The last you heard from me, things were not great with Boy-X. The relationship, compared to the passion I have felt in the past, felt like a flatline. It was nice to have someone to think of, to look forward to seeing, and to be intimate with, but I didn't feel special about him. I took a stand, let him know I wasn't feeling it, and walked away. He was hurt, he tried everything to convince me to stay, but I was back to the single life. I felt both strong for sticking up for what I wanted, and guilty for hurting him.
Then I spent the holidays single, decided I didn't want to be alone, and texted him, got back to square one, and had to break up with him all over again.
It was a pretty rough couple of months and I probably wasn't in any place to be attempting to force a relationship. Let me tell you about it.
It was Thanksgiving, and Mae was back from college. She brought her new boyfriend, who is a clean-cut little darling. I say new, only in that I haven't seen them together much, but they've been together a while and are living together. (Perhaps jealousy of my little sister is a factor.) Also present were my older brother Ken, his darling wife, and their two (yes now two!) kids. Suddenly I'm feeling like the screwup in the middle, made worse by the fact that I happen to be, in terms of real life experience, older than either of them.
But okay. That's fleeting. No big deal. I'm a pretty-together chick, I've got a fulfilling job and some friends, I still felt relatively stable in my identity despite being surrounded by happy couples.
Then there was this moment that gutted me. And I'm gonna try to explain it as best I can, because I've been spinning it over in my head since it happened.
While Mae was over, we went through some of her old stuff, looking for boxes and knickknacks she wanted to bring to her new home. We started making piles of keeps and donates. Pretty much all the clothes wound up in the donate pile, because she was chubby in high school and has lost a good amount of weight while away from home (she did get the Freshman 15, but worked hard to lose it, plus an extra 20 or 30. Now she's fricking gorgeous.) She marveled at how much had changed in a few years as she tossed aside gifts I had given her back when I worked in intimate apparels and I looked sadly at it as a physical manifestation of the passage of time.
She examined this worn out pair of jeans, calling them "fat pants." I assured her she wasn't "fat" then and she said that standing next to me she felt like a cow, and how I never used to let her forget that I was the hot one.
She started referring to it as my "old personality." My "old self."
I asked if the change was that noticeable. She said yeah, we used to fight a lot, but around the time she turned 17 I started to respect her more and that let her mature too. I said I was glad to have a positive impact on her, and she said "Yeah, you did, eventually."
Then she said "I just wish I knew why that happened."
I looked at her for what must have seemed like an hour, but probably was just a minute, trying to formulate an answer. I knew the truth of course, but I was trying to come up with a response that would make sense to her.
"I just saw what a good person you were becoming and decided to grow up a bit myself," I said.
She gave my this narrow-eyed stare. "It's like you don't even remember how things were. How bad you and I didn't get along when I was 12, 13, 14. Things you did to me, things you said."
"I remember," I said, which was a lie since I only remembered the side Tori shared with her diary, which I hadn't read in years. (Obviously it was skewed towards her but you could tell it was a lot of petty sisterly sniping.) "I feel too guilty to talk about it. I'm embarrassed. I like to pretend I was never like that."
"Sure, yeah," she sighed. "I guess I don't like that you act like it never happened, like we've always been bff's."
"I know we haven't," I said, feeling like I was on slippery ground myself. "There's no reason why it changed, people just do that sometimes. They get over themselves."
I couldn't let go, though, so I had to ask: "Why do you think something happened?"
"It's stupid," she laughed at herself a bit, "I don't even know if you'd remember this, but one time you took this trip up to New England, with some older guy you were seeing, and when you came back, you were... I dunno, in a daze or something. I didn't notice at the time, but years later, when I tried to think of when and why we became close, it came back to around that time, and how you started changing things about your life after that. I always wondered what happened up there? You never saw that guy again and never talked about it. And if it's nothing, or if you really don't want to talk about it, it's fine, I just thought I'd let you know that I saw something in you there that seems... odd. I guess, now that I look back. I don't know, forget I brought it up."
I felt like I had been hit in the face. All these years later, Mae had put the evidence together and drawn the conclusion that Rob Garcia had done something to me - done something to her sister - and while I don't know much about the real Rob Garcia, I know that wasn't the case. I felt like I had to correct her, but...
Well, when this first happened to me, I was told that I couldn't tell anybody, that they wouldn't believe me. I never tested it, because I had nothing to gain. If they didn't believe me, I'd seem crazy. If they did, I'd feel guilty for stealing Tori's old life, for giving up my male one when I did eventually have the chance to get it back, for lying to everyone every day. The idea that I couldn't tell anyone the truth was a comfortable excuse, but now... with Mae starting to put it together, and reaching this troubling conclusion, I felt like not only I could tell her, I had to. I remember reading about that Jessica person, and how eventually she managed to convince her mom, and for a long time I have both feared and hoped I would reach that point. I wondered what I would do if the truth did come out.
It's something I've thought about a lot since that whole business with Alex.
"It wasn't like that," I started to say. "It was just a confusing time in my life, and I'm glad it's over."
She smiled at me and said that whatever happened, she was glad. Tori/Karen, in the off chance you're reading this, I hope you don't take that the wrong way. I like to think you and Mae would have come to terms eventually.
I told her I was glad too, and that felt like the first honest statement I had made all night. If nothing else, I really love and value the sisterly relationship I have forged with her.
Anyway, that scene kind of rolled around in my head all through December... it's been forever since I felt guilty about not being the original Tori, but with Mae apparently eking closer to the truth, suddenly I feel like a thief again. I could hardly look her in the eye around Christmas, and by New Years, I did something drastic with Boy-X. That was a mistake, it didn't work out, it's over now.
So over that I've gotten into something new.
Guys, I got into a bit of a situation. I'm not comfortable explaining it right now, but it's something I feel very strange and guilty about, in a way I haven't since the first times I ever dated men. With Valentine's Day coming up, I may feel the need to spill.
If I can get back to blogging regularly, I will get around to sharing the details, because as private and personal as it is I know you are always there for me. Mwah.