I was out at the mall with Raine on Saturday, and we ran into my co-worker Cyndi and her boyfriend Leo.
Leo looked exhausted. The poor guy was clearly being dragged from store to store while Cyndi tried on outfits and browsed the racks, and in my secretly-male way, I had sympathy. But even so, it put me in mind of exactly how much things have changed for me since, well, the change.
In my real/original/actual/male life, as I've said, I was never that good with women. In fact, I was downright scared of them, and for some reason the fear of rejection seemed like the worst possible outcome of any interaction. Sometimes, I overcompensated, usually at the behest of my friend Justin, but it wasn't a good fit for me (as Alia will recall from our first meeting, when I tried to get into bed with her. Back when Alia WAS a her.)
I remember being dragged around from store to store by my last girlfriend. It was a rocky relationship because we were celibate and I was, well, I was okay with it, but I'm not going to pretend it wasn't the source of some tension, especially after a few years. I was still dating her when I saw that movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and I was always -- hell, still am -- worried that I'd end up like that.
Back when I was still myself, I would see a guy like Leo, groaning and rolling his eyes at his girl's shopping, waiting patiently while she compiles potential outfits, and I'd sympathize, but also be bitter. I knew the feeling, but it was far away: and soon the only thought would be "At least you have someone, man."
And now? Now, I shop a lot like Cyndi, although not with as much, uh, enthusiasm. And I think most girls appreciate their Men's patience, so hang in there, Leo, and all guys like Leo. I know we can be very trying. And I don't even care about singlehood, because in my position, it's a damn downright benefit.
Did I just say I shop a lot like Cyndi? Yes. I'm not exactly a fashionista, or whatever you'd call it, but I'm quite fascinated by the number of different styles and fabrics and combos available to women. Skirts, pants, tights, jeans, tops, blouses, button-ups, camis, sweaters... I don't buy a lot, but I do like to look. There's an art to it, or maybe it's a science, figuring out a good outfit, that I never really thought much of as a guy, but when your body has curves to accentuate (or downplay) you think about these things, because comfort and confidence become serious issues. At a certain point several months ago I dedicated myself to being a girl who took pride in her appearance, and it's stuck.
That's not to say I'm capable of doing this on my own. Maybe Raine and Sara think it's odd what an influence they have on me, but their advice and direction has been invaluable. Most of what I buy, I show to them, and ask "Do you think this would go with that? Wouldn't this look cute?" It was definitely a surreal moment when I found out, according to Raine, I have good taste in colors. Go figure!
I was trying on some outfits in the store when I had one of those "This is so weird how normal this feels" moments. Slipping a dress on. Being in my bra and panties. Seeing myself in the mirror. The urge to look hasn't even really hit me that much lately, because I've gotten so used to what's there. And for a moment I thought "Is this right?" but I realized it can't possibly be wrong to feel good about the way you look, regardless what gender you are. I mean, I felt pretty okay about the way I looked as a guy, and I assume I will again. This is just... coping. Right?
Anyway. The whole shopping exercise was therapeutic because I've been dealing with some stress all month. I don't think Buddy's getting the hint that I don't want to date him. As much sympathy as I have for him, I just want to scream whenever he e-mails me to check on my plans for the weekend. He's even managed to tag along on a few group outings, due to his friendship with Raine's Guy. Now that they're getting serious, I'm pretty much the only single girl in a group of 5-7 (depending whether Cyndi and Leo are around)... and whenever Buddy comes by, it just gets that much more awkward. We haven't talked seriously about any of it, I just keep putting him off.
It's still nearly 2 months until I go back to Maine. I feel like I'm going to have to deal with this in the meantime, because the anxiety of having him checking in on me is starting to get to me. It's sad, too, because he's otherwise a nice guy. Just can't take a hint.