I probably should be becoming a sort of hermit right now, doing little but catching up on everything I didn't bother to study over the past couple of years because I thought I'd never get my real life back, and while on the one hand is not hugely urgent - it's apparently common knowledge that while getting into a high-end school is difficult, once you're there, it is very difficult to actually fail a class if you make even a token effort - I still want to actually have the benefit of this education. It's a lot of material, though the fact that the classes I'm in now build upon it helps; I feel behind a lot, but I also feel like I'm getting the basics reinforced or seeing actual application more than I would.
On the other hand, it wouldn't really be great to just hole up, either. Sandra wasn't exactly a party girl when she was living my life, but she had fun. Hell, she joined a sorority, which I had not planned to do, so instead of having a couple of roommates who might notice that I've gotten a whole lot more studious all of a sudden, there's a whole house full of girls doing what they can to pull me away from my books. Which is kind of okay; I wouldn't want to miss the going out/having fun/making a bunch of friends from all over part of my college years, even if I did kind of do those things in a different way as Ravi and Benjamin.
And all that "having fun" pressure is before you take Missy into account.
I have to admit, I kind of didn't really appreciate what a big deal losing Jacky was for her. I mean, it sucked, but in a lot of ways Chen-ai injecting herself into things at the last minute was a win - I get to be me, Max gets to be Max and he and Missy can reconnect, nobody's going to jail, and nobody is trapped in a lousy body; even Bingbing #3 seems to be settling in. But for Missy, I don't know whether losing the first significant other that really stuck or it being a sort of order stung worse. Whatever the reason, she's been really throwing herself into things to fill time this semester, whether it be nightlife, planning her big Halloween party and costume(s), or both her short film graduation project and Ernesto's. She really, really, really does not want to slow down.
(She even had a brief thing of playing matchmaker, but although Ernesto and I got along on that date she set up, we're not going to be more than friends)
Heck, I was feeling a few steps behind her when I got her message Saturday, saying to wear a nice dress but not something super-sexy, because I was pretty sure that this particular Saturday night was going to be a working night in. The script for Missy's short film (which badly needs a better name than "I, Fembot") already needed another draft, but all the sexual harassment and assault crap that has been coming to light in the movie industry has us wondering where to go. On the one hand, a guy getting turned into a girl and forced to go through all the degrading garbage women deal with seems a lot more timely, but Missy never really saw the character as someone who deserved to be punished, and we kind of don't want to make a movie that's like "this sort of thing is okay so long as it happens to certain people" (and, man, the two of us certainly don't want to say it's okay if it happens to trans people, even if we figure we don't fit that category exactly). Sure, there's been a lot of what we want to say coming out (guys don't realize just how much stupid and/or creepy things women take until they can't ignore it), but it kind of gets drowned out by the high-level predation.
So, like I was saying, that's what is thought we were doing, but I figured I might be mistaken, since my schedule was so nuts. I really didn't want to do anything fancy, so I found a modest little black dress that Sandra had purchased, made the walk to the Missy's apartment, got buzzed up and froze when I opened the door and Kareena was there.
"That's--" She looked to someone I couldn't see for confirmation and then grabbed me in a hug, pulling me in so that I stumbled. She let go and took a step back. "I can't believe it... I feel like I should be so mad at you!... Were you really Ravi when he dumped me?"
"I wouldn't say dumped, so much as came out and made it clear--" I was talking at about half-speed as my brain tried to process everything. "How do you know that, and how do you believe it?"
She lifted her hand up and showed me the ring on her finger, a small but attractive diamond. She smiled even wider, and, God, it felt good to let out a huge girly squeal and not feel like I was out of place and embarrassing myself. "Oh My God, he finally did it! It's about time, because if I'd been attracted to girls as Ravi, I would have never let you go and never would have given Ravi his life back!"
She held her hands to her chest. "That is the nicest thing anybody has ever said to me! Jordan.. Benny... what do you call him?"
"I usually call him Benny."
"Well, Benny said that you were just the sweetest person no matter whose skin you were wearing, and I'm so glad I can really get to know all of you, even if it was because he ambushed me after he proposed, telling me that crazy story about the Inn and how he wasn't really Chinese and the original Jordan had been Deirdre but was now Missy! I swear, I might have thrown the ring back if Max and Ravi hadn't said it was all true, but I guess it explained how Jordan could change enough to get us to this position in the first place, and how Ravi was so different for that year, and then... Well, and then I realized that this man was willing to give up his entire life for me, and where would I ever find that again?" Benny had moved in behind her, and she reached up to give him a kiss. I melted.
"That's beautiful." I paused. "Awkward question - now that there's a new Ben out there--"
"I thought about it, because I really would like my folks to know Kareena, but, well, even though he doesn't plan to keep my old life, we've seen stuff go wrong. And, who knows, maybe something wouldn't be quite right if I changed back. Kareena says it wouldn't matter, but what if me not entirely fitting in with the Changs is part of what she likes about me, or there's some chemical spark missing? I think I'd better stay like this." He looked over at Missy. "If you don't mind."
Missy made a face. "Well, if you think the spark is something physical--"
"It would never work out." We laughed at the way Kareena stuck that in there, but I got the impression Benny/Jordan had already talked with Missy about it, maybe even before he proposed. There are some steps you want to make sure it's okay to take, even if you'd gotten a blanket blessing before.
Well, as you might imagine, we didn't get any writing done that night, but it turned out I was properly dressed for the nice restaurant we went to, drinking a lot of champagne as we toasted the happy couple. It was enough for me to wind up just crashing in Missy's spare room and waking up with a heck of a hangover the next day, although it eased as we all hung out, giving Kareena more of a chance to get to know me and Missy like this. She's really surprisingly cool with the guy who used to look like her fiance being happy as a young woman, which is nice. She seems to like these versions of us enough to openly wonder how she'll explain us being bridesmaids to her family, which is just... wow.
(We're not sure when that will be, either next summer or next December - an Indian wedding takes no small amount of planning!)
So, it looks like we'll be doing that rewrite this weekend, and I've got to get a passport! And, just on top of that, I kind of think maybe it's not all too much, maybe all these weird Inn experiences have just got me to where I'm supposed to be, not messed me up, and I should be a little more confident dealing with things as they are right now.