Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Max/Elaine: No Vacation Anymore

I mentioned being frustrated by Jacky being around and Jordan being all over him last week, and I was kind of worried about how she would take it, even though we've kind of agreed that the blog is a safe space (not that either of us particularly likes that phrase) to get stuff off our chests even if we don't want to say them out loud to each other.  He wasn't exactly surprised Jacky being there made me uncomfortable, but it was okay to mention it when you're alone in a room with your phone or laptop versus starting something in person.

So, basically, if I hadn't sounded a bit sarcastic when asking how we were going to fit the rest of what we'd had planned into one week, that would have been the end of it.  But I did, and he said that for all I seemed to hate hanging around with the two of them, I could have started practicing or reading stuff on my own, since most people had to dive right into just living their new lives rather than let someone else look after them.  Then I said...  Well, I had a point, but it was still stupid and ungrateful.

It made for some chilly moments in the apartment, but she was right, and I started hitting the books on the Agile stuff, trying to get in the habit of putting on make-up in the morning, and practicing walking around in heels.  It's not the boot camp that Cary went through, and I doubt I'll ace my first interview, but I think I'll be able to stumble along until next spring.

Still, there's no avoiding that, while it's the true beginning of something temporary for me, it's the end of things for Jordan, and she's spent the past few days packing as if to move, putting things that have purely sentimental value or which she otherwise doesn't want to part with in boxes for storage to be retrieved later.  She's not letting Carlotta Wong use the computer that she heavily modded to make it both a good gaming and rendering box, for instance,  and even if the odds aren't great she'll be able to fit into her favorite red dress, they're not zero, either.

Ben wasn't around to help us as we got them into the storage space - rented under Elaine's name, because they wanted a photo ID, and odds weren't great that Carlotta would help Jordan retrieve her stuff - so it was just the two of us moving the boxes, and I'm either going to have to get over people looking at me as I work out for the rest of my time as Elaine or get over having no upper-body strength, because that was hard, sweaty work.  It didn't help that Jordan was still collecting comics, and I'm kind of calling bullshit on the idea that digital files would be harder to pass between identities, no matter how DRMed-up they are.

We were a couple of sweaty, sore women when we returned the rental van, and finding a bar seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  I got a light beer and she got a Manhattan or something, and I took a big gulp as soon as it arrived.  I'd figured Jordan would do the same, but when I put my glass down, she was still just looking at her glass, and she had started crying.

I want sure what to do, and soon it wasn't just Tara coming out of her eyes, but actual sobbing.  "I thought I'd figure something out.  I thought I was fucking smart and some solution would just present itself, that there'd be a way I could use the money to buy our way out, and now I'm wondering if maybe I could have if Jacky hadn't come, but then...

"And, like, I know I said 'easy come, easy go', but now, it's not just that I like being Yuan-wei - and I really fucking like being Yuan-wei! - but I'm probably not going to be anyone for years, until I get stuck in some life that sucks so much that someone can't wait to just leave it.  What kind of fucking future is that?"

I probably should have just called an Uber and brought us home so she could curl up and cry without getting stared at, but I didn't; my legs were on fire and so was my back and somehow that made my boobs hurt, and I said "don't worry, you'll manage - you've done it before", which sounds okay, but I knew it sounded bitter as it was coming out of my mouth.

"I guess, but everything was going so well..."

"Oh, sure, it's so great being Yuan-wei that you can't stop crying about it, but where were all those tears when you decided to stop being yourself?  Huh?  I've read the blog; I see you crying about not being able to eat a whole pizza anymore, and congratulating yourself over what a great sacrifice you made so that Benny could stay in your life, but where were all your tears for abandoning us and making me have to go through this in the first place?"

"I've said I'm sorry--"

"Yeah, and that you're glad you can at least tell me now, but that's just another thing that let's you not feel bad about abandoning us, foisting off some white guy pretending to be you!"

"Don't give me that - you all like Benny!  You were thrilled that he got in shape, and joined your stupid 9-ball team, and landed a babe like Kareena!  Have Mom and Dad ever even complained about how he ditched the education they spent their whole lives saving for to go work in a gym?"

"We were just glad to see you happy!"

"Oh, but the fact that I'm happy now doesn't matter?"

"Of course it matters!  You're happy because you got rid of us!"

That was too far.

"Fuck you, Max.  I'm giving up so much because I love you, and Dad, and Mom, even though they'll never fucking know, but that's apparently not enough for you.  No, you've got to make me feel like shit for trying to do something good for Benny and Kareena and Annette.  I mean, fuck, how was I supposed to live with myself if Annette had wound up living this life, trying to answer questions about Yuan-wei's father's death in a language she didn't understand?  Or if she had been the one fucked over by the Wongs?  But, no, you've got to live with tits and dark skin for a year - less! - and I'm not fucking sorry enough."

She slammed a twenty down on the table and left.

I spent the rest of the day wandering - I kind of wanted to go to that Changeling bar and see if Ashlyn was in, but figured Jordan might do the same, so I waddled the Freedom Trail, went to a movie (no idea what it was; I just wanted to sit down for a couple hours).  I slipped on something in a park and figured I might as well see what it was like to buy a dress, since I figured I probably wouldn't have Jordan to lean on even if some fluke of the Inn made him my next-door neighbor with a similar body in Chicago.  I nearly had a breakdown in the changing room.

It was midnight before I got back to Jordan's place, not having a better idea of where to go.  It was dark, so I tried tiptoe-ing to my room without turning on the light, but Jordan was awake and was soon standing in her bedroom's doorway with the light on behind her.  "I was thinking of Grandpa."

"Huh?"  I didn't get it.

"You probably don't remember him much, but he once told me that leaving Hong Kong was the scariest thing he ever did, and he was afraid that he'd never see his family again, but he had to do it.  That's how I felt, like I'd be leaving a lot behind but that I had to try something new.  I was unhappy, Max, just angry all the time, and it wasn't you or Mom or Dad, but I never felt satisfied by anything, and seeing Benny live my life and be happy both showed me it was possible but made me scared of screwing up what he'd built.

"Maybe it would have been like that as Yuan-wei eventually, after her metabolism slows down and I start to put on weight or some guy dumps me or I get frustrated being a woman in some male-dominated business.  Like, I probably just haven't gotten there yet.  But, no matter who I become, it's got nothing to do with not liking any of you guys."

I had nothing to say, so he shut the door and the light, and I went to bed, too.

This morning, not a word of what he'd said yesterday, just a reminder that the train left at 1:05.  But it's been an awful quiet ride.

-Max

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