Three days, three calls to Valerie.
"So, this baby deal with Josh..."
"Ugh," she sighed, "You've got to stop calling. Anna's parents are starting to get concerned since our last calls put me in tears." Anna is her host-body. Sometimes I can get so caught up in trying to learn someone's life that I forget they're trying to learn someone else's.
For now, I say, we can text, but there really are some discussions that should be handled more urgently. I pressed for more info.
"Josh made it pretty clear from day 1 he wanted kids ASAP." she texted. "I would be happy to wait but... I doubt he would"
"That's so weird, you rarely hear about guys pressuring women into being parents."
"Don't be judgmental like that. He isn't pressuring me."
"Sorry, didn't mean to."
I added, "Obviously for a variety of reasons I don't think I should get pregnant in your body."
"Me neither. I'm sure you won't understand this as a man but I really do want to go through the whole experience."
She's right, why anyone would prefer taking that on themselves is a bit of a mystery to me, but so are women in general, and I've been one.
"This is the only thing Josh ever really put his foot down about," she said. "We fought off and on for weeks and he wouldn't propose until we agreed. I honestly don't know how you're going to get out of it."
A few options sprang to mind. Asking nicely. Lying. Being honest (about not being ready for kids, not about secretly being a man impersonating his fiancée.) But I had only just the day before convinced him to be celibate in the 3.5 months leading up to his wedding. Kind of a big ask, so I didn't feel ready for the next round.
Some things need to be nipped in the bud and this would seem to qualify, but under the circumstances I'm comfortable letting it go to the backburner. Unlike the sex issue, I'm not constantly going to have to fend it off for the next few months if I don't come up with a blanket solution. It only becomes a problem after the wedding. I still need to get through all that mess.
No more fires started for the rest of the week, so it was "Me-Time." My first real taste of post-Judith life without a crisis to handle. I gave it over to trying to grow accustomed to being Valerie... it had been a few days, but it still felt new.
I did a few loads of laundry, on the premise that I would feel less strange about wearing all these clothes once they were washed, and tired to pick out things I would like... I think Valerie prefers skirts because finding jeans and pants to fit her is hard; the first pair of jeans I put on, I had to keep pulling up because of her odd hip-shape caused them to slip. I also washed my hair and went about learning where things were in the kitchen, what they usually kept in stock, that sort of thing.
I was also due to meet up with Val's best friend and Maid of Honor, Marie, for spin class, and general friendship upkeep. I thought I would be called upon to act apologetic because Val mysteriously abandoned her for over a month, but Marie is a new mom and barely seems to have time for her friend either. That's win-win. Afterwards, we went for smoothies and she pumped me for info about the wedding planning, and I had to be evasive and say I wasn't ready to think about it right now.
PS, spin class... I'm not a fan.
Lastly was catching up with Pete. I've given Pete a password to this blog and it's up to him/her if he wants to talk about Brigette's life, but he's very keen on it, unable to wipe the grin off his pretty face while we chatted over coffee.
"It's just so... fascinating. I wake up in the morning absolutely excited to attack the challenges that await me," he gushed. I rolled my eyes.
We rode the subway, and talked in code, slightly, about what I was dealing with - with Josh, with the wedding, the celibacy vow and the baby promise. He offered a few words of encouragement, but admitted to not being too jealous of my situation. Then I sarcastically said "Really, I would think this is the kind of challenge you would relish." Instead of getting offended, he just let out a loud belly laugh and smiled, "Maybe you're right!"
It was around that time that I noticed the two guys across from us casting glances our way. I tried to ignore it but then I realized the reason. Pete was wearing a rather short dress, and slouched forward, "manspreading" on the subway. I can only imagine how good of a view the guys were getting.
I nudged Pete to correct his posture and he scrambled to do so, again laughing it off with characteristic casualness. "Enjoy the show?" he asked the two guys, who were probably a couple of years younger than our new selves. They seemed too embarrassed to reply and moved away.
I smacked him on the arm. "Okay, you have to be careful who you engage with."
"Oh, come on, they're harmless."
"Maybe, but someday they won't be."
Pete shrugged. "Whatever, that's life. You can let it define you, or you can define it."
Hm. Food for thought, I suppose. Pete has been through this roughly as many times as I have, maybe there's some validity to his outlook, but I'm not sure I share it...
As always, more to come.