After hoping I would get some leeway to explore my new life and body after transforming, and once again make my own choices in how to live, I was a bit disappointed with what I got.
The good news: Valerie Stewart is young (23 years old), healthy, and in the midst of a cycle of meaningless bill-paying jobs rather than some career I would have to fake my way through or else derail. In fact thanks to her time at the trading post, she was fired from her latest waitress gig, meaning I have/get to rebuild a bit from scratch.
The not good nor bad news: she lives in Brooklyn. I've spent a bit of time in cities, like Memphis and Milwaukee when I was Alan, but I mostly prefer small towns and outta the way places. The city is big and busy and having to confront it in this body - 5-feet even - makes me feel a lot more intimidated and sheepish than I might've a few years ago. It ain't just because scary things lurk in the dark either. I go out on the street in broad daylight and feel swallowed up by huge crowds, almost to the point of panic because mostly people tower over me... I feel like I'm gonna get stepped on.
It's as far from a little trailer outside Mobile as you get, but getting away from that was always what I wanted.
In further neutral news, Pete, or should I say Brigette, is along for the ride. He is annoyingly keen on the whole "be a girl now" thing, but it does amuse me from time to time. I have to indulge his observations about feeling his boobs jiggle when he goes downstairs, without reminding him that that effect is currently a lot worse for me than it is him. He peppers me with questions about outfits and hairstyles and all I can say is do what feels comfortable... I have learned a lot but I've also learned what works for some doesn't suit others. (Good example: I doubt my very basic way of ponytailing Valerie's silky strawberry blonde locks has anything to do with how Brigette might style her African American frizz.) But it's good to have the company of somebody I never slept with or pursued romantically.
The body itself has some pluses and minuses. I have more energy, and less joint pain and fatigue, no more migraines (yet) and slightly more manageable period pain. I'm a better rested, happier person than I've been in a while, even if my back is usually sore, bending over is virtually impossible, and my short little legs means walking long distances really tires me out.
I was initially very displeased with the shape: short, square-hipped and big boobed, with peachy white skin, a cute round face, button nose and pretty blue-green eyes. Honestly I would rather look like an evil hag. I could especially do without the devices attached to my front, which I'm frequently underestimating, dipping them into my dinner, knocking things off shelves, getting elbowed in public places. Dressing them isn't very fun either: it feels like my choices of tops are either something that reveals a deep canyon of cleavage, or something that looks like a frumpy garbage bag. (How much I've changed: 2014-Tyler would have opted for frumpy every day of the week.) Pete has teased me that my instinct is still to dress modestly, like a button-down older lady, Val's wardrobe is very much that of an active, energetic young woman and it has taken me a while to think of myself as looking that way, not like Judith. I'm working on it - not looking at items of Val's wardrobe and thinking "I could never pull this off!" because the person who bought them obviously thought otherwise. It's not as though she dressed in overly revealing clothing: a typical day, now that I've found a good balance, involves a skirt and tights and a button-up blouse that lets the girls breathe, usually with a tank top underneath. It's just a lot more eye-catching and colorful than I'm used to.
As Judith I was very fond of the invisibility effect being a woman nearing 40 has. Her stern looks made it so that I was rarely bothered when I didn't want it. Now lots of people just come up to me, on the subway platform or the coffee shop, if I'm alone or with girlfriends, and assume it's okay to talk to me. Like I said, I'm pretty, but not intimidatingly sexy or anything... I feel like prey. But I've got a secret weapon against that. The Ring.
That's the bad news: A diamond solitaire engagement ring to be exact, found in a special compartment of Valerie's luggage.
I almost cried when I put it on. I have had to be so much for other people - daughter and high schooler for Lauren, mother for Judith, I was just not sure I could handle being a fiancee and - as of November 17th - wife to a total stranger. Naturally it was Pete - longtime blog reader who knows way too much about me - who put it in perspective saying that if I was hoping to be free and single, the odds weren't in my favor. And that for Valerie, she was real lucky to have a responsible, proven guy like me in her shoes. Flattered as I was, I would rather be somewhere else. But I get it, in a weird way I am the right guy for this job. Does that mean I have to love the idea of walking down the aisle? Hell no, but this is the life I lead, with all these twists and turns. I gotta go through all this and hope someday I get a life I can call my own.
I will be back soon to tell y'all more about my time as Valerie so far since I guess I've just gotten to the "good stuff." Just thought I wouldn't overload you yet.
- Ty, Val