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.

-Alia

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