Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Matt/Gabrielle: I Survived Xmas, and All I Got Was This Lousy Shirt

There is no such thing as Santa Claus. I'm sorry to break it to you all but the presents under the tree every year are put their by your parents. Of course most of us knew that already, I learned it when I was 6 and a very mean spirited Jewish boy told the whole class the truth and my parents verified it. Still having just recently started believing in curses again, I thought maybe I could get some help from the North Pole for the Maltos family Christmas. No such luck.

Fortunately there wasn't a huge family gathering planned. After the debacle at Thanksgiving the Mother In Law was quite content to visit other relatives for Christmas and talk about me behind my back. Still, the holidays are stressful enough when youre planning them for people that you love but I had to do it for people I've known for a few months.

It helped that the real Gabrielle emailed me a list of what to get everyone, and that Dustin gave me a dedicated credit card to use for the Holidays with a pretty nice limit. Still, locating the stuff and dealing with the traffic and crowds to get it was still a pain. If I were smart I would have gotten it all online, but I didn't think that far ahead.

Lacey came along with me to help, just because its good for us to have time alone together where we don't have to pretend as much. She told me all she wanted was cash, since being a teenager robbed her of much of her financial independence. I told her we were getting stuff for the real Wesley to enjoy when he got back, so she might want to take up PSP.

Anyway, I got all the gifts and hid them in the secret closet that I don't think the kids know about until the 24th. That was when fueled by a late afternoon nap and a pot of coffee, me and Dustin stayed up until 2am wrapping presents. It was actually one of the better times I've had with him. Having an activity to focus on kept me from tensing up and let the conversation flow freely. I wasn't acting like someone pretending to be his wife, just the person who was helping him wrap presents. After everything was done we were so exhausted that after we collapsed in bed I didn't even bother moving his arm off of me, I figured why add drama to a nice evening.

I actually enjoyed Christmas morning, even though I was way to sleepy to want to wake up that early. Still, watching Isabella open her presents and shriek with joy whenever she opened a gift made me a happy knowing I got it for her, even though her real mother picked it out and her father paid for it. Lacey did a good job looking excited at the various teenage boy clothes, dvds, and video games that she got. I actually got to react in surprise to my gifts, since Dustin had bought them beforehand and hid them in a place even the real Gabrielle didn't know about. Still, the gifts were clearly for her and not for me. But I managed to smile at the Lifetime series DVDs, candles and bath salts, and clothes. Wow did I get a lot of clothes. I guess they're nice, they're from good labels. At some point I'm probably going to have to wear them.

After a low key family dinner that was centered around a ham (MUCH easier to cook than turkey) I went into Lacey's room with her and locked the door behind me. I pulled out a tiny box containing a pair of sapphire earrings and said "Merry Christmas, Lacey"

She put her hands on her mouth in shock and then laughed a little. "How do you think Dustin would react if I went downstairs wearing these?"

"Similar to how he's going to react if he saw them on the credit card bill, but I can hide that and I got a good deal. I just wanted to give you something, and not stuff for you body. Something from me to you, as boyfriend and girlfriend."

She hugged me tight and I kissed her on the forehead. Only a few more months to go and apparently that inn begins taking reservations really soon.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Ellie: Unhappy New Year

I hope you don't mind if I haven't been around lately. Even though I'm not full time in school I do spend a lot of time working at the department store and when I get home the last thing I feel like doing is rehashing my day even though I like doing it. Usually I just eat a quick dinner and collapse face first into my pillow. But now it's Christmas break and even though I'm still working a lot I have a bit of breathing room, so here we go.

As you know, I used to be a teenager in a grown woman's body, until I eventually became a woman in a man's body and now a woman in a man's body in a teenage girl's body. I've got all this strange out-of-order life experience that defines everything I do that I can't explain to anyone but you. Whoever "Ellie" was originally, whatever she was meant to become, it looks like she won't be that, especially not if she comes back here. Too much of the life of "Ellie McClay" is defined by that Inn. And that goes beyond what I do.

On Christmas Eve I had dinner with my "dad." To the outside world, Tom McClay was a successful lawyer who had a nervous breakdown and had to leave the profession. I know the truth is that the person inside his body has no qualifications to do his job and so transitioned out into a corporate position. This also led to a trial separation from my "mother," Trudy, who is baffled and hurt and scared and doesn't know why.

She's a wreck and doesn't deserve this kind of misery, but there's not a lot we can do. I'm even less comfortable letting "dad" continue the charade because seeing them as a couple was just too surreal for me.

He confessed to me over dinner that he enjoyed being a man, specifically this man. "I liked being the head of a household, a provider, father, husband... in a way I feel disappointed in myself that I wasn't able to keep it going."

I can't say he's the bad guy here. It's not like he asked to be this person. He did seem to take a bit more pleasure in it than I would have, showing genuine affection for Trudy and trying up until the last to keep the marriage intact.

"What about you?" he asked, getting a bit more jovial and changing the subject, "Any boys out there catching your eye?"

I rolled my eyes.

"Oh come on, it's just you and me. When I met you you were a girl in a guy's body but I always thought of you as a guy. I like this side of you. I thought you were cute with that Callahan kid."

I struggled with the words. "That's not... it wasn't what you think, really."

"Oh come on, I know what a teenage crush is like."

"No really," I told him. "Look, I'll tell you something, something I've known about myself for a long time but was afraid to admit. But you can. NOT. Tell. Trudy."

"I never talk to her anymore."

So I told him this.

A little while ago I was tidying up the change rooms at the end of my shift at the department store. Usually it's just leftover hangars, purse debris and that sort of thing. But this lady had left her bra. It was what men would consider a "good size," meaning she was more bosomy than me but probably not that "big" in terms of dress size. It was a pink lace number, much more mature and feminine than anything I own. And instead of taking it to the lost and found, I pocketed it.

It's crazy, okay. I've been a woman most of my life, I've had plenty of bras of my own. But I developed a fixation on this one, imagining the woman it belonged to, imagining her unclasping herself and leaving it for me to find. And it was after a while of this that I really thought about how much time I spend thinking about other girls, in ways besides the way girls are supposed to think about each other.

I said I've always known, in a way, because I still felt protective and jealous of Emily when we both became girls, even though she no longer resembled (or frankly, acted like) the woman I had dated. I thought it was leftover feelings, and it would go away if I could somehow switch my mind back to being interested in guys.

But that didn't happen. Even though I didn't want to be attracted to Emily, I was and I found myself trying to embrace her social group as a way of being near her. I don't know. I still fought it even though I had read Bryan's old posts from his time as Ellie, being with Leanne... I tried to convince myself that that was his male self asserting itself, even though the emotions he described felt very real and familiar to me. I found myself looking Leanne up on Facebook and seeing pictures of her with other girls, carefree at University, and wondering, when can I be "there"?

I'm already such an outsider, I'm already so different, I already have so many secrets and layers, denying this was a way of taking control of my life for once. But I'm really not in control of this and if I don't admit to the world what I am, what Ellie is, I'll probably never be happy or comfortable.

The small part of me that is convinced we can still get Ellie back in her own body doesn't want to take action, doesn't want to take that choice away from her, prefers to keep playing along. But the larger part, the one that knows I'm probably going to be here as long as I see fit, knows it's my responsibility, and is scared of the truth, and suffering for it.

It's been hard, this winter, ever since I let it out. Keeping it bottled was one thing, but giving it voice, knowing that someone out there knows what I'm hiding has made me feel worse about hiding it from others, like poor Trudy who has been through so much this year (and more than she knows.)

Every time I get close to telling her, every time I think about sitting her down and clearing the air, I remember a conversation I had with "Aunt Anne Marie" sometime during this whole ordeal.

I remember she told me "Sometimes I talk to Trudy and it's like she already knows. It's like she can sense her daughter is not there anymore, even though she doesn't have a clue. It's the saddest thing, really. You seem like a very sweet girl, so I hope you can do this favor and just... be there for her. Be the daughter she needs. Please. She doesn't have a lot left. Be her rock."

I'm trying, really. But it's hard to be someone's rock, if you're crumbling yourself.