I'm back in Vermont now, so if anyone is worried that I ran away, I didn't. Tori was confused by the end of my lest post and sent me a frantic email. I regret ending the last post the way I did but I was tired and the Hotel Wi-Fi is spotty.
I left Bangor that morning and drove east over the border to Fredericton, New Brunswick. It's a good thing I grabbed Alex's passport, because you need one to go to Canada these days. (Little FYI for all of you out there, the law changed a few years back).
Fredericton is a nice city, not huge and pretty. But I wasn't there for sightseeing, I was there to speak to Tanya Kearns, or at least the person who appeared to be Tanya Kearns, who's real name is Fletcher.
Fletcher, if you havent been paying close attention, is a Traveler, someone who goes to the inn over and over again to get a new body. Which is what I've become by default. He met Alia "Sam/Max/Ellie" back in 2010, when he was part of an old married couple. Alia's post mentioning him and the concept of "traveling" is what convinced me to break out of my depression and start blogging again.
Anyway, Tanya was the sister of Melanie, who was the girlfriend of Max. This summer a guy named Roger had his old body stolen and Fletcher worked it so he wound up in Max's and in the process, he wound up in Tanya's. Everyone got that? Good. It's confusing as hell so if you have to re read it, go ahead.
Anyway, I had wriggled Tanya's contact info out of "Ellie" and had her meet me in the bar of the hotel I was staying at. I had sent her a pic on her phone so she'd know how to find me.
I was on my second drink when a girl started waving at me from across the bar. She was just as described on the blog, I think. Brunette with blonde streaks, with a body type that could be described as "fluffy." I mean, after spending a year as Dee, I'm hesitant to call ANY other woman fat, but this girl was muffintopping - and I guess, to her credit, she wasn't ashamed of it. She was dressed in a way that didn't suggest "a former man embarrassed of his female body," with a mini-skirt halfway up her thigh (in chilly Canadian weather!) and spaghetti strap top - which did not conceal her pink bra; a push-up number. She waved me over to a booth once we were certain we knew each other.
"Alexis?" she asked, and then said "Or is it 'Alexis'" this time with finger-quotes.
"It's more like the second one," I told her, "But you don't have to do the fingers. I just won't be Alexis much
She looked me up and down. I was wearing khaki slacks and a green blouse. "So you're a lesbian, right? I can tell from the hair."
I was a bit put off by the small talk, but I admitted "Yeah, after a few years of really girly bodies, it was nice to do something more comfortable."
She said, "Dyke style. I like it." I gritted my teeth instead of objecting out loud. She continued.
"Well I'd say you seem a bit uptight but I've read your recent activities and it doesn't seem like you need to loosen up any more than you already did... if you know what I mean. Gotta say, it's true, nobody knows a woman's body like another woman. I bet you really liked that."
"Yeah," I said, squirming in my seat. Talking on the blog is one thing, but being grilled about my sex life in person really made me uncomfortable. "Sounds like you know something about that."
She smiled that really evil smile of hers. Based on descriptions of her previous bodies, it must be the person inside, not the girl herself. "I'm an adventurous type," she said, sipping her beer. "And I've had a lot of opportunities, since I've been in a lot of bodies."
"That's a trade secret." She didn't seem to want to talk too much about her past. "But if you think it's shocking to be a lesbo, you should try being a gay dude. Especially one that's married to a chick and doesn't even tell you he likes dudes." She paused. "So what can I do for you?"
"I just want advice. You go back to the inn all the time... how do you manage these peoples' lives without totally destroying them?"
"Oh honey," she said in a patronizing tone, placing her hand on my shoulder, "There's your first mistake. Worrying about something like destroying a person's life."
"You mean you just do as you please?"
"I do what's best. I have the body. If I'm in a situation where I want something, I take it, and I don't think twice."
"But don't you worry about giving these people their lives back? Making it easy, so they can pick up where they left off?"
"I don't take requests, babe. I do what I think is right, but right for me. I don't like being controlled."
"Must be nice for you to be able to think that way," I said bitterly, "Was your old life ever wrecked?"
She got this faraway look in her eyes, like something really spooky was going through her mind, and she said quietly, "My old, old, old first life? The person I started out as? One day I got the call that that person had to make a choice, a choice I knew I couldn't have made, and when that decision was final, I knew there was no going back. I didn't blame him for what he had to do, it just showed me that you can really only move forward."
"I didn't have to ruin Alex's life, though. I didn't need to see Annabelle."
"If you're trying to keep everything in mint condition, then you fucked up the minute you stepped into Alexis' shoes. The minute you met Annabelle, the minute you planted the idea in her head that Alexis was an option for her, it was done. Because that probably wouldn't have happened to the real Alexis, but it did. It's not your fault, it’s hers for liking you."
"Hey," I started to get really mad, "I'm not blaming Annabelle for this!"
"Well you're not the one to blame either, hon. It's not natural to deny yourself happiness, to suffer so someone else can maintain their stupid comfort zone. You don't last as long in life as I have by playing it safe. You keep going back long enough, you realize some things can't be helped. Don't be a hero, girl."
I said quietly, into my drink, "I don't think I want to be like you."
She smiled. Instead of taking offense, I think she understood. "Your loss."
I sighed and changed the subject. "I just hope my next body is something easy. Like a regular boring married guy."
"Anything's possible," she shrugged, taking another drink, "But with your shitty-ass luck, you'll end up a 5-year-old girl with parents who wanna keep you from going back."
"Oh God, that sounds like a nightmare!"
She smiled "Happened to a buddy of mine. Just turned 12, poor kid." She gave me advice on what to do if something extreme happens: if I end up as a kid, or old. She also said not to worry if I didn't go back every year. "I'm not saying get too comfortable, but some bodies are worth keeping a while. I think I'm gonna stay here this summer."
I didn't say anything but I must have had a disbelieving face on. "Oh don't be such a bitch. It's got a few more pounds and more miles on the odometer than a body this age should, but some of the boys love it, and it's lower maintenance than some skinny bitch who only eats lettuce."
I thanked her for her time, and told her I was going to go to the ladies' room, then head back to my hotel. When I got out of the stall, she was waiting for me by the sink.
"Now hold up," she said. "You're telling me you came all this way, and all you wanted was to talk?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
"I'm insulted," she said mockingly. "With all your lady-troubles, you'd pass up a shot at some no-consequences girl on girl? I bet you eat pussy like a champ now, and don't even pretend like you haven't been ogling my tits all night."
"Don't flatter yourself. Between Annabelle, Malinda, and myself, you've got the fourth best set of tits I've seen lately. I never thought I'd say this, but I have enough women on my case nowadays. Besides, aren't you straight, not gay?"
She smiled that evil grin again, "I don't know what those words mean anymore."
As we parted at the exit, she turned to me and said "Last piece of advice before you go: Don't be too trusting. The inn makes it really easy to lie, even to other people that go. I'm one of the good ones, but there's others, people that really know how to fuck a person over."
That was something I had never considered before, and stuck with me the whole way home. I thanked her for that, and laughed to myself about her being one of the "good ones." She shook my hand and went back inside, saying "Well, time to go get laid." Charming.
Back in the hotel room I thought about what she had said. I didnt want to become some disaffected hedonist who did whatever felt good with someone elses life, but I also didn't like the idea of being constrained by every little rule they had. I resolved to find a happy medium and be a better Traveler than Fletcher, even if that meant breaking things off with Annabelle and continuing my marriage illusion to Malinda.
I took the long way home and paid for it, the weather was a bitch in the northeast last weekend and it took me 3 days to get back to Burlington.
When I got back to the condo I put my luggage at the door and went upstairs to collapse on the bed. Malinda was in the master bedroom already and when she sighed and her face was almost reassured "You're back" she whispered
"Yep" I said "Someone's gotta earn the money"
She smiled. "I should thank you for that, by the way" she said "I dont know if I ever have before."
I gave her a puzzled look "No problem"
"I've been sleeping in the bed, I can move if you need it" she offered.
"Nah, I'll sleep on the couch. We'll trade off later" I told her, repaying her kindess.
As I was leaving she spat out "Sorry I hit you"
"It's ok, sorry I rubbed the whole gay thing in your face. I know it's a big shock"
"This whole thing is a big shock, and all youve ever done is try to help me through it. I hope you know I appreciate it even if I dont show it"
So now I'm on my couch and Malinda is pleasant again. We've got 2 or 3 months left in these bodies, lets hope things stay that way.