Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tyler/???: Goodbye

Late last night, I was sitting up in bed reading. I was wearing my nightgown, because it was a chilly night and the Inn gets drafty, but I could tell I was changing because suddenly my hair was long enough to get in my eyes, and a much lighter color.

So I stood up, very slowly slipping my feet over the side of the bed. The bed now felt much higher up than it had been when I climbed in. I stood up and got the very weird experience of not being the right height. I was woozy, too, feeling unbalance because I guess my mass was still shifting around. I tiptoed over to the door and try to measure myself against the frame, and I reckoned I lost... 6 or 7 inches? That would put me at 5 foot nothing.

If I was afraid I was de-aging into a minor again, I didn't have to be. I may not be as tall, but I definitely still have an adult's body. I was growing... elsewhere. I could feel my chest expanding, my nightgown tightening against it. I let it drop to the floor and met the girls.

I've been two different women before and I've never had big boobs. Lauren's were basically nothing, and Judith's were quite modest too, so I had the luxury of kind of forgetting about them a lot of the times. But these ones... really aren't. I put my hand under where I thought they would end and tried to smoosh them up against my chest, just to get a sense of their weight, their size and dimensions. They're hefty... more than a handful for this body (it was hard to tell if that was just my hand being smaller or they were really that much bigger. In the end, both.) And they kept getting bigger. I felt this dull throbbing in them as they gained more and more mass, slinking lower and lower on my torso and bulging further outward. The good thing is, my equilibrium returned so I didn't tip over... thank you, low center of gravity.

"Holy shit," I gasped quietly in some mixture of awe at their size and weight, exhaustion that it took so long to subside... and just relief that that that part of the change was over.

I'm not skinny in a stick figure sense - my hips did narrow and become more squarish than Judith's, my butt flatter... but being so small means these things just dominate my physique. This could be... annoying.

I threw my robe on - it was only knee length so it still fit well, but it was still tough to keep cinched on my new proportions.

My room shares a bathroom with Pete, so when I absent-mindedly opened the door, I was face-to-face (well, face-to-torso) with an attractive, slender black woman. I tried to avert my eyes from the scandalous parts but I think Pete didn't care because he/she didn't make any attempt to cover.

"Look at you!" Her eyes lit up at me. "You're so--!! Oh, have you seen??" I didn't even have time to answer before he took me by the shoulders and pointing me at the mirror. My head barely made it into the frame. I stepped up on my tiptoes.

The person in the mirror... her jaw hung open a little bit. This weird mix of pleasure and irritation washed over me because I was... well, pretty. As Judith, I had a mature look, I guess, which could be beautiful at times, but mostly I just looked pissed off, with cold beady eyes and a naturally frowny expression. But this new face is very round and pink, with cute cheeks, soft lips, bright green-blue eyes and long, silky strawberry-blonde hair. I couldn't look mean if I tried. That's... a mixed blessing, I think.

I sighed, resigning myself to cuteness, shortness, and an absurdly large bust. Not the body I would have chosen, but healthy and young. I turned to Pete and forced a smile. "Well, you look--" I cut myself off and clapped my hand over my mouth. My eyes bugged out. Pete tittered. "Did that come out of me?" I gasped as low as possible, muffled by my hand.

"Oh my God your voice is adorable!" she said in her non-cartoony alto, her eyes lighting up. "Say something else!"

"No! I'm never gonna speak out loud ever again!" I hissed in a whisper-shout. As Judith and Lauren, my voice was definitely higher than a man's, but still could be quite husky when I wanted it to be. This was embarrassing. "I sound like Minnie Mouse on helium!"

"You'll get used to it," she said, patting me on the shoulder dismissively. "I'm so pumped. This is just what I wanted. Plus I'm black. That's so cool," she chirped while she teased her frizzy dark curls.

I rolled my eyes at that. It's one thing to be okay with all this. It's something else - borderline inappropriate - to be genuinely excited. but we all process this differently. In a few months, the reality might hit her.

I considered whether to go knock on doors and wake everyone up... particularly I was still feeling a nagging parental need to check on Dylan... or whether I should dig out my new luggage and finally read the letter I was left... but fatigue was hitting me, and if there was an emergency they knew where to find me.

I woke up to a knocking on the door and bright sunlight. A little after 6 AM.

Still in my robe, I went to answer and saw a 13-year-old boy standing over me... towering over me, as it happens. He looked down and his eyes bugged out. "Woah... Tyler?"

I cinched the robe up. "Eyes up here, mister."

"Sorry," he said, looking away.

"Looks like everyhing worked out. Wow, you got really tall," I said.

"Yeah, it's so weird," he said. "I feel so strong and... clumsy."

"You'll get used to it," I smiled. "You're gonna have a great year."

"Yeah," He nodded nervously. "So, uh... we're leaving?"

My eyes bugged out. "What?"

"Yeah... my parents are back to normal and the first thing they did was call a cab so they don't have to stay here anymore."

I was stunned. "I... I guess that's their call."

"Can we text? Keep in touch?"

"Of course," I said. I was fighting back tears. "Someone's got to look out for you. Have you said goodbye to Kitty yet?"

He shook his head. We went across the hall and knocked on her door. Inside was a young woman of Asian descent - Filipina I think. Kitty's new form.

We walked him out to the car. I asked Neil if it was the wisest move to be running off like this after just becoming full grown again. He looked me up and down then rolled his eyes and said they just couldn't stay.

I made the sourest face that my new look would allow and his tone changed. "You were the mom, right? Judith?"

"That's right," I said.

With some reluctance and pain, he said, "Thank you for looking after our boy. It seems like you did a good job." Maybe I was expecting more, but I get that it would be hard to express yourself in that situation. I took what I could get from them.

"You're welcome, Neil." I said, offering my hand.

He shook it and said, "I'm Susan." I stifled a laugh - it happens.

We said our goodbyes. I wrapped my arms around the Kid. I wanted to say something profound but I was at a loss. Kitty, crying more openly than me, told him to eat his vegetables and not stay up too late drinking soda. I added "Be good... and if you can't, don't get caught." He looked embarrassed, but that may be because I no longer resembled his, or anybody else's, mom, and he may have had some mixed feelings about that. After they pulled away, she said she would have to go soon too, as she apparently had a husband waiting for her. She seemed a bit ambivalent about that. I wished her luck. We both really fumbled for words to sum up our complicated, crazy relationship.

"What about you?" she asked. "Where are you headed?"

"I don't know yet," I said. "I'm kind of enjoying this phase where I could just be... nobody."

She called for a ride and told me to visit sometime. Perhaps one day down the line we could be friends. We definitely have a bond. She'll always represent a very important part of my life, whether it was always good or not.

And then it was just me, Pete, Annette, Abbie, Kendra and a few new people. I felt very strange. The day before I was a mother and - technically - a wife. Those aren't things that people are supposed to just... stop being. I wondered if I should be happy or sad, and settled on both.

I went inside and decided to get dressed. I put a pair of high-waisted denim shorts, which exposed a small tattoo on my front left thigh of a bird nesting on a branch, the first of three that I noticed (similar bird-themed ones on my wrist and ankle.) I hurriedly dressed in a tank top that couldn't help but prominently display the "twins," supported by their 32E bra. I felt extremely exposed - like I was doing something wrong by showing so much skin because I wouldn't have done so as Judith. It's gonna be so weird having these things under my face all the time, adjusting my "fashion sense" (such as it is) to a young person's. Pete emerged from his room wearing a multicolored sundress and a big flashy grin.

"I know a good place to get breakfast," she said. "Hungry?"

"Starving," I said.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tyler/Judith: Late Night Talk

Last night, around 11, The Kid came to my room dressed in her pajamas. I tried to shoo her away - "You can't be here, we have curfew. It's for your own good."

"I can't sleep. I need to talk to somebody," she pouted.

I checked around. There was still at least one vacant room at the Inn. By my count only 11 visitors. There was a risk, but... "Okay. Get dressed and meet me in the car. You hungry?"

Ten minutes later, I was idly driving around Old Orchard Beach looking for an all-night burger place.

"It's safer this way," I said. "We leave the Inn, if two other people arrive there's still a buffer."

We found somewhere to sit and talk, but she seemed to be having a hard time coming out with it.

To put her at ease, I told stories about my youth. "My dad used to take us to places like this when we got a good report card. Didn't happen very often..."

"You were dumb?"

"Not dumb... a bad student, but I knew things. They didn't have good ways of making the distinction back them."

"My teachers say I'm so smart for my age but I'm really not," she sighed. "It's just because I look so young."

"You're good," I said casually. "Better than you think. I've seen your report cards."

"I'm really scared," she finally said.

"Scared of what?"

"I don't know," she said, averting her eyes, "Scared to go through with this. I know it's stupid but... what if something goes wrong? What if they lied and I'm not getting my body back? What if I have to go through another year of faking it? What if I have to be a grown up or--" she made a disgusted face, "One of my parents?"

I sighed. "It's... possible. But unlikely." In reality, I wasn't sure I could be certain but I needed the kid to feel secure.

She looked at me cold, and slouched down.

"I'm just worried. Maybe it's safer if we don't do this."

I scoff. "Pfft. Sure, that will go over real well."

"Tyler I'm serious! Don't treat me like a kid here. Kitty told me people are out there stealing other peoples' lives. It happened to you!"

"That's irrelevant," I said more sternly.

"I don't wanna be sad the rest of my life because I had to give this life back to some dumb girl!"

"What, are you happier now?" I scoffed. "You want to grow up as Olivia?"

"A little bit!" she said. "It freaks me out how good it's been to me. People like me, I have friends. They think I'm smart and funny. Nobody noticed me as Dylan."

"That's not true, you've told me you had lots of friends."

"Some friends," she practically spat. "Didn't even notice I wasn't me all year."

"That's not their fault," I snapped, losing my temper somewhat.

"There's no point in being Dylan. He's never going to be anything. This way, I could grow up and be, like, popular. People are always telling me how cute I am, you know. How Olivia is growing into a 'fine young woman.' I bet Olivia's going to be real hot. People will like me better. I can have whatever I want."

"Dylan!" I hissed. "I can't believe I have to tell you any of this. There's more important things in life than being a pretty face. You can be anything you want. But if I did anything right during this year... anything at all... I didn't raise you to be a body thief. There's a scared little girl out there in the wrong body and you owe her that one. When you're 18, if this Inn is still standing, and I bet it will be... you will be free to come back do what you want. Unlimited do-overs. Trust me though, it doesn't bring happiness."

There was a long pause. It was one of the most angry I've ever been with the kid. I looked around, self-consciously, worried that people were noticing, and collected myself.

Sheepishly, she asked, "Do you think you'll ever be happy?"

"Maybe," I sighed.

"When you're a guy again?"

I shook my head slightly. "Being a guy isn't everything. I was a shitty one of those, too. I'll be happy when I'm free to choose my own path again, no matter how I look. But I don't know when that will be. For you, you can have that as Dylan. if not, when you're 18, if this place is still around, feel free to come back. It's your life. But I bet in five years, you won't remember what it was like to be Olivia, and the idea of going back to the Inn on purpose will seem laughable."

"What if I don't get to go back to being myself?" she said, sniffling.

"Then we'll deal with it. You can join me here every year until we get it right. But promise me you'll try to be happy as yourself, if you're fortunate enough to walk out of here this week that way. Because I don't have that choice."

Another long pause, and then, "Ok. I promise."

Sometimes I forget the kid is older than he looks. Still a kid though.

I drove him back to the Inn. I sent him in first and waited a few minutes for him to get situated, then followed, just in case. The last thing he said was, "I'm scared I won't be good at being a guy now that I've been a girl."

I smirked. "Buddy... I bet you'll be even better."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tyler/Judith: Maine 2017 Day 1

It was a long, quiet trip up. We were all in a daze by the time the family Mazda pulled up to the Trading Post Inn. Dylan was deep in a teen fantasy book in the back. I was picking crumbs out of my bra from the sandwich I had finished while in the car. And Kit was on his third attempt to reverse into the parking spot. He did not appreciate me trying to give pointers.

The lot was half-full, which seemed good to me. It's the middle of the week, so I didn't expect everyone to be arrived already, but I was hoping we wouldn't be alone. There are three of us in thee separate rooms, so the potential for loneliness was Shining-esque.

As we unloaded our gear from the trunk - Kitty attempting to carry my bags for me, but me declining (and later regretting it) - we were met at the front entrance by a familiar couple: the "O'Rileys," aka Abbie and Kendra, with their 4 and 6-year-olds hanging by their sides.

"Hey there," I said, letting out a huge sigh of relief. "Can you believe we're all back?"

"Not yet," Kendra said. "Give it a few nights and we'll really be able to say that."

I embraced them both in big hugs, then bent down to see Neil and Susan. "Hi... do you guys remember me? Do you know what's about to happen?"

"Don't talk down to me," snapped Neil in the voice of an adorably irritated moppet. "I know why we' he'uh."

"Yeah, uh, it seems like they've really regained a lot of awareness lately," Abbie said. "The more we talked about going back to the Inn, the more they kind of... snapped out of it."

"They've gotten really sassy lately," Kendra added. "They're excited, to say the least."

I told them I thought they should be writing on the blog about all that, but they said they preferred to keep things a little private.

Neil and Susan rushed over to Dylan and started peppering him with questions - how did he feel about going back, was he eating enough, did he have friends at school, were we being good to him.  Not that I have anything to be ashamed of but I kind of hope they don't go back through this blog.

"And how are you and Kitty doing? Has it been awkward?" Abbie asked.

"Um, we've been making it work," I said, trying to put the question down as best I could. No, it hasn't been easy, but we're two reasonable people who mostly don't totally hate each other. There's a lot of reasons why it didn't work for us - twice. That hasn't kept bitterness from creeping in (on occasions where we have to be around each other for long spans of time - like, say, a car ride from NH to Maine - we tend not to speak.)

I turned the question around. "What about, um... you two?"

They both scoffed. "Us? We're good, obviously."

"Are you, uh... do you mind me asking? Did you ever..."

"Hook up?" Abbie said, chucking a hoarse, male laugh. "Let's just say, we managed."

They gave each other a knowing smile and suddenly I was afraid to ask for more details.

Nobody else arrived all day, although we did run into Annette/Benjamin. He had plans with Jordan and his brother (her brother? Sister?) who didn't come all the way to the front door of the Inn, I'm guessing out of skittishness based on recent events. He offered us a chance to hang out with them but we kind of collectively rain-checked. They wanted to make it a late night and I think everyone here has a pretty early bedtime... plus I feel like the collective mood among that group is a little less excited than this one, given recent events.

Kendra and I went to pick up Chinese food for the whole group, since we didn't want to deal with the fuss of having all the kids with us at a restaurant. When we got back, Kit had retired to his room. After dinner we showed the kids to theirs and illustrated exactly where they had to stay to get their correct bodies back... as far as we knew.

After dinner pretty much everyone retired, but I couldn't sleep so I got dressed and headed down to a bar I had been to a few times over the years - probably not the same one Annette & Co were going to hit. It was a pretty lively place for a Thursday night. I sat at the bar, ordered a vodka tonic, and sipped it quietly while watching baseball highlights on the TV.

I was about two sips in when this guy sidles up to me.

"What's a lady like you doing alone in a place like this?"

I looked him over. Cheesy-looking guy, overly-stylish hair, wearing a suit with his shirt unbuttoned one too far.

I might have been furious at his imposition but I haven't actually been hit on that much as Judith, so I was more confused than anything. I gave him this look, like 'Are you talking to me?'

"Oh, I swear I'm not coming onto you," he backed off a little, then added. "I don't hit on married women."

I looked at my hand. The ring was off, and had been for weeks since Kitty and I broke things off. There was a slight tanline there but he would have had to be Sherlock Holmes to spot it.

"How did you..."

"It's Judith, right? ... For a little while longer?"

I got this very nauseated feeling. My eyes narrowed. "Who are you?"

"We've never met," his expression got more innocent, "I'm just a fan. I really admire what you do."

"And... what do I do?"

"Come on, Jude," he said, stressing my name and making me even more irritated. "The blog. If you don't want people reading it, you shouldn't be writing there."

"Touche," I said through gritted teeth.

"Don't be so sour," he said, ordering a beer for himself. "We're in the same boat, and I'm never getting my old self back. My name's Pete. Well, it used to be, get me? I've been to the Inn a few times myself. But you're lucky."

"How's that?" I scoffed.

"It's like you told Dylan, a long time ago. You've been on both sides now. That's a good thing. I keep getting these boring average dude lives. It stinks."

I muttered, "Wanna trade?"

He smiled, a bit more warmly and let out a guffaw, "I wish! But I think Judith is spoken for. And so is this guy. For a little longer. Just gonna have to roll the dice again. Like I said, same boat."

"Well," I rolled my eyes, "Be careful what you wish for."

"Come on," he took a big swig of his beer, "You can't tell me... if you had woken up that first time, as just some other guy... and then the next year, as some other guy, a little older... but you knew that there were people out there having experiences like yours? Being Lauren and Judith and... whatever else... you wouldn't be intrigued? You wouldn't be curious? You wouldn't think, shit, my life has been so boring, I'd love to at least try it?"

"I never had a chance to think about it that way," I said flatly. "Don't take your good fortune for granted."

"I think I'd be good at it, you know," he said. "After everything I've read from you guys? And my own research. If I knew it was coming. I could totally adapt."

"Seriously Pete, or whatever your name is... it's not all it's cracked up to be. The novelty wears off, and then you're just... well, you realize how different it really is."

He shrugged and said cryptically, "We're all different."
I asked, "Have you checked in yet?"

"Not yet," he said, "Just got to town. What about you... any idea what's coming?"

I shook my head. The remains of my locks whipped back and forth, so I grabbed a hair tie from my purse and pulled it back. The humidity was making me frizz out insanely.

"Scared to look?"

"Been a busy day."

"That's code for scared. What room are you in?" I told him and he lit up. "Right next to mine!"

"Great... No offense, but if we end up as a married couple, I'm divorcing your ass," I said, half-kidding.

That got a chuckle. "Fair. No more fake marriages for you. What if you're my kid?"

"I'll run away. Put myself up for adoption."

"Sounds great. Very sensible and not at all dangerous," he snickered, putting his hand on my shoulder in a show of familiarity that was still kinda uncomfortable given we had just met for the first time. "It's gonna be okay, Tyler. We're both old pros at this."

"Well, I'm looking forward to retirement," I said, downing the rest of my drink. "Hey, mind giving me a lift to the Inn? It's a long hike and I'm not wearing the right shoes."

"You got it," he said, and left his own drink unfinished.

We stopped by the Check-in kiosk a few blocks down the road so he could get his key and we walked to our rooms.

I still haven't looked. I wrote all this out, now I'm tired, and I'm ready for bed. I don't have the energy to put up with all the likely disappointment I'm facing. I'll look tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Annette/Benjamin: And to think I've had my eye on a ring

I talk with Missy a lot these days, sometimes, I think, more than I did when we were sharing an apartment.  We both feel like we need someone who gets us, even though it seems like we should have it.  He's got Max in the next room, but I don't know what their deal is, exactly; I don't think they were the closest brothers you would find, and now Max getting what he wants and deserves means Missy had to give up a life that makes her happy.  It's tense, but Max feels just guilty enough that she tries to reduce the tension, and I like her, but reducing tension isn't what Missy does best.

Meanwhile, ever since Cary and Elaine went back to Maine, I've kind of been on my own here.  I'm sure there are other Inn people in the Chicago area - it's a large enough city - but I don't know any of them, and while it should help me to just be Benjamin, it mostly makes me feel alone.  I know it's what a lot of people who have visited the Inn go through, and I don't envy them.

It's made me a bad boyfriend at times.  More often than not, lately.  When you're doing this with other people, it's not really a game, but you can blow off steam about the things in your life that aren't as they should be, and even when that just involves someone telling you that you've got to put the idea of "should be" out of your head, that's something.  Now, when I get laid off from a job I don't even really like, I'm just angry, and I try not to take it out on Marybeth, but what's the point of being in a relationship if you can't share your frustrations, even if you can't fully share them?

It came to a bit of a head about a month ago when a text came in from Missy at a terrible time, and what she could see on the screen said not too be frustrated, and she wanted to know what I could tell "my ex" (the history we inherit!) that I couldn't tell her.  Which is a fair question in, like, 99% of all relationships, but in mine, one I couldn't answer.

So things got uncomfortable, and I feel awful, because I do love Marybeth and I really don't want to be the selfish guy who acts like his girlfriend's career should come below his annoyance, and it feels like it's going that way.  I'm trying to think of ways that I can not be that guy, that I can show her just how much she means to me, and then I'm walking past the jeweler's and an engagement ring captures my eye.

It's a nice one, especially considering it's also one I might be able to afford.  It's not a diamond, because those are stupidly expensive and I actually did some research into how stupid their being expensive is as a project in high school, because the cartel keeps supply artificially limited and what diamonds are being mined are often being done under terrible conditions.  But they make some nice engagement rings with colored gems now, because there are a lot of young people with that sort of mindset, and I liked the red one I found.  I don't know how traditional Marybeth is with these things, but I thought about how I would have thought a guy getting me that sort of ring would be a cool combination of ethical and practical.  I'd gone back to see it three times before Missy sent that email with the video of Carlotta changing into Max.

It was a punch in the gut, because I like Max, and thought him dating Missy's best friend was kind of cool, but when I saw that I was the BCC on the email, and it was primarily sent to Sandra I felt this overpowering tension, wondering how I was going to sleep until I found out how she was going to respond to this, because if she decided she wanted her life back, then mine was in play, and I texted Missy back not to get my hopes up like that without thinking.

And that was it, wasn't it?  I wanted my old life back.  I could try to deny it, try to convince myself that I wasn't dealing with some really deep-seated lack of satisfaction with the life I had by proposing to Marybeth, and maybe she'd say yes and maybe we'd be happy.  That's the thing about our relationship, at least from my point of view - as much as I genuinely like her, I know that part of what initially attracted me to her was that she was like me, or at least the me that I wanted to be, and I'll probably never know how much is me wanting her and how much is me wanting a proxy.

I probably was more annoying than usual over the next few days, and then Sandra responded, saying that as much as being Annette was great and she maybe had a great future, the idea that her husband had been targeted by Carlotta, and had been living with someone like this for a couple of years, changed a lot.  She somehow managed to get that room reserved for the next week, and then reached out to me...

I don't want to write about the breakup.  It was hard and it sucked and I was so tempted to not do it at all, figuring that maybe the next Benny could use someone like Marybeth in her life, but then I thought about how I'd feel if a boyfriend was just going to hand me off to a stranger, and I felt sick.  So I said like a dozen variations on how it wasn't her, but it was me, and the move without me having my own thing was making me crazy, and I felt like it was time to head back home to, like, recharge my batteries or some ridiculous thing.  I was really determined that she not feel like any sort of loser, but I also didn't want any room for being talked out of it, because I probably could be.  I was giving up on two challenges by dumping her when it got hard, and I don't want to be the sort of person who does that.

But I got through it, and now I'm in Maine, feeling like a failure rather than excited like I should be.  I haven't worked up the nerve to visit Cary and Elaine yet, although I probably will when Missy and Max come up tomorrow, to help give this version of me a good send-off.  It's going to be tough to face Missy, but I think I owe it to her, as its her misfortune that is giving me this chance, and she is not being any sort of jerk about it, which she probably has every right to be.

But, hey, I could already be myself again by the time I see her.  There's no tingle now, but who knows if that always happens?


Friday, July 21, 2017

Tyler/Judith: Moving along

Surprisingly enough, I haven't felt the need to post much since everything went down between me and Kitty back in May. There has been a lot of day-to-day stuff that might have been interesting but really just fades away.

Kit and I have, at best, been treating each other like co-workers. We see each other around the house and try to be polite but generally keep our distance. At our worst times, we snipe at each other because I suspect there's still some bitterness coming my way for not trying harder to make things last. Sometimes Dylan gets drafted into our drama, which I hate. The kid's life is already messed up enough without essentially being a pawn in a "divorce."

We eat separately - it sucks that we can't seem to stand sitting down at a table together, but he's been working late (on purpose, to avoid me?) so he just gets his meal when he gets home. We alternate weeks sleeping in the spare bedroom (I was going to suck it up and move in there, but he insisted we be "fair.")

I dropped in on Meghan for a weekend at the beginning of the month. It felt good to get out of the house but I'm not sure that was the right place to go, especially considering her boyfriend was around. They've been together for a long while now and while I could tell she was uncomfortable showing off in front of me, it's not like I could ask for too much privacy. She does her best to downplay it but I see the way he makes her smile, how happy they are to be around each other. Maybe there's a bit of guilt inside of her for being happy in front of me and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit jealous of him, but I'm doing my best to move on.

He must have been pretty confused why Meg was so keen to host this older, married woman, but you know, we just explained it as one of those odd friendships people make. She also said it made her feel a bit wrong to be unable to come clean and admit that I was her ex... and she later added, it felt strange to try to imagine me as Tyler, even though this is the fourth face she's known me with. (That didn't feel good but again I tried not to take it personally. She doesn't know Judith!Tyler well.)

It was an interesting moment, greeting each other after so long apart... she's only seen me a few times with this face, but we embraced like old friends. I can see her searching me every so often to see the Tyler she knows behind my eyes.

She complimented my shorter hairstyle and said I was really getting the hang of makeup. I told her it had been a must for the ladies at the Events company, you always had to look good and put on a good face - jewelry, heels, lipstick, everything. And Kitty was very into teaching me, not to mention what I remembered from my brief experiments as Lauren.

She looks different too. Now that her knee has healed she's working out a bit more. She's wearing her hair differently, longer, coloring it. Being a woman - ostensibly a straight one - hasn't erased all my lingering feelings, and in fact I probably appreciate her looks more now that I'm on this side of the equation. It was different when we were "Lauren and Tasha," because Tasha was sexy in a very obvious way, and while I could gawk at her body it was almost hard to treat her like a real person, because she was so tall, skinny and big-breasted, especially while I was so much smaller and childlike, dealing with my own issues with Lauren's body. What I feel for her now is only a dulled version of what I felt as Alan... after all, there's more to attraction than just seeing someone and thinking they're hot. It's about the feelings that appearance brings up. I see her, and in my mind, I'm not necessarily Judith anymore. But then there's a chemical reaction that conflicts with that and makes me land on "Hmm, just a fellow woman whose appearance I appreciate, but a very important person to me anyway." It's almost indescribable, to feel that change, that lack of a feeling that used to be there.

It doesn't help that Justin, her boyfriend, is a really handsome guy. Pretty eyes, in good shape but not freakishly so. Short, wavy, well-styled hair. I wouldn't mind having a body like his next time.

With my luck though...? I don't even want to think about it.

I'm getting off topic, but a lot of what we talked about was my trip to the Inn at the end of the month, and the then-recent news of Jordan's brother Max. These ladies, they make the chump who stole my body look like an amateur, but I bet they can be dealt with. I really hope for the best for those guys.

I've had some issues to deal with on my own. It's been stressful, trying to organize people into various waves, but the key issue for me has been getting Olivia, Dylan, and his parents their bodies back. Everything else feels optional. (Okay, I would also like for the real O'Riley kids - the ones whose bodies Dylan's parents are in - to get to go back to being kids.) Knock on wood, but I feel like I've got all my ducks in a row.

"I can't help but worry," she said. "You're throwing yourself into the great unknown again, just so a family can be reunited."

I smiled modestly, "What choice have I got? I don't belong here."

"Maybe not," she shrugged, "But you grew into it nicely. When the chips were down, you made a good mother."

"Yeah. Can I be honest? The worst part of this is giving this up. It feels strangely - dangerously - like I'm giving up my own child, not just returning the kid to his real parents. On the one hand, it's putting things where they belong, on the other it's like giving up a piece of myself. I should be more excited to be on my own again..."

She didn't hide her smile at this. "Oh, Tyler... you'll be a real parent someday."

I got very teary at that. Maybe it will happen. I can't even think about it until who knows when - the unlikely chance I ever have an opportunity to live a life that's my own. That would be an end to all this: endless shifting around, taking up other peoples' lives, having my biology monkeyed with every year.

Meg wrapped her arms around me while I tried not to cry.

"Remember the time..." she finally said, "When I was Tasha, and I spilled Orange Soda on my top at the mall... and those Bro's at the next table said I should take it off so it would dry... and you threatened to stuff them in a garbage can?"

I laughed, "Heh... I would have done it, you know."

"You weighed 90 Lbs. You weren't stuffing either of them anywhere."

We laughed a while and reminisced about old times late into the night, trying hard not to think about the future.

In the morning, I left relatively early. Before I got in the car, I turned to her and said, "I want what you have."

She joked, "A giant butt? Because you kinda already do."

I rolled my eyes. "My butt's not giant. And neither is yours. No, I mean, with Justin. You did good."

"Thank you," she said, "It's not perfect, but it's pretty close. I know you'll find it, too, if you're lucky enough to settle down at last. I bet it's sooner than you think."

I did my best to resist the urge to say what we both knew I was thinking - that I wished things had gone differently between us, that the year I spent pining for her paid off better than me running off in fear and frustration, that somehow the stars had aligned that we could patch things up. She didn't need to hear that (although now that I'm back in New Hampshire I feel more comfortable saying so - again, this is stuff she probably already knows.) But it was always on my mind. It's probably for the best, for all of us, if I wind up in a body where we can't get back together again even if she were single. To remove temptation, to really close and lock that door behind me and move forward. I will always have feelings for her, I will always miss her and wonder "what if," but... well, I don't really get the luxury of a do-over with her.

She leaned into the car and kissed me on the cheek, in a gesture I spent the entire drive home analyzing.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-Wei: No-Fun in the Sun

Summer stretching out in front of us and my brother is being a drag, binge-watching Iron Fist but complaining every five minutes about appropriation and terrible fight choreography, and is taking everything I've got not to tell him that Luke Cage is just a couple clicks away.  Or that we could go clubbing or something, but he's not having any of that.  It's a crying shame, because we both look hot as shit in our own way and Elaine came right out and fucking said not to act like being her is a hardship, but he's barely left my apartment in two weeks, and being supportive is boring as fuck.

We were hoping that we could maybe find a way out of what Carlotta and Giorgia were planning, heading back up to Maine the day after Giorgia/Bingbing dropped Max on my doorstep.  I texted Cary and Elaine to let them know we were coming, so our first stop was his truck.  He hadn't been able to get in touch with her yet - lots of people still trying to figure out what to do with a 10-year-old girl who just wants to talk to a guy that seemingly has no connection to her - but he seems like a good guy.  He freaked Max out by giving him a list of things he'd learned from being Elaine himself, from what shampoo worked best on her hair to how best to put off that particular friend who keeps texting at 3am without really hurting her feelings.

Max was not excited about an older guy having detailed knowledge of his body, even if he does grill a mean hot dog.  Maybe especially, because he pointed out that the Coke Zero that Max was drinking would make him gassier than a Diet Coke (it is not, apparently, just the same shit in different bottles), and Elaine would be pissed if he didn't make a little effort to work it off.

Next stop was the Inn, and that was weirder than usual.  The place was kind of deserted, which sticks out in a beach town during the summer, but it makes sense.  Everybody staying there was either really anxious to get back to their real lives, because it's early enough in the season that a lot of folks were doing that, or had new identities that were overdue for something.  I tried to tell Max how lucky he was that Elaine didn't have some worried boyfriend or angry boss to deal with, but he wasn't inclined to call himself lucky.

Especially not after meeting the one guy still hanging around the Inn.  Not sure how he'd spent the winter, but he was back to being himself and figured he might as well hang around for a few days.  He soon his head when I told him the story about his supposed girlfriend stealing his identity to make me give up this one, but it didn't stop the guy from asking if Max would like some help exploring his new body.  Max recoiled and I said nobody was ready this soon, so he turned to me and I was saying "boyfriend" before he could even open his mouth.

We walked away from the Inn after that, and I laugh as soon as the guy is out of earshot, asking what Max thinks:  Was he recently a way sexier man and still thinking like that, much less attractive and overestimating his current appeal as a result, or just coming off being a woman and either really excited to get his dick wet or sure it's made him a much better lover?

"Dude, how can you even...  You told him we were really guys and he still wanted to fuck us!"

"Yeah, and he was so ridiculous about it!"

"It's disgusting!"

"And Ravi wanted to play house with me when we first changed to Deirdre.  Some dudes are creeps, bro, and you're about to discover the number is higher than you thought."

Maybe not the right thing to say.

Anyway, with that being the situation, I didn't figure there was much more we could do until the Inn started filling up again, so we killed time in our hotel room for a couple days until Cary texted us that Elaine was at the truck and would like to meet the new her.  Max wasn't too high on the idea, kind of still thinking that this might be an elaborate prank that he didn't want to go along with, but went along just in case it wasn't.

You can't really tell someone used to be someone else by looking at them, so my first impression of Elaine was a cute little girl with way more sass than usual.  The curse works on everyone, and it was really hard for Mac to believe, even after Elaine reacted to him arriving in the park with no makeup, looking back and forth, and the wrong sort of ponytail with "ugh, am I going to have to train another one?"

"Nah," I said, "I got this.  I mean, I can get a lot of it; this life comes with money and summer vacation, and I've done the holy-shit-I've-got-tits thing before.  Heck, my first job out of college was using Agile, so I can get him up to speed on that if you don't mind him taking the summer off."

She didn't particularly like the idea of there being that sort of gap in her work history, but it seemed like a good deal to her.  Elaine took Max aside and told him some of the more intimate details of her history, while I booked us a flight to Chicago.

We probably didn't need to actually go out there - I could have bought Max a lot of clothes and stuff for what the ticket cost - but it was probably good to at least take a look at the life Max would have to slip into if we couldn't outwit Giorgia and Carlotta.  It also got me a chance to make a copy of Elaine's lease, so I could send rent checks every month.  Max asked if that wasn't too much and I said that the trust fund set up for the original Missy was about helping her get started on the dream to be a pan-Pacific movie star and allotted me enough to pay for apartments in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Los Angeles, so this was kind of using it for what it was intended.

We got back to Maine as the next block of people started coming in, and although the surveillance was kind of fun, it didn't get us the results we'd hoped.  On Wednesday night, I showed Max a model of the Inn I'd made in SketchUp, asked him to point me to the room he'd slept in, where the bed was, and where he usually wound up when sleeping.  I'd been working on a model - well, a fair number of visitors had, but we were trying to figure out how the Inn changes people when the positioning isn't obvious - Cary outside the Inn in his truck, two people in a room that held one last time, that sort of thing.  I figured that if we waited for twelve people to be in there, sneaked him in, and then made sure he was up against the right wall at 2am-ish, we could maybe change him back even if Carlotta was in the room.  The application I built around the diagram animated it a bit, showing our theory of how the curse tended to minimize individual distances between where someone lost an identity and where another person gained it even if that sometimes meant that a form could seem to move across the building, rather than minimizing total distance.  My demo had expanding circles going from people had been in Group A and turning into arrows when they hit a position in Group B.  Max was actually kind of impressed, saying he was surprised to see me do that, and I'm like, hey, my programming skills weren't in my dick. 

So we spent the next few days staking the place out.  As much as we'd sort of hoped some sorry of weird situation could have delayed Carlotta/"Sandra" from arriving the way Elaine missed her window, she arrived right on the first day.  We went back and forth on confronting her, but wound up chickening out, or at least figuring that some element of surprise was better than trying to appeal to some better nature I'm not sure the ex-Wongs have.  Especially after seeing how, though Carlotta was doing the best she could as Sandra, being a mid-thirties middle-class white woman instead of Yuan-wei was going to be a tough sell.

We still needed to smuggle Max in, though, but that didn't look like it should be so hard - as soon as I saw the 19-year-old guy at the place next door's front desk, I took my t-shirt off and told a bug-eyed Max to hold it.  I was stepping in the door when he grabbed me by the elbow.  "Why are you wearing a bikini?" He hissed

"Because this whole town's a beach and it's like 90 fucking degrees out.  Duh!"


"You never had a problem with it before!"  I turned away and put a smile on, facing the kid.  "Hey, Jordan - whoa, what a small world, that's the name of my, well, someone super-close to me!  Anyway, me and my friend over there have got a problem - she left a bag over in the Trading Post Inn, and needs to go retrieve it.  Can we borrow a key real quick?"

"Um, I'm not...  We're only supposed to give out room keys when people check in..."

He wasn't really looking at my face, so I bent down a bit lower so that he could look me in the eyes a little easier and the tits he was looking at would dangle a bit.  "Oh, we don't need a room key, she left it in the laundry room."


"And if she doesn't find it today, she's going to have me running around trying to replace everything in it all evening instead of...  Well, what's fun to do here?"

He was about to give us the key, I'm sure of it, but then the was Max, hovering over me, reaching out like he wanted to pull me back and stopping because he thought he'd pull my top off or something, over and over again, and the guy said, sorry, we're really only supposed to do this for guests who have a reservation for the block.  I smiled, said of course, and led Max out the door before exploding. 

"I was gonna get you in!  All you would have had to do was hide out until it was almost two, then maybe I could have found a way to get Carlotta away from the bed, but you had to go and make things weird!"

"I made things weird?  You were flirting with him!"

"Well, yeah!  Guy was reading a fan-service-filled manga but has probably never seen an actual Asian girl in person because he lives in fucking Maine, and I've got all this at my disposal.  Of course I fucking flirted with him!  Hot girls do that shit to get things they want all the fucking time, haven't you noticed?"

"But you're...  At least you say you're..."

"Yeah, and?"  I wasn't sure exactly where to start with that, so I told him we were getting some beer. 

As we were drinking, I saw Lucky 13 check in, so that was that.

I woke Max up at 1:30am, telling him we might as well go watch.  He freaked out a bit - even after three weeks or so, the first sensations as you wake just aren't right - and thought it wasn't cool that we were heading back over to the Inn.  "Are we going to break in?"

"Do you want to?  I mean, I'm still figuring out using hairpins to keep my hair in place; picking locks is something else."

He didn't know much about how to do that either, so I led him to a spot on the beach where we could see into Carlotta's window.  She hadn't even closed the blinds, so we got a show as she took off her top and bra.  I think she knew we were out there and wanted us to see.  Still, when I took our my phone, he said he didn't think I was a perv.  I shrugged, saying he might need to be reminded this want all a weird dream. 

It was a quick change, which was good for my phone battery, and sometimes Max just needs to have the bandaid ripped off.  Five minutes, and Max was looking at his own body through the window.  I became sure Carlotta knew we were watching when she dropped her pajamas and started...  Well, let's just say both sisters have now managed to put way more images of my brother's dick in my head than I want.

He ran off, and I ran after him.  I found him sitting on a rocky bit of beach not far away.  "It's all real.  It's like you said, and it's all real."

"No shit, kid.  You should trust your big brother."

"I think I'm older than you now."

"Nah, you just look older.  Remember, that's still your body, just reshaped, and you're still, like, the sum of your experiences and knowledge and shit."

"But everyone's going to see Elaine Preston until next year."

"Yeah, but you know Carlotta wants to be Yuan-wei, not you, and that's not likely to change in the next couple months, especially since her girlfriend is really her sister.  They're scheming asshole bitches, but I don't think they'll become a couple for real."

"Oh, shit, why'dya have to go putting that image in my head?"

"Well, I can be kind of a bitch myself."  I picked up a rock and hucked into the ocean.  "Look, your deal sucks more than it does for most of us; we've got other people in the same boat but every place we feel helpless is balanced by someone else asking how to handle our own life.  But, on the other hand, you've got me, and if I've got to give this life up, I'm going to squeeze every bit of fun I can out of this summer, and having you with me would make it even better."


"Yeah.  Just think of how the combination of your 9-man skills and how distracting you'd look in a bikini would work if we find some guy's playing volleyball tomorrow!"

"You suck."

I smiled, took his hand, and got back to the hotel.  He dropped back to his bed right away, but I opened my laptop and attached my phone to the USB port. 

"What're you doing?"

"Sandra's a bitch who could have just let Annette have her real life back, but I'd be a real asshole not to let her and Roman know there's going to be a new person with her identity."

"Ah.  You know, being a girl seems to have made you less of a jerk."

"You're just saying that because some part of your brain still thinks of me as a random hot chick.  And because it hasn't quite hit you that I forgot to edit your dick out of the video before sending it."

He threw a pillow at me, and I thought that was going to be the start off us at least trying to have fun, but in the morning, he was all morose again, and kind of has been ever since.  I mean, I get it, but you've got to play the hand you're dealt, and it's not like "pretty good-looking woman who doesn't have to work all summer because someone wants to hang out" is the worst hand the Inn could deal you.  

But, no, he doesn't want to go out for practically anything.  I got him out of the house to eat a couple times, but he couldn't take being looked at, and as excited as we were to see the Red Sox game where they called up Lin Tzu-wei from the good seats - as much as I'm still a Mets fan, when was their last Chinese player? - he got bummed out when he realized how goofy he must have looked at getting so excited that a guy from Taiwan hit a triple and wanted to leave. 

I think he'd be down for going to Hong Kong with me, it turns out that Cary and Elaine let her passport lapse over the winter, so be practically time for me to change before we can do that.  Which means I really have no way too let Jackie down gently.  He's probably already thinking that I'm cheating on him or don't really care because I've stayed in the States all summer, so maybe an email breakup is all that he expects at this point, but he deserves better, even if he wouldn't believe the truth. 

Yeah, I know,who would've ever thought I'd care about hurting a man's feelings by dumping him or be frustrated that Max doesn't want to go do girl shit with me.  But, man, with Jonah and Benjamin no longer around while Ashlyn and Penny seem to have grown out of what I want to do, I really want to be able to have a good time with someone who gets what our situation is like, and I think it would be good for him, too. 


Thursday, July 06, 2017

Jonah/Krystle: Maybe It Wasn't All Going Smoothly, But..

Little Moira's 23 weeks haven't always been easy, or peaceful, but the whole Glass/Kamen household has been focused enough to offer some sort of approximation of it.  Babies require an exhausting amount of attention, but they also seem to make people want to help, and for the most part, whenever I feel like I'm in over my head, Mom tends to choose being the grandma that loves her little peanut more than the mother who just can't understand the decisions her son has made.

Dad's been great too, he just adores Little Moira and I think he's kind of impressed with my commitment to making sure she gets a good start.  As much as he's pretty sure he wouldn't have let a man sleep with him in a current situation (though he gets real quiet when Krystle reminds him it's not always in the woman's hands), he allows himself more doubt about what would come next.  Going through pregnancy, breast-feeding, and all that sounds like it would be a real hit to your self-image, and he says that when he was growing up, he might not have been able to accept that.

Krystle has been a lot of help, too.  She sometimes looks at me and Little Moira with a little bit of dread, because it's a future she didn't exactly choose but one she can't avoid if she wants to be herself again.  And she does; for as much as she enjoys having sex with girls, she says that's mostly horny teenage boy biology.  She sighs at seeing groups of girls together at the mall, especially when she thinks they're comparing notes about her, and gets really frustrated that white small-town New Hampshire isn't really cool with teenage boys wearing earrings, chains, or other sorta of jewelry.  She's not really into camping, driving, pick-up sports or a lot of the other things my male friends are into.  It's a good thing, she says, that she likes the little sinker and that something in terms of being both Krystle and Jonah makes her feel connected to Little Moira even if she had no part in making her.

But even if we both don't exactly feel right when we look in the mirror, we feel pretty good about what we're doing.  I'll admit, I felt a twinge of jealousy when watching Krystle do my high school graduation for me, especially since I really like the girl she was paired with as the class walked into the stage.  I'm not going to get to do that, and the reason why makes me feel like a failure and a disappointment at times.  On the other hand, she certainly helped earn it, and I think that she even appreciates it more the second time around than most of the kids around her do, let alone how she felt the first time she did it.  She was marking time, she said, not really accomplishing anything in a school that worked as a conveyor belt so long as you were more into sex than violence.  This time, she says, she's really come out of it with a feeling for what she can do.

I'm also feeling a bit more at peace with my body after giving birth, and it's not just a matter of a 
period being no big thing after you've carried a baby down there and pushed her out.  It's like, even though my breasts are even bigger and bouncier than they were, feeling like they're actually useful rather than just something guys stare at is a big deal.  I mean, having a kid suckling you is kind of weird when you think about it, but at least she's getting something out of it.  Heck, even this butt I've got makes a little more sense when I'm carrying Little Moira on a hip.

(I'm still a little uncomfortable wearing tops or dresses with cleavage even though they can make breast-feeding easier, let alone doing that in public.  Moira, Missy, Krystle, and a lot of other girls I know say that hiding something natural and useful like that is silly, even if you believe in modesty most of the time, but I've got a hard time seeing it that way.  Heck, I wasn't even sure I was going to breast-feed at first, but when little Moira had just been born and they were full, going through the process of mixing and heating formula up just seemed silly.)

So, we were in pretty good shape, at least until yesterday, when we got an envelope from the State Department and it was a passport for "Jonah Glass" and Mom wanted to know just what Krystle intended to do with that.

Krystle said it was pretty obvious - once we agreed that I wouldn't be going back to the Inn this summer because it wouldn't be right for there to be nobody with the body of the baby's mother for even a few days during the first year of her life, Krystle said she'd remain as me, but "Jonah" would take a year off before starting college, since she and I aren't interested in the same subjects and there was no point in her giving me a bad start.  Since the odds of her being able to travel any time soon after changing back were pretty low, she figured she'd better get as much of it in as she could before returning to the Inn.

Dad tried to look at it practically, asking how she'd afford it, and Krystle said she'd been saving up from her after-school job and had actually bumped that pretty close to full time since graduation, and she's been reading up on hostels, trains, water crossings.  It was a great big adventure, maybe the last she'd have for twenty years.

This didn't satisfy Mom, who asked why they should just let her go off where they couldn't keep an eye on her and maybe steal my life for good.  It was a fair question, from one perspective, but not from Krystle's.  She did not like Mom talking about "letting" her do anything, pointing out that even if she didn't look like a grown-a-- woman right now, it's not like they could keep their real son on a leash if that's what I had decided I wanted to do after graduation.  I squirmed a bit, not wanting to be brought into this but knowing that I couldn't help but be part of any disagreement between Krystle and my folks.  Still, when they looked at me, I said I was done with big vacations where I didn't know exactly what I was getting into for a while.

Normally, that's the sort of thing where Krystle laughs with me, but she just wasn't in the mood.  She was sick of being treated like a nuisance as soon as she was out of earshot of people who didn't know she wasn't me, and that our taking the idea that she would spend the rest of her life being some person's mother because of choices other people made for granted was crap.  She points at me, saying not to get her wrong, she really wants to have all that again, especially since she has worked a whole H--- of a lot harder at getting her mind into a place where she didn't feel like she would fall into the same bad habits than some other people she knew (which, by the way, she also doesn't feel she gets enough credit for), and if a kid is the price of that, fine, but we need stop acting like we're doing her a favor rather than vice versa, and not put up such a d--- fuss when she tries to do something for herself.  Then she grabbed the passport off the table and went back out the door, slamming it behind her.

Mom and Dad tried to wait up for her, though I really can't tell whether they'll go for understanding where she's coming from or "don't throw tantrums if you want us to treat you like a mature adult"; it really could be either one.  I tried to argue on her behalf, but I don't know how much they really listen to me when I do that.  It's not just that I'm the one making her a single mother and sort of a screw-up, but sometimes being changed is like being black or a woman or broke - it's different and a lot of people who've never been in the situation just don't understand how.

I also want to confess that, when she slammed the door, I did have this really scary moment where the main thought in my mind was "what if she doesn't come back?"  It's a really selfish thought and I hope God can forgive me for it, especially since thinking that first and foremost is just the thing she was complaining about, and I feel like I really should have been able to see that better than anyone.  We're asking so much of her and I'm not sure what I can do to make things more right.