So you guys haven't heard from me in a while. It was back in March during my Spring Break excursion to the south that I last checked in, and things were all hunky dory then. Then some stuff went down and it made me not want to post so much anymore.
I didn't think it was affecting my mood all that much, but Meghan noticed. She said she'd always given me the right to feel bad about my situation, and she respected me no matter what, especially since I rarely seemed to let it get to me, but all through March and April, something was clearly nagging at me.
At first I was dismissive, just saying "Oh, it's nearly the end, I'm just getting antsy." But she saw through me. So I finally relented and told her.
When I did, she admitted it was heavy stuff, and she gave me the whole "I'm there for you" stuff. Then she said I ought to talk about it on the blog. I said no way, it's too embarrassing, too personal, too upsetting. She said, maybe, but it'll be therapeutic. And you never know, there might be people out there reading this who care what happens to me. I doubted it, but I've come around on that.
So here's the story.
I'm not gonna be Tyler Blake ever again.
I'm not crying, I'm not whining, it's just a fact and I'm taking it seriously. In fact, I knew from the first that this was possible. I ain't stupid. I know the whole "getting your body back" plan hinged on a lot of variables. And one of those variables is the other person's willingness to co-operate.
From the start, I had a hard time bringing this guy to the table. "Why worry about it now," he said, "We'll talk later." Months would pass and I didn't hear from him and I tried not to let my concern show. "It's November, we can't even make a reservation until January." Uh huh, he kept putting me off. Meanwhile, I was stewing up here, grinding away keeping Lauren's grades up and trying to keep her family happy with her, never getting a moment to myself, while fending off the boys at school and the college kid downstairs.
So back in March, I figure, screw it. I had gone ahead and rented the extra stay at the Inn at my on expense. I had to track this guy down and convince him to give me my body back. After leaving Houston early, I went to Alabama.
And then things went sideways.
I found out where he was working - a restaurant I vaguely knew - and surprised him. It looked so alien, seeing someone milling about in my skin. I never felt my height when I had it, but now I was looking up at myself. I felt as weak and as frail as I ever have.
"You know who I am?" I asked. He looked me up and down. I saw his tongue fleck over his lips like I was a dessert plate - I felt more disgusted in that moment than I ever have in my life - and said "Yeah, I was wondering when I'd finally get to see you."
I tried to play it cool. "Fun is fun, but being me isn't all it's cracked up to be. We can put things right."
He smirked. "Look friend, I know where you're coming from, but here's where I'm at." He had a really bad, probably affected southern accent that sounded nothing like the me I recognized. "I was 68 years old, with angina and a prostate the size of a softball. Why should I just hand this body back to you?"
I'm guessing he didn't want to hear Because it's the right thing to do.
"What do you want?" I asked, not that I had much to give.
He snorted a dismissive chuckle. "I got a buyer."
"$15,000, cash on the barrel, if I go to the Inn when they say, not when you say."
"No..." I said, whispererd in shock.
"Yeah," he flashed a toothy grin. I wanted to reach up and punch him in my old face.
"Don't do this."
"It's done, kid."
"It's not a choice, are you shittin' me? If I play ball, who knows how far I could ride this pony. I might live forever!" He just laughed the more I pled. I felt pathetic. Helpless. Then he turned to me and said "I mean... I guess, if I get a better offer... I'd consider it."
I fumed. "You want me to get you $15,000 in three months?"
"No," he snorted again, "I want you to get me $30,000 in three months. How much is your life worth to you?"
I didn't answer. I stormed out and went straight home.
I wanted to yell and scream, but I kept my reaction subdued. "You know what, fine, whatever," I huffed to myself, "I'll go to that Inn every year of my miserable life if I have to. Nobody's shaking me down."
When I got off the plane in PA, I got my phone out. I scrolled past a few texts wishing me a safe flight from Lauren's family members, down past exchanges with schoolmates, to the last conversation "Tyler" and I had had.
I texted him, "Big mistake." I doubt he believed me. There never was any response.
I didn't cry until later.