I swore up and down to Tyler that if at any point during this experience - the 11 hours trip from Maine to Pittsburgh or any of the ensuing days - he wanted to completely freak out, I wouldn't blame him. I've had moments of panic and anxiety at having to drop my entire life overnight and assume someone else's. That's going to happen no matter who you become, but his change was so drastic that I would expect him to have more than a minimal reaction. But no, he's being such a man about it: "don't worry, I'm fine." Uh huh.
There were more than a few stray details I caught during our trip that he didn't share. One was that when we set out, he had a pair of giant aviator shades pulled over his face and his hood drawn up, like a celebrity going to the landromat. I saw him glance over at the side-view mirror now and again, testing the waters of his own reflection, then snap back to attention. After removing the hood, his hair started whipping about everywhere. I told him he would probably find an elastic in Lauren's purse, and that it would be a good tip to learn how to do a basic bun. He pointed out that there were going to be a lot of things he'd have to learn.
Lauren Sherman is a pretty girl, but definitely a girl rather than a woman, with a youthful face, bright blue eyes and round cheeks, with a tiny upturn nose and little chin. Little elfin ears are hidden under her long, straight brown hair. But there are hints of reaching beyond her age, with perfectly sculpted eyebrows, a consciously bronzed (ie with tanning bed) skintone and a very full makeup kid amongst her belongings. Tyler, for his part, wears her face interestingly: understandably, I haven't seen him smile since, but he has this "thinking" face that is very... expressive. He slouches more than Lauren probably would, sat low in the car with his legs crooked out like a man would. It's interesting to see such a petite, feminine figure carrying itself like a man would, without the learned traits of femininity. Tyler's probably not going to be really dainty. I applaud that, but I wouldn't shame him if he finds it just easier to pick up where the girl left off, if for nothing more than camouflage.
I can tell it is bothering him from the way he squirms in his seat, the way he puts off going to the bathroom until the very last moment - he didn't mention we actually had to stop several times besides lunch in Jersey. And that: well, I could see him virtually shaking with rage on my behalf. I'd be flattered if I weren't annoyed at his overreaction.
So yeah, anytime I told him it was okay to yell, scream, complain or cry, he brushed me off. This isn't something either of us chose, we got a raw deal, we have a right to be upset. He doesn't even have to complain about being a girl, per se: he had a life of his own that is now taken away from him. Feel free to show some resentment. I told him I didn't buy that he has that little attachment in life that he doesn't mind being dragged away from it. He said he never said he wasn't upset, this is just not something he wants to "cry over." Sure, but some guy hitting on me in a diner, that's worth a possible assault charge.
In spite of that, I consider Tyler a friend and I hated to leave him at the Lauren's house alone like that, especially knowing what I was going home to. Lauren and Tasha are step-sisters: Tasha's father married Lauren's mother something like a decade ago. They didn't grow up close, per se - Tasha lived with her mother, but I guess the familial bond was still forged. Lauren's only 17, Tasha is 22, meaning that while Tyler has reverted over a decade, I haven't even backtracked two years. In theory.
In reality, Natasha Blanchard and I are very different women. I don't want to make like I'm so much better than her, but I lived my life a certain way, going through school, working towards my Masters in History, enjoyed travelling to Europe and Asia. Tasha doesn't appear to have much going on: she was/is a waitress, went to community college, and lives with her boyfriend of 2 years, Wade. I'm not that "into" propping her relationship up for her, but we'll see how it goes I guess.
I went to Tasha's apartment, fumbling with her keys until I found the right one, and found it empty. I breathed a sigh of relief as I headed to the bedroom to start unpacking Tash's things. She and I have different taste in clothes, but then again she has a very different body from mine, and clearly a different attitude about it. I've never been one to show off "the goods," but compared to Tasha, my goods weren't that worth noting. Some would consider it a boon, but I never asked for it.
Being able to stand or walk for long periods unassisted, I don't hate.
The apartment itself was filthy. I decided to turn that negative into a positive, using the cleaning to learn the lay of the land, what items were in regular use, where the dishes go. I've lived with guys before: there's something in their genes, I think, that tolerates filth much more than most women. That's just a theory, of course, but it's borne out pretty well, to my frustration. I know men can be trained to clean, but most of them just don't have that instinct. I could sense this was going to be a source of frustration.
After all that, I sprawled out on the couch to channel surf, looking for anything familiar. I fell asleep quickly, and was awoken around one by the sound of the door open, and a man's heavy footsteps.
"Hey babe, when'd you get back?"
"Around ten I guess," I muttered, rolling over onto my stomach and - much like I'm sure Ty already had - feeling oppressed by my newly oversized boobs.
"Have a good trip?"
I rolled over and sat up. My heart raced. Of course he would be that forward, they've been together two years. That's, I guess, where they are.
I stammered out a queasy "No, I'm... too tired."
"Yeah, okay," he said, with a note of bitterness - I guess he hasn't seen his girlfriend in a month, so he probably has the itch, but he was going to have to wait at least a while longer. I'm not sure what Tash's feeling is on me bedding her boyfriend - whether I have a choice or not - but I definitely wasn't looking to hop into the sack with him on the first night.
This shouldn't matter, but he's pretty attractive, I guess, with an oddly clean-cut look, short dirty-blond hair, offset by tattoos up and down his arms and a few days' growth of facial hair. He may not be the kind of guy I would go for, but... oh, I don't know.
I slept on the couch, tossing and turning. This is it. This is my life now.