Monday, May 29, 2017

Tyler/Judith: Aftermath

While it felt like a big deal at the time, I don't think I could have reckoned exactly how much the pregnancy scare would rattle me. As a man, I had never experienced anything like it. Now, there have been one or two occasions where a girlfriend of mine had to use a pee-stick, but in those cases it was always so distant. That was probably why I was able to be so confident we would get through at those times, compared to this. It would be nice if things were equal between the sexes, but it's the woman whose body is on the line, so it's so much more real for her, more scary if things don't go how she's hoping.

When I did tell Kit, he as pretty understanding about it, said all the right things: "I hope you're okay, I'm glad we dodged that bullet," et cetera.

Things didn't really go back to "normal" after.

It feels like a shame to basically quit our sex life just as it was getting momentum but... how could I go back and do that again? I feel so paranoid that even if we take every available precaution, it's just not worth the risk. I was coming to enjoy the experience, and yet...I can go without. I don't know if that's my male psyche or Judith's body being kinda cold or what, but there you have it. Kit was... not thrilled about that declaration.

Things got tense.

We started having regular conversations about the future. Things like... how would I feel about having kids? Settling down, if possible? Sure, now wasn't the right time, but when will it be? Where "are" we in our relationship?

One came on Mother's Day. What a confusing dang time to be me. I'm being lauded for something I never particularly wanted, and while I do my best I still often feel like a failure. Like I'm seriously not cut out for this. A lot of the time Mother's day is to assure the mom that she is appreciated but it my case it was as much about reassuring me that I'm doing okay and I haven't screwed up. Emotions were running high after the kid crashed for the night. We were feeling good, but then the conversation started up again.

My line is always... we can't. We can't plan the future because we don't know what's next. We're at the mercy of luck, as far as whether we'll ever be in a position to have kids, so I don't want to think about it.

Kit scowls at that. He goes on and on about how many years he wasted with a husband who didn't want kids, and now, is a second chance ever going to come?

Probably, I say.

With me? Maybe not.

It just sort of fell out of my mouth without meaning to. I've sort of towed the line during this relationship that, yes, I'm trying to turn over a new leaf and not make the kind of rash decisions that led me to the Inn and to many other troubles. I claim to want stability and, I don't know, a "normal" life but...I could see it not happening. I have to acknowledge that it's a possibility.

That hurt him.

I think it's entirely possible that I never get to settle down because I don't have it in me to take another person's life for my own.

"That's so convenient for you," he hisses. "You get to make the grand sacrifice of never living a full life because someone else will need theirs back."

I tried to backpedal. You never know - someday, the stars might align and I get my happy ending.

"And by then I'm long in the past, huh?" Kit sniffs.

"I don't want to do that to you..." I say, taking him by the shoulders. "I have really loved our time together. And part of my 'new leaf' is not bolting at the first sign of trouble. I want this to work." I mentally try to forget every stupid minor spat we've ever had and every reason I might have left in the past, and remember that this is the person I am with and this is the person who is my chance to prove I have what it takes to make it work.

He grew quiet. He averted his eyes. I had no idea what was going to happen next.

He got down on one knee and took my hand in his. My stomach sank.

Oh no.

"Tyler Blake," he said, "Will you marry me?"

I froze. This was the last thing I wanted. I had just said I would want to make "us" work, basically promising more commitment than I had any right to, given the circumstances. I was not prepared to be called on it.

My mind raced. Married? What would marriage even mean to us?

All I could say was, "I don't know."

"You... you don't know?"

"Who knows what the future holds? We could get stuck somewhere where we can't be true to each other, and... I don't know! Anything could happen!"

He stood up and walked away. He left the house and didn't come back all night.

I cried myself to sleep, I don't even know why. I was mad - at myself for being the same commitment-phobe I always was, but also at him for pushing too hard when things were going well. We had... equilibrium until I wrecked it. But I couldn't help my honesty. That's just how I see things.

When I saw him the next evening, he apologized for walking out like that, and explained that he had spent the night at Adrian's brother's place and done a lot of thinking.

"I fooled myself into thinking this was real," he sighed, "You, me, Livy, playing house. You're a good wife and a good mom, and that made me love you, but it's not real."

"Kit, I'm real," I insisted, "You just... shocked me, that's all."

"I thought I saw a future here, but you're right, we don't know what's coming, and honestly I think I'll be happier if I make a clean break."

His eyes were starting to well up with tears. I could tell he didn't really want to be doing this, but somehow he felt he had no choice.

"Kit, don't..." I said, "We can... we can work this out." I had my doubts, but I genuinely had wanted to make things work, for Kit to be the person I actually became better for.

"I used to think that you just hated being a woman," he sniffed, "But I realized, you hate being stuck. You're afraid of not knowing where the exits are. You'll probably go back to that Inn every year of your life whether it makes sense to or not."

"Hey..." I said, trying to ease things. That remark had wounded me though.

"You let it ruin things between you and Meghan, and you loved her more than you'll ever love me."

Ouch.

And that's how it ended. Eventually we cooled down - it pained me, a bit, to try to remember all the details considering we're on better terms now - but yeah, the Kitty-Tyler relationship has ended. I've even modified our Inn reservation so that we are sure not to become a couple again (don't worry, I straightened it out with Judith, too.)

As far as breakups go... I wouldn't say it was good, but... maybe it had to happen. He's pretty right about my fear of commitment, and if what we had was real, it would have been a great opportunity to prove to myself, and Kit, I'm capable of being serious. But as much affection as I had for him, he's just... not the one. And I'm not doing either of us any favours if I married him (whatever version of marriage he had in mind) just to prove I could.

I'm a different person from when I first went to the Inn, years ago. I'm a different person, even, from when I woke up as Judith. That guy was scared and thought there was no way he could be a "wife" and raise a kid.

Now, when the time comes, when it's real... I'm ready. And I'll know.

The search continues...

-Tyler/Judith

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Cary (and Elaine): Sometimes it's like I've learned nothing

So the last time I wrote something here, a few months back, it was all about Elaine teaching me how to be her so that I could get a job and keep her career going, which incidentally would keep a roof over our heads.  I seem to do all right, although the interviews are difficult.  I usually do jobs that most anybody can do, so the interview about kinda technical things would be tough even if I'm not doing it in a miniskirt and heels.  It takes a few tries before Elaine and I find a job that both will take us and looks likely to wrap up before the end of May.  It's a near thing, but today was the last day.

Elaine tells me that's good, which I'm thankful to hear, because I don't feel like I've learned anything specific on this job.  I started out not knowing much about computers, and I really don't know much about computers now.  I don't even know much about running a hotel, and yet I've somehow earned Elaine a bonus for spearheading a local group's development of a system to track everything about that.  It's bizarre.  I feel like I've gone into an office every day for months, running a lot of meetings, moving a bunch of sticky notes around a wall, but not actually doing anything.

Supposedly, according to Elaine, all the programmers would have just play video games all day long, never schedule a meeting with their "subject matter experts" or getting anything done.  I don't know that this is necessarily the case - they all seem to be good kids, more enthused about their work than I was when I was their age.  I guess maybe that's something I'm taking with me to my real life - whenever friends talk about the lazy younger generation, I can say that I don't really believe them.

I don't really know them, though.  A lot of Elaine's teaching me to live her life was so that I could go out with her friends.  I don't do it that much - like the ones at work, they're nice kids, but even with Elaine's drilling, I can be a few seconds behind in any conversation.  Dancing can be fun, but people get kind of grabby, and guys tend to take a step back when I start to talk about sports or anything.  Mostly, though, it's a matter of feeling uncomfortable leaving Elaine at home.  We spend more of our paycheck on home video equipment and the like so that she can watch movies while I'm at work or out, and most of the time I would rather stay home and watch something with her than go out with her friends.   We've got a few shows we're watching together, so sometimes she's kind of pleased that I'm letting her social life slide.

Not always, though.  The other day, I take a picture of myself with the team so that, when she's back in her own life, Elaine will recognize the people "she" worked with for these months, making sure to tag all the faces, and when I get home, she points her little fingers at the screen and asks why I've been holding out on her.  I kind of shrug.  I guess he's kind of handsome - tall, black, bright white teeth, only hair a close-cropped goatee, in good shape but not super-muscular - but not exactly distracting to me.  I tell her that I didn't think it was a big deal to mention it, because I think I handled telling him I don't date co-workers fairly well and I didn't want her to worry.

"HE ASKED ME OUT?"

Kind of, I say, but it would be unprofessional.  Besides, I wasn't feeling anything.  She says that's ridiculous, that everyone else with a functioning sex drive is starting to go along with what their bodies want, and he is exactly her type.  I say he's evidently not mine.  She looks at me curiously, and then asks if there are any guys there that do make me tingle.  I say no, but then I remember how I jumped a couple days before when another co-worker made it right to my desk without me noticing.  I point to him - white, a little closer to my real age, shaggy hair - and she just looks away, shaking her head, saying it's a good thing that I'm so professional.

I have to admit, I was kind of tempted to ask one of them out on the last day, maybe have one actual date before going back to the Inn next week.  I chickened out, though, so I guess I didn't learn anything about what the next lady I ask out will be feeling, either.

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Tyler/Judith: Hold your breath

It's Sunday night. I'm in a situation that still feels unreal to me: desperately trying to pick an outfit for dinner. It used to be so easy, and Kit knows it. He's on the bed, dressed in his shirt and tie, his black socks wafting in the air while I'm charging back and forth. Is it too cold out for this? Am I gonna be comfortable?

"The purple dress," he says. "I always love you in that."

"Yeah, and I know why," I snicker. "Look at this neckline. That's a good reason to put it back."

"Aw, why?"

"Because Kip is gonna spend the whole night ogling my chest, no matter what. I don't to give him more ammo."

Kip is Adrian's brother who most definitely has a crush on Judith. It's incredibly sad and upsetting and a big contributor to why we haven't exactly kept things cozy with that side of the family. But tonight it's a big family dinner and we've got to go.

"I'll sit between you two," he huffs, half-jokingly I think. "He'll behave. And I'll get the show."

"You get the show no matter what," I snap back.

He has a retort of his own, "Not always. You make me work for it."

"Damn right I do," I say. I slip it on over my head. Predictably, my boobs come falling out, my bra is visible. You get so used to seeing women in movies and TV and magazines who have their outfits perfectly chosen for them, you don't think about how sometimes nothing just goes together. You need a goddamned masters degree in fashion sometimes to put together an outfit - a really nice one - that "goes."

I slip it off. I prefer a more modest light blue top. It's silky, so I like the fabric, it covers everything and goes with everything. Kit makes a face. "What?" I ask.

"I've never liked that one," he sighs, "Simply not flattering, I don't know what Judith was thinking when she bought it."

I huff dejectedly, "She didn't. I bought this one."

She reaches into the closet and pulls out a shear dark green top. I roll my eyes. We're back to square one, because everyone can see my bra in it.

"That's what the blazer is for," he says with a smile. I nod, okay, that will work. He adds, "There's a really nice knee-length knee-length skirt in there to finish it off."

I don't particularly feel like wearing the skirt. I haven't shaved my legs. I don't have anything against the garment in general. I'm over any kind of male-born aversion to girly clothes. Bring it all on, but make it comfortable. Instead, I opt for slacks.

Kitty gives me that face and says I look like I'm going to a job interview. I roll my eyes and insist I look fine, but a look in the mirror makes me doubt that.

I can't believe I'm about to utter these words but I do: "I feel fat."

I feel up my belly. I twist and look at the way my hips balloon out and project into a big round butt. I'm used to looking this way, and honestly it's not so bad, but I don't feel "fat" until my clothes don't fit right. Make no mistake, if I had been incarnated as a huge lumberjack of a woman I would have made due without shame, I think. But there's something about this situation that makes you feel the pounds and inches you gain after you get here, and Judith's body is pretty prone to fluctuations. Basically, I want my clothes to fit. It's a real kick in the tits when you have that notification that you're getting bigger, you're having an effect on this body. It feels unforgiving. I suck in as best I can. This isn't going to work.

"I'm sure you have something more forgiving," Kitty says. He's trying to be reassuring, but he's not.

"No, never mind, I'll wear the damn spanx," I grumble, dropping trow so that I can put on something restrictive that will keep me from breathing properly all night but at least allow me to fit in these damn pants. Then I have to find shoes to wear with it. Two-inch black pumps. Why does everything have to suck?

We go out, and it's a nice enough time. Nobody notices I'm being quiet. I order the salmon because it seems light. The Kid wants to order off the adult menu but I remind her that she wasn't able to finish the steak she ordered last time we tried that. Kitty says there's no shame in the doggie bag, and I say fine, knock yourself out.

Kip is ogling me no matter what I wear. I wonder if Judith ever felt flattered and encouraged it.

We get home. I'm definitely too tired to have sex, but we do kiss and cuddle a bit. I think about what an ordeal just going out for a night is sometimes. I toss and turn, and then I'm up half the night re-living my salmon. Not on purpose - I'm not trying to slim down, I just can't keep it down. Kitty sleeps through the whole thing. Between retches I pull my hair back into a ponytail so it doesn't get chunks in it.

On monday morning a thought occurs to me and I can't get it out of my head. I'm gaining weight, I'm getting sick, I'm a bit moodier maybe. I'm trying to remember when was my last period. I'm not on the pill and they tend to be erratic. I swear it's been less than a month. Once I went over 5 weeks between them, but that was before Kit and I were even doing it so I didn't think twice.

I happen to check the blog and see Jonah's post about his/her little baby girl.

I find myself at the pharmacy in the "Family planning" aisle. The pregnancy test seems like an unnecessary expense, right? My period will come any day now. So much grief and embarrassment in bringing it to the cashier, it's not worth it. I'm worrying about nothing.

I buy it and take it home. I couldn't even look the cashier in the eye as I did so, I can't even pretend I'm hoping for a positive to decrease the awkwardness. I drink two glasses of water, more than necessary. I'm shaking. This can't be happening. I'm only months away from getting out of here. I can't screw this up, for me and Judith and everybody. I can't get stuck here like Jonah. Even if what Kitty and I have is for real, we are not meant to stay in these bodies.

I pee on the stick. The two minutes it takes to reveal the result are the worst I have felt in years. Worse than waiting to find out how your body is transforming. Worse than whatever it was that drove me to walk out on Meg. Every problem I've ever had seems so small in this moment.

It's negative.

I breathe a sigh of relief. I feel like I've just been found not guilty of a federal crime. I look again. Still negative. Breathe. My heart and stomach settle back out of my throat.

I put the test back in the box, and put the box in a bag and I walk to a nearby park and throw it out. I think about what, if anything, to tell Kitty. I do plan on saying something about it, but I had to get rid of the evidence just so that he wouldn't find it first and ask about it. I need to control this.

I'm still very shaken. I walk home, sit down, breathe for twenty minutes, then look at the calendar and count the days until we go back... again.

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Monday, May 01, 2017

Tyler/Judith: Spring lull

I woke up this morning and turned over the "Mom's Planner" calendar over to May. My heart skipped a little - we're that much closer to D-Day, or should that be M-Day, for Maine? Or T-Day for Transformation? Well, we haven't named it. Besides, it could be any of a several-day stretch we expect to be in Old Orchard Beach.

I haven't put much thought to what comes next. How could I? I don't know who or where I'll be, or who I'll be with. Everything will be up in the air. And I'm so stuck in the morass of being Mom and Wifey that I can't really afford the luxury of snapping back to "Tyler-Wanderlust" mode even in my dreams.

Besides, things are... and I hate to say it because things are just aching to be jinxed, but... things are good. Kit and I are vibing like we never have before, even when we were Alan and Greta. We've gotten into a good routine. There's me at home, cooking and cleaning, ready to kiss him hello when he returns from work. I listen to his - admittedly dull - office anecdotes. I ask the Kid about homework and friends. We watch TV, we fall asleep in each other's arms. If you didn't know better you'd think we had been doing this for years.

Which makes me feel like T-Day, whatever we wanna call it, is something to be a bit worried about it, rather than celebrated. Anything could happen and for once that feels like a bad thing, if it puts an end to me and Kitty before we're, I dunno, ready to end it. I try not to dwell on it too much.

There's, haha, sandwiches to make.

I still do some work for the Event Agency, but I haven't accepted any projects on my own since the Anniversary I did months ago. Judith would probably kill me if she knew what a fib it is that I've kept her career going strong. I mean, she wouldn't kill me, because she wants her body back, but maybe if she waits until after I've been to Maine... better watch my back.

It pains me to admit, Kit was a little right about de-emphasizing work. We've had to tighten our belts a little bit but it's not like we depended on my income too strongly, and I'm at peace with things as they are now. It's strange to think, this is maybe the first time I've ever not wanted to leave a situation but had to.

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