Before leaving for Maine yesterday morning, I met up with Tori for a cup of coffee (or coffee-flavoured blended drink.) Since she starts work at midday, she was eager to see me off.
There was a bittersweet feeling to the meetup. We got into this together and haven't remained as close as we might have. I haven't been able to be there for her at several times when she probably could've used me and thus we've both drifted off. Now that she's staying in Philly and I'm going back to Toronto-via-Maine, it really feels like the paths of our experience have split far.
The meeting wasn't too much of a downer. As distracted as she seemed, she made more jokes than anything, seemed in high spirits. Part of me thinks she might just be covering, but in all the time I've known her, she's worn her emotions to a great extent on her sleeve. If she was really troubled, I probably would have been more easily made aware of it. "Yes," she asserts, "It sucks not going back. Can't help being disappointed. But I'm in a good place." I have to say, she's way more at ease in her skin than when she was freshly-transformed. No, she's not over-confident in her looks or her presentation. Aside from a lot of temperature-necessary bare skin, she dresses pretty modestly. There's a downright honest sexiness to her that says to me, if she ever figures out who she wants to be with, she'll have no problem getting them.
Rob's body agrees.
As we sat outside in the sun, a student passed by, a girl named Stephanie. It was clearly a bit awkward for her -- as it always is when you're a student and you see a teacher out of school. I remember once being stuck on the subway with a Prof for about 8 stops and having no idea what to say. I gave her a quick, non-committal wave, to acknowledge her and potentially diffuse the awkwardness. She took it as a sign to come over and chat.
She was a good enough student, but I didn't think she was the type of girl who would honestly want to talk to her English teacher. Instead she gushed about how nice she thought I was and how she was really excited to be getting some reading done this summer. She asked if she'd be seeing me again next year.
I was a bit sorry to say no -- I'm pretty sure Rob won't be teaching her grade, but more than that, I'll be long gone. She expressed some disappointment, and I assured her that most of the other teachers in the department were better than me.
She smiled. "That's not what most of us think."
"Well, I don't know. Older teachers are all business, or they stopped caring. A lot of younger teachers think they get along with students, but I think you're the only one who really does. Like, you don't talk down to us, but you also seem like you remember what it is to be a student, be stressed out and confused about shi-- er, stuff."
I felt myself blushing a bit. "Yeah, maybe I do. That doesn't make me a good teacher, though. There were some pretty low marks in that class."
She told me, "You'll figure it out. See you 'round, Mr. G."
I was uncertain how to feel as she walked off. I explained to Tori that it was my honest intention to just resume my career path and forget about teaching. I didn't feel like I was any good at it, and it stressed me way out. But there were times when it felt good, and now that I've gotten a taste, it doesn't seem like such a bad option. It's not exactly my dream job, but I don't feel like I should rule it out anymore.
I had a lot of time to think about this on the drive up to Maine. I got there after 8 and was so exhausted from the drive that I practically just collapsed in my room. I checked in and lay down on the bed for like an hour before even looking around for my old body's luggage.
I found it in the closet. It appeared to be mine, all right, complete with a brief letter from Crystal apologizing if she overstepped her boundaries with Bryan. Well I certainly don't feel great about that, and I'll be carrying around a smidge of bitterness for a while I think about this whole affair, but I don't lay the blame on her. I don't think anyone is to blame. It was a shitty situation we all need to get past.
Exhausted, I stripped down and went to bed, hoping the change would be that night. However, I hardly saw another human being, just a girl reclining in her bikini in the front sitting area. Plenty of cars in the driveway, but few bodies. I wanted to reach out to her, to warn her of what awaited her, but at best she knows and at worst she won't believe me, or she'll be scared off and the whole thing will fail.
I couldn't sleep. My mind went a hundred different directions. Regaining my femininity, leaving Philadelphia and Tori behind. Reuniting with Todd and Bryan in Toronto. trying to pick things up where they left off -- without rehashing the baggage, let alone my experiences with fake-Todd... and every time I tried to put my mind at ease, my libido kept pushing me back to the sexy girl I'd seen earlier outside the place.
I did bring DVDs and books to distract myself, but they didn't help put me to sleep.
Eventually, at nearly 4 AM, I managed to slip into sleep, although I didn't sleep late. I spent most of today wandering the town, seeing the locals, wandering the beach. The weather this year is a lot nicer than it was during my rainy last visit. I should try to at least enjoy myself a bit.
I'm about to get some dinner, then hit the bar. I'll check in again soon, if I haven't transformed tonight.