So after reading a lot of posts here I'm not quite sure what Inn etiquette is on money. Whose are you allowed to use, your own or do you have to use the bank accounts that come with the body? I decided last week to use my own, since I had it, Karina didn't, and I needed it because I needed to buy a plane ticked from Maine to Michigan on less than one week's notice and my credit card worked online for that purpose. On the second day I also had the bright idea of taking out the maximum daily allowance from my ATM card so I would have cash for the trip and emergencies. So despite the unease of being a tiny little Latina woman with a large sum of cash, I've got a little over 1000 dollars to get settled in in this new life.
I made mention of that fact when I wrote my note before leaving (Because I'm a courteous person who wouldn't leave a stranger hanging in such a scary position). I don't like to brag about money but lets just say I was in a financial position where a couple thousand dollars isn't going to hurt anyone who gets my new life. It was Sunday morning when I dropped my key off and bid goodbye to Old Orchard Beach to live the life of this strange woman who I knew almost nothing about.
The TSA is annoying when you're in your own body and downright frightening when you're in another person's. It didn't help that the airport was my first real time out in public surrounded by a lot of people in this body, trying to pretend to be her. As I went through the search line all I could think was "They'll know. They'll have to know." Clearly they didn't know and I didn't even get screened for additional searches, although the agents did check me out as I passed through the bodyscanner and it made me really uncomfortable.
One benefit of my new body is that being smaller means planes are more comfortable. My real body is fairly tall with long legs that get smashed by the seat in front of me but being Karina meant having room to spare on the brief two hour plane ride to Detroit.
Once I landed I grabbed my seemingly heavy bag and found the first real curveball of my trip: Where's my car? The purse had a key with the Toyota logo on it, but there wasn't any description of the model, color, license plate, or anything that might let me know which of the dozens of cars in the long term parking would be mine. After about half an hour of walking through the lot pushing the "panic" button on the keychain in hopes of setting off the alarm but to no avail, I gave up and called in an Uber. It was an expensive ride from Detroit to Trenton but apparently taxis in Detroit are some of the worst in the country.
After being dropped off and tipping well, I was standing in the parking lot of an apartment building (with a used Corolla that responded to the keychain nearby) in a neighborhood that wasn't awful. It wasn't pleasant exactly but it wasn't really scary. As I made my way through the halls I got a few nods of familiarity from the neighbors but none of them seemed too interested in talking to Karina. Finally after lugging my suitcase to the correct apartment number I opened the door and found the second real curveball of my trip. Sitting on the couch, glued to her phone, was a teenage girl.
I had to think quickly on how to approach. She was about 16 so she clearly wasn't the roommate and she did look very similarly to what I looked like now so she was probably a relative. Maybe a sister. But with no note I had no idea how to address her or interact with her so I just said "I'm home".
"Finally" She said rather annoyed without looking up from her phone "The cable got cut off and you need to pay the bill"
So clearly not the breadwinner of the house. I found myself having to do something that I do a lot since being in this body: Get clever. While my new housemate turned her attention back to the phone, strangely unconcerned that I had been gone for almost 4 weeks, I started snooping. On the table in the small kitchen was a pile of mail, including the aforementioned cable bill and most of it addressed to either Karina or Kari Cruz. But there was ONE letter from Trenton High School addressed to "The Parent(s) of Ashley Cruz. Some snooping in a very messy master bedroom found a birth certificate and several medical records confirming that I was now the proud mother of Ashely, and judging by the lack of wedding ring and male clothes/accoutrement around the house I was a single parent.
So this changes things drastically. Now instead of trying to survive for the year hoping not to get myself fired, killed, or in jail I have to spend my time making sure Ashely's life doesn't get too messed up because her mom has no idea what to do raising her all of a sudden. She's 16, but I'm not sure if that makes things easier or harder.
So Karina, if you're reading this, I could REALLY use some help and direction here, especially since I don't even know how you make money to put food on the table or buy her clothes or all of the other expensive things that kids require.
P.S. In regards to the post title, yes I did notice that there were stretch marks on my abdomen and yes I did notice them while I was naked and yes I have seen my body new naked because I shower daily. It was uncomfortable enough to experience at first and its still pretty uncomfortable to put it in words. Luckily there are dozens of other writers on this blog who have done the same for you.