Monday, August 30, 2010

Alia: Everything old is new again

I don't think I can be blamed for going into hiding for a while since my last post. In some ways it's a bit harder to get back into my real life than it was to "become" Rob. After all, as Rob I had a fair bit of leeway just to sink into my new life, to explore and get comfortable. Here I have to re-learn all my relationships, and re-introduce myself to myself.

For a little while I shrunk away from the challenge. I got back to my own place, and I felt fine. My hiding from society wasn't out of fear or anxiety, for the most part. A lot of it was just apathy and exhaustion. I could also have done without Todd trying to coax me into every possible social situation just for the sake of renewing our couplehood.

I spent a few days bumming around the apartment, trying to rearrange my stuff in a way I wanted it, not the way Crystal had left it. I channel-surfed, I arranged a TA position for myself for the fall, to resume my life track and earn some money. I farted around on the internet and occasionally visited Bry and Todd, albeit not excessively.

The real problem with the self-imposed exile wasn't whether I was hanging out with Bryan and Todd... it was everyone else. Hell, I was putting off visiting my parents just because I didn't want to pick up whatever threads I'd left off with them, or what Crystal had done. Out of sight out of mind. This particularly extends to everyone I know who has never been to the inn.

Then a few days ago I got a Facebook message from a friend of mine, a grad school friend Crystal wouldn't have spent much time with. It was generally just a "hey long time no see, what've you been up to?" message, but it led to a nice chat.

He convinced me to go get a coffee with him one day, and we ended up having a good long hangout. Confession: this guy has had a bit of a flirtatious streak in him, to the point where if he hadn't been in a relationship when Todd and I were apart, I would've considered him a possibility. This may have subconsciously influenced my choice to see him, and I began to stress about our meet-up as though it were a date.

Except worse. I mean, do you have any idea how long it's been since I've had to be this person? The Alia who has never been someone else? With Todd and Bryan I can always fall back on their knowledge that I haven't been around. I can't explain that to this guy, and it made it a little tough to be straight with him about "what I'd been up to."

So while my friend was bemoaning his relationship woes (he's since broken up with the aforementioned girl) and possibly subtly hinting toward "We should do this again sometimes, but later at night" I suddenly felt very nervous and just flat-out told him, "I'm back with Todd." Even despite my own doubts that that's the case.

He seemed disappointed, knowing Todd and I have had a pretty bumpy past. I told him it's nice of him to care, but I can handle myself, and if things don't work out, I won't be staying in longer than I need to. He gave me a hug and agreed with me.

(I haven't named him because Todd hates this guy, despite their similarities. Although he can probably guess -- he should still be thankful that it brings me to my next point...)

After this meet-up, I convinced myself it was time to get back with Todd, because after all, if I didn't, I'd be a liar.

So after trying to pin down a good date, my nervous self got all worked up over having to prepare for my first date-as-a-girl. Surprisingly enough, this didn't include as much "What will I wear?" (a pair of jeans, a tee and a vest, thanks for asking, took about 10 minutes to slap together) as it did "Sitting in one spot on the couch hyperventilating oh god what if it doesn't work outtttt." Eventually I pulled myself out of it. Probably about 20 minutes into the date when he started joking about wearing granny panties (he wasn't.)

We started by going to see Scott Pilgrim, which had the added effect of giving Todd something non-Inn related to talk about for seemingly the first time in years, since he was a huge fan of the comics. I just nodded politely, since despite his recommendation, I never read them.

We fell back into our old rhythm. We managed to have some honest-to-God conversations that expanded beyond inn-talk, showing that he's maybe ready to leave it all behind, even if I'm not.

I told him how difficult I was finding it to be myself around people who'd never been. He said he understood: it's like the first time you go, you don't know how to act and you feel guilty pretending. Then as the inn gets further and further in the past, your own self takes back more of your mind and body. I found it comforting, but I'm still skeptical. I don't think an experience like that can just leave you. I think I might always carry some of Rob in me, just as he'll always carry some of Anne-Marie, even if he won't admit it.

He's different now. I'm different now. I told him I wasn't going to stay with him just because we had this much in common. Of course I still have feelings for him, but if it's not meant to be, we'll know.

He didn't like the sound of that, but agreed it sounded all right. We're taking it slow.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Cliff/Tori: I was having such a good week, too.

The summer has been great for getting myself lost in my own totally undramatic life. Work, friends, family... I lead a comfortable life, it's true. This past week was particularly enjoyable until today.

A little after I came to Philadelphia last year, it was Mae's birthday. August 11th, to be specific. As you can understand, I was too caught up in my own crap to care about this random girl's 16th birthday. She was basically a stranger, and I had recently found myself transformed, moved, unemployed and whatever problem you want to put on that list. I was feeling sorry for myself, resentful of my surroundings, afraid and confronted on all sides. It was a real, real long time before I began to feel comfortable in Tori's family. The fact that I have at all says something about how awesome these people have been.

For her birthday, mom took her to a piercing place on Saturday to get a nose stud put in. I went along out of interest. When I first became Tori I had pierced ears, of course, and even put them to use during my Torification last fall, but like many of the aspects of that little experiment, I got tired of keeping up with them and stopped wearing earrings altogether. This led to the piercings closing up, and me being too lazy/focused on other things to get them done. But, I figured, since we were already there... it was a little gesture to show myself my current balance between the man I was and the woman I've become. My own woman.

I did stop just short of getting a tattoo that of my old initials -- "JHC" -- just because I don't go for that sort of thing. Plus, everyone might think it stands for Jesus H. Christ.

It was a nice family gathering after that, seeing many of those obscure cousins I still don't feel comfortable around. Aunts wondering why I'm not seeing anyone (and me getting surprisingly flustered at the question.) Always nice to hang around and be Ken's little sister. He was pretty concerned with wedding stuff, which was odd to me. I've never known a guy to take much interest in that aspect, but he professed his desire to me not to have his wedding be "lame," which amused me.

At the end of the night, with the guests all cleared out, mom took a look around the room and declared her desire to re-paint the place. Like, immediately. In the year I've been here, she's always slightly tweaking the look of the place, and on at least one occasion I came home from work and the furniture was re-arranged, but this was a new level of impulsiveness.

So after I got to learn how exhausting it is to move furniture around in a petite female body, I decided to escape the chaos by shacking up with Raine at her parents' still-empty place.

The week that ensued was one of the most relaxing of my entire time as Tori. No family, no pets, nothing but my one friend, and sometimes our other friends. She doesn't even bug me when I don't feel like hanging out, just leaves me be. Besides, Guy has been around a lot to keep her busy. And you may think "Oh that must be awkward, if they're constantly screwing around," but the truth is, if they are, they're being a little more discreet about it than mom & dad Pearce ever are.

I've gotten to learn a lot about Raine just be staying at her place. Since it's her parents' place, I try to minimize my impact by constantly washing dishes and clearing away debris. She tells me not to worry, but I can't help it. Call it a compulsion I've had since I became Tori, not to disturb the original state of things. That's how I was for the first several months of the change, before I got, possibly, too comfortable.

If only I could have her comfort with the scenario. I never realized, but Raine is really, really, um, free with her body. If she's not going out, she doesn't bother to get dressed, and has spent entire days in a pair of shorts and bra, or a swimsuit, or less. It's really more irksome to me than anything, since I can't help but look, but I'm always disappointed by what I see and how it does or doesn't affect me. It doesn't turn me on, but it still fascinates me on some weird, perverse level, so I have to remind myself not to gawk (even though, let's face it, it's pretty out of the ordinary in any context.)

Guy, luckily, has not let me catch him in any state beyond shirtless, which could be awkward for any number of reasons.

Things were going really well, until today, when I was talking to Cyndi at work. Back when we first met, it seemed like Cyndi really wanted to be my friend, and for a long while was the one I felt most comfortable around, since she had no prior relationship with Tori, no expectations for how I was supposed to react. as time went by and Sara and Raine noticed my behavior less and less, I depended on Cyndi less for companionship, which was fair enough since after the summer began, she started getting a lot of modeling jobs. See, the reason I felt so attached to Cyndi was that she is probably the most attractive woman who has ever spoken to me. And she'd never been anything but sweet and accommodating of my weirdness, and back in March, I even helped her through a spat she had with her boyfriend, Leo.

So imagine my shock when I was trying to get Cyndi to finally turn up for one of our backyard BBQ pool parties, and she just let out this exasperated sigh and cut loose, basically saying:

"I can't do this. You know I have my own life, right? I'm sick of you trying so hard to be my friend. I don't want to talk to you anymore. You're so unaware of the world around you. You sponge off other people, you coast through life, you complain about being alone in life, but you never do anything to fix it. Look at you. Sometimes you sound like an intelligent, independent person, but there are some times it sounds like you just woke up from a coma or something. The worst part of it is you work here, and what does that say about your personality? You don't even have any ambition. You're coasting" (I'd point out the hypocrisy of her saying this, but she does have those modeling jobs.) "I'm through with you, Tori. You used to be interesting, but now I just don't care. Don't talk to me. I'm done."

And that was... pretty much it. I had no idea she felt like this, but I couldn't stop thinking about it for the rest of the day, couldn't focus on work, went home and couldn't sleep. On the ride home, I started to tear up and struggled to hide my breakdown from the other SEPTA passengers. When I got back to Raine's, I hurried up to the guest room, collapsed in bed and started to bawl.

Here's the fucked-up thing: I know she's wrong. I know the reason it appears I have no ambition is because I can't actually get a job using my real skills. I know I seem whiny despite my looks, but it's because of years and years of shyness and romantic insecurity. I just can't explain any of this to her, and if she was just going to unload on me completely unprovoked, I don't want her as my friend anyway. But that doesn't mean it can't hurt my feelings that somebody thinks of me this way.

Months and months of being okay with my life -- hell, enjoying it -- nearly unraveled by one completely unrelated altercation. It just makes me think, what if I never do go back? That's a real possibility. I've got to stop wasting my time living the status quo left to me by a girl who didn't even want her life back. If the world's already changed me, I need to make changes of my own.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Alia: Holding on

I feel a long rambling post coming on. I feel like such a girl for wanting to share a whole bunch of my feelings with you, which is silly... it's not even something I would have been concerned with as a guy so why I'm suddenly feeling self-conscious and guarded, I don't know. Which is... kind of the problem.

For a few days after I transformed, I was in "superhero crisis management mode." Even if the new victims didn't particularly want my brand of help, at least not all of them, I felt important offering it to them, and it gave me something to focus on. That week I alternated between stress of holding these unfortunate peoples' hands (those that were new to the process - and "Max," who was showing signs of doubt as to his ability to cope as a male) and the euphoric relief of being female once again and putting this mess behind me.

But on the way home, I had a lot of time to think. And the more I thought about going back to Toronto and resuming my life, the more I worried that I was kidding myself.

I started thinking about the last time Todd and I had been together. By now it's been over two years since our break-up. We reconciled, briefly, before he went to Maine, but by the time he "came back" to Toronto, he was another person.

I've never really explained what happened in detail. Even knowing what I know now, it's hard for me to separate the Todd I know from the person who was Todd during that time. It wasn't simply a matter of Deb, the woman in his body, letting me down gently. In fact, for longer than seems appropriate, she went along with it. Through August and September of that year, we were a couple, and I let myself believe that Todd was acting normally and everything was okay.

Partly it was the curse. Partly it was that I didn't want to be alone. When, in fall of 2008, I realized things were simply untenable between us that what Deb-Todd and I had was not a relationship, it was still a long time before I acted on that impulse. And when it finally ended, the ease with which "he" let it go was painful. Knowing what I know now doesn't ease the pain it caused, and it certainly doesn't excuse what happened next.

I realized I didn't like being alone. I couldn't handle it the way I had in high school, because I'd spent the better part of 4 years with someone I still cared about. And that's why the thing with Sean Flaherty happened (and why Erica LaFleur got with Deb-Todd resulting in their daughter.) And it was this desperation that led me to following Todd to Maine, and ultimately, spending a year with a penis.

So it seems like everything's worked out, everyone's back where they belong, happy endings all around. But it was Fletcher-Beatrice's words that haunted me all the way home.

During one of our time-killing sessions before changing, I asked Fletcher why he (at the time, male) kept coming back to the Inn. If he found a body where the owner can't come back, or doesn't want back, and can get comfortable, why not just settle down?

What he told me is that it was harder to quit than I might think. To simplify it somewhat, it's like how people keep playing the lottery after they've won. Knowing you can just slip out to Maine for a few weeks and come back with a new life, that you get to keep for at least a year, how could you say no? I said "easily," now that I've got my own life back.

He said it was more complicated than I thought it was; that changing once changes you, and going back does not mean returning to normal. I didn't think anything of this until I left the inn, then it hit me.

I had tried to ignore it, but it did feel weird to be a woman again. I felt uncoordinated, weak, unattractive. I got my period the day I headed back to Canada and I was so unprepared for it I wanted to destroy somebody. I had gotten too used to the relative simplicity of manhood, I felt like I was playing pretend, like the first few weeks of being Rob. I was literally uncomfortable in my own skin.

I was still depressed about it by the time I got back to Toronto but I was too exhausted to say even a word to Todd or Bryan. In fact, for a few days I was just a useless, barely-conscious walking corpse, wondering about the futility of it all.

Todd did his best to reassure me that things were fine now, we were out of the woods and ready to get back to reality, but as far as I was concerned we left reality a long time ago. We spent our nights in silence, I slept on his couch.

Then one day he went off to work and left me by myself in the apartment. I got up and made myself some lunch and began to imagine myself, back in Philadelphia, back in Rob's place. It was just a grilled cheese sandwich -- the poor guys aren't much for groceries -- but as I stood there in the empty apartment, I felt a bit better. This is going somewhere that probably seems really obvious but is really hard to learn when you're living this.

I've lived through this whole ordeal. It's part of me. My time as Rob is as real as my time in High School, as much a part of me as my first job. I can't leave it in the past, because Fletcher was right, it did change me. Just like being Anne-Marie definitely changed Todd. And maybe I'll never be the girl I was before I went to Maine, but I can live as the woman I've become. I think.

As Rob, I learned to be on my own in a way I hadn't as Alia. Yes, I had my moments of weakness... I especially regret my error in judgment with Sam... but I've grown a lot stronger, and that's an experience I can't write off. Wouldn't want to. It's all me, even if being me doesn't mean what it used to.

And so it goes. I've moved all my stuff back to my little attic apartment. I'm still with Todd, in a sense... I know he was very gung-ho about us getting right back together, but I do need to take it slow, to get to know him all over again, before we can get back to where we were.

And if it doesn't work out... if all this was for nothing and we have to get on with our lives, so be it, I suppose. It'll hurt, but I don't think there's anything I can't survive, now. I hope everyone, no matter what their destination, gets the peace of mind I've gotten from finally knowing who I am.

Here's to the big scary future. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Greg/Didi: Happiness

So in the comment section of my last post, not only did i get some great advice on how to be a better smoker, I also got a question asking me that if I have to be female, can I at least ever be happy in the body that Im in? And ive been ruminating on it ever since.

Truth is, my gender isnt really one of the things Ive been mad about during this ordeal. If Dee had been a man, Id probably be just as pissed. I actually think my whole "its weird being a girl" thing was pretty short lived, and it happened last year. When I became Priya, everything was weird for a while, but since I was basically playing another part in my former life, things werent THAT different. In retrospect, this blog was really helpful in me getting over being a girl. The fact that Arthur and Jake seemed to get used to it compounded with the fact that it would only be temporary made me put it out of my mind and concentrate on being Priya, not just being a girl.

After spending the last year or so as a female, changing into Dee wasnt much of a big deal in that regard. Ive got all the same parts, I just had to get used to them being in different shapes (and a different color). I think if I woke up tommorow as a man, Id have a tougher time readjusting to that than I did adjusting to being older and fatter.

Another commenter said that I probably could never be happy, since Gender Dysphoria Disorder is difficult for people who ARENT cursed, and that got me thinking in an entirely different brain. Do I have that? It doesnt feel like it. Most people with GDD want to kill themselves because they were born the wrong gender. I was cursed this way, but dont feel so overcome by femalehood that I dont want to live. Did the inn change that part of my brain too? If I got a brain scan tommorow, would it show up as a female brain or a male one? Obviously I cant talk this over with a shrink, unless that shrink had previoulsy visited the inn.

This leads us to the queston: Can I be happy living as Dee? So far I dont know. You guys missed my first month or so when I was in this body, then I was miserable and mad at the world. Cursing my rotten luck to have to precede the awful woman whose face I had to see every morning. Disgusted at the flab and sagging that I have to see everytime I take a shower. Nowadays? Ive calmed down some, and I dont think thats just the nicotine talking.

Maybe its the knowledge that I wont be her next year. Maybe its just me getting used to things via a routine. I like to think that theres a part of me that will always be Greg, and hes not a quitter. And now matter what I look like on the outside, on the inside Ill be making the best of my situation and adapting.

So while this isnt anywhere near where I want to be, for my own sanity i'm gonna keep plugging along, enjoying small moments of happiness when I find them.


Saturday, August 07, 2010

Cliff/Tori: New old friends

It's been a bit hard for me to find time to get back on this blog, even though I felt like I was in the middle of a story when I last posted. A lot of the time I'll write about something that seems important at the time but something bigger comes along and shows me it isn't.

Reading about Alia's and Greg's recent trips have really hit home to me how normal everything in my world has become. I'm not being transformed again anytime soon, I'm not having to adjust and rearrange my life and it's been a long time since I felt out of place in a woman's body... I mean, compared to everything else, it feels boring to talk about my own life.

The weird thing is, I'm actually having a really nice time. I'll tell you for sure, this summer definitely kicks ass over last year. I like myself, I like my life, I have an almost sickeningly positive outlook on things. And I feel like, despite all the chaos in everyone else's life, there might be some value to me continuing to share my story, so I'll catch you up on what July was like for me.

A little ways into the month, I was contacted, via Facebook, by an old friend of Tori's. This is part of the reason why I'm still Cliff/Tori... it isn't that I still deny the fact that I'm Tori, it's just that I don't think I can take the Cliff out of my name until I can be sure the life is more mine than hers. It's getting there, but meeting this person set me back a fair bit.

I've met a lot of people over the last year. Sara and Raine, who are pretty much my best friends, are just the tip of it. They've taken me to more than a few parties where I've had to fake my way through conversations, and I've run into an ex or two... some who are attached, some who would want to hook up with me. I try to ignore these people and keep to my comfort zone. But this one shook me.

It was Tori's old friend Daniel -- as in her gay childhood friend, the one she had a crush on, and basically stopped hanging around with after he came out.

He found me on Facebook and, pretty casually asked me if I wanted to catch up. I was reluctant, because I'm still wary of new people, especially guys, even though he's gay. For some reason that fact didn't help me, it just raised me a whole bunch of new questions, because I don't think I've ever been friends close with anyone who was openly gay. There was a couple people in high school and college, but I stayed away from them because there was a whole clique thing.

I talked to Raine and Sara about it -- they were around in high school but I think what happened was Tori had to make a choice between Danny's crowd and theirs. At the time, in Tori's diary, they came off a bit bitchy about it, but by now they were encouraging, "Yeah, go meet him, it'll be good." I looked over his profile and I realized we might have a few things in common, so I might get along with this guy. So I did.

We met for coffee. He has this really warm presence about him. I don't want to seem ignorant, but I have this whole perception about how gay dudes act based on the few I've met. Danny wasn't especially effeminate -- I mean hell, by this point I'm way girlier than him -- he has a really good sense of humor. A real smart-ass. After an awkward beginning of "What have you been up to these past few years?" we just started riffing about life and work and ambitions. He's constantly searching for new jobs, changing career paths, meeting new people.

By the end of it, I was actually feeling really good about this. Maybe... a little too good. Like, I haven't gotten along with someone this well since the first time I met Buddy, and we know how that worked out... it really felt like a date. Maybe because he wasn't trying so hard to impress me, since he likes guys.

I was just so embarrassed, because I had a ton of questions but didn't want to, you know, pry.

Since then, the summer's been rather free. Raine has taken up in her parents' house, because they took her brother (AKA Mae's ex) to England for the summer, and she's been using it to basically throw a pool party every weekend. So us girls have been lounging around soaking up the sun as much as we can, with their guys often along. Occasionally we invite the others, like Cyndi and Leo, and Danny and... his boyfriend. Watching them together has kind of put me in this space of "Why shouldn't I be that happy with someone?"

And who knows. Maybe if that person comes along, I'll be able to recognize it. You only live once... getting a different body during that lifetime doesn't really change that.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Greg/Didi: Quitting

No, im not quitting the blog again. If I did I wouldnt be posting here, and as one commmenter put it, this blog is a very useful source of information. If anything its cool to read up on the trials and tribulations of others who have been cursed like me, and how they react to it.

On that same, note, I wish Emily David had turned into me, because then I wouldnt be in this situation, when I talked to her via email a couple times, she seemed pretty cool. Never let on that she was in love with her inherited gf. But she was able to walk away from a newfound love in order for the body's rightful owner to reestablish his. She basically was faced with the same situation as Dee, and chose the opposite path. I hope good things come her way, and next to her Dee looks like a complete bitch.

Anyway, right now I look like that complete bitch, but i'm trying to make the best of it. Knowing that its probably temporary helps, but it still doesnt assuage the anger I feel ever time I look in the mirror. I think that attitude has been reflected in my personality because Vicki, one of my new co-workers, asked me if everything is alright, because ever since I've came back from Maine this year Ive been standoffish, when last year the trip had the total opposite effect. It dawned on me that this isnt the first time that the people in Dee's life have had to deal with a sudden change in her personality. Apparently Susan was nice enough that they all got used to her being nice and mellow, and here I come in all mad at the world and taking it out on them.

For the first few days down here, I was a real bitch to everyone, and I couldnt help it. I had massive headaches and moodswings all the time and I had no idea why until one day I was in the basement and on one of the shelves I saw two cartons of Virginia Slims. Dee was a smoker. Which meant now I was a smoker and was having serious nicotine withdrawls. This was both annoying and enlightening.

Originally, I thought the way the Inn worked was it remolded your body to look like another person, but your brain stayed the same. Now I think it must also reshape your brain also to some extent, because the receptors that respond to nicotine changed for me. It also makes some sense, because theirs now way my brain as Greg wouldve fit into Priya's little skull, and id Imagine it changed size as well last month. Maybe your memories stay intact but everything else changes. Its probably why sexual orientation changes to match the body.

Anyway, apparently Susan was also a smoker and didnt feel the need to quit. But this was before my epiphany last week and my decision to become a traveler. As far as I was concerned, I was gonna be Dee forever, and Id already lost 20 years of my life to the Trading Post Inn and I wasnt about to lose anymore to lung cancer.

For those of you that have never done it, quitting smoking is a hellish endeavor. I tried the patch, I tried the gum, I tried cold turkey, and none of those made it any easier. Finally yesterday at work I gave in and lit one up. It felt amazing. Like my greatest desire had been fulfilled. I relaxed so much right then there that I made an effort to be extra nice to my co-workers, and they seemed to appreciate it. Its the best I've felt since I'd become Didi.

So now I have a habit. Im not sure if I wanna quit it or not, because on the on hand, it causes all sorts of horrible health problems, but on the other hand Im not gonna be around when they kick in, so why not let the next person deal with them?

Not gonna lie, the cigarettes have a huge calming effect on me. Very effective at relieving all the stresses. That doesnt mean that I advocate all our readers to go out and buy a pack. Presumably youll all have to deal with your bodies for the long run.


PS: To the Real Dee: If your reading this, you should know that all of your co-workers, friends, and neighbors like me and liked Susan a helluva lot better than they like you. Hopefully soon Heather realizes what a bitch she married and kicks you to the curb.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Todd: Getting the band back together

Alia arrived back in the city earlier tonight. Bryan and I met her at Union Station, after taking a more or less direct route from Maine to Montreal to Toronto that took, I would guess, 12 hours of straight travel. We hauled her bags back to our place, as she asked we put her up for the night after her trip, and I can see why she wouldn't want to be alone (her apartment is essentially an attic.)

I didn't know what to make of this. I mean, I know what I hoped would happen. She'd see me, fall into my arms, we'd have a big tearful reunion and cement our long-delayed reconciliation by humping. On the flipside, I considered it equally likely that we'd solidify this thing by staying up all night talking out our issues in a way-past-due moment of catharsis for the both of us. This would also be acceptable, but also less fun.

This did not happen. When we saw her at the station, she was bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived. She looked like she thought she was hallucinating when she saw us. She did wrap her arms around me and just stayed quiet the whole way home, like a trauma victim. I wondered whether this was the same verbose woman I'd known all these years, the one who'd spent practically her whole stay in Maine blogging. Briefly, I entertained the notion that Alia was an impostor, so I asked her, quickly, to say something only the real Alia would say. In response, she reminded me of the time I convinced her to have sex in the ladies' room at her parents' anniversary party.

It was my statement on matrimony, at the time.

When we got back home, she flopped down on the couch and zonked out. And there she lies fast asleep. I mean, I don't want to force the issue, but it's feeling slightly anticlimactic. No big dramatic reveals, no stunning confessions, no passionate copulation. Just "I'm tired, mind if I crash?"

I've just been sitting here at the kitchen table watching her, thinking about how she inhabits the same space a different woman recently did -- same face, same voice, same clothes -- but with an entirely different aura about her. I spent a long time adjusting to the idea of Crystal in Alia's body, and now I have to switch back... I can only imagine what it was like for her realizing the Todd she'd known for a year was a faker. I haven't brought it up even in our online conversations. Well, I've mentioned it, but I don't push the issue. If she ever wants to delve into it, that's her choice.

In the weeks since Crystal left, Bry's been picking up his guitar more and more. I've hardly seen him so much as tinker with it -- I mean, he's barely even played Rock Band -- since we got back to Toronto last year. Could be maybe residual bitterness from his American musician ex-lesbian girlfriend, or maybe something about Crystal or just not having the energy for it. But lately I've been hearing it through my walls a lot more. And last week, he caught me in the living room to play me something he'd written recently. And it was good.

"Look," he says to me, "I know it hasn't always worked out in the past, but I was thinking about getting a band together. You, me... whoever else. It won't be like the past, we won't take it too seriously, we'll just gig around and have some fun, then get on with our lives other than that. Just to do something, you know?"

I told him I'd think about it. Now that Alia's back, I'm feeling more into it. Maybe to get back in touch with the last time of my life where things made sense. Bry and I played music, Alia and I dated, I was still in school... none of us had ever been anyone else. Maybe you can't go back, and there was enough craziness back then that I wouldn't totally want to... but there's something to be said for trying to recapture a special time in your life.

I want to do it. I can't let it interfere with my school this fall, but I could use the release. I don't know if things can be the same as they were 3 years ago, but I know they can't stay like this.

I think I'll get some sleep. Later, all