.
But finally, I just wasn't in the mood for anything this weekend. The entire time, the knowledge that one of us isn't making it back to the Inn -- I don't know Greg except through the blog, but I do know we're going through the same thing (except he's lost his fiancee to boot, which makes it way worse than anything that could happen to me) and I do feel a connection there. It's like that thing someone was telling Todd about the mushrooms. We're all part of a big secret family.
It all just weighed on my shoulders the entire weekend. So I just kinda sat, catatonic, while being welcomed to Tori's uncle's place (the same place we spent Christmas) by a parade of relatives whose names and backstories I have a hard time keeping straight. "Oh there's uncle whatsisface who brew his own wine, and Aunt whoosits and her three kids." Even more confusingly, both Dad's and Mom's side came by for the dinner, which was crazy, but I guess I didn't realize that the two halves of the family could be close. Repeatedly, I had to have embarrassing conversations where I attempted to account for the state of Tori's life. No, haven't really decided what career I want, still not dating anyone, blah blah. These things that hopefully will not be my problems in a few months..... yet by constantly having to address them it reminded me of what it would be like if they were. Which means really, they might as well be. And all the while, everyone's sort of disguising their disappointment with my apparent lack of direction, and I don't have any human connection whatsoever.
And then Ken shows up.
God bless Ken. Tori's older brother has been extremely cool the few times I've met him, and from our increasingly amusing conversations on MSN/Facebook. They have a very strong relationship and thankfully that has transplanted over to me. I just like the dude. He's like the brother I never had -- which is ironic in a way because I do have a brother, I just don't get along with him as well as I'd like.
Mae even brought Ed along, although they disappeared early and only returned for dinner... so...... yeah.
Anyway, Ken was there with his fiancee Jana. He proposed on New Year's, and she's been in crazy wedding-planning mode for a few months. They're planning a fall wedding. Most of the family loves her, although I think she's a little boring. Pretty, though, in a classic beauty kind of way. But if you saw me say that out loud, it would seem kind of bitchy, because I've heard myself-as-Tori described in similar ways (more like "pretty but weird.")
Ken made the rounds, and let Jana bond with the other women, and found me to try to bring me out of my gloom. He was a great guy for trying but at that point I was feeling really low. He asked me about it and I was evasive.
"It's just... life stuff. I mean, I'm doing okay for now, but I'm not sure where I go from here." It was totally in-character stuff, covering for my real problems with the believable fakes.
Ken admitted that telemarketing really didn't sound like a good long-term plan, but if it wasn't killing me, it was good enough to keep at until I figure out something better. I told him that wasn't very good advice, and he grinned and shrugged, "What do you want to hear from me? I have the worst job, but I'm happy enough that I don't care." He works in banks or something nonspecific like that.
I was puzzled. "If you hate your job so much, why do you consider yourself happy?"
"I'm getting married soon, Vic." Only Ken and Mae call me Vic. I kinda like it (because if you squint your ears it sounds like Cliff.) "I'm in love with an amazing woman, I don't mean to rub it in or anything, but I couldn't care less about job satisfaction right now."
This did not help. On top of everything else, part of the reason I was supposedly miserable is that I'm single? I didn't want to admit it, but even when I was doing IT, which I liked (despite not being passionate about it, I felt needed and was good at it, so I generally liked it) I knew that yeah, loneliness was a problem. But I had just started being happy being my version of Tori. Why'd he have to rub it in? I just gritted my teeth.
"I don't know," he added, "Maybe it's not a relationship. Maybe it is the job. Maybe it's everything."
"Yeah, it's everything." I sighed, forcing a laugh.
"Maybe it's because you live at--" he stopped himself.
There was a pause before I finished the thought "At home? Yeah. That probably doesn't help."
Look, it's not my place to start rearranging Tori's whole life, especially not now, and as much as I've come to like the Pearces, I can't deny that if I had my choice, I'd be out on my own. But again, it's all the "I'm not myself, this is not my life" stress. I just couldn't express any of that.
So we changed the subject.
"So, I was talking to Jana," he said, "And she kind of liked the idea that you and Mae would be her bridesmaids." That was a bit startling. Thinking back, it was maybe a bit rude to just be stone cold about it, like "Yeah, that'll be fun," showing no enthusiasm. I know I'm not planning on being around for it, but at this time I was practically convinced that I was, and it all just... ugh, it's all too much.
Ken seemed disappointed that this didn't cheer me up (it totally would've been Tori's thing) and that really drove home how much of a mood I was in. Ken and Jana were stayign at our place, and that night, we rented Zombieland... they were cuddled on the couch to one side, I was on the other, and I have to admit, seeing them be so close was really a bummer. Ken wasn't totally wrong, but he couldn't know that he was the one I was really jealous of.
It all just comes back to wanting to be a man holding a girl like that.
So I just thought I'd get that off my chest. Sorry to be so self-obsessed at a time when Greg has some real problems, though. I feel kind of useless because I just have no idea how I'd handle a situation like that. I hope you get it sorted out.
The rest of us just have to keep living the way we are.
I wonder what the odds are that you'd have been watching Zombie Land the same day I did?
Ken kept joking around that it fit the theme of Easter and Jana didn't quite get it.
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