Monday, February 27, 2017

Tyler/Judith: Spa Day

So, back in December, Kitty got me a Spa Day as a gift. It was a nice thought, keeping with our (not totally successful) pact to get each other gifts we didn't have to leave with these lives, and I know it was a really special gift, but I had to convince myself to get into it. Don't get me wrong, I love to relax and I could do with being pampered, but... well, I guess part of me thought that somehow it was all too girly to have mudbaths and cucumber facemasks and whatever. Which is absurd. My existence should probably prove that "girly" and "manly" don't really mean much in the grand scheme of things. Should having a vagina mean that I should be interested in a spa treatment? Maybe not. But should the fact that I once had a penis be a reason not to enjoy it? As if someone was going to take away my "man card"?

I was still a bit bashful and putting it off because, well, I didn't want to go alone. And part of me thought maybe Kitty would like me to ask him along and we could do a "couples" thing, but he specifically didn't buy a couples' package, so I thought... there's an opportunity here, to reach out to someone I haven't seen in a while.

My sister, Carrie.

Growing up, I was always very close with her, because my brothers were older they were mostly out of the house by the time she was born, and I was already growing into a bit of a black sheep. We stuck close together until I left the South for good a few years ago - so much so that she followed me to the Inn and wound up in Meghan's body. (Sometimes I wonder about the near-miss there... what if she had become me? Leaving aside the awkwardness of her living in her big bro's body for nearly a year, I would have been sure to get it back, and then what? We'll never know.) Distance, and the craziness of living with a magical body-transforming curse, kind of cooled communication between us... as did the fact that she was more sympathetic to Meg (the sister she never had, essentially) when we split... not that I blame her, I was an ass.

I could have invited Meg, but even though the lines of communication are open there, I still wasn't sure I could handle reaching out that way. Carrie, though, has been an important person for almost my whole life. Not being in touch with her feels wrong. And the fact that she's the only person who knew me well before the Inn who also knows my secret is also pretty important. Not everybody gets to have that.

And she had been on my case to let her meet me as Judith at least once.

She was happy to visit, she really fell for New England during her time here, and managed to roll a visit with Meg into the deal. She spent the night there before driving down to Concord to see me.

When she arrived and I opened the door, I caught this look in her eye, like she was afraid of who was going to answer - she knows her favorite brother is now a woman (again) and a bit older with a Kid, and she follows along the blog as best she can. There was nothing for her to be afraid of, but I guess there was still that sinking feeling in your gut you get when you try to square your mental image of someone, who you think they are, with who they appear to be now. She audibly gasped.

"Care!" I grinned.

"Ty!" she threw her arms around me in a warm hug. She's grown into a fine woman, really looking like she's got it together, and even in her sweater and coat she looked... well, I guess radiant is the word. If I didn't have Judith's Portuguese toasted-marshmallow complexion, we might even look like sisters. We were eye to eye for the first time in our entire lives.

"I can't believe this is you!" she said while we were still clinched together. "I mean, you live like this, you look like this! I know you've been here for a while... and you've been a girl before, but... this is so unreal!"

"Tell me about it," I said, practically tearing up, "Sometimes I forget, and then remember... how crazy my life is. All that I've been through."

She separated and took a good look at my face. She seemed to like what she saw.

"I think you're crazy, you don't look old at all," she said, referring to certain remarks I've made about Judith's looks on the blog and in private, "Not a day over forty!"

"Uh, I'm not forty," I said, knowing she was just ribbing me.

"And your hair looks beautiful, so silky and long..."

"Thanks, it's hard work."

I showed her around the house, Kit was having breakfast in the kitchen and was very cordial - cornily kissing her hand. Carrie, like many of you, has gotten my mixed reviews about Kit, but we are getting to a real honeymoon phase so I permitted myself to gush about how good things have been lately.

"The sex you two must have, I bet it's wild..." she giggled. I told her the less said the better, reminding her I'm still her sibling. Kit looked vaguely shocked, and personally I was a bit too to hear my little sis talk that way, but I disguised it.

Then I brought her to meet the Kid. "Hi there, you must be Olivia... or should I say Dylan."

Dylan looked suspicious. "Um... hi."

"Dyl, I told you before, my sister would be coming by. My real sister. She knows all about us because she's been through it too."

"Oh right," she said. "So, you're, like... my aunt?"

"Um, okay! Let's call me that." Carrie smiled. She had a gift for Dylan, some chocolate - she admitted she wasn't sure what to bring, but I assured her that the Kid definitely has a sweet-tooth. I explained the Kid's bashfulness by explaining my theory that she likes to pretend she was never a guy, because it makes things easier, so talking to people who know she is formerly a guy makes him self-conscious about his girly trappings.

Reflecting on the fact that I was walking my sister around the house in ladies' apparel and heels, I had to admit there was a point there.

We drove to the spa together. I asked how the family back home was doing, and she said about what I would have expected... this nephew is starting high school, that nephew made quarterback, apples of their daddies' eyes. Apparently I've got a niece who is turning out to be a bit of a punk rock rebel (and her parents suspect, a lesbian,) which I am genuinely sorry to be absent for.

I took a deep breath. "Look, if there's any news about the other Tyler... I don't think I want to hear it, okay? It's really hard, and I think life is easier if I just pretend he's not out there." Perhaps I was taking a page from the book of Dylan.

"Well, that's ok," she said, "Because there's no news as far as I know. He lit out long ago and never looked back."

"Good, I guess," I huffed.

"Can't say I blame him either," Carrie sighed, "Your old friends beat him nearly to death, stabbed him, ran him over, left him on life support... Guess he got the message that he wasn't wanted in 'Bama."

"Uh huh," I huffed.

"Scary to think that could have been you," she said.

"I wouldn't have been so stupid," I said. "They weren't going to leave Alabama to find me, bigger fish to fry. But he was an asshole who got what he deserved." My tone was getting pretty serious and I could tell it was spooking Carrie, who never liked knowing about my, er, sketchy past. I added, "I would have gone back. Even with that hanging over my head, I never would have hesitated. It's his fault for not playing ball."

"Okay, okay, you don't need to convince me," she said. "So now nobody in the family knows where he is, and we kind of... just don't talk about it."

"Mhmmm," I muttered. I would have suspected that none of them would miss me much if I just fell off the face of the Earth. Sure I was family but I was the Family Screw-up, someone that was a bit of a problem, even when I was doing fine.

We arrived at the spa soon after and changed the topic to more exciting matters... she asked me how I liked being a "mommy" and I gave her some of my observations, made a few jokes about how I got the easiest part of it and how I'm lucky I wasn't stuck with a toddler.

We signed in and were ushered to the change room to put on our plush white robe.

I looked around... there wasn't many ways to hide, so I blushed a bit and faced backwards.

"You're so awkward," she snickered behind me. "Same stiff old you in there."

"I'm sorry I don't really want to see my sister naked," I sighed.

"Whatever, we're all girls here," she said. "You're a married woman and I don't have anything you don't see in the mirror every day."

I angled my head just so that she could at least see the glare in my eyes, "That was true when I was a man and I didn't make a point to look around the change room then either."

"Okay, fine," she said after a second, "You can turn around now."

I did - except she was messing with me, standing there waiting for me, with her hands on her hips laughing her fool head off, naked as the day she was born and on display. "Damnit, Carrie, not funny!"

I shielded my eyes, but thought I had seen something that caused me to look through my fingers at her.

I gasped. "You're pregnant!" Somehow it struck me and I was sure, rather than having to ask.

I might not have noticed if I weren't a woman - call it intuition or whatever, but I guess I'm attuned to these things now, even if I didn't exactly have a photographic memory for how Carrie usually looked. The change was subtle, but telling. It didn't look like normal "weight gain."

"Wow, glad you finally noticed," she smiled, "I only had to strip naked for you to tell."

"How long?"

"Three months and a bit," she said.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"You're not supposed to tell anyone before three months," she said, "And I was working up to it."

"And this is how you chose to tell me."

"Oh, just channeling my inner Beyoncé I guess," she laughed, cinching up her robe.

"This is huge," I said, then frowned at the implications. "The father?"

"He's around," she said, dodgily, "He's a good guy. We're gonna make it work."

"Oh, Carrie," I sighed, deflated.

"Don't give me that," she said a bit more harshly, "This is my call. I'm happy with it. I want this."

"You want this," I said back, "Fine. No lectures here."

"Good," she said. "See you out there."

Mostly my head was spinning almost too much to enjoy the spa... I say almost because having your every body part tended to does manage to put one in a relaxed state of mind. Maybe she's still little sis to me, but I warmed up to it. She's got a good job and if this guy is as stable as she says, it could work out.

Really, I'm the last person who should be telling anyone how to live their lives... I've had four of them and they're all messed up. I suppose I might be good for some parenting advice, but really I got a very unique perspective on that so I'm not sure my observations are much help.

As we drove home, refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed, she asked what was next. I told her, we have a big scheme to get everybody back to their rightful place and I think we have a decent shot at pulling it off... except me and Kitty, who don't have rightful places anymore, so I reckon we'll just... keep floating.

"And Kitty's a good person to float with?"

I smiled a bit, almost as if I was surprised to hear myself say, "Actually, yeah. He's been good lately, I think that's the kinda person I need in my life sometimes."

She leaned over and gave me a big hug. "I never would have pictured it. I mean, none of this of course... you looking like this, acting like this... but I know it's you in there. I can still tell. You're doing a good job, Ty."

"Thanks," I said. "I can hardly believe it myself."

As she left, she looked back and smiled, "I always wanted a sister. You make a good one."

I sighed and smiled wearily, "I'll take that as a compliment."

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tyler/Judith: The Good Times

There was a comment on my last post that had a very rough appraisal of Kitty. And while he's got his faults, I probably don't help his case much by giving a bit of a skewed portrayal of him on this blog. You hear about the fights, the blow-ups, the times he makes me feel... less than happy about our arrangement. But there's a lot in between, long spans where we're joking around and comfortable and surprisingly happy.

It's true, our dynamic is a bit of a strange one. He's a 20-some years older than me and has certain values that have, well, persisted through our varying ages and genders over the course of our year (!!) together.*

*That's right, it's coming up on one year since I blundered into Alan and Greta's apartment in Milwaukee and found her there - it was a while later that we started our fling and while we haven't exactly been consistently "together" since then, we've never really left each other's side, so... make of it what you will. Believe me, classifications become a lot less meaningful when your life is like this.

It's easier to pin down the times when we disagree, when things aren't good... and maybe I'm a bit of a pessimist, a grump, (a bitch?) that I can dwell on that side of it a bit more, vent when I need to... but that doesn't mean it's always like that. Yes, it rubbed me the wrong way when he asked me to work less, but it's not like he was asking me to stop working altogether so he could keep me barefoot in the kitchen (I think.) Do I think it's a bit silly that he wants to feel like the head of the household? Sure. But I'd be lying if I said that trying to keep up an increased level of workload as well as keeping the house clean and meals prepared wouldn't potentially be one notch too much stress. (Judith's body is pretty prone to headaches and fatigue, in case you've forgotten... and if you'd ever tasted Kit's cooking, you'd volunteer to be the chef too.) And the less said about our Valentine's flap, which kind of demonstrated how we never really leave our old selves behind, no matter what we look like, the better.

But there are good times. They just tend to be quiet. Nights at home watching some crummy movie, making snarky comments between the dialogue, or just driving around listening to the radio. He loves to go shopping and beg me to buy things that he wishes he could still wear himself, half-seriously (I have to remind him that Judith and Adrian don't exactly have the budget that Kitty and Chett did.) While I mock the quirkier aspects of female clothes.

The best example came this past Friday night. Maybe he was still feeling some fallout from Valentine's, but that's neither here nor there. It was "surprise date night." I got dressed up all nice in a flowing purple dress, with lipstick and jewelry and all that, and I get in the car with him... and he's in a suit and tie, quite dashing. And I notice in the backseat of the Chevy, an overnight bag.

"Um..." I say, "Are we staying somewhere? Because I didn't make any arrangements for the Kid..."

"Nope," he beams, "That's our real outfits for the evening."

"Our real..." I say, "Kit, what are you talking about?"

"You'll see," he gets this impish grin as we drive a while, and a while further, and then finally we arrive two towns over at this... Country Bar. This really hokey looking linedancing joint. I was shaking my head but couldn't help smiling despite myself. Over the months, I've talked a bit about the kinds of places I used to hang out in my youth - and while I have a real conflicted relationship with the part of the country I'm from, there's a certain fondness, a nostalgia that sets in (God help me) when you realize you'll probably never be back (assuming the Inn never puts me in the body of a southerner again).

Not that I was necessarily surprised that the Granite State has its own rednecks complete with redneck bars (some native, some transplants, some truckers just passing through.)

"Sorry about the deception," he said, "I thought if I told you what to wear it might tip you off to my surprise. You like it, don't you?"

"I actually do," I said, feeling flattered that Kitty would go to such lengths to bring me a slice of home.

In the overnight bag were a man's and woman's pair of light blue jeans, plaid shirts, and cowboy boots. We changed behind the car - another somewhat uncharacteristically wild choice from Kit. I pulled my jeans on under my skirt and then slipped it off in the cold air to replace it with the overshirt.

"Where's the hat?" I said, "You're gonna look mighty out of place without one."

Nevertheless, in we went. The jukebox was playing the old shit from Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, George Strait, Reba... We had Po' Boys and drank shitty beer, I showed him some line-dancing steps. I even outlasted him on the mechanical bull (8.5 seconds versus his 5.1... maybe it's a center of gravity thing ;)) Mostly we drank and danced and laughed as we both awkwardly tried to lead.

We left the car there and took a cab home. The whole night put me very "in the mood," so the foreplay started in the car, but when we got to the house I found, much to both of our dismay, that Adrian's body was, um, maybe a bit too "tired."

So I did something I didn't necessarily think I would have to do, but hadn't closed my mind to if the situation arose. I brought my mouth down southward. That woke him up in a hurry, so I didn't have to linger that long, which was good because it wasn't something I really wanted to spend the rest of the evening doing. From there it was a bit of a quick finish, and I asked him to try not to go to sleep so that we could go again.

So we cuddled, and talked a bit, until he was ready to go again. The second time is always better - longer, steadier, more passionate... not that I necessarily mind "quick and dirty," but this body isn't as responsive to that.

Anyway, my point is, it was a nice night. A real nice night, the kind we really ought to have more often (but we can't exactly haul our asses out to the middle of nowhere for a random bar night every weekend.) I don't want it to feel like I'm faking it or I have to bend over backwards to convince myself that I like being with this person, to explain why I don't just bail like I have so many times before. It may not be perfect, but it's a good life we've got for ourselves.

-TJ

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Tyler/Judith: Who is the man, here?

To "seal the deal," as it were, for my new relationship with Kitty, I invited him along to the 30th Anniversary that I had been planning for work for Saturday night. It was fair as planner that I got to bring along a guest, and I wanted him to see me in my element. I got to wear a headset to co-ordinate the servers and cooks and bartenders... not that I'm a micromanager by any means, but it was cool to be able to direct traffic. Looking around at the floral arrangements, the catering, the whole thing ticking like clockwork... I was quite pleased with what I had done for my first effort.

"This is all very impressive," Kitty said, observing the venue. I noticed with a bit of disappointment that he his eyes trailed slightly along with the nubile young female relatives of the happy couple... but then, so did I.

"I know," I said, brushing that away, "Thirty years, who would have thought?"

"I can't remember what Chett and I did for our last big anniversary. Dinner, I guess." There was such a note of sadness, or at least distance, in his voice.

It wasn't an ideal memory to call up - we do sometimes bring up our exes around each other, but not usually when we're in good spirits. I don't talk much about my time before the Inn at all, and even try not to refer to Meg very often (we are on what I think are good terms, for us.)

Other than that, the night was largely a success with great food and plenty of booze. We took a long walk in the cold after getting home.

He seemed very distracted, lost in thought, so I thought I would bring him back down to Earth with a kiss. It seemed to wake him up and we headed home quickly so we could engage in our favourite new hobby. He's getting better. We're getting better at it.

Afterwards, naked and sweaty and cuddling, he asked me if I liked Judith's work.

"Sure," I said. "It's pretty involved, lots of moving parts. Rewarding in its own way, when you get to see the end result."

"A-huh," he said. "I just worry, you know. I make plenty of money for both of us, and... well, Chett was a bit of a workaholic."

"Where are you going with this?"

"I don't know. I like things the way they were. You mostly at home, waiting for me when my day was done. I don't want you to slip away and become a... too much of a career gal."

"Excuse me?" I said, rather offended.

"I just don't want this to become your whole life. I mean, we're out of here in the Spring, right? Why upset the status quo if that was working? I just think if more opportunities like this come up, you should think twice before jumping at the opportunity. We've got a good thing."

I was upset by this - hurt and confused - but I'm doing this new thing where I try not to react right away, and instead of getting angry and violent (not as in hitting, just as in yelling and slamming of doors,) I try to be... calm about it. I think estrogen is a good medicine for that (although not a cure-all by any means!)

"I... listen. I wanted to do this. I was getting bored. I'll be bored again. And there are a lot of upsides. Judith encourages me to help her career path along because it's what she wants to be doing... and it helps us put away a bit more money for our own lives, wherever that takes us. It's win-win."

He considered what I had said but only for a second. "We don't need the money."

I was starting to get flustered. "Well, we're not exactly... you know, I would think you were used to having a bit more."

"What I'm more used to is... a man who works, and a wife who takes care of the home."

Sometimes I think Kitty is even older than her 50-some years. Like she's from my Grandmother's generation. But I guess when you're used to having money, your values stay that way a little longer.

My heart sank a bit. I'm trying to be better, understand, compromise on things. So I admitted that while I may have had a knack for Judith's job, and I didn't really see the harm in increasing my presence there... I would consider her perspective. If it's important enough for her to bring it up, you know. There was still a little bit of Tyler inside of me that really didn't like being told what to do, but the "New Me" is trying to, well, overcome that a bit. I can be a wifey. Sure.

So after that, time passes and things get a bit more routine. I'm learning to swallow my pride and be more co-operative where Kitty is concerned, and play along with this "Housewife" routine, and really, it has its perks. It's hard as a man, a proud man, to admit you don't mind being looked after financially, to take pride in playing Suzie Homemaker, but it's tough work and deserves to be admired.

He's pretty appreciative.

By that I mean he wants to screw, like, all the time. He goes for it just about every night. And it's kind of nice to be in the position where it's up to my whim whether we do or not. It's been a strange few years, with my sex drive being cranked up and down... like I'm sorry to say, even though I do enjoy the rush and the new pleasure of finally exploring this aspect of Judith's body, I just don't... need it that badly (I figure this is just a feature of Judith's body, why I was able to go months without even really thinking about it.) Not that I want him begging for it, just... it's a thing. Sometimes I do it even if I'm not feeling like it, and the results are usually "fine, but need we have bothered?"

Anyway. Before you know it, it's Valentine's Day, and... well, this is his first Valentine's Day as a man. And we realized the Saturday before it that we didn't have any plans. So he asks me what I want to do and I say I don't really care, it's midweek so we're usually pretty tired, and there's Dylan to think about and... well, should we even bother?

And he says of course, we're a couple, we love each other don't we? (I'm still grappling with whether I do or not, but... sure, let's say I do.) We should make a big deal, celebrate "us" and how far we've come. And I say okay, whatever he's up for, I'll do my part: sexy dress, lacey underwear, red lipstick, seduction, the whole nine yards (I'm didn't say as much but that was what I implied) if he works out something for us to do that night. And he turns it around on me and says "Why didn't you plan anything?"

So it's like... excuse me, what's my part here? Am I on the hook for everything because I used to be a man and stereotypically that would have been my job? He was the one who wanted to get into a more traditional husband-wife setup. I don't deserve to be "treated"? What's the rule? What does he want from me? And do I want the same things?

It's not that I don't care about V-tine's Day, I can be as romantic as anyone when I'm really head over heels, but... something about our situation already feels so lived-in and old-shoe comfortable that it didn't occur to me. I'd be happy with a night in, but it seems like that wasn't enough.

Again, instead of making it a big thing, I just kind of sat quietly and pouted about it... and so did he. It was a tense few hours, and then we got over ourselves and made some arrangements, and... it was nice, we left Dyl with Sam and went to a French restaurant (my suggestion as we've handled events there and it has a good reputation - so I guess he got me to plan something after all) He was very lovey-dovey, picked me up some roses and a necklace to wear for the night, and got his seduction, and now things are fine. (I also got him some flowers, which he seemed to enjoy more than I enjoyed mine, and a tie.)

But I've just been racking my brain for a few days since, trying to figure it all out. Nothing's been resolved and I feel like this is going to keep being a problem. It's left a bitter taste in my mouth, but I'm trying to hide it a bit and convince myself it's just an awkward growing phase as we try to figure out exactly how things are supposed to work between us.

If we really do love each other, we can get through it... I'm sure...

-TJ

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-Wei: Boyfriends

I don't have any records of how long I ever lasted with any chick in my original life, but I think Jacky Lau may be the longest relationship I've ever had.  Benjamin suggests that this should have an asterisk, since roughly half of that time has had us in different hemispheres, but I kind of call bullshit on that.  After all, if we were living in the same city, he wouldn't have the chance to forget just what kind of body he could be waking up next to.  Temptation increases with distance, right?

It makes the reunion more exciting, too.  I wouldn't exactly say it was sexual torture being away from him for the fall semester, but it did feel damn good to put on a push-up bra, fuck-me heels, and a tight dress to go down the arcade, where Jacky had just talked about hanging out, though I don't think he minded heads turning to his girlfriend and him at all.  I'm admittedly not at my best gaming in that outfit - even now, when I get in front of a fighting game, I kind of want to take a wide stance and use my size to establish dominance, for instance - but it pepped him up and made it very clear what the real highlight of the night was going to be.

I introduced him to my "mother" Chen-ai the day before Christmas, and I don't know whether she was more being playful or trying to do something to break us up when she asked if Ernesto knew about Jacky.  Yes, I said, my classmates know I've got a boyfriend back home.  It got a bit weird when she kept pressing the point, especially since she seemed to suspect I had slept with him; did she just assume that's how it went on a set?  Jacky didn't rise to the bait, not even when she mentioned that Inspector Yee had visited a few weeks ago, although she assured both of us that she made sure to mention my carelessness, so that it would be clear that what happened to Father was at worst an accident.

I blew up at her after Jacky left, something that felt like it was a long time coming, wanting to know just why the fuck she would say that to her daughter's boyfriend.  She tutted about how I was so rude these days, that America must be a bad influence on me.  I was tempted to give her the "you have no idea" line, but instead hit back with something about how, maybe, me being over there made her realize just how alone she was always going to be before storming off to my room, trying to calculate the time difference to Montreal to figure out whether I should call René or email.

I wound up emailing to be on the safe side, then heading back into the city.  I tried to phone Jacky on the way but it went straight to voice mail - he can get more tunnel-vision-y than me when gaming - so decide, fuck it, I'll just go dancing myself.

Benjamin thinks I should feel sort of bad about hitting a club solo now that I've got a boyfriend, but for me it's kind of a practical thing more than disloyalty.  I may just be there to dance and drink and show off, but lots of guys don't necessarily see buying me a drink as fair payment for getting to look at me in that dress as opposed to a down payment on getting it off, and even being with a string bean like Jacky or another girl will cut that shit down.  You've also gotta watch your drink like a hawk, because stuff that didn't seem like a big deal when it was my fraternity brothers doing it is not flying with me these days.

Despite all that, I still like getting sexy and flirting; the knowledge that I could fuck any of these guys if I felt like it rather than maybe settling for someone's less-hot friend if I'm lucky is almost as intoxicating as the booze, and sometimes you just want to bounce around to music even if you're by yourself, just as a release.  I probably didn't have that much to get out - who gives a shit what some woman I've seen like four times in the year and a half I've known her thinks just because she gave birth to the original Yuan-wei? - but it felt good, right up until I saw Bingbing inhaling some guy's face and figured, fuck it, might as well force the issue after months of trying to be tactful electronically.

So I downed my drink, put a smile on my face, and was like "Chen Bingbing?  It's been forever!  And who is this kind of decent-looking guy?  I don't recall hearing about you and my brother breaking up!"

Bingbing looked annoyed, but close to match my bitchiness.  "Wow, what a weird thing for an only child to ask, Yuan-wei!  Keep up with these delusions and people will think you're nuts!"

I held my phone up.  "Well, if Max doesn't exist, then I guess this text message and the YouTube link inside it will just get bounced right back to me!"

It was a bluff, but Bingbing didn't seem to know that.  "Fine, let's go have a smoke."  She started walking to the door, telling her dance partner not to wait, even if he really is better than kind of decent-looking.  After a quick stop at the coast check to get her purse, we stood out on the sidewalk.  She quickly lit up, took a long drag, and blew the smoke in my face.  Bitch move, but I coughed a bit anyway.  "So," she said, "what do you know?"

"The real Bingbing says you're Giorgia Wong, and if that's the case, Google says you're 44 years old, come from Chinatown, two time loser, divorced three times, no kids.  Facebook suddenly takes a nosedive and switches entirely to English in 2014.  The person using it now says you've basically abandoned your old life.  Good match for you and your sister pulling the ultimate dick move and convincing René and Romain that going back to the Inn will kill them.  Whose idea was that, you or Carlotta?"

She didn't actually answer, just pointed out that I said "the real Bingbing" when I was just talking about her, but when the changes involved both of us, the people in Montreal were suddenly "René et Romain".  I started to explain, but she cut me off.  "I'm just saying, you did the same thing when you got that hot little bod that I did - you saw a chance for a fresh start way ahead of where you were at Yuan-wei's age and fucking took it.  Sure, Carlotta told you it was okay, but so what?  You chose to be yourself instead of Deirdre when you first went to the Inn, you made a choice, and we choose to have good lives rather than the ones we had which sucked.  And if we have to lie a little to do it without hearing them fucking whine about it for the rest of our lives, so be it!"

"And Max?"

"Well, at first that was just me being pissed off - Carlotta was going to transfer to NYU at the same time I did so we could be classmates, but she goes and freaks out over Yuan-wei's father, and living in Hong Kong, and, like, how kids in their twenties do all that social media shit and abandons me, and then I meet the brother of the guy who took her place?  Watching you fall all over yourself to hang out with us but having your skin crawl every time Max looked at your tits was just funny! Although, let me tell you, if you ever come around on not being related any more, and want to get close, I wouldn't blame you - he's really sweet and his dick--"

She went on about that subject.

"-- so tell him.  I'll just say I was lonely and sorry and call you a bitch for stabbing me in the back like that.  He'll feel great that I chose him over a lifelong friend and he'll fucking hate you.  Trust me on this, I've known how to get men to do shit longer than you've been alive."  With that, she flicked her cigarette butt into the gutter and smiled.  "God, it felt good to let that all out!  I just never get a chance to do that now that Carlotta is spending all her time being a good 'Sandy' since you outed her.  We've got to hang out more - call me when you figure out your New Year's plans!"

Yeah, like hell.

After that, I decided I really needed to get the hell out of Dodge for a while, even if I had booked a flight and hotel so that René and Romain could visit HK for the first time since they went to the Inn.  I guess I was kind of lucky that they apparently were a little nervous about that themselves, because when I suggested that the for of us (me, them, Jacky) head to Australia instead, they liked the idea.  Jacky thought it was kind of weird, since I don't get much time at "home", what with going to school in America, but how to explain how little it was feeling like home that week?

I booked René and Romain a round trip that would basically fit in between their flights from Montreal, so we met at the airport, but didn't have a lot of time to talk; owing to the last-minute nature of the reservations, we wound up scattered throughout the first-class cabin, and then a crowded bus for our ride from the airport and hotel in Melbourne, then...  Well, by then it was evening and Jacky and I opted to take advantage of not having mothers or roommates nearby.

One side effect of going to Melbourne instead of staying in Hong Kong was that there was a lot less time for chatting with René and Romain about how to handle actually knowing about each other; if we'd stayed in HK, there would have been times when Jacky was just of doing his own thing or at home, but making it a couples' vacation meant he was always around.  Normally, pretty nice, but it meant I didn't really have a moment alone with either of the other Inn people until the third day, when we're sitting on a beach and Jacky & René run off to fetch us some ice cream.  Romain and I are both in swimsuits, but I don't really feel like that's rude or anything until he says I'm looking good.

"Well, I did inherit some good genes."

"You don't have to say that."

"It's true!  I watched the guy living my life drop a hundred pounds, and by the time I was done being Deirdre, I'd gotten kind of soft.  It's different this time.  Maybe I'm still enough of a guy that I like the sight of a naked hottie in the mirror every morning, but that can't be all of it."

"Mm."  Way he looked at me was different, and not just because he's gay.  He was studying me the way I do Benny and wondering.

"Look, if you really want--"

"Of course I want that!  I mourned that body when Carlotta said there was no going back, and ever since meeting you, I wake up every morning trying to figure out how to arrange it, and if it were just me...  Have you ever been in love with your best friend?"

"I've, uh, had a crush."

"Me and René is crazy - we were kind of disgusted that the Inn made us into a gay couple, but we had no-one else, and, like, now I can't be without him, and I've spent the last few months coming up with ways we could go back, but even if you don't back out, only I can, and then, what, we hope he lucks into becoming a straight guy where the fact that his English isn't nearly as good as his French, Mandarin, or Cantonese isn't a problem?"

"You guys could probably make something work--"

"We're making this work, but I know what I could have had, and been, and I kind of hate that you and René get along, because what if he actually kind of likes girls a little?  What if that's why he was so supportive those months I was doing the drag thing...  Then I think of my Dad and how the police are still poking around even though the case is closed, and I think about getting my life back and going to jail..."

He stopped there, and we looked at each other, both kind of thinking that we weren't getting what we wanted it off this conversation.  Like, we were going to sit down, talk, and he was either going to say "oh, I'm too in love with René and settled into this life to ever think about getting the life I was born with back, enjoy fucking Jacky and spending my money with a clear conscience!" or him making an argument that has me saying "ah, well, easy come, easy go".  No, instead the situation is still complicated and we both know it.

At least Romain's face seemed to legitimately light up when René got back, and is weirdly cute to watch two guys whose bodies are in their mid-twenties goofing around with their ice cream like they were actually what I look like.  Jacky started getting a bit uncomfortable when it became kissing, to the point of asking me whether all that time in America got me used to that, and I kind of wanted to say, dude, I grew up in New York, but, obviously, I can't.  It at least got him feeling kind of competitive, though, and while we didn't quite wind up making out on the beach, he did pick me up and toss me in the water.  It involved a little huffing and puffing and promising to work out a bit more,  even if I wouldn't see the results until Spring Break.

Anyway, the rest of vacation was cool - there's lots of signs in Chinese around Melbourne, so Jacky and René could keep up with Romain and I without a whole lot of trouble, we all did little girly squeals meeting koala and kangaroos and penguins (okay, maybe not Jacky), and we got to celebrate the New Year before anyone else, practically.  There's a ton of good food and streetcars and museums and stuff, too.  I highly recommend the trip.  Heck, I won't lie; I might start thinking about it long-term after graduation, depending what my Hong Kong and American situations are.

It was a bummer that it ended; knowing I'd only talk to Jacky, René, and Romain online during the spring semester sucked, although I've been kept busy enough for that not to be a huge problem.

-Jordo/Yuan-wei/"Missy"

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Saturday, February 04, 2017

Tyler/Judith: If you're going to do it, do it right

The whole business between me a Kitty the other night wasn't really as simple as throwing some confetti in the air and announcing to the world, "Hooray, I like sex now!" From the moment it ended I was grappling with the heavy implications of what I had done, or let happen. Good for Simon for finding random encounters that he can dabble with without long term connections. I have to see this person every day, and I hadn't even officially said I really wanted to be with them.

I wouldn't say my immediate feeling was 100% disappointment or regret, but those were parts of it. Disappointment because it was... more cathartic than sexually enjoyable. And you only get that once. He wasn't good, and I wasn't good. He got "in" and didn't hardly know how to move before the clock ran out. And I was, well... not that accommodating either. But is bad sex even really bad? Just... you know, different. Not what was expected, necessarily.

He apologized profusely, and I said it wasn't necessary. It happened to everyone, and just because Kitty appears to be a man of a certain age, we know he does not have the expected level of experience for that person. On the contrary, we're total beginners, here. And I think we know how much of a learning curve there is for this sorta thing. Just ask Maggie Dolan down in Mobile about 16-year-old Tyler Blake.

As to regret, well, the thought occurred to me that I had wrecked a good thing. That there was a way to get through the rest of our term here without complicating it with sex and emotions. That even if he really does love me, that maybe that love would be better off waiting for a time when we don't have such a complex dynamic. I've been known to screw up and bail when things go poorly, and right now too many peoples' lives depend on me to fall prey to that urge. (Kit's advice: so just don't this time.) And I'd be lying if I said my male pride didn't like the idea of outlasting the female body without ever crossing that threshold. But I think even readers who have never crossed the gender barrier will understand that when you have a new appliance, you can only go so long before the temptation to see how it really works overwhelms you. It don't make me less of a man, it just makes me human.

"I don't regret it," I said... probably not that reassuring. I initiated it, I pointed myself at it. I wanted it. I knew he would have me anytime I allowed it to happen, and I knew it just... had to be this way. So how can I regret it? Better this way.

So we're gonna do it again, as is our right as consenting adults. I went to the drug store, to the marital aid aisle (for my pill, initially,) and decided to pick up some accessories. Nothin' fancy, but some stuff that might make your sunday school teacher blush. Condoms, obviously. A lot of em. I'd consider the pill - I heard it'd help ease some of my symptoms, while screwing with other parts of my biochemistry. Not willing to make that trade yet, and honestly not sure it's worth the investment at this time. I also bought a few varieties of lubrication... even if the rubbers are lubricated, Judith's body is no spring chicken and it couldn't hurt. This all, I bought at the far CVS, wearing sunglasses and a pulled down cap with my hair in an unusual ponytail.

The hardest part was "the talk." I always hated talking things out in my past lives... I always felt everyone involved should know where they stand somehow without speaking it, and yet... that has worked terribly for me in the past. So I sat down with a notepad and wrote a few talking points.

When he got home from work, I sat him down and laid it out.

"First, no shame about what happened our first time. The first time sucks, full stop. There'll be more. Practice makes perfect and all that. You're, uh, probably going to want to initiate that more often than I will, and I invite you to do so. I will remind you that I'm free to decline any time at my discretion. As before, we don't owe each other sex."

He looked at me in puzzlement: "I mean, you're free to decline if I initiate, but I don't expect you will." He nodded his head to the side, allowing that.

"We'll have to work on foreplay and stamina... I wanna find out what I like, what gets me going, and I want you to last long enough to give it to me. Do you have any specific comments on my performance?"

"Hmm, only that this whole conversation is really killing my mood," he laughed.

"Fair," I said moving on. "I think we have a pretty good sense of our rights and responsibilities in this relationship. Who does what, and how... I respect you as a lead provider, hopefully you respect me as both a lead home-maker and fellow breadwinner."

"Um, sure."

"That's a way of sayin' I do a lot."

"Right."

"I need you to know I will resist any attempts to assert yourself as a sole 'head of household' type. No authoritarianism. We go forward together or not at all. Right?"

"You think I'm authoritarian?"

"No, not that I'm real worried about that, but it needs saying. We're partners."

"Okay."

"If I piss you off, I wanna hear about it, but in a rational, straight-forward way, and I'll give you the same courtesy."

"Okay."

"We have a lot of disagreements about how things should be done. There's gotta be some give and take."

"What does that mean?" he asked, "You'll finally start rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher?"

"If that's what I takes to make you happy, maybe," I smiled. "But I don't wanna feel like I'm just rolling over for you. If I make a stand, will ya hear me out?"

"I guess."

"It's a pick-your-battles thing."

"Right, okay."

"And about Dylan... that's always a point of debate, right? But we already know how to negotiate a bit with him."

He sighed, and later told me he felt I didn't give his perspective enough credit where Dylan was concerned.

But in the moment all he said was, "Where's all this coming from?"

"You know, it's been kicking around my head for weeks."

"No, I mean, all this official-sounding talk. Where do you get it from?"

"Hm, well, I have some of the business calls I make to thank for that. Contracts I read. And I've been studying business books."

"I see."

I went on, "Bottom line there... we're raising a kid because we have to, we're dating because we want to."

"Dating isn't the word I'd use..." he said.

"Really...?"

"We're basically married, Judith."

"Ah, but... we're not. Right? Hence this discussion."

"But dating sounds so... light. Casual."

"Okay, we're 'together' because we want to be. Partnered. Coupled."

"Whatever," he sighed.

I dropped it, but to be honest he'll never get me to say we actually are "married."

"Point is, it can end. We can end it in a way married couples can't. God forbid, it doesn't work out, we don't need to get divorced. We just... you know... part ways."

He gritted his teeth. That obviously wasn't something he wanted to think about, and it was probably the "old Tyler" surfacing, hedging my bets. I moved forward quickly.

"Lastly... you love me?"

He squinted. "That's a question?"

"You've said it a few times. Does it bug you that I haven't said it back?"

He pursed his lips and nodded.

I took a deep breath: "I'm falling for you."

He looked away. Not good enough, I realized.

"I'm falling in love with you," I clarified.

He brightened up but just a shade.

"Please, this ain't easy. I'm trying to get through a lotta shit here. My own hangups aren't your fault. You somehow love me despite them. Six months ago I thought we were done. But you've changed, I've changed. And you had a big part in that... helping to make me better. I was a wild dog, even with Meghan. You've helped rein me in and... I'm better for it. I love that."

"That's great," he said flatly. I guess he wasn't feeling my point.

"You make me a great husband," I said, moving toward him. "You're dependable, determined... and yet, you can also be playful. And you're sexy when I see you having fun."

He couldn't suppress a smile. "Jude..."

"You're a sexy man, Kitty. You turn me on."

"Judith..."

"What are you gonna do about it?" I took his hand and guided it over the curve of my chest. "Say my name again, I love hearing it on your lips."

He whispered in my ear, "Judith..."

So help me.

We fell back on the bed and began to make out like a pair of teenagers. I had my hands on the button of his slacks, when we were interrupted by somebody coming home.

"Mom! Dad! Tyler's here, when's dinner?"

Aw, shoot. "To be continued," I sighed.

He smacked his head. "After all that waiting."

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Thursday, February 02, 2017

Tyler/Judith/Whoever I really am now: Here's how it happened

Tuesday after he came home from work, Kit found me lying in bed with the blinds drawn. I was half-undressed. I had been zoned out for probably an hour or so.

He was clearly irritated, since even on days when I work I tend to be "on top" of the night's meal. I had dropped Dylan off at his friend's place and since I had gotten back I was just... out of it. I murmured, "You can order something if you like, I'm not hungry."

To his credit, he sensed all was not well and asked if this had to do with the dream I had posted about. I didn't want to admit it did - just a stupid dream and not even a particularly meaningful one. I thought writing out those meaningless details would end my angst about it. But it set off a chain of thought inside me and I couldn't shake it all day. So I said "yeah, maybe."

"What about it?" he asked.

I cut right to the point: "I don't know if I'm me anymore."

"What are you talking about?" he said with a bit of a laugh, "You know as well as I do that deep down, you're Tyler Blake. Your body, your sex, doesn't define you."

I sighed, a light tear fell down my cheek "This isn't about that."

"Well then what is it about?"

"I mean... is Tyler Blake me? Something deep down inside of me that I carry around, or is it a piece of meat... a body I left behind a long time ago? Just a name I used to have?"

"You lost me."

"You told me you love me, but you don't even fucking know me. You think I'm nice and domestic and motherly, but that's just because I... I look like this and I have to be this way for now. And I'll leave this body behind soon and I'll, I dunno, I'll probably go back to being the self-destructive, selfish asshole I was before."

"You won't."

"You don't know."

"I do, because you never were that."

"Tell that to Meghan, who will always hate me at least a little. Tell that to the girl I ran away from before that. You don't know what I've done. What I'm capable of. How I've lost good things and wrecked my life, how I've been terrible to others because I... I'm fucking broken."

He took a pause and sighed. "I do know what you're capable of, I see it every day. I've seen you at your worst, when you were out driving gangsters around in Milwaukee, and I know you're better than that. I've seen you at your best... and I've seen it a lot lately. Whatever's happened to you, it's a good thing."

I shrugged, "Either I'm still that person deep down, just pretending to be a 'Judith,' or... or who we really are is easier to erase than it should be."

"Not erase... change," he said, putting his hands on my shoulders. "But one thing is true. This whole experience has taught me how unimportant the past is. None of our baggage really matters anymore once you're in a new life."

"It does. I still think of every mistake I've ever made, every day. It will never go away."

He said, "It doesn't. Your body changes, your name changes, and suddenly nobody cares where you've been. You don't have to pretend to be the person you look like, but you can be the person you really want to be, free from the people and things in your life that told you you couldn't be that. And it's not pretending, it's real. You have changed, Tyler. And that's not a bad thing."

Then he said again, "I love you. For you."

I sat up and looked at him. I felt this rush, like... like all my walls breaking down. Like I was letting go of something I've held onto far too long.

I don't know whether it was out of love or just a need to seal up the moment somehow, but we ended up doing it. He needed a little "coaxing," which surprised me considering how often I have observed him nursing a subtle hard-on in bed, but that's probably just because I was so sudden about it. I thought it would involve more planning, but it was time. We just rushed into it, damning everything that might have spoiled the mood - including, stupidly, a condom (I ended up taking a morning-after pill the next day. Misnomer: it's actually two pills taken hours apart.) I'd love to report it was some kind of life-changing experience, but my mind was still way too far away to actually enjoy it. There were pleasurable aspects, but either Jude's body isn't totally wired for pleasure anymore or I was still subconsciously fighting it despite my honest desire. It was also, all due respect to Kitty and to Adrian, about a minute long.

Still, that's one long-delayed rite of passage finally through with. Suppose I'll find an excuse to try again, and I hope it doesn't require another emotional breakdown.

I rolled over and let him wrap his thick, hairy arms around me. I whispered very quietly, "I think I love you too."

We'll see if I can live up to it.

-Tyler/Judith

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Simon/Joy: Stretch, Sully, the Big Guy and Teddy

I had sex again last night, big deal. Only this time I went over to the guy's place, because I didn't want Treena to judge (until she reads this.) It was kinda messy and smelled like a locker room... and is it weird that that turned me on a little? It was far from home, and I thought I could maybe spend the night, but I felt too awkward so I Uber'd home at 3 AM. Exhausting.

I could probably just keep hooking up with random dudes as long as I like - there's no shortage of bro's at the bar lining up to buy me a drink - but it's starting to wear me down. It's getting repetitive I'm not patient enough to set up a really good screening process so I usually just pick the first dude who gets to me, which is probably a recipe for disaster. I've thought about online dating, but I also don't like all the buildup and I'm seriously not looking to date, and all the guys who only want something casual on there are kinda... gross, tbh. But I have one last option. Work.

Some people are not into the idea of mixing business with pleasure, but those people are missing out on lots of fun. Seriously, you have a group of people you have to see day-in-day-out for years and you never even consider bumping uglies with any of them? Waste of time. Some say it causes workplace hostility, but only if you do it wrong. Plus there's something sexy about sneaking around, having a secret (lol, tell me about it!) and generally being naughty.

In fact, many years ago I had it hot and heavy with this girl from accounting. She dressed real conservative but she was a total freak. Loved anal and wanted me to tie her up once. Not that I'm up for any of that, but, you never know. She dumped me cold and I never fond out why.

So you might recall I spent the holidays with my co-worker Stretch. I honestly thought he was gonna make a move on me but if he wanted to he didn't try very hard and I wasn't up for it yet. Now that I am - and honestly I think I've been strutting around the office like a cat in heat for weeks trying to get some attention - and nothing. He seems shy, intimidated by me. Yawn.

I'd consider it if he would just man-up and make a move. He's tall and thin and clean-cut... kind of a Ryan Gosling look to him. I could go for that.

But he's not my only option around the workplace. In fact, there's three other guys I have a good relationship with: we flirt, we tease, we have long chats about the weekend. There's the Big Guy, who is so-called because he weighs about 300-lbs, and I know what you're thinking... sounds gross. But I think he's actually more athletic than any of the other guys because he hits the gym constantly. Good square jaw, looks like he used to play football in college. He just sweats a lot. He's vulgar and brash, and probably loves the fact that I can execute a perfect "That's what she said" joke.

Only, I think I saw him wearing a wedding band when we first met months ago... and now it's mysteriously disappeared. Not that I've ever asked...

Then there's Sully, kind of a cross between the two. A bit older than Stretch, and chubby but not "fat." We've teamed up on a few sales, and he is a smooth talker. He keeps telling me that one night, when he's free, we're gonna hit the club together. I have no idea what he needs to be "free" from... he does, however, have a face that looks like a potato and I don't think I could live with myself if anyone knew I had "hit that."

Lastly, there's Teddy. Honestly, besides the fact that Teddy is over 40 and looks it, he'd be the guy. Like, he's kind of who I see myself being in 10 years, and who doesn't want to screw themselves? Aloof, soft-spoken, but smart as hell and surprisingly funny. The man has been my idol, a bit, since I got here, and I'd be lying if I said he didn't occasionally pop into my head when I was "with myself." (Or with another guy.) But that aloofness means he can play hard to get... and I don't know if I have the patience to unwrap all those layers. I'm only here for a few more months so if I want something consistent, I need to act now.

In case you were wondering, Joey is dating some Filipino chick. Good for him, Asians are hot, but I'm not gonna deny that I'm annoyed that now that I'm ready he's off the menu.

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