Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tori: First Date

Reality check: I've been a girl for two years now. When this started I was scared of my own body, but by now I've learned what feels good, how to treat it right, and most importantly how to dress it.

Or so I thought.

Let me tell you, it was an ordeal trying to figure out what to wear for my first date with Alex. Last week, Philly was right in the middle of a heatwave that made my hair frizz out to epic proportions and made me want to wear as little as possible. But I had already embarrassed myself by being too forward with him. I want to show him I'm not rushing things but I'm also, well... good to go.

"I say slut it up," Mae advised me. She was lying on my bed reading Reddit on her laptop. Mae has been staying with me all month. Mom and dad thought it would be good since it'll be like a vacation and I live closer to her summer job. She's staying in Raine's room right now, because Raine is house-sitting as she often does in the summer. Mae has been a good houseguest, because unlike whenw e lived together our schedules don't clash and every so often I let her drink.

In response, I flung one of my bras at her. She plucked it off her head and held it to her own chest. "Wear a push-up bra so he doesn't realize you have wee-boobs."

In the past year or so, Mae has become one of the few girls I know that could get away with describing my rather ample chest as "wee." No, the girls aren't huge, but I know if I was still a guy I'd be hypnotized, and plenty guys are. Hers, though, have gotten almost unwieldy. In fact, her "growing up" years have been pretty good to her. What I envy about her is that she's embraced her body-type, that she's good-looking without being sticklike and knows it. She's a bit cocky about it perhaps, but her confidence is healthy. If I had been able to choose which girl to be, I would probably rather have landed in her body.

But of course, I have to live with what nature -- or rather a cursed Inn -- gave me, and you know, I haven't gotten any complaints yet. It's a lot of work, though.

Sadly, all that fretting got me only to the point where I admitted simplicity was best. I put on a black miniskirt and a white tanktop with a light overshirt and prayed for no pitstains.

The date itself... was fine. I don't know. He arrived at my door and I wanted so badly for it to have a "big date" feel, but it was really just like going to hang out with a friend. We went and saw X-Men at my insistence since I'm way behind on my summer comic book movies. It was probably the best X-Men movie since the first one. He got his arm around my shoulder, which I liked, but I was so engrossed by the plot that I completely forgot to make out with him.

After that, the date started to get... weird. We were having trouble breaking out of our "friend" zone. I mean, we've hung out plenty, but we just couldn't shift from buddies to... well, more.

Drinks helped with that. We went to the bar and I ordered, instead of a girly drink or cocktail, just a beer. I don't love the taste of beer, so I had to pace myself so I wouldn't try to throw myself at him again.

It worked. We began to loosen up, share a bit more. Alex, as much as I feel safe opening up to him (as much as I ever open up to anyone who doesn't know my secret) is hard to crack open himself, but he let it slip about how he used to be really awkward on dates and deep down inside was still the kind of guy who didn't know why anyone would want to be with him.

Awwwww!

I did want to jump him then and there, but... again, self-control was key. I wriggled in my seat and decided to play coy for once in my life. I smiled. I laughed. I played with my hair and touched his arm.

Suddenly I looked in his eyes and I felt it. That spark we'd been missing. It's like I switched something on inside him.

Suddenly I realized I really was the one with the power. He was the one fumbling with his words and awkwardly trying to make jokes to impress me. And I've had that before, with Buddy, but this time, with the attraction I had for Alex, it was... it was something else. Guys, it was hot.

He drove me home, and walked me to the door. "We should call it a night," I said, "We've got work tomorrow."

I could feel the desire - I think - burning inside him. How hard it was for him to walk away. But it was all he could do to pull me in for a goodnight kiss.

I think I'm winning at dating.

I watched him walk back to his car, and drive off. I went up to my apartment and saw Mae there on the couch watching Insidious. "How was the date?" She asked with a mouth half-full of popcorn.

"Fine," I sighed. "I'm going to bed now."

And I went to bed, but it was a good long while before I went to sleep. A gooooood long while.

It's hard holding back, but totally worth it. I'm doing this right. This is good.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Greg/Alexis: Have you tried turning it off and on again?

The other day I was struck by the realization that this is my 4th body in 4 years. 4. Im pretty sure thats a record on the Trading Post Inn blog, and probably in the top 10% of human beings all time. Changing into someone else is something that most humans would never and could never think about dealing with, and here it is basically my midsummer routine.

Ive gotten used to new wardrobes, new voices, new hairstyles and makeup patterns, new cars, new cities, new friends, and new tastes. I think though, the thing that I hate having to deal with each time is having to get used to a new job.

I really wish I couldve swapped into a rich person where I didnt have to work. I wish I couldve gotten off easy as Todd did when he was Anne Marie. I would love a year off, sitting around doing nothing. (Although from what I can tell, Todd did that before he was Anne Marie too). Malinda got off easy. Her job title is offically "artist". No kidding, that's what Sharon's tax returns say. She paints things and sells them locally. She isnt exactly successful but it seems to be her calling. I wouldve loved to be able to paint all day. Although any art I made would probably come out dark and strange considering all I've had to deal with in my life.

Anyway, back on point. Alexis' (Im gonna use her full name despite the fact that nobody else does because there's another Alex in another posters life) vacation time finally ran out and I had to go back into her job at McAllister Dairies.

M.D. (Not the real name by the way, but close. I dont want this blog appearing on the companies google hits) is not just an ice cream maker as I originally thought, although that is their best selling product. Apparently they also do cheese and milk etc. because apparently dairy and maple syrup are what keep Vermont afloat. Anyway, this is a dairy corporation, and its offices are headed in Burlington.

Alexis' official title is "Chair of Information Technology" because she is apparently a whiz with electronics. That is why I took as much vacation time as possible, because this job scared the heck out of me.

When I was Priya I was a teacher, and yeah that should be more scary than IT, it was only kindergartners and I had a couple months to practice. (and I did a bang up job, Priya tells me).

Dee's job was basically processing paperwork for a major state university. Not exactly high level thinking (which is why Dee did it I bet). I mastered that within a week.

But IT, I was not prepared to deal with all kinds of networking, software, and hardware issues that may arise with over 100 computers. I mean, Im a child of the 90s and came of age on the internet. Heck, I'm blogging. I'm computer literate, but not even close to as advanced as Alexis and her computer science degree. You should see her home computers, theyre amazing. Besides the expensive alienware laptop with a biometric thumprint lock she has a top of the line office computer and one of the coolest gaming computers I've ever seen.

Anyway, after reading as much as I could on the internet, I took the Range Rover into work. IT is a small office on the 4th floor with about 5 people including Alexis. They're all nice guys, and I say nice guys because they are all male. Dorks is the word to describe them but they are nice dorks, and clearly there is no sexual tension in the room. Apparently they are all aware of my orientation and totally cool with it, makes for a relaxed atmosphere.

The first day was a major relief. Turns out Alexis' job as IT Manager is mostly management. Any and all computer problems are delegated and assigned to one of the other workers and they take care of it. Its mostly records and payroll and reports. And since I managed a whole damn hotel in a previous life, 5 geniuses is a cakewalk.

Anyone British and or worldly enough to know where my post title comes from sees the parallels. "Have you tried turning it off and on again" is a catchphrase from and English comedy called "The IT crowd" which is about a woman who knows nothing about computers who manages her lovably nerdy friends in the IT department. My life is not nearly as comical as hers but its nice to know that I'll be able to BS my way to a paycheck and not have to deal with living on the street.



On the whole Malinda front. I'm still exiled to the couch, and I say that not because I wanna sleep in the same bed as her, because I dont. Sharon's body is gorgeous but Malinda is on my nerves so much that the attraction is nullified. I'd at least like 3 days of the week though.

She's stopped randomly crying, at least from what I've seen. She doesnt paint though, so she spends most of her day watching TV and spying on her old life via Facebook. The place is pretty dirty though because she DOESNT clean. I dont know if she was dirty before, had a maid, or just doesnt care in this life, but I dont know if I can work 40 hours a week plus pick up after her.

I'll giver her a little more time to get over it though. Ive got enough to worry about without starting a confrontation.

-GregAlexis

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tori: Go For It

I spent a few weeks being more confused about Alex (my Alex, not Greg's now body, obviously!) What was clear was that I was into him. What wasn't clear was what steps to take.

I've never been in this situation since being in this body. It's not hard for me to get guys' attention, and usually it was unwanted, but it was there when I needed it. I'd be lying if I didn't say my attraction to Alex was part of my decision to end things with Buddy. I thought I caught a hint of it here and there but since I broke up with Buddy, he's been pretty distant and I don't know what to make of it. I don't know if "reading guys" is something they teach girls in school, or if they're normally this baffled. I used to think we were pretty straightforward, but I don't know what to do.

I tried to keep things "business as usual" but interacting with him on a regular basis was getting painful. Whenever he would crack a joke, I'd try to laugh extra hard, and if a girl passed and he turned his head even slightly my chest would heat up with jealousy.

I was folding laundry Monday night, and I just... lost it. What am I doing here? Why am I living this life, wearing panties and having boobs and painting my nails, if I'm just going to sit around not getting what I want? I'm not just John Clifford with a pussy.

So I formulated a plan to drag Alex out to a club. I hate those places, but it's a good place to just get drunk and let yourself go. In general I don't dance, but I decided to wedge my tits into a nice tight dress and dragged him out for the night.

The plan... and I'm not proud of this... was basically just to get drunk and throw myself at him. But the more physically aggressive I got, the more he backed off. By the end of the night, I was feeling frustrated. I wondered if I had just messed up the entire situation. Not only that, but I had really made an ass of myself, pretty much making my attraction to him too obvious to ignore. I woke up the next morning feeling like a total asshole.

For a little while after that, I tried ignoring Alex altogether, but he came and broke the ice.

"So listen..."

"Look, you don't need to say anything. I'm an idiot. I shouldn't be so reckless with my friends. I hope I didn't embarrass you too much."

He chuckled, "You didn't. Not too much. I mean, I could've done with less groping." Oh man, did I grope the hell out of him. "But Tori, we're friends, so a little craziness is allowed."

I felt my throat get thick and my chest heat up again. "Friends," I repeated the word. "Look, Alex, I don't know what you're thinking, but I might as well tell you..." I began to tremble, I had to stick my hands in my pockets and slouch over like I was a teenage boy.

"This is embarrassing. That was my really sick way of trying to tell you I... like you."

Ugh, God, I felt like such an idiot. Very high school. Junior high, even.

He briefly seemed like he was taken off he guard, but quickly composed himself like he had been expecting this. "Yeah. I kinda figured. And I mean, Tori, you're great." Wince. "I love spending time with you." Teeth clench. "But I know you just got out of a serious relationship and I'd hate to think you're just jumping into something because it's convenient."

My feelings of fear and hurt were suddenly replaced with a need to defend myself. "Relationship? Buddy? That was... not as serious as you'd think," I kinda lied, but it was definitely problematic. "Alex, I've spent a lot of time by myself. I know what I want. I'm not rebounding. I actually... I mean, part of the reason I broke up with him was because I didn't want to leave you, because I... I'd like to be with you, okay?"

"You're sure about this?"

"Absolutely." I gulped. Part of me still worries this is a huge mistake.

"Let me think about it," he said.

The weekend passed, and I still hadn't heart from him. It was agonizing. I just kept freaking out and trying to reassure myself, preparing arguments if he came back saying we should just be friends... that if this was our friendship I was prepared to end it because I know I couldn't keep going. I don't know, it seemed drastic, but I was worried something drastic would be necessary.

Then today, while I'm at work, he texts me (from elsewhere at work) "So... dinner Thursday night?"

ASDFGHJGGG UNFF YES please.

I've never been this excited for a guy. Buddy took me a while to warm up to, and Leo was just a business arrangement. This one... I don't know, there's something special about him.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Greg/Alexis: Phone Calling

So once Malinda and I settled in at the apartment, me basically just started taking inventory of all the things in our new lives. The distraction seemed good for her. I have to keep remembering what it was like for me when I first changed, but even then it was into someone I knew. She's a total stranger, and thats gotta be difficult for her.

The first morning after a nights sleep on the Barco's very comfy couch the first thing I did was pick up the phone and dial the number I had for Selena Bookman, of Minneapolis. She wasnt really Mrs. Bookman, she was in fact the real Alexis. A young boy picked up the phone.

"Hello"

"Hi, I'm looking for Selena Bookman"

"Who's calling"

"My name is Alexis Barco" (I figured that would let her know what this is about)

I heard a door shut on the other end and a hushed voice saying "Who is this?"

"Alexis Barco" I reply, not knowing who it was at first

"Yeah, But who are you REALLY?" she asked

"Among other things...Greg Schmitt, from Chicago"

"A man....thats surpising" she said almost as if she didnt expect it.

I gave her my life story, told her about all my inn visits and gave her a link to the blog. She gave me a lot of insight into her life.

Both her and Sharon are from Vermont originally, although different parts. They met in college at U of V. Alexis had been a lesbian all her life and her parents were cool with it, it was something she had felt from a very young age etch. Sharon was more of a popular girl type who had dated guys up until she met Alex, fell in love, and realized that she had been lying to herself for years.

Alex was apparently a tomboy/geek. She had played hockey in college and had a degree in Computer Science. Sharon was the girlier of the two and her degree was in Fine Arts. After college they stayed in Burlington, got married, and Alex took a job as an IT manager while Sharon pursued her painting.

Fast forward to this summer when they were on a road trip through the New England coast and they stopped at the wrong inn. Alex is now playing house in Minnesota with two teenaged kids and a husband who I can tell she resents.

Sharon, on the other hand, wound up in a truck driver named Jack, based out of Rochester, NY. The former cheerleader apparently isnt handling being big and burly very well. Apparently they talk online but not much to avoid arousing suspicion. There is a definite melancholy tone when she talks about her. I can relate, although at least they know who they are, unlike me and Amber were.

We talked over a few more details and I gave her a quick play by play on how to get her life back and she seemed relieved at that. She had to go to some household stuff so I let her go and went in to talk to Malinda.

"You should call the real Sharon"

"And say what?" She asked rolling her eyes

"Youre body is OK what do i need to know to pretend to be you?"

"Being a lazy ass artist isnt a really complicated life, I dont think I need her to explain that to me"

Her denial was starting to get on my nerves, but again, not everyone reacts as well as us bloggers do. I think all the authors on here share the same level headed pragmatism. Clearly Malinda didnt.

I called the number I had for Jack the Trucker but it went to voicemail so I left a message.


That brings us today when I was checking the comments on my last post. A reader named Kiai posted this.




From prior posts here it's clear that brain-patterning trumps prior preferences, big-time. Your new wife is in for a rough landing as that soaks in. Be ready to catch; maybe even ready to get her on a 72-hour watch. Anybody know of a counselor or therapist who's been through the Inn? She might need somebody who can discuss the true issues with her. I suggest getting in contact with the original Alex first thing; she'll be a lot more knowledgeable about BLGT resources in the hometown.

Working marriages are inclined to be person-to-person, not type-to-type. Check your premises: is her original hardcore-lesbian, or 'bi and married for love'? How about the original Alex? You need to know so you know what to expect.



The first thing I did after reading that was shut the bedroom door, lock it, and look up some internet porn, you know, for science. Sure enough after a few minutes of watching some girl on girl action I got a little turned on. I then tried a few stills of naked women and felt something similar to what I felt towards men in my last few bodies, so yeah I'm totally gay now.

Which means that Malinda is probably gay now, and she was brought up in an environment where it wasnt very OK to be gay. When she read that comment she chuckled sarcastically.

"I'm not gonna need therapy" she said, clearly resolved to make it through the year chaste.

I will be keeping an eye on her, because I dont want her to kill herself.

I might want to do it myself...

Mostly Kidding, Greg.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Greg: Directed by M. Night Shamalayan

I think I spelled his name right. For someone who was Indian for a year I can't spell Hindi worth a damn. Anyway the title refers to the massive twist that my current Inn caper took last week. I waited a few days to tell you because 1. I had to organize my thoughts, and 2. Tori was working on a big sensitive post and I didnt want to steal her thunder.

Anyway, I didnt find the elusive Alex that first day, even after I asked every male I saw. Which made me worried he had left already. Resigned to the fact I was going to be here awhile and didnt have any clothes that fit me, I headed into town wearing baggy sweatpants tied with a belt and an oversized tshirt. I looked ridiculous but a tourist town like Old Orchard beach sees all sorts of people who need clothes for whatever reason.

I headed to one of the shops and picked out a few shirts, panties, bras and shorts after trying them on. (Size 6, 36B in case you were all curious) as well as a pair of flip flops and made my way back to the inn and did vacation stuff, keeping an eye out for any newcomers.

I chatted up the girl who had been helping the other guests out that first night. She was in her early 20s and had just gotten her correct body back. Her name was Helena and she headed back to California on Friday. When I explained my situation she was like "Oh, Youre Greg!" because she apparently is a lurker on this blog. I told her she shouldve added to it but she said she wasnt much of a writer. She offered me condolences over all that happened and asked me a few questions. I almost feel like I shouldve autographed something for her.

Everyone else was slowly coming to grips with what happened and were leaving for their new lives. I told everyone about the blog because apparently it offers a blueprint on how to get your life back. After a few days of vacationing still no Alex.

On Sunday morning It was nothing but me and Malinda, my neighbor who was a total bitch to me and had turned into an even prettier girl than before. She didnt have a note to go on and seemed really upset about the whole thing. I went to my room to blog about the whole lack of Alex thing when I read the comment on my last post.

"Alex=Alexandra?"

I had never thought of that. I ran outside and persuaded a grumpy Malinda to come into my room and try her thumb on the locked laptop. She rolled her eyes and looked annoyed when her thumbprint didnt work.

But mine did.

I know, I shouldve tried it sooner, but its hard to be logical around here sometimes.

The laptop opened turned on and the desktop background was a photo of my body and Malinda's body at an amusement park. "So I guess were sisters or something" Malinda remarked.

The only file on the desktop was a video labeled "Inn instructions for new Alex and Sharon"

When it opened there was a webcam vlog style video of a woman in her 30s and a big hairy man in his 40s. The woman did most of the talking because the man was crying and sobbing off and on, being hugged and consoled.

Apparently Malinda and I are now Sharon and Alexis Barco (Respectively) of Burlington Vermont. And they are not sisters, they're married.

Ill pause a moment while you all react. A little part of me that was still male geeked out at a strange teenage fantasy come true. Lesbians! Yay!

Malinda, however did NOT have a similar reaction. I had to pause the video because she got up, screamed, looked at me and kept saying "ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew. Im not some (D word for lesbian thats not polite to repeat)"

She went into her room and I finished the video for more details. They Barco's had been married for about 6 years, been together for 10. Alexis was the head of IT at an ice cream company (not that one) and Sharon was an artist. Apparently Alexis, or Alex as she went by was a big techno nerd and thats why she had something like a biometric locked laptop. (Thank god she's not a spy)

They had stayed in the same room but it had only been single occupied the previous time, meaning they wound up in separate lives. Alex became a stay at home Mom in Minneapolis who had been given a Mother's Day vacation to Maine. Sharon had turned into a big burly trucker who was staying at the Inn while his truck got fixed, and from her body language she hated everything about her new body and life.

I pitied them, but soon got the luggage combos unlocked my clohtes, which were pretty tomboyish. I wheeled the suitcase for Sharon into Malinda's room and sat down on the bed next to her. She seemed wary of my touch so I didnt put my arm around her.

"It's OK, its only temporary, its easy to get your body back"

"How do you know" she snapped "And why would you go back to your old body, this one is so much better"

I then proceed to come clean about my history. How I was a guy who turned into his fiancee's best friend. How I then lost said fiancee' when the person in my body ran off with my secretary. How I spent the last year in the body of that person, and now how I was playing musical bodies for the forseeable future.

Malinda couldnt get past two things. First that I used to be a man and second that I knew what the Inn was going to do and didnt tell her. I tried to explain the curse but she was pretty upset.

Apparently Malinda was from a rich conservative family out of Highland Park, Texas. (Suburb of Dallas) Fresh with her degree from SMU she had decided to take a year off and travel America, and she landed in the wrong place at the wrong time. I left her to go through Sharon's things and started formulating our exit from the Inn.

Burllington isnt far from Old Orchard Beach but it's a long drive without a lot of Insterstate. The Barcos had driven up in their Range Rover and it was parked outside, ready to be driven home. I packed up all my Dee clothes and wrote my note. I then turned in, waiting for the long ride home.

The next morning found Malinda very much in denial. She seemed to be of the impression that she was going to just assume her old life. It took a lot of convincing and a lot swearing and a lot of crying to get her to write a note and get into the car.

We rode home in silence, mostly because she saw me as her captor or something. She did read the blog though, on her new body's Droid (I think she misses her iPhone). I didnt receive much feedback because she started from the beginning and read through the first year or so. She did let out a grossed out gasp when she read about Arthur having sex in Liz's body.

Finally, exhausted we made it to Burlington at about 9pm. The Barco's had a pretty nice condo that they owned. We put our stuff away in the bedroom and I began to take my clothes off and crash on the bed when Malinda looked at me like I was crazy.

"Uh uh, just because the real Sharon is some deviant doesnt mean I am, now get your butt on the couch"

I hadnt planned on trying anything, but I'm not gonna start fights with this person. She's still in a fragile state and I dont want her throwing anything at me.

The couch was comfy enough anyway. After this blog post I'm gonna get more familiar with the new life.

-Greg/Alexis

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Tori: Father's Days (part 3)

In case you missed it, tonight I'm double-posting the last couple parts of my "Father's Days" story, so scroll down!

The next day I went to the hospital. I didn't think getting in to see my dad would be easy, but it was surprisingly not a big deal. Now, it's not like they just let strangers in to see patients, but Willy had sent advance word that "a friend of his" would be by to drop off a card he'd written. The thing is, there wasn't a card... but there was a letter.

When I couldn't sleep the night before, I opened up my laptop, and started composing some thoughts. I'd transcribe the letter for you here, but it was obviously very personal, and frankly kinda rambling. But I guess after all this time I still wanted to get some stuff off my shoulders, clear the air with him. Even though I've gotten pretty good at writing about myself through this blog, when I started thinking back on my old life, it came out confused and clumsy. Eventually I ended up writing a short note, from Willy's perspective, about how no matter the differences between us, no matter how far away I am, I'm still a part of this family, and even though we had problems, I'll always love and appreciate everything he and mom did for me.

And that part's true, and it was very difficult to get out. I printed it at a copy shop and left space at the bottom to add the personal touch... my signature, "JHCliff--" so he'd know it was from me. I haven't signed anything that way in years, of course, but surprisingly my hand made the signature exactly how I remember it looking.

When I got to the room, I found my dad resting. I said I wouldn't be more than a minute, I guess figuring I'd read the letter out and be, even though he was asleep it was going to be a token gesture on my part. But when I got in there, I was just, so overwhelmed by the sight of my dad, the unstoppable tough guy in a hospital bed. It stopped me cold.

I set the letter on the side table and took a seat next to him.

"Guess you can't hear me, huh dad?" No response. "Maybe I shouldn't talk. It's not like you're in a coma or something. You need rest." Again, he didn't flinch. I crossed my legs and straightened out my skirt... I had dressed formally.

"I never thought I'd see you like this. I never thought I'd see you again at all, and I'm sure you never thought you'd see your son looking like this. I sure as hell hope you can't hear me, dad, because I haven't admitted who I am... who I was... to anybody in a long, long time. Christ, Dad, if you could get a good look at your boy now, you'd have another damned heart attack."

I put my hand on his and watched him breathe a moment.

"It was exhausting being John Henry Clifford. Trying to be the good son, but having no clue how to live up to your expectations. You never really made me feel like it was okay that I wasn't the same as Bret. That I was shy. That I wasn't athletic. And when he went off to war and I didn't... it was like there was something wrong with me for not joining up. God, it's no wonder Willy knocked him out. But none of that's your fault. I don't blame you. You just wanted what was best for me, and in the end... I think I've got it."

"I was put in a bad situation, dad. Something happened to me that was beyond my control, that I never asked for. I know it seems like I should be embarrassed, but I like to think you'd be proud of me, for handling it so well. Making the best of a bad situation. Maybe you'd be shocked to hear that somewhere along the way I went from putting up with this life, to preferring it. I like myself better this way, dad. I won't apologize for that. But I guess we'll never know how you'd feel, because even if I could tell you where I've been this year, you'd never believe me."

I dabbed my eyes, which were slowly tearing up. "Sorry I'm getting so emotional here, dad. PMS is rough and I've had a weird week."

I couldn't think of anything else to say, so I left the note by his table, and walked out of the room.

In the hallway, I ran into my mother. It's weird being looked at by your own mom like you're a stranger, but I nearly called out "Mom!" but managed at the last moment to change it into "Mu-issus Clifford!" She leveled her eyes at me trying to figure out how she was supposed to know me.

"I'm Tori. I'm a friend of your son's. I actually came to Thanksgiving once."

"Oh! Of course, dear. You were dropping something off for Johnny."

"Yes, yes... dropping something off for Johnny. Look, I'm sorry about what's happened here. Can I buy you a cup of coffee?"

"Oh, that's not necessary."

"Please, you've been through a lot this week. I won't let you say no."

My mom's a woman that understands a thing or two about hospitality. We went down to the cafeteria and I bought her a tea and we chatted only as long as the walk back up to my dad's room.

"Is he going to be okay?" I asked eagerly.

"He'll live, they say, but if the bastard doesn't change his diet he won't have much time. I guess that's where I come in. I love him, you know, but he can be stubborn."

"Hah! Tell me about it!" I said, as if I was supposed to know the man.

"He'll put up a fight, but if he wants to live, he'll change. It's just a matter of making him want to change."

"I'm sure he'll find his way," I told her.

She nodded along, then asked, "So how exactly do you know my son?"

"That... is a really long, complicated story." Fortunately by this point, we had reached the room, so I excused myself.

Alex and I got some lunch and set out for the road home. Once we were in the car, I decided the time was right to clear some stuff up with him.

"Can I ask you something?" I asked timidly while I was driving. "What's your deal, man?"

He glanced at me. "My deal?"

"Listen, I don't wanna pry... I mean, I am, but only because I really just don't know. You know my friend Danny, right?"

"Sure... the gay guy."

"Yes. He mentioned, after I introduced you, he'd met you before."

"Really..."

"And he implied there was some kind of history between the two of you. But he's never been specific as to what."

Alex rolled his eyes some and finally relented. "It's not what you're thinking."

"I don't know what I'm thinking," I said.

"Well whatever happened, it wasn't anything serious. It was a very G-rated... thing."

"But what was it?"

"It was two guys meeting. One gay, one... not sure."

That gave me pause. I don't think I've ever met a man who would admit to something like that.

I stayed quiet. He continued. "It was at a time when I had reason to doubt... who I was. Who I am. What I want. I'm only telling you this because I feel like you'd understand."

"Why would I understand?"

"I don't know, I just... get this sense about you. Your story about how you couldn't be a baseball player. Going from dating popular guys in high school to dating someone like Buddy... that's not the same, but I think you get a sense of how someone changes over time."

"Uh yeah, definitely," I said, as if he should know my real past.

"So I'm telling you this in confidence." He went into a bit more detail about a period of his life, a couple years earlier, when he had just arrived in Philly and needed some company, and wound up, of all things, hanging with a mostly-gay crowd. I won't share the details, and I guess as far as Danny's recounting of the situation, there was a misunderstanding because of how unseemly he made it out to be. And for all I know, Alex is still covering for something.

But this left me with one question. Why didn't he like Raine when I set them up?

He said with a knowing smirk, "She wasn't into me and I wasn't into her. Two people don't have to want to fuck just because they're opposite sex and single, you know." He said it kiddingly, but it's something I've had weird time realizing since I realized I like guys... I haven't been "just friends" with one (straight and unattached anyway) since when Buddy and I were "just friends" he was pretty upfront about wanting to date me. Alex's words here seemed to indicate that's how he sees me, though.

Since "activating" this part of my life, I've jumped from Leo to Buddy, and maybe if I were someone else it would be healthy to be on my own for a while. But I've had plenty of time in my life to be alone.

It would probably be healthy just to have a male friend and not feel obligated to want to be with him, but at the same time, it hurts. There's nothing "keeping us apart" like attachments or orientations or distance... just a lack of interest on his part. Feels pretty familiar. Like rejection.

We got back to Philly and while I felt like I had managed to get some closure with my old life, my new one is still a wide open mess.

Thanks for listening. While I was typing up this long-ass story, I set up a Twitter account for some of us at the inn (we'll see if anyone else is interested in sharing) just for little thoughts between posts, updates... if any of you are on there, if you wanna follow us, it might be nice to interact that way because we don't always get around to replying to blog messages. For those of you still reading, it means a lot to us! (As specially since, as Greg seems to be finding, this story never seems to end!!)

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Tori: Father's Days (Part 2)

The night that I heard about my dad's heart attack, the first thing I did was price a bus trip to Buffalo. It's expensive to get there from here, as well as time-consuming, which is why I didn't keep close contact with my old body.

Unfortunately, I simply did not have the time or money to do that. I was desperate to get to Buffalo, though, and at 7 hours, the Mapquest-plotted course was looking a lot more realistic than the 15-hour one suggested by Greyhound. I ran down the list of people I knew who might be willing to help me. My first call? Alex.

I've only known him a few months, a lot of which I haven't really blogged about, but he and I had this instant connection I can barely describe, so I was hoping I could trust him to help me with this and not ask too many questions about why.

It took some convincing. I had to deal with a lot of awkward questions like "Who do you know in Buffalo?" and "Why do you need to drop everything and go now?" I think part of the reason I asked Alex was that since he hasn't known Tori all her life, like say Raine or Sara, I could roll back on the fact that there are simply things he doesn't know about my life.

So I told him it was a favour for a friend, who couldn't make it. I had to deliver a letter, in case "his" dad didn't make it. "That's quite noble," Alex said, "Y'know, I'm a sucker for a good story. This'll make me feel like a good guy."

I smiled at him, "You are a good guy."

He gave a weird, self-deprecating wink, "Sometimes it's hard to convince myself of that."

There were other reasons I wanted to spend all this time with Alex. Even though we hang out a lot, I still don't feel like I know who he is. He lets me talk on and on about my relationship problems, my issues with finding work (prior to him hooking me up with my current job,) and anything that bothered me about anything, but when I turn the conversation over to him, he gets gives the bare minimum. "How's life?" "It's all right." Etc etc. I feel awkward making myself an open book and yet being unable to pry anything out of him.

We hit the open road Friday after work. I had to break the silence to get my mind off my dad. About forty minutes out of Philly, we get to talking and I ask what he wanted to be when he grew up when he was a kid.

"I don't know," he chuckles self-deprecatingly. "Not this, I don't think. I mean, I like the job and everything, but I guess I wanted adventure, I wanted to be rich. Indiana Jones. I didn't see myself hunched over a computer."

I smiled. "Yeah, I guess I didn't either."

"Yeah, there never was an IT Girl Barbie was there?" Before I could respond he flipped the question back to me, "So what did you want to be?"

I sighed, "For a while... this is embarrassing, but when I was really young, I thought it would be fun to be a baseball player."

He did a double take, taking his focus off the road so he could share his look of skepticism. "Uh, what?"

I started to reformat the story so that it fit into my backstory as Tori. It turned out not to be that far from the truth "I mean... when I was really young, before I realized it wasn't really an option, you know? As I got older and my body developed... the way it did... that idea sorta faded away."

"You never talk much about your past," he pointed out.

"Neither do you."

"Touche."

"Were you popular in high school?" he asked.

"Yeah, I guess so." I recited unenthusiastically. This is the part of being Tori I hate, having to pretend the life I read about in her diaries was mine. "Lots of friends. Dating. Boyfriends. Sexual exploits behind the bleachers. Stuff I'm not really proud of."

"I always wondered how a girl like you wound up working with computers. Most of the hot girls I know can barely download apps for their iPhones."

I blushed a bit. Even after this time, it gets me that I'm 'hot.' "Something changes along the way," I said. "Being hot isn't a job, at least not one I was interested in. I spent a lot of time trying to find myself."

"Well I'm glad you did," he glanced over at me, "Otherwise we wouldn't be here, would we?"

"No," I breathed heavily, "I suppose not."

I was feeling it. I squirmed in my seat. He was doing something to me, something Buddy and Leo didn't quite. He can command a conversation and make me want to know spill my guts without ever saying much about himself. This whole time I've been Tori I've been the one on guard and suddenly I just wanna let it all out. He has so much more confidence in himself than Buddy, so much more charm than Leo.

Much of the rest of the ride was spent talking about work and singing along to the radio. We arrived in Buffalo after dark. I wanted to go straight to the hospital but it was way too late for that, so we checked into a motel and I brought him to my favorite neighborhood bar for a drink. The place hasn't changed, it was like stepping back into 2008. I tried to shrug off any discomfort.

We were done our first pitcher when I spotted a familiar face glancing my way. It was Justin, my best friend for years. I don't know how long he had been watching me. Suddenly I felt like I had been punched in the gut. It was one thing to be here among all the familiar buildings. It was another to come face to face with someone from my past, although I guess that was why I was there to begin with. I just wasn't prepared for it yet.

I excused myself during a lull in the conversation and crossed the bar to see him. He noticed me and got this awkward deer-in-headlights look. His eyes fixated on my breasts until I started talking.

"Hi there," I said nervously. "Justin, right?"

"Yes, yeah." I wasn't the only one who was nervous. "I'm sorry, I just can't remember where I know you from."

That hurt a bit, but I guess it was fair. He met me in this body once, a year and a half ago, at Thanksgiving just after I had transformed and was pretending to be "Cliff's" date so I could get one last look at my family. He and Willy set up a cruel trick where he would come in and pretend to hit on me, and then reveal he knew who I was. It was cruel because at the time he was going with a really great girl named Randi, and because Willy should have sensed how deeply uncomfortable that would be for me.

I reminded him of where he knew me from, and he nearly spat his drink out when I mentioned the name Cliff. "I haven't talked to that guy in forever."

"Yeah, he's been over in England for a while I guess."

"Sure, I guess, but even before that. Dude was getting weird. He was a really cool guy, but sometime after that Thanksgiving, he totally cracked."

"Hm. Maybe you just don't know the whole story."

"Oh yeah? What's the whole story?"

"I'm not saying I know, I just think maybe he was ... 'cracked' ... before that. Probably cracked before I came along."

"Well he hid it. Still, whatever happened, he got the balls to leave this place, which I'm kinda proud of."

"What does that mean?"

"So, his brother's a soldier. Been to Afghanistan and everything." (It was actually Iraq but whatever.) "They never got along. Total opposites. His brother, Bret, was actually a dick because, Cliff was kinda nerdy his whole life and Bret was the fave. Then, I guess right before he leaves for England, he decides he's sick of Bret's crap and picks a fight with him right behind this bar. And he knocks him the fuck out!"

My eyes widened. Willy could not have made a more out-of-character moment if he'd tried. I had my problems with Bret but I never would have let it come to blows, especially because I knew he could kick my ass. "Bret knocked Cliff out?"

"No!" Justin swigged, "Cliff knocked Brett on his ass. One punch. I never saw anything like it."

One punch?? I didn't know what to say. I stammered to change the subject. "Hey, wh-when, uh, last time, um, back then, you were dating this girl, um, how's that... uh, are you still together?"

He got real sullen and turned back to his beer. "Nah, that ended a while back." I didn't press him for details. I thought it was sad, though. I liked Randi a lot, even if she was indirectly responsible for me going to the Trading Post Inn (I don't hold that against her.) I actually liked her when she and I first met, and I always thought maybe if Justin hadn't been more charming, I might've had a chance. But I was probably too much of a geek for her, and now my life's taken the direction it has.

I felt bad for Justin though, in that moment. I know he really liked Randi, and I felt sorry I couldn't be there for him when the relationship ended. I guess that's how girly I've been because comforting someone wasn't really my forte when I was a guy, that wasn't how our friendship would've worked, aside from, I don't know, going to a strip club and watching Star Wars to get his mind off her.

I decided I wanted to keep him company and express my sympathies. He asked what I was doing in town and I said I was just passing through on an errand and I remembered this bar. He said that was lucky for him, and there was some cool stuff he could show me if I wanted.

Oh my God, I realized. My best friend was putting the moves on me.

I felt like an idiot. It was warm, so I was wearing a top that showed some cleavage. I was bending over him at the bar. For fuck's sake, you'd think I'd know what effect this body has on guys. I began to fidget.

I couldn't bring myself to shut him down cold like he was just "some guy." This is someone who was friends with me for years even though we could've been in totally different crowds - Justin was a good athlete in high school and well-liked, and he always tried to include me in shit. I've always felt like I owed him a debt.

I don't know what's wrong with me, that I even briefly entertained the idea. He was just so sad and he was such a good guy to me as Cliff. I knew this would cheer him up, but is that really who I want to be? Alex, a guy I really like, was sitting just across the bar from me, and whatever lies in his murky past, I didn't want him to see me going home with some random dude I apparently met.

It would also be such a bizarre experience being with this guy I've known forever, without him knowing it was me. I couldn't imagine all the hidden layers of awkward that would occur if I let him put his dick in me. It didn't feel fair to him. Shit, we used to watch scrambled porn together in his basement, back in the day.

He looked at me expectantly as all these thoughts went through my brain. "Listen, I appreciate the offer... but I don't think this is right. I'm not looking to... I'm not up for anything right now. I hope you understand."

I was about to back away, when I felt his hand enclose around my wrist. He looked up at me with these utterly pathetic eyes. "Please. Just let me buy you a drink."

Doing my best not to lose my shit on my former best friend, I said in a calm, measured tone, "Justin. You should probably let go of me. Right now."

Alex appeared behind me. "You heard her."

"What are you, her boyfriend?"

"I'm her friend," he said sternly.

Justin's eyes shifted back and forth for a second. Thankfully he didn't hesitate in releasing his grip. My heart was pounding.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to get so carried away."

"Yeah..." I sighed and backed away, as Alex kept himself between me and him. When we were a safe distance away, her asked, "What was that?"

"It was a misunderstanding," I told him, "Maybe I'll tell you the whole story sometime." Probably not.

We settled up and found our way to a motel. Having dragged Alex all the way out, I insisted on paying for the two-bed room we ended up getting, but Alex wouldn't let me. What is it about being a girl that makes guys want to pay for stuff with you? (Oh yeah... boobs.) Sometimes that's really inconvenient.

I tried to lie back and go to bed, but I was having difficulties. I guess ever since 2009, I've had problems falling asleep in strange beds... for fairly obvious reasons, I should think. (It took ) The only times I've slept well in strange rooms is when I'm "with" someone, and that sure wasn't happening.

After a few hours of tossing and turning, it was nearly 4 AM. Finally, I permitted my hand to travel south. Now, I've done this plenty of times, but rarely with someone else in the room, especially if they're not my current partner, but it wasn't that long ago I had gone on a stealth mission with Buddy in bed next to me anyway.

I rolled over and buried my face in the pillow to muffle any inadvertent sounds that might squeak out of my face, hiking my butt in the air. The danger definitely added to the sensation. I suspect he may have heard anyway, because I heard him tossing and turning, but at that point I couldn't break away from my deed. Maybe he got a show. He didn't say anything about it the next day.

It helped me relax, although it was still a long while before I got to sleep. Probably around 5 AM. Thankfully, Alex let me sleep 'til nearly noon, which I really needed. I woke up and looked over at him, reading one of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones books. He gave me a "Morning sleepyhead" and asked what we were doing today.

I responded by rolling over and trying to fall back asleep. When I finally realized this was pointless, I began to plot out the day... and severely doubted that I had the balls to go through with what I was planning.