Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tyler: Lauren no more.

I could sort of feel it in the air last night, but I was worried it was just my imagination. The preliminary... whatever it is. It was like a small skin irritation that spread slowly from the middle of my body outward. I could actually feel it starting around 2 AM, but I was so exhausted I fell back asleep for a few hours while it, I guess, happened.

I woke up around 4:10 AM, woozy, but seriously alert once I realized it was probably already over with. I was sleeping naked on top of the covers, but it was dark in the room. I sat up and got lightheaded, because suddenly "up" was a lot further of a journey than it used to be. But I also didn't feel the familiar counterweight of my breasts pulled down toward the floor as I did so. My one arm went to confirm, it was a flat, lightly-haired chest, and the other rushed to my crotch to feel the new equipment there.

And I have to say I maybe was a bit too enthusiastic there, because I didn't know the exact dimensions of it, and... well, there's no easy way to put this. Within a minute of realizing I was a man again, I had punched myself almost full-force in the testes. Agh. Sort of a bittersweet homecoming.

I hobbled over to the bathroom mirror to find that the transformation was... mostly complete. There were still some vestiges of Lauren. My chest was flat, but the breast tissue was still converting into muscle, I suppose, because they were still very tender. And then there was my face... a really warped version of Lauren's, with a man's jaw and hairline. I had to look away... it was like being warped in a funhouse mirror, except for real. I actually had to look away, I found it a little disturbing.

I cleared my throat and said the first thing that came to mind, "Testing, testing. My name is Lauren. No, it isn't." Sufficiently deep, I supposed.

I checked my reflection again fifteen minutes later. I no longer looked like Lauren in any sense. In her place was this very tall, very skinny man with a wide, toothy mouth and short, curly, sandy blond hair. A chill went up my spine. I was almost overwhelmed.

There were two sets of luggage in the closet of my room: one man and one woman. The man was Alan Schmidt, 24, of Milwaukee, WI. The woman was Greta Johansen, 23, whose ID indicated she was from Minnesota. The ID also indicated she was 5'11, so I figured she would stand out.

I dumped out Alan's luggage and found something I could throw on - a pair of gym shorts and a tank top. I was about to head to Meg's room when I heard two knocks on my door.

I opened it and looked down - way down, at a face I had not seen in over a year, cheeks streaked with tears, I assume of joy. She looked slightly different, but it was her. She craned her neck up at me and gasped, "Holy..." then collected herself, and ask-stated "Ty?"

I grinned as widely as my new mouth could (which apparently is a lot.) "Yeah. Yeah! It's me!"

She fell into my long arms and I wrapped them around her. We laughed so hard in relief we couldn't breathe. "I was so worried! I was so worried." she just kept repeating. "I know, I know," I said back. My heart was beating faster and faster. I couldn't believe our luck. We had to get all this joy out of our system, though, because as far as we knew we had 11 newly-transformed people to explain things to. We kept saying back and forth "I can't believe it, I can't believe it..."

We didn't hear any signs of panic, yet, so we took a moment to read over Alan's "letter." It was actually just a brief paragraph summarizing Alan's understanding of the curse, followed by a series of bullet points:

  • Name, home address, e-mail address
  • Works as a driver for Thrio, an Uber-like service
  • Has lived with girlfriend Greta for the past year of their four-year relationship
  • Current whereabouts (To be discussed at a later date)
  • Parents Jack and Mary, 2 sisters Helen (27, married, 1 son) and Doreen (22, single) and a younger brother Jack Jr., (19, with a special note: "Jack is gay and you had better be nice to him. Mom and dad don't know yet." No problem.)
  • Allergic to strawberries, lactose intolerant (gee, must have sucked growing up in Wisconsin then.)
When you put it all out on paper like that, it seems like there's not that much to taking over someone's life. And in truth, that's just it... you're given their face and the strange trust of everyone around you that you are who you say you are, and that's half the work right there. The other half is simply not screwing up what's been given to you. There's this old saying I heard, "Leave the fridge fuller when you leave" that seems to have guided me during my year as Lauren.

I did laugh about being assigned a job as a professional driver... I don't mind driving, but I haven't done much of it this past year. Could be bad.

Once we felt settled with what had happened to ourselves, we decided it was time to start gathering people and explaining what we knew. We had made a few friends (and some not-very-friendly acquaintances)  in our short time in Maine, so we felt it behooved us to help them handle this any way we could. At the very least, one of them would be in the body of Alan's girlfriend, with her appropriate clothes and "welcome" letter in my room. I brought it along with Greta's ID.

We figured "Greta" must be in one of the adjacent rooms. In the room to my left was Erin and Rosie. Since we were closest with them, I knocked on their door first. I was about to speak, but Meg went first, saying that if they heard a man's voice they might feel threatened.

"Rosie? Erin? Are you in there?" We heard the sound of some bodies moving around. "Listen, it's... Tasha... and Lauren... if something happened to you, it's okay, it happened to us too."

I stood behind Meg in a non-threatening position. The door opened a crack. A man's eyeball was visible. He looked us over, and gasped "Oh my God." He opened the door wide enough for us to come in.

He was white and about six inches shorter than me. Probably 150 pounds soaking wet, with short dark hair and a tan complexion, with a towel wrapped around his waist. Sitting on the bed was a tall African-American guy with his head in his hands and a blanket covering his lap.

We looked back and forth between the two: "So, who..."

"Erin," said the white guy, meekly holding his hand up. He pointed across the room, "Rosie." Rosie gave a slight embarrassed wave.

"I know the feeling," I said bashfully, "You might remember me as Lauren."

"I can't believe this," Erin gasped. "What happened? What is... did it happen to all of us?"

"Yeah," I said, "Sit down, we need to talk."

We gave them the short version, about how we had been at the Inn a year ago and it turned us into Lauren and Tasha, and how we came back to get our bodies back, emphasizing that it was possible - not a guarantee, but emphasizing that this definitely wasn't permanent.

We searched the room and found that the original owners of those bodies had left their luggage under the bed rather than in the closet. They were Brooklyn natives: Erin was now Chris DeVito, and Rosie was Ahmir Johnson.

The four of us then proceeded to the room to the other side of mine, but it had emptied.  We kept knocking on doors and doing our best to reach out. It didn't appear that anyone besides Meg and myself were second-timers.

We found some young girls, ten-year-old twins. They identified themselves as Trevor's parents. I asked where Trevor was, and they brought me to him. In his room were a man and a woman - apparently the parents of the two girls. The man - probably about 36 or so, paunchy with a shaved head and a beard - stood and identified himself as Trevor. 

I guess he didn't turn out too bad, considering the possibilities, and what happened to his parents. But aging close to twenty years overnight is not a perfect situation either.

We discerned they were the Jenkinses, from upstate New York, also parents to a 13-year-old boy who had not yet appeared. The Jenkins wife/mother was sitting cross-legged on the bed, weeping. I asked who Trevor that was, and he explained that he had met a girl at the club the night we went out, and had snuck her into his room a few nights since. That made me make an involuntary groan of exasperation.

I felt bad that he had brought someone else into this, but it was more or less the same thing that happened to me and Meg, so I was hardly in a place to judge. I paid her a little extra sympathy - not that everyone else didn't deserve some, but she wasn't even supposed to be at the Inn, and now she dragged into it. Her parents will think she went missing, and she has little choice but to go off with strangers and pretend to be wife to Trevor of all people.

I was starting to get stressed, taking stock of who was ending up where and making sure everyone was OK, when I spotted her, this tall, willowy girl with dark hair down her back. Greta. She was dressed in clothes that didn't really fit her long body.

"Hey!" I called out, probably too aggressively, "Hey, excuse me!"

She glanced at me and then went for the door.

I dashed after her, almost tripping over my long legs, "Hey! Sorry! I didn't mean to scare you! I just... you're... sorry, I mean, who are you? Do you know what's happening?"

"We're leaving," she said sharply, "That's what's happening. I don't know who you people are or what you think you're doing here..."

"We changed. And you did too," I said simply, "We... we can explain. I can help. My name is Tyler, but when I came here my name was Lauren Sherman, you might have seen me around, an 18-year-old girl..."

Her eyes bugged out, "Lauren? You're that... you were... you have something to do with this?"

"I didn't... not exactly, but I know something about it. Sorry, who are you?"

Her demeanor relaxed and she held her arms out for a hug. "It's Kitty, darling!"

Oh, great.

I reluctantly let her hug me - we were practically eye-to-eye. I went on, "Yeah, it got all of us who were staying at the Inn... um, I don't mean to be rude, but what happened to your husband?"

"He's in the car," she sighed. "We were just going to go home, all this spooky stuff really freaked us out. My heart is still racing!"

She took me over to where a 13-year-old boy was sitting in the passenger's seat of her Lexus SUV, sulking. We had found the missing Jenkins kid.

I told them not to go just yet, we had a lot of stuff to sort out.

Sorry, this has taken a long time out of my day to write and I need to address some things. Will be back later. I can't wait until I have a minute to feel, somewhat shamefully, good about what's happened to me.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Erin: Is this thing on?

I'm getting a weird vibe from this place. Those girls, Lauren and Tasha, keep exchanging weird looks and whispering something to each other but I can't figure out what they're going on about. They're nice, but also oddly guarded about what brought them to Maine, besides "Vacation."

They told me about this blog where people who stay at the Trading Post can share their experiences, but so far there haven't been many experiences worth sharing.

Of course, the blog itself is blocked from the Coffee Shop wifi I'm currently stealing for "pornography" so somebody must be having a good time here.

I'll start by telling my story: the short version. My name is Erin Henley. I'm 28, from deep in the heart of Indiana: a town so small it's hardly on the map. It's sort of a real-life Pawnee, for fans of Parks & Rec, except nobody as interesting as Leslie Knope lives there (I've met a few Ron Swansons over the years though.)

I swear I used to have ambitions to get out and be someone. (Or just be myself, somewhere other than Indiana.) Instead I ended up working for a food supply company in my hometown, in supply chain management, until recently, when my position was eliminated. I came out east to visit Rosie, my best friend since childhood, who has been going through some rough times lately. She has lived on the east coast for years, settling here after school, but she's always bounded around from job to job without really following her ambitions either, and neither of us are exactly winning in the romance department.

When she came to greet me in Portland, I hardly recognized her. She has put on, shall we say, a bit of weight since I last saw her five years ago (not that Facebook hadn't prepared me for this) and I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but I suspect it's tied to some depression issues she hasn't told me about. I don't want to be too much of a Pollyanna about it, but I hope this vacation will cheer her up. She knows I'm here for her.

It's been fairly relaxing. Not too exciting, but the weather has been good and we've met some good (if odd) people. Still waiting on the potential for that romance thing, but I guess eligible bachelors don't really come to dainty B&B's in Maine. Not to meet women anyway...

Hopefully tonight she'll finally be up for that bar crawl I've been begging her to come on since we first talked about this trip. Then maybe she'll spill about what's been bugging her lately.


Tyler/Lauren: Cinderella

Yeah, still Lauren.

With any luck the changeover will be tonight. I'm sick of sleepless nights, waiting to find out what's going to happen. I want my new life to begin already, whatever it is.

A few more people arrived at the Inn in time for the weekend, but curiously not enough to set off the magic mojo that we're here for. I'm trying not to let it get to me. It's going to happen... I still don't think Meg is right to get freaked. Sure, we don't really understand anything about it... but we've got all these patterns worked out, I feel like we can make assumptions.

All this to say I'm itching to get a new change of clothes.

One of the groups that arrived after us (bringing the total to 10 or 11 for the weekend) had something I really dreaded... a teenage son, Trevor. He's taller than me, but pretty average-looking, with shaggy black hair and the rank odor of an average teenage boy. He caught up to me in the hall on Saturday and told me there was an all-ages party in town that night. Okay, cabin fever is really starting to get to me, so despite this obvious attempt to put the moves on me, I agreed to go along.

Meg disapproved, but I told her we could fight about it later.

It was okay. We arrived at 9. There was a band playing a few songs I recognized, stuff like "Bittersweet Symphony" and "When I Come Around." I mostly sat around the patio making chit chat, gravitating toward the girls until the got picked up one by one by the guys.

By 11, I was feeling pretty antsy. Some of what Meg was saying was getting to me, about needing to stay around the Inn, how it was unpredictable and how me not being there could really mess things up.  I started to feel a bit self conscious... I may not be getting my body back like Meg, but I still plan to give Lauren hers. I thought about how Meg didn't even stay the night when she changed into Tasha... I wonder if I could have the opposite problem.

So around then, I went and found Trevor (who had made a few early, lame attempts to hit on me and then gave up) and told him I needed to go back to the Inn. He told me to chill, the night was just getting started, I was a big girl and my "sister" shouldn't worry about me. I told him I just wasn't feeling it anymore.

He told me to have a nice walk.

Ugh, okay. So in the moment I didn't really have a problem with this... it was a 40-minute walk back to the Inn, mostly in darkness, but I could stand it. But the longer I walked, the more I remembered I should probably be afraid. I have a certain amount of self-defence training, but I received it when I was bigger and could fight differently. Some basics are transferable but I guess I really wasn't thinking at first about how much of a target I could have been.

It hit me when I was about halfway home and I saw a group of guys coming the other way and I was seized with fear so strong I had to go hide in some bushes.

Now, they passed by, probably harmlessly, paid me no notice, and I felt not only the leftover panic-adrenaline, but also foolish. I wanted to sprint home, but I was in sandals.

Sometimes, being a girl doesn't agree with me.

When I got to the Inn, around quarter after midnight, Trevor's parents were playing cards. I debated telling them their son had left me to fend for myself, but instead explained that I had elected to leave on my own. I was pretty ashamed of myself, but they're going to have enough on their plate in the next few days... with any luck.

Today, Trevor feigned interest by asking if I had gotten home okay. Obviously I had. I asked him, coldly, if he had a nice time the rest of the night. He told me about this girl he was dancing with, "her tits were two-handers."

"How nice for you," I said, walking away. Meg and I had agreed to go to brunch with Rosie and Erin, and afterwards just lazed around talking about nothing in particular (which was a nice change of pace from some of the serious conversations we've been having lately.)

At one pint, Kitty came up to me and told me that I had woken her up when I came home the night before, and it was rude of me not to think of the others sharing this small space with me. I had to roll my eyes at that one. "Thanks for the input," I sighed in my most dismissive teen girl way possible, and tried to convince myself not to be glad if something really bad happens to her in the transformation.

This place is really starting to lose its appeal. The change better happen soon.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Tyler/Lauren: Filling/killing time

The temperature shot up today, to the point where sitting in the stuffy Inn was no longer appealing to Meg. She finally relented and let me take her out in the sun.

We went down by the beach. Meg wore a modest one-piece under a pair of cutoffs and a tank top. It seemed designed to keep her stuff in. I wore a blue two-piece designed to do the opposite, under a flowery light dress.

Meg has asked from time to time, how I can be comfortable dressing this way, if I'm a man inside. The truth escapes me. One day I woke up and decided I was cool with it - it's as simple as that. Some days I don't, and just opt for jeans and a sweater, but having the option, why not explore it? It'll be gone soon anyway, and it'll just be part of my past.

Alternatively, I'm a girl forever and I should just embrace it anyway. Whatever - zen.

I think it's just a product of being among teens for so long. I got sick of girls hearing "Don't wear low cut tops because it'll distract the boys" that I started wearing them out of spite. I hated being told what to be, being treated like I was at fault for other peoples' backwards attitudes, like I had no agency in my life... the frustration of a real teenage girl. Nobody takes them seriously. And sometimes, they don't deserve it - they like a lot of shallow things, they're fickle, they have ever-changing atittudes based on what's hot at the time - but they also have a lot of ideas, more awareness of the world than they get credit for. Especially the amount of time these kids spend on the internet exposing themselves to new ideas and other cultures. No wonder they want to assert their independence, and I'm right there with them, in a form fitting bikini, if I wanna be.

It's not to flirt, I can tell you that much. If people need to glance, that's their business as long as they don't breach my personal space. No boys, no girls, nobody could approach me these days without being rebuffed. I'm not interested. I hate the idea that the way I'm dressed invites people to come talk to me. Perhaps it does send that signal, but my attitude will send the opposite one. And maybe these guys will learn a lesson.

I did some frolicking in the sand and surf, but the beach was crowded. Meg mostly stayed back in the shade, reading. She said that was something that kept her sane, spending an afternoon in the empty apartment, able to forget whose life she had when she was absorbed in a book.

Back at the Inn, we caught up with those girls I noticed the other day: Erin and Rosie. They both appear to be in their late 20's. Erin is petite and bookish looking with long dark hair. Rosie is a bigger girl, and didn't say much. I think she was expecting some rude treatment from the "hot girls." I hate people laying preconceptions on me just because of how I look, but I can't really blame them. That's the culture. Women are pitted against each other.

Erin commented that she had seen me around the other day and wondered "Who I belonged to," assuming I was with the middle-aged couple who checked in earlier. I scoffed. That would be Chet and Kitty. Chet's an upper-management type and Kitty has a "real housewives" vibe about her. They introduced themselves in passing when I said "You must be the ones making all that noise last night." He sort of half-apologized and slanted the blame onto Kitty.

Meg and I had a "girl's night" with Erin and Rosie. We mentioned it was our second time at the Inn in case that meant anything, but it didn't appear to. They talked about what brought them to Maine, and we gave a version of our story.

When we got to the Inn, Meg thanked me for getting her out of her room, but said she was still gonna be careful and make it an early night, and I admitted all that fun in the sun had worn me out too. We hugged good night, and I went back to my room to write this.

I regret being so friendly with Erin and Rosie, though... now I'm a little worried what might happen to them.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Tyler/Lauren: Last days

This could be the last post written by the hands of Lauren Sherman.

It's kinda weird, looking down at these dainty little fingers and realizing they'll be different soon. Maybe they'll be rougher, manlier... fatter? Older, I hope.

I don't want to be a kid anymore. I don't want to be told what to do or when to go to bed. Lauren doesn't even have a particularly bad life, but it clashed badly with my desire to be free. I don't want to get up and go to school in the mornings, I want to work, contribute to society, find my own path. I'd prefer it to be as a male, but honestly I could deal with being a chick for another year. Maybe not one who looks like Meg as Tasha, but who knows.

And yeah, as Meg said in her post, I have a lot of hopes for what might happen if the stars line up and I get a body that works for me (and her.) I'm aware it might not work out but I don't care. There's no sense fretting it, since this whole experience has taught me how much shit in the universe is beyond our control. I don't mind floating on the breeze a while.

Meg said that I've become zen in the last few moths. Sounds cool.

She can feel free to hole herself up in her room if she wants, but as it's all the same to me, I've been wandering around the town. I've thought about trying my luck in a bar despite my ID saying 18, but the idea of going in unaccompanied looking the way I do scares me stupid, even after all this time (a weird effect of my current persona contradicting my old one: sometimes forgetting to be afraid.) We've got some beers back at the Inn, but I feel the desire to be sociable. The weather's nice enough to take a walk but, predictably for Maine, not nice enough to spend all day in a bikini. I don't mind that, but I did bring one, and some sundresses if it gets hotter.

I strolled down the boardwalk, had a coffee and did some people-watching (and using the coffee shop wifi to write this post) but there wasn't much going on. I texted Meg to say I missed her presence, and she said she'd consider coming out for a few hours... tomorrow, if we still looked this way. Ok, great.

For now, though, I'm heading back to the Inn. There were some new arrivals yesterday, some girls who are close to Meg's and my real ages that I might be able to talk to, before we all become God-knows-what. Wish I could warn them, prepare them for what's ahead, but if I want to be taken seriously I'd best not.

Still, maybe if I direct them to this blog, tell them to log in the way I did at first... maybe you'll get some more new names to memorize soon.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Meg/Tasha: Holding...

For reasons of scheduling, we waited until after the July 4th Weekend to trek up here. It was a long drive that exhausted us both, and I'm not really keen to actually go out and "enjoy" my vacation in any meaningful way. Which sucks, because after the inevitable shit hits the fan we are going to be too preoccupied to do anything anyway. And then there's the fact that we still don't really know what's going to become of Tyler.

He's being too casual about this for my liking. We had that whole talk about how it doesn't really matter how he ends up, but I think it does. He could find himself with a job or responsibilities he's not accustomed to, a family that he can't deal with, any number of things. I look at what's going on with Lane/"Kari" on the blog right now and I think that is the same future that awaits my friend. Not that he hasn't already been through enough. I could see the idea of being a bit numb to the possibilities now, but I feel like things are going to come crashing down.

But he's very quick to point out, he hasn't exactly got much choice in the matter. He doesn't get to pick his own body, and staying as Lauren is unthinkable. So it's a roll of the dice. I wish I could have his confidence.

I don't even feel sure if I'm going to get my body back. We arrived late on Tuesday, the only ones here from the looks of it, and I rushed to my room - at the far end of the hall from Ty's - and immediately tore it apart. And there it all was waiting for me. My clothes, my shoes, an ID saying "MEGHAN REIS." It's me in a bag. Just waiting for the cue. I want to thank Carrie for doing her best in this situation.

But I know things can go sideways, from reading old posts. I am camped out in this room, clutching my old life in case that's what it takes. Tyler is trying to talk me down and drag me out of the room, since the Inn does not yet appear to be "full," but so far I just can't bring myself to let this slip away. I would never forgive myself if I came home late one night and the transformation had already somehow been triggered and we lost our chance to leave these bodies with their rightful owners.

I've mostly just been enjoying the privacy, and I encouraged Ty to do the same. I've been in a scenario where I haven't had a good night's sleep in a bed alone in a year, and he's had to share a room with Lauren's little sister, as well as every other square inch of space with her family, so a little peace and quiet is really all I want.

We've been talking a bit, especially on the drive up. There was a lot I wanted to say, but I couldn't bring myself to spill it when we were in the car, because I didn't want him to feel trapped. It was hard to find ways to fill the silence for an 11-hour car trip (nearly 13 with breaks) but we talked a lot about our experiences this past year, things we liked and didn't like, things that surprised us, things we learned and maybe would carry forward in the future.

I learned a lot about being in a couple. About making sacrifices. Yes, I was resentful about some of those, due to it not being my relationship to sacrifice for, but still. I grew accustomed to putting someone else's needs before mine, and in return I found several occasions where he put my needs before his.

I learned what it was like to have someone look you in the eye, and tell you unconditionally that they love you, and honestly there were a few times I believed it was for me, not the woman I appeared to be. It kinda maybe messed me up a bit.

When we got to the Inn, it was nearly midnight and I was tired of driving. I laid down on the bed and clutched a pillow. I almost wanted to cry from happiness or exhaustion. Tyler started rubbing my shoulders, and that somehow made it worse.

"We were here a year ago," I said, "I can't believe how much has happened since then."

"Feels like just yesterday," he said.

"Or a lifetime ago," I answered. "So, did you check your room yet?"

"Enough bags for two people," he said, "It's only a one-person room, so who knows. I'm gonna wait before I go poking around in it."

"I don't know how you aren't just dying to know."

"I don't want to get my hopes up," he shrugged.

"I guess that's fair," I said. "It's just... what if you end up with someone that... God, how do I put this? ...Tyler, I think it's fair to say you have feelings for me."

He paused for a moment and bit his little lip, looking deep into my eyes with Lauren's soulful blue ones. "Uh huh."

I took a deep breath. "What if it doesn't work out?"

"It'll work out," he said, insistently.

"What if it doesn't?" I said, "What if you're a kid, what if you're an old lady. Do you expect me to be able to have a relationship with you like that? I don't want you to think I'm superficial, but there are limits, aren't there?"

"No, that's fair," he said, "I just don't think it's going to happen. If it does, we'll worry about it then."

I was getting frustrated. "What if you're someone who's married, what if you have to go across the country and keep pretending to be someone else again? Do you expect me to wait here for you?"

"We'll worry about it then."

"What if you realize you don't like the real me?" I could feel the tears really coming now. "What if you've gotten so used to seeing me this way that the real Meghan is a disappointment?"

He wrapped his skinny arms around me.

"I won't. You're not."

Then I said what was really bothering me. "What if I just want to be alone for a while?"

And he said, "Then you'll call me when you don't anymore."

That jerk was saying all the right things and it was pissing me off.

"I don't want you to feel like you waited for nothing," I said.

He paused for a while before saying, "You know my feelings. They haven't changed, except maybe gotten stronger the longer I've known you. You can do whatever you want with them, and obviously I hope things go a certain way. But it's up to you. Just know I will always be here for you, no matter what happens or what we look like."

"I don't want to hurt you," was all I said.

"It'll be okay," he said back, "It's all gonna be okay."

I almost believe him.

In the morning, I heard some other people start to come on. A couple, middle-aged I think, who were bantering loudly back and forth. It seemed sort of like a fight but maybe just the snippy way they communicate with each other is the result of being together for 20 or so years. There might be some others who stopped by to drop things off, but it's hard to tell how many from footsteps and murmured voices... I still have hardly left my room.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Lane/Kari: Gainful Employment

I think the reason a lot of people transformed by the inn come to this blog is because its a great resource. Its the collective stories and experiences of several people and odds are there is something contained in the archives that people can relate too. I've found tons of useful advice on how to be a girl after being a guy, and I breathed a sigh of joy when I got to the Anne-Marie posts about having to deal with motherhood, although I haven't read all of them yet.

I almost feel a duty to write here because nobody else has had to deal with not having a note to guide them. Its a lot more difficult to have to scratch out clues of who you are now without one so I'm hoping my posts can serve as a survival guide to piecing together a new identity.

Faced with the reality of not only being responsible for my own survival this year, but also the survival of a young, albeit very independent, teenager. Looking at our empty fridge and my even emptier purse, I was going to have to find out what Kari did for money. I assumed that after almost a month off I'd be fired but what skills and experience she'd have would be relevant in finding something else. I couldn't just go up to Ashley and say "By the way, do you remember where I work?" because she would look at me like she thought I was dumber than she already thinks I am. (The angst is strong with this one)

So, for future reference, here is a good way to find out if your new body has a job and where. I went looking for any banking information and found a debit card to a local bank. I made it down there on Saturday right before they closed and asked for a printout of my recent account activity. I didn't have to know my account number, I just had to show them ID to prove I was who I said I was (or at least looked like her) and I had a list of every checking account transaction for the last 6 months.

I got lucky because hidden among frequent withdrawals were regular deposits every two weeks, clearly some sort of direct deposit. The deposits were from "LTHRMAN FIN", which when you type into Google brings up "Did you mean Latherman Financial?" which is a small investing firm headquartered in Detroit. The phone number listed matched one that had been dialed but not saved by Kari's cell phone so I figured it was a safe bet that she worked there.

Hopefully that part can be useful, because now its time for the creepy part.

Monday morning I had put on the closest thing I could find in the way of work attire which was a pair of very tight knit gray pants that left little to the imagination in ways of curves and required a thong and a blouse that was the best combination of professional style and cleavage coverage out of anything I could find and hopped in my new bland car and drove a few miles up I-75 to downtown Detroit.

Latherman Financial's office was on the floor of a renovated office building in a fairly nice area of downtown. When I walked through the door the lady at the reception's eyes bugged out looking a combination of upset and relieved to see me. "There you are. He's been having me cover for you the whole time you were gone. I'm sick of answering phones."

I tried to hide the disappointment in my eyes, but I think I failed. She pretty much confirmed that Kari was the receptionist. When I had first seen that my new job was in finance, a field which I had experience in in my real life, I thought maybe I'd be able to lend my expertise. Clearly from Kari's car and apartment she couldn't have been something high powered like I was, but I would have liked to do some work that I enjoyed. Instead its gonna be a year of answering phones or worse.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I sincerely thought I was fired when I went in that morning and being told that Mr. Latherman wanted to see me by the receptionist (who I later found out was named Joanne) made me feel like I was about to face a firing squad. I entered an office which was nice, but was a bit modest for a CEO. I don't know what kind of finances or volume this company does but it can't be that high because my office had a nicer view and classier decorations at my own job.

Nick Latherman was a man in his 40s with a full head of hear with sophisticated graying who looked to be in pretty good shape. His face lit up when he saw me, which I was not expecting.

"You're back" He said "I was afraid we were going to have to report you missing"

"Mr Latherman I'm so sorry for--" I began

"Don't worry about it. You needed a break" He interrupted "And drop that Mr. Latherman stuff, its just us"

"There was an issue with the flight and--" I tried to explain

"Kari, you don't need to make excuses" He said in a calming tone "You deserved a vacation and that little inn was amazing."

I froze. "You...you know about the inn?" I asked slowly

"You didn't change hotels right? The little independent one on the beach in Old Orchard, right? It was so quaint and beautiful. I wish I hadn't had to get back here early and leave you there by yourself."

It took a minute for that to sink in for me so I'll spell it out for you.

1. Mr. Latherman, Kari's boss, was on the trip that had taken her to the Trading Post Inn but had left before the curse had taken hold and thus managed to avoid being transformed.


2. Mr. Latherman had taken his receptionist on a trip that probably didn't require a receptionist so Kari was probably with him for...other reasons.

I wanted to believe it wasn't so. That there wasn't anything going on between the two of them. I looked at the smiling pictures of his wife and daughter on his desk and hoped that he and Kari weren't having an affair but the way he was talking to me and the way he was looking at me made it clear.

I sat there in silence at this man who had probably seen this body naked more times that I had at that point, not knowing what to say or how to react or what the etiquette is when you find out your body has sex with someone else so I just quietly made my way back to reception.

I bluffed my way through the short work week, avoiding eye contact wher ever possible.


PS: If you've noticed I changed my new name to Kari because after talking to people who know her its clear that "Karina" is the name on the ID only and that friends and family and everyone else calls her Kari, so I'm gonna go with that.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Tyler/Lauren: Prom and what comes after

I had to sign a lotta yearbooks this past month.

It was tough. I ended up writing a lot of "Have a great summer" and "So many great times!" to people who knew Lauren for years but barely talked to me in my time as her. It was one of the times during this whole thing that I felt the worst... like I was stealing all these goodbyes from her. Cheating her out of closure with the people who helped form her as a person.

I did write lengthy messages to the people I spent the most time with this year. I tried to pour my heart out to Dana, Karlee, Ginnifer and Mark, but even in all those messages I had to hold back and try not to explain to them that they kept me from feeling like dirt most days, and taught me about being a girl as I went along.

I ain't that sentimental, but I'm gonna miss them.

Prom wasn't that much of a story, to be honest. It was a nice night. I wore a black dress with a modest halter top, I spent hours at the salon with the girls getting ready that day. I posed for pics, I danced my ass off, I sang along with the songs I knew in the limo and faked it for the ones I didn't. I stayed out late drinking and talking about a future that wasn't gonna be mine.

It felt like a good place to leave off as Lauren. I was with Mark. He was a bit awkward, since I had made the boundaries pretty clear and he still seemed to be carrying a torch for me. I lost my inhibitions and danced with him. It was good.

Afterward, we crashed a party. Mark reverted to his wallflower state, but I was there for him. I was surrounded by friends but I was the only person there he had any connection to, and I didn't leave his side. We joked, we shared ideas, hopes for the future.

Around 5 AM, those of us who were still up drove to the reservoir at Highland Park to watch the sunrise. He and I wandered off and sat down by the water and fell silent and the mood sort of seized me.

"I've been having a really good night," I told him. "You're gonna make some girl really lucky at college next year. Trust me, you're gonna get snatched up quick."

After a pause he said "I could be making one girl very lucky right now... if she'd let me." He had this goofy, hopeful look in his eyes.

I smiled and pinched his cheek. "You're cute, man. But did you think that would work?"

"Nah, not really," he blushed. "But it came to me and I had to try."

"It's worth this much," I said, kissing his cheek. We sat quietly for a moment and then I opened my trap: "I almost would, you know."

"Almost would... what?"

"You know," I said. I felt butterflies welling up in me. "It's been... a while. And I haven't wanted to, much, until... like, now. But it wouldn't be fair."

"Why not?" he asked.

"I'm going away soon," I said. "And when I come back, it's... better if we don't have to deal with the aftermath of this. Of that."

"Who says there would be an aftermath? I think we could be cool about it..."

I sighed, "Years of careful study, I'm afraid. You deserve better than a one-nighter anyway. I know it doesn't feel like this is for your own good, but it'll save you some emotional anguish in the long run."

I could sense he wanted to argue that, but he was a bit too meek to do so.

So I went on, "There's something else. There's someone else. Someone I've been carrying a torch for for a long time. And I can't be with them right now... not right yet. They're a bit older, but really we're... it's like we're the same age. In a way. And once they leave... their... spouse for me, we can start over together. And I've been looking forward to that for a long time."

He raised his eyebrows and said, "Holy shit... are you fucking a teacher??"

"What? No!" I laughed, and then he laughed and we started naming every repulsive teacher we could.

Eventually we settled down and he circled back in our conversation: "Why did you tell me all that?"

"Because you deserve to know," I said, "Because you've been good to me, you're a really good dude. You make me laugh. You don't give yourself enough credit, you don't believe in yourself, but when you're with me, I can tell you're something special. And just because it hasn't happened for you yet... like, you need to know the truth, that it's me, not you. All you need to do is learn to open up with everyone you meet the way you do with me, and I promise before long, you aren't going to be able to choose which girl to bang."

He blushed again. "You don't have to... I mean, don't lie."

"It's not a lie. Trust me. I've been around. You're a good kid. It's only a matter of time before people see it. Sure, it's a jungle out there... people get hurt, people don't get what they want, people don't connect when they should or they make mistakes. But eventually, if you remember to be yourself, you'll find someone." I think maybe I lost him in there somewhere.

We got rides home and hugged goodbye. I slept all morning and spent the rest of the day packing. The end was in sight. Only days later I would be in Maine with Meg waiting my new destiny. Thinking about all I had been through over the past year... everything I had written about here and everything I hadn't. The things I'd seen and done, people I'd met. It felt overwhelming and I felt sad that I had to go.

I never thought I'd make it. And I damn sure never thought I'd miss it. And it wasn't even over yet.