Saturday, February 27, 2016

Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-wei: Play-acting Part II : There

It's amazing how quickly the memory of long school breaks goes. It hasn't been that long since my first college graduation, but looking at the school calendar and seeing three whole weeks between the end of fall term and the start of spring term kind of blew my mind. I mean, sure, it's not all that time without any responsibilities for a lot of folks at school - they've got jobs and the like - but it still seems like an absurdly long amount of unscheduled time.

Of course, it wasn't completely mine. Even if I wasn't a little prepared for a change of scenery after that play and finals, it was probably past time to really get to know "my" family and friends. The only ones who really made an impression on me back in August and September were my mother Chen-ai and grandmother Yu-ling, with everything else kind of a jet-lagged blur.

This time would be different, sort of like meeting people that one has become friends with online in person for the first time. It was literally that in a lot of cases for me, or very close to it, considering how many words I might have exchanged with people at the birthday party. I've been keeping up with most of Yuan-wei's old friends on-line and spent a lot of time digging deep into their online histories in my last week at Boston University before break - it was actually kind of a good way to take a break from studying for a certain subject but not totally putting my brain into another gear - and felt pretty good about it.

And with reason! Without "must get to party right fucking now!" going on, and just being generally more relaxed in this less-unfamiliar skin, I was able to panic less and just deal with situations at my own speed. It was still weird shifting into Cantonese-mode - binge-watching John Woo movies on the flights only helped so much - but I wasn't a complete deer in the headlights. I'm doing better with Mandarin, too - weekly classes and new movies from Beijing playing in Boston have helped.

I could sort of feel how it had grown easier as certain parts of the trip repeated - get off the plane, not strain so much listening to announcements, smile and maybe even flirt a little going through immigration, recognize the driver and engage in more authentic small talk on the way "home". There's something really assuring about the second time through; "they're gonna catch me" is still in the back of your head, but you can tell that voice to shut up, because the Inn doesn't work that way.

The fancy parts of the city looked fucking amazing as I rode by; though there are a fair number of foreigners and Christians there, Christmas blends into winter solstice celebrations and nobody gets too worked up about religious authenticity or whether things are too commercial, so decorations can be ridiculous and ostentatious and nobody cares. "My" family home had a monster-sized tree, and it was decorated with the careful balance and symmetry that says someone was hired to do it, but, hey, it's not like I need to be worried about some lost family tradition.

Chen-ai seemed a bit warmer this time around, although it's still kind of a weird relationship, maybe. Only having a brother, I don't know what sort of things mothers and daughters do together, but she seemed more curious about my life in America than anything, asking if I'd met any nice boys, being kind of teasingly naughty about how attractive they were. Maybe I should have been grossed out, but I wasn't, at least no more than when when I thought about how much I enjoyed being on the receiving end these days.

Not that I really get attracted to guys yet - I met one of the original Yuan-wei's high school boyfriends, and I liked the guy for hanging out with, but his twin sister was the one where my brain said ''that's attractive", though not with the "I want to fuck her" kick to it. which is good, because Bingbing is one of the best friends I inherited, and I'm guessing she wouldn't be down for that.

I wound up spending a lot of time with Chen Bingbing, both because she thinks we've been besties since the age of six and because she is transferring to an American college for this semester and wanted to practice her English. It's really good - she and Yuan-wei, along with the other friends I spent time hanging out with, went to English-language schools, although their good English isn't my good English.

We partied a lot - Bingbing seemed kind of horrified to hear that most places in America have a minimum drinking age of 21, so we kind of made up for that in advance. I highly recommend a weekend in Macau at one of the big hotel/casino luxury suites if you're ever young, Chinese, and of means.

That would have been a great New Year's Eve, but I felt a bit weird about partying big that night. We'd had a ceremony to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the death of Lee Siu-wong, Chen-ai's husband, who I guess would be my biological father now, the previous night, and it would have been weird to go nuts the next day.

That memorial was a bit strange, one of the times I really tried to act outside of school stuff. I mostly try to just be myself in day-to-day life, because even if I'm not much like the original Yuan-wei in certain respects, folks are going to have to get used to the new me because I'm not going to spend the rest of my life pretending to like things I don't or shit like that. This, though, was really specific and unavoidable, and as much as I don't really miss "Daddy", I don't think I'm quite such a jackass to disrupt things by acting that way.

So I tried to do what they teach in class, reaching into myself for something that brings out the same kind of feelings. I don't know whether I'd say it was hard or easy, because I spend enough time trying not to think about how I'm not likely to see my own Dad again except by some sort of co-incidence where he won't fucking know who I am that it takes a bit of effort to let that out, even without considering how much it's going to hurt. I guess I did all right - I was crying as I lit the joss-sticks and bowed toward Siu-Wong's picture - but it did make me question the idea of making a living doing this, even if the movie-star part looks awesome.

And then... well, fuck, it's why I took a break from writing this for a bit.

It was a few days later. I had stayed the night at one of Yuan-wei's high- school boy-friends' when I got a call asking me to come down to the police station. I had no idea what to expect - had Chen-ai been pulled over or had I inherited parking tickets of some kind? - until they took me to see a detective named Yee who made a little small-talk and then showed me a video.

It was taken on a phone - I've apparently been taking enough film & television classes that the vertical aspect ratio was the first thing that bothered me - and it showed the original Yuan-wei (or me, as far as the cops were concerned) going into some sort of sweet shop and telling the other person (the voice was distorted enough that I couldn't tell if it was male or female) all about the sort of candies and stuff they had in America that this store imported. At first, it was just weird - I kind of felt like a guy again, watching some girl who would never actually talk to me be knowingly cute in a YouTube video, and I kept having to remind myself that I shouldn't feel angry or turned on because I could do all that now.

Until she got to the Fluff.

Marshmallow Fluff is a pretty solidly northeastern thing. I think. It's what it sounds like, a gooey marshmallow paste that you can spread on bread. The Yuan-Wei in the video was talking about how one of her local classmates had dragged her to Somerville's ''Fluff Festival" in the fall, and the most popular use of the stuff was the "Fluffernutter", a dead simple sandwich of Fluff and peanut butter on white bread. She was saying that it's the most bland-but-too-sweet and thus the most American thing you can imagine - "but so good!"

Then the off-screen voice said that was too bad, because it meant I couldn't have one in the house because of my dad, and "I" joked that at least he would die happy. Then the Yuan-wei on the screen bought a jar of the stuff and some Reese's Cups which she said she would have to finish before she got home, and it was the end of the video.

I didn't really need Inspector Yee to do the "obviously, you knew that your father had a severe peanut allergy" exposition straight out of a fucking episode of Law & Order to see what was coming. And let me tell you, I didn't need to draw on any other sort of scary experience to be terrified.

"Inspector Yee, I would never-" I actually found myself stumbling for the right Cantonese words for what I would never do, but he seemed to be able to infer it.

"Not even by accident, just forgetting something was in your purse?"

I yelled "no!", but then something started rolling around in my brain. What if this was the wrong answer, and Yee was asking the question just so that I'd trip up?  Cops do that, right? What if anything I said contradicted anything else they had learned, or even what Yuan-wei had said during any original investigation of Siu-wong's death?

So I went on the offensive. "Who sent you this?"

"Don't you remember?"

I was able to think quick. "No! I hung out with a lot of folks after coming back from my first semester abroad last year, and probably showed weird American things to most of them!"

I guess you could say I successfully sold the performance, because Inspector Yee did back off a bit. I pressed a little, saying that the only reason that somebody would send them this is because they wanted to hurt me, and I deserve to know who is trying to stab me in the back.

The law doesn't exactly look at it this way, of course, and even though the family I've become a part of is pretty well-off, it doesn't appear that we're quite so connected that the cops' first thought when things look suspicious is to try to sweep it under the rug.

Or maybe it is and I just haven't learned how to pick up signals that a public official is fishing for a bribe like I can recognize a guy being interested in me.  There's a fucking one-percenter problem.

It put a bit of a pall over the rest of the trip, as you might imagine, as my brain went into overdrive looking for any sign that the people I hung out with didn't really like "me". I felt a little relief when I saw Bingbing hold her phone horizontally when taking a video a few days later, but worried about Chin when she didn't. It's a really stupid thing to try to parse, but there you go.

I'm not even really sure I should be writing about this now.  I denied having anything to do with Siu-wong's death, but I can't help but wonder - what if that's not the case?  What if the original Yuan-wei made a mistake and that's why she's so willing to live out a life that is such a step down from all this?  I may just be speculating about this, but if Inspector Yee or someone else at the HKPD stumbles over me saying that, it reads like some sort of confession from a girl who has had some sort of fucking breakdown.

Still...  The video.  I went to The Changeling a few days ago and mentioned this to Ashlyn, and she told me about her own stalker/"influencer", the one they called Pygmalion.  She says it's been a few years since she felt she could chalk up anything happening in her life to that, but that he isn't the only one out there who likes fucking with us.  So this is just a question - does it sound like anybody any of you know, or do I just have some sort of enemy on the other side of the world?

- Jordo / Yuan-wei

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Innbox: J. and M.

Hey guys, Tori here once more. Sorr I haven't posted lately. Life has actually been kind of crazy and I will have to update you soon. For now, here's a letter from the Innbox. I hesitated before offering to post this person's story because it concerns people who are also posting here, but they're okay with it as it turns out. Another reason I hesitated to post it because it was Valentine's day recently, and well... you'll see :(

And remember, if you've got a story to share, please don't hesitate to e-mail us at tradingpoststories@outlook.com - include your name and "Trading Post Story" in the subject to make sure it stands out!

-Tori

Dear Trading Post,

It hasn't been easy finding my way through this situation but I'm doing my best. My name is J_____ (name withheld on request). Back in the summer, I visited the Trading Post with my girlfriend, M_____. The reservation was a surprise for our first anniversary, as she had told me that the beaches of Maine were the most beautiful part of the country. I was skeptical but booked the trip because, well, that's the kind of guy I am.

She had a point, it was quite impressive scenery... the ocean air, the hiking, walking along hand in hand on the beach. And even if the Inn had a spooky, cold "mysterious secret" vibe, we were enjoying our trip immensely, especially since we didn't have much to do except go for long walks and spend hours and hours in bed. That spooky vibe actually helped us feel a little naughtier, if you catch my drift.

I also just realized... what is it about that place? From the second you step foot in there, you can feel the hairs standing on the back of your neck, some voice deep inside saying "Get out of here!" but you never do. Is that part of the magic? Does it "need" victims? Or am I just too lazy to book another room someplace else?

Then it happened. The thing that happens to everyone who stays there, the thing you all know about. I woke up one morning and rolled over to find a stranger in bed with me. Instead of my petite, blonde girlfriend there was a rather larger person, just lying there asleep on her side, as if nothing was wrong.

She was naked, too - draped only in the tatters of my girlfriend's sexy lace nightie.

I panicked, and let out a scream - only to find my voice had gone up a register. I covered my mouth in a truly bizarre "did that come outta me???" moment, and began noticing all the other strange things. The long reddish brown hair. The slender fingers. The fact that my t-shirt was now several sizes too big... even if it was tented by a pair of petite, perky breasts.

To make a long story short, we realized we had become two different people than we had gone to sleep as - I had become Erin Hanley, and my girlfriend had become Rosie Montand. You've met them through this blog, but if you were wondering what had happened to their bodies, it was us.

So, if you've been reading this blog long enough, you can fill in the blanks: "What the? Are you? Did we? We can't... but we have to!" Believe me, I don't think anyone considers it an easy transition to make. nobody in our group seemed to have experienced it before, so we figured it out together.

Erin was out of work. Rosie worked for the school board and as on summer break. There was a silver lining there... we had time to adjust, I guessed, to figure out a plan and work through it together. But then reality reared its ugly head.

M. was not happy. Yes, she obviously felt bad for me, but she was also very focussed on herself. She was... let's say proud of her appearance. She was gorgeous. If she was taller she could have modeled. She was skinny, sexy, a knockout. Now, she was huge. Tall, heavy-set, unkempt-looking. I told her "I still love you no matter what." It was true. She was hard to comfort, though.

It felt strange trying to wrap my now-shorter arms around her now-larger frame, and talk to her like she was still the woman I loved, but she was.

On the last night before we had to check out - when the Inn was mostly vacant - M. sat me down. Tears in her eyes. I had a whole speech prepared about being brave and seeing it through together. I was going to be the strong boyfriend even though I was secretly terrified (and embarrassed and emasculated and everything.)

She told me she had to do this, no matter what. That she was already thinking of breaking up with me once our trip was over, that she had been having doubts for a long time, and now was probably the time to just admit it and go our separate ways. She felt she couldn't possibly continue "faking it" in this form, and didn't want to use me just to feel good, because she knew it wouldn't last in the long run.

I was shocked. After all that had happened to shake our lives up that week, and now this? The ground just dropped out beneath me. I asked why, couldn't we work it out? Shouldn't we be there for each other?

She said no, if she had to pretend to be Rosie, she was going to do it "right," on her own, and make a clean slate. There was no saving us.

So. She went to Rosie's place in Maine, and I went to Erin's in Indiana. And I just... sat, and moped, and tried to get on with the business of being Erin with nobody by my side who knew who I was. I tried to forget M. ever existed., and in the process I almost forgot that J. existed too. But now it's a new year and I have my reservation for the Trading Post. I am doing fine, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I will put things right the best I can.

M. hasn't answered me to confirm if she is going back too, but I can't see why she wouldn't want to. She was so horrified at the thought of being a plus-sized woman that she locked herself in the bathroom to cry for an hour once we knew there was no way back. She's convinced her old body is so perfect that anyone who wound up in it would "steal" it, but even though that's a possibility, I believe what most people want is to put things right.

I don't know. After all she did to me, I feel like I would have a right to say "To hell with her" and not care what happens either way, but I do care, because it involves other people - good people who deserve better than having their body inhabited by a bitter, self-hating, image-obsessed immature woman like my ex.

-J_____.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Glenn (Peter Malinowski): A visit with my son

When I became "Peter Malinowski," in Maine, my 17-year-old son ("Mason" for the purposes of this blog,) became a 15-year-old girl from around the area I will call "Brooke Shaner." I only had a brief time with him to digest what had happened to us before Brooke's parents came to collect her. She had disappeared weeks earlier, initially to spend the night with Trevor, and then simply vanished (into whatever limbo where bodies are held... a question I don't want to ponder) until Mason's transformation. That's two weeks without knowing where their daughter was. I'm told she concocted some kind of flimsy cover story that was starting to grow suspicious by the time Mason was transformed. Mason's shellshocked appearance upon "rescue" was likely not helpful.

The way they arrived very quickly after the change leads me to believe someone tipped them off, who would have knowledge of the Inn's magic (Mason doesn't seem to think they have a clue.)

As a result, while I've been Peter Malinowski of Dover, Delaware, my son has been living in Maine for the past several months, as a girl somewhat younger than himself, and I have been tearing my hair out (which I shouldn't do since I gained a good amount of it) trying to keep tabs on him from a distance.

Understand, I hadn't been a full-time parent in years before my wife left him with me to go "do good" in Central America. So I'm a little protective of him, and the idea of leaving him with strangers, to play this new role, was frustrating to me, but I had no choice. I wished I could have been there, especially in those scary early weeks. It might have brought us closer together. Instead, we are further apart than ever.

I contact him often, to ask how he is feeling. Mostly he dodges the question by giving simple answers. He tells me things are fine, and I wonder how that can possibly be.

So I told him, over the Christmas holiday, I was going to use some vacation time to go to Maine and see him. He seemed reluctant, but I told him it was non-negotiable. It was a time for family, and he was important to me. All I asked for was one day of his time. By then, he had behaved himself as Brooke to where his disappearance was forgiven and he was getting a bit more leeway with the Shaners to do as he pleased.

I met Mason at a café not far from his house. I was very early. I kept my eyes fixed on the door. I knew what he looked like, but was not used to seeing it in person, so every young lady who walked through the door got an unfortunate once-over from me before proceeding to the counter to order. I had sent a recent photo so that he wouldn't mistake me for someone else. I was being very cautious.

The last time I had seen my son in person, he was very much traumatized, so the mental image I had was of a tense, shuffling, awkward girl. I had to look twice when a comparatively poised, confident young lady breezed into the coffee shop and, after a moment's glance of recognition, took her seat across from me. I didn't know how to react.

She was wearing a green scarf and a dark coat, undone. She had her dark brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. She didn't appear to be wearing any makeup, that I could tell - a few spots of acne dotted her face, which made me wonder if Mason would be more or less self-conscious from wearing cover-up (as I believe many teenage girls and grown women do) than letting blemishes show.

"Hey," she said softly. Then, collecting herself, she added "Dad" more softly.

"Hi... Brooke." We were in public, so "Mason" wouldn't do, but his new name stuck in my throat awkwardly. I went in for a hug, and he leaned forward only slightly in his seat to allow it.

"Sorry, I didn't know how I should..." he said, before trailing off.

"I understand," I said - even in our normal form our hugs were perhaps not as comfrotable as they could have been. "Are you going to have anything?" Maybe later, he said.

I asked how things had been. I had asked often enough over text, but there he was able to be evasive. I hoped in person he would be forthcoming.

"It's okay," he said. We weren't off to a good start. "School is easy since I took a lot of these classes already, but I get a little tired of repeating stuff. Brooke's friends are good people."

"Interesting," I said, "Do you feel like... you fit in?"

"Sure," he said.

"Is it strange?" I asked, "Having a body so different? Are you okay with it?"

"Yeah, it's fine," he said, "It took some getting used to, but, like, it's been months, so whatever."

I guess I didn't expect him to tell me if he spent his nights crying about it. But his phrasing, that it "took some getting used to," suggested he was now officially "used to it." This would be in line with what I knew about Leon, and Cathy for that matter. The implication that he was as used to it as they were, or most of the people who go through this blog, unsettled my stomach.

"Tell me about your new friends, then, what are they like?"

"They're ok. They make fun of me because they think Brooke is going through a serious tomboy phase, not to mention becoming a total amnesiac about her own life, but they're still nice to me. That part is really reassuring. We hang out a lot. I was afraid to ask for girl tips from them but I get a lot of info just from listening to them talk."

"Okay, that's good."

"It's better than when I was living with you, because I didn't have any friends in Illinois."

Ouch. But at least he was finding silver linings. And it didn't really sound like he was blaming me for that...

He named off a few friends... Katies, Melissas, Lauras. They sounded like typical teenage girls, discovering make-up and fashion and, yes, boys.

Then he started naming boys who were friends of Brooke's - Dereks and Lukes and Brads. "Brad and I watched a few football games together. Luke's into Xbox, so we stay up late playing over the headset. Derek is always the first to sit next to me at lunch."

To write it out, it might sound very innocent, but as he described it, he was practically swooning.

I took my time formulating a response to this. I wanted to be fair to this but I also wanted information.

"And how do you feel about the way these boys treat you? Is it... different from how it used to be?"

He scoffed a perfect teenage girl huff. "Obviously."

"And... do you like it?"

"I don't know, kinda," he said, shifting in his seat. "Are you asking if I like boys now?"

"No, well... I would like to know if you have thoughts on it. You don't have to hide that from me."

"I don't know. I don't want to talk about it. It's weird."

So now it was weird. A minute ago he kinda liked it. I'm trying to remember what it was like been a teenager and having lots of confusing feelings.

"I don't want you to judge me," he said, "If I'm not some all American super boy like you want."

"I don't care about that. Who told you I did?"

"Trevor," he said. "He told me you were really rooting for him when he went out for the football team."

"You talked to Cathy?" I said, using 'Trevor's' proper/original name.

"Sure, we have lots in common." I supposed that was true, in a sense. Their experience is... closer to each other's than mine. But it still felt like a betrayal because neither mentioned it before now and I had no idea what they were saying to one another.

"Did you know that she's dating?" I said, maybe a little spitefully.

"Yeah," Mason said. "It's not really dating though. Nothing official."

That didn't make me feel more at ease.

"You should be careful, Mase," I said firmly, "These boys probably are interested in you, at least some of them."

"So?" he sneered petulantly, "I can make my own decisions."

"So... I don't want you to do something you'll regret."

"You don't trust me," Mason said, crossing his arms under his breasts and looking away.

"It's not that. I just don't trust... other people."

"If I was a boy, you would never talk to me this way. You're a sexist."

"You don't know what you're saying!" I snapped back. "It's different for girls and boys, okay? You at least know that much, right?"

"I can handle it. Don't talk to me like I'm an idiot. You don't even know me."

"Apparently I don't."

We sat there silently for a moment, then he murmured, "You're hooking up with Leon, for God's sake, and that guy is digusting. Don't talk to me about urges okay?"

I was aghast. Finally, I sputtered, "What I do, what adults do, is none of your concern. You're still a child, you're my child, and that makes you my responsibility."

"Oh yeah?" he said, standing up to leave, He leaned in and hissed "Why should I listen to you? I'm not your son anymore."

"You think it's that easy?" I said, frustrated, "That some magic curse overrides my parental responsibility? Poof, you're a stranger to me?"

"Why not? You had no problem handing me over to them - and they're way nicer than you anyway."

"I was never mean to you! Don't make a scene. Is this... just your hormones or something?"

That, admittedly, was the wrong thing to say. He left, saying only "Don't follow me."

I felt very bad after he left, especially for the hormones remark. I was very bothered by the fact that my timid, introverted son would never have spoken to me that way. Had estrogen warped his brain, or was he finally about to really let out what he really felt, emboldened by the fact that he no longer had to rely on me for parental support, and no longer had an identity that was tied to mine. That he can declare me a stranger so quickly was startling.

I sent a very carefully worded e-mail to him afterwards, acknowledging that things had not always been perfect between us - I stopped short of outright apologizing because 1) I firmly believe I did my best, and 2) I think it is a sign of weakness for a parent to apologize to his child so quickly. I told him that no matter his feelings, I had his best interests in mind 100% of the time, and that, with nobody nearby who knows his situation, it is incumbent on me to help him get his normal body back.

Assuming that is what he wants.

If he would rather be a girl? Well, I suppose the chips will fall where they may, but there is a woman in upstate New York who lived the first 16 years of Brooke's life, and I doubt she would be pleased about being cut off from it, and I told him so.

Mason sent me a lengthy e-mail in response, in which he also did not apologize for his behavior but hinted at admitting wrongdoing. He defended his attitude and admitted things "had been difficult" to figure out (re: identity and sexuality, I guessed) and that I hit a nerve by suggesting he was somehow wrong to feel that way.

I told him I didn't mean to give that impression, only to give the advice I would want to give a daughter, if I had one, about boys' intentions. I guess that was both stupid (because he was a boy and knew their intentions) and  a double-standard, because I had never warned him off of girls and in fact encouraged him to do his best to win them over.

Mea culpa on that one.

The last part of my response concerned Cathy/Trevor, who I assured him was NOT the son I wanted. I wanted him, no matter who he is - athletic or nerdy (apparently that's a cool thing to be called now?) boy or girl.

He appreciated my saying so. Once that was smoothed over, we agreed to meet again before I left town. This time he arrived wearing pre-ripped jeans (I had no idea those were back in style, yuck.) I asked if his legs got cold, and he laughed it off. I complimented his hair, which was up in a messy bun.

"Thanks... it's not that hard once you learn the basics."

Things were a lot more warm between us this time. He told me that no matter what, he did want to go back to being himself. He didn't know how to make it work, given that the Shaners were going to be watching their daughter like a hawk come summertime, considering her disappearance last year. He thought maybe he could get one of the girls to claim they were going on vacation together. I don't like the idea of a child having to lie to parents, but obviously we have limited options. I told him to let me know.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Lane/Kari: The Last Person to Know

I use this blog partly as a way to tell my story and get feedback from others in a similar situation, and partly to organize my thoughts regarding being in someone else's body and life in a place where they won't seem like gobbledygook to anyone who reads it. (Although I'm sure all of you unaffected by the curse think of this as some sort of very well written work of fiction). Anyway looking back at my writing and the comments it seems most of you were able to put together what I wasn't willing to admit to myself, that I was attracted to Darius.

My last post was a few hours before going out with him, I literally hit "publish" and then went to take a shower. My thoughts from that entry were swimming in my mind, especially the last part. Being in this body is literally a curse, but it's also an opportunity in some ways. In the last 6 months I haven't just learned what it's like to be a woman but also a mother, Latina, and a high school dropout. Sometimes, on VERY rare occasions, I'm a little grateful for the perspective I've gained from the unique situation I've been in. Most people only get one lens to view the world from in their life time, now I've got two. It was this appreciation for experiences that could only be had as Kari that took the evening where it went.

It was an unseasonably warm day, with a high in the 50s, something I was really grateful for after what can be a bitter cold Michigan winter (which has since continued) so that evening I wasn't all bundled up in Kari's faux-fur lined parka but rather a cute little black jacket that paired well with a skirt and a set of leggings. (I am going to miss leggings, there is no male equivalent and they are so much warmer than slacks.) We had driven out to Royal Oak, which is one of the larger suburbs to this cool little bar that had just opened up. This was the weekend before the Super Bowl and I think it might have been the first time in awhile that we were together for non-sports-related reasons.

We sat across from each other, while he drank beers that I suggested while I drank soda. My decision not to drink was probably a clear sign that I was going to go through with this, that I wanted to make the decision sober. We talked about politics, and he was surprised at some of mine since I appear to be a single mother but am in reality an investment banker (We won't go full into details, to avoid alienating the audience). We talked about our childhoods, or rather we talked about his and I made stuff up based on what I pieced together from photos and stories Pilar tells. We talked about work and the weather and anything else, but we just talked. No awkward pauses in the conversation and definite chemistry.

After his third beer I suggested we take a walk, not only because I didn't want HIM to be too drunk but also because the bar was on this nice little main street that Royal Oak has. The snow had partially melted during the day before freezing again when the sun went down. This created a partially dangerous driving condition but it also made for a very pretty sight on all the trees with the streetlights twinkling off the ice. We held our gloved hands together as we looked at all the store windows shut for the night.

He complimented my hair, which was a good move. If I could give you men one piece of advice on how to talk to women that I've learned from my time as one it would be to compliment their hair. Half a dozen guys every day compliment me on my ass, which is amazing but it's a bit crass and very off putting. The ones who try to seem not creepy but are actually still creepy will always compliment my eyes, even when I'm not wearing any makeup and have bags under them, because they read on some pick up artist website that it works like a charm.

I was born with....I mean Kari was born with pretty eyes and a big butt, but the hair takes effort. I had to wash and tease and style for 30 minutes that afternoon to get it to have just the right amount of curls in just the right places. Darius complimenting my hair was basically saying "Your effort paid off". That got me feeling confident enough that when we got to where his car was parked I pulled him down to eye level at kissed him.

"Took you long enough" He said with this confident smirk that is just maddening

"Would you rather I wait a little longer?" I asked coyly with a twirl of the hair that looks equally maddening

"I was just letting you make the first move"

"My car is parked all the way at the other end of the street"

"I could give you a ride down to it"

"Or we could just go back to your place"

Car rides after lines like that are always a bit weird. Like, we both knew there was going to be some physicality but talking about it would break the mood and seatbelts were preventing us from getting an early start. I guess I could have rubbed his thigh or something, but I didn't think of that in the moment. I still don't know all the right things to do as a girl.

We got back to his apartment, which was just as nice as I remembered and he offered a drink but I headed straight to the bedroom with him following eagerly. I took off my skirt, blouse, and parka and climbed on top of his bed in my bra and ran into the one major drawback of leggings, and that's that there is no way to look sexy taking them off, especially if you have thick thighs. I wiggled out of them as gracefully as I could and looked up to see him standing there in just his boxer briefs. I've seen him in a tank top before and I knew he had nice abs and arms, and even when I was a man I knew what a nice looking male aesthetic was, but now it was sending all sorts of signals all over my body. I stared up at him with my legs half open and a look on my face that said "Get inside me now."

Darius had other ideas, initially. The few dozen times I've had sex with Latherman over the last three months it's basically been "lay back and let him do what he wants as quick as possible". Darius, he started with kissing. Not slobbering like a horny animal but kissing me in just the right spots to make my arousal slowly build. I was so wrapped up in it all that I didn't notice when he had gotten my bra and panties off, just that I was soaking wet and the air felt cool between my legs. Darius did a sort of cocky laugh as he moved his head there and went to work. He was right to be confident because in seconds had me squirming and moaning. He somehow could tell when I was close because he stopped with me right on the edge and took his underwear off.

It's taken me awhile to come to terms with how I feel about the male anatomy. Years of kind of looking past them in porn and not paying attention to Latherman's if I could help it gave way to noticing bulges and eventually appreciation. I audibly appreciated Darius' when I let out a little whimper at the sight of it. That was his cue to climb on top of me.

This wasn't my first time having sex as a woman, but it was my first time having sex with a man face to face, or rather face to chest, stomach, or whatever part of his body was at eye level since he moved around a lot. This was a whole new level of intimacy that enhanced the physical feeling. At least we started out in missionary, before I somehow wound up on my hands and knees with my ass in the air. I was too blissed out to complain though, and there is a lot more friction and a good angle in that position. He was getting good and deep when my whole body tensed up and squeezed him tight in waves of pleasure, causing me to hear a "Oh Shit" from behind me as I felt him twitch inside me. He had put on a condom, which was thoughtful of him even though I've been taking Kari's birth control since August.

We both started laughing as we cuddled close. I said something to him, I think, but it was probably unintelligible. There's something about a really good female orgasm that makes you almost drunk for a few minutes afterwards. Darius seemed to tired to care, and fell asleep withing too minutes, but I wont' hold that against him since I knew what a workout it could be for a guy.

****************

I wrote most of that post on Saturday, and stopped in the middle of it because of how much of a slut it made me sound. This afternoon I was reflecting on that word and how it's used. It literally means a woman who has too much sex, as if there is some arbitrary limit on how much sex a woman is allowed to have before it reflects poorly on her.

I also had some sort of internal hangup about just how much sex a man changed into a woman is allowed to have before it reflects poorly on him. Most of the former men on this blog didn't begin having sex regularly or enjoy having sex until it was clear to them that they weren't going to be men ever again. I'm going to be a man again in a few months and I'm going to have to deal with all the weird baggage that memories of those feelings and sensations for the rest of my life, and I knew that going in.

The best part out of all this was re-claiming some sort of sexual independence. It's not that I've been coerced into having sex with Latherman, but I wouldn't do it if there was another way to keep a roof over Ashley's head. Everything about Darius, from the moment I met him, was something I chose. Whatever memories I have of female sexuality won't be from something I don't fully enjoy, but also something that I REALLY enjoyed.

And will probably do again.



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