Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tyler/Lauren: Last Leg

I'm on the home stretch. It's literally just weeks before Meg and I go back to Maine. All of our ducks are in a row, except that one. You know, the one where I get my old body back. Meg doesn't believe me when I say I'm fine with it. Maybe I don't prefer things this way, but there's no use fighting or crying. What's done is done and I can live with it, because I have to.

Meg was right about something. She told me I should write more on the blog. I was never in the mood, and for a lot of the winter, my laptop was busted so my computer usage was homework-only, but it's not like I couldn't have done it at school in the resource room on lunchbreak, or crept down to the family PC after Paul and Sue were in bed. I just didn't want to. I didn't want to talk about what was happening with me - happening to me, happening around me - because it was embarrassing and I didn't want to admit it mattered.

Anyway, what it comes down to is I want to tell a story about me, but since I wasn't blogging much in January and February (and March and...) I need to fill you in on some details.

It starts with Mark. I met him back in the fall when I worked on the school's production of Oklahoma. He liked my carpentry skills, maturity and sense of humor. I liked that he wasn't a totally obvious jerk about wanting my attention. I could've pushed him away better, for his own good, and if he knew the truth about me he'd probably run screaming. I didn't feel anything that I would identify as attraction toward him... appreciation for his awkward charm, maybe, but it's not like he overwhelmed my now-girly hormones to the point where I couldn't keep my drawers on. Besides, I was, and am, in love with someone else, on a level I could never feel for Mark. It was that person I was thinking about as I laid in bed at night unable to sleep, that person I imagined myself holding and being held by.

"It's just a crush," I said, "He'll get over it." The problem was, I wasn't helping, more like I was encouraging him. I'm a pretty solitary person, but life can be lonely when you don't look like yourself and are stuck in the world of teens. Dana, Karlee and Ginnifer weren't enough, because as nice as they were, they were not my people. Compared with Mark, I couldn't be myself. I couldn't talk movies, music or politics with them. If I let my goofy side out, they'd look at me like I'd gone insane. Meg is "my people," but I had limited access to her, and she has expressed disapproval whenever I get flirty around here. Then in the middle of this crisis of mine, she went through a crisis of her own.

We fought a bit about that. I didn't like her behavior, I didn't think she was capable of something like that. It shocked me and bothered me and I wasn't mature about it, but neither was she.

All through January, before the line was crossed, when she was musing idly about "I'm thinking about Mykal again, I can tell he likes me, what should I do?" I was already getting fed up. I wanted to tell her how wrong it would be for her to lead Mykal on in any way, but I held her in too much esteem to get real with her and use tough language - instead of "That would be idiotic and selfish" I simply said "That sounds like a bad idea." She didn't listen. And me, I was too busy pursuing bad ideas of my own.

Mark became my shoulder to cry on, all winter. Anytime I needed to get out of the house, I would invite myself over to his. Anytime Meg was annoying me I would vent to him. Then he would wrap his arms around me, pretend he had any idea what I was babbling about, and tell me I was right even when I wasn't.

He knew not to try to kiss me.

He was just... really good. For a while.

But you can only really drag someone along like that for a short time before they start to ask questions. Like "Why aren't we dating?" "Why are you so comfortable pouring your heart out to me but you won't let me kiss you?" "How long do you expect me to put up with this?" "What do you want from me?"

By February, he would take longer to answer my texts and I would get irritated. "Come on, man, don't leave me hanging" I would nudge him to answer.

"I don't owe you my attention" he answered back.

"We're friends," I said back, matter-of-factly.

"Yeah. Just friends."

Fine, be that way.

Around this time, I had this revealing conversation with Phil about how boys and girls can't just be friends. You'd think "Oh, Tyler, you have a man's brain, you don't need insights from a kid who's lived a decade less than you." But sometimes you need guidance from outside your own situation. I don't remember ever being "just friends" with a girl by choice at that age. I'm sure it's not impossible, but if I liked the girl I wouldn't settle for it.

Mark was my shield. When I was with him, boys didn't target me, Meg's shit didn't bug me. The girls teased me a bit, but all in all I felt better. I wanted to keep that going, but I couldn't make the concessions Mark wanted. I couldn't let him touch me because that would start something I couldn't and wouldn't be able to see through. It wasn't fair, even if he didn't understand why.

So we stopped being friends.

Then I went on Spring Break and found out I was not getting my body back. And when I came back I felt like I had nobody to talk to - I didn't want to open up to Meg, I didn't have Mark, nobody could understand. I wanted to forget, I wanted to take my anxiety out on somebody.

And there was Phil. Living in my freaking basement.

I was having a bad day. Nothing but bad days at that point. He came home to find me loading up a gym bag - I needed to go punch something. "How are you getting there?" I say I'm taking the bus. He notes that I'm a small girl with a rather heavy bag on my shoulder and he has a car. Okay, fine, let's go. He grabs his bag too.

We hit the heavy bags. He commends me on my stance - "You sure don't throw a punch like a girl." I point out that Ronda Rousey exists.

I don't know how we got from there to his bed. It was like a Jedi mind game (yes, I know the term is "trick" but this was worse.) I was so hopped up on adrenaline I just felt like if it was ever going to happen, it would be then. He was kissing me and feeling me all over, I was kissing him back slightly, the voice in the back of my head saying it was wrong starting very quiet, drowned out by the impulse to let it play out... until the voices switched. I just barely had time to come to my senses before I got all the way naked. "No, no, no. Stop. Stop now. I don't want this."

"What do you mean? At the gym you were practically begging for it."

"This is the problem!" I cried out, "Every time I get within hollering distance of a man, he thinks I want his body. I don't. no offence, Phil, you're... cool and all, but this is not what I'm interested in."

"You're a fucking tease," he sneered. "Every day you leer at me, I can tell you're thirsty for it."

I don't remember ever leering. That's all in his head.

I screeched, "I can't have one off day without some dude begging me for sex, then acting like I'm the one with the problem because I don't want it! Get over it, Phil! Go find someone else to fuck!"

He called me a bitch, we didn't talk much after that, and I was alone again.

I broke down and mended fences with Meg and told her all about the new Tyler. I told her this changed nothing - I wasn't going to be Lauren Sherman one second longer than I have to, and I hoped things could go back to being okay between us. She assured me they could... and went on at length about how bad she felt for what she had done to Wade, and to me.

I told her she didn't have to be so hard on herself. People make mistakes. She's only human. It's not like I was never tempted.

"I wouldn't have blamed you," she said. "I know you think you have to resist because you're a man, but I wouldn't think any less of you if dated a boy."

"It's not that," I said. "Boy or girl, there's only one person I want to be with."

She hates it when I say stuff like that. She always tells me we'll have that conversation later. Later will have to be soon.

Things started to get better, and that brings us to my more recent posts. After clearing the air with Meg, and straightening up at school, I reached out to Mark. It started when I went to see the school production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Meg came too, explaining some of the Oscar Wilde background for me, how it was a satire of the London social scene or whatever. It didn't totally land with me, but I guess I kinda related to it, with the putting on false identities and all.

Afterwards, I said hi to some of the friends I had left over from my drama club days, working my way over to Mark, who was helping strike the set.

We struck up a conversation, I kind of apologized for not helping out with the play this semester. He caught me up on stuff with him, and before I knew it it was like the drama between us never happened. He seemed too embarrassed to even mention his behavior.

He asked me about my plans for Prom, and I said that I had a limo booked with the girls and their boyfriends. He said he wasn't sure what he was doing.

"You know..." I said sheepishly, "Plenty of room in the limo... for friends."

He smiled. "I'd like that."

When you're a man it's easy to get bitter about chicks who won't date you. I think Mark and I both kinda absorbed this same lesson about how if you can't be with someone, sometimes it's better to swallow it and keep them as a friend rather than cutting them out. If they mean that much to you.

Life gets lonely as hell sometimes.

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