I spent the rest of the summer, after donating Cynthia's body and life to the original Valerie, just kind of sitting with my decision. I didn't have any plans or ideas about what to do with myself now that I knew who I was going to be for the rest of my life. I hadn't thought that far. I just knew it was the right thing to do, even if it wasn't necessarily what I wanted.
Basically I've been living half a life, even less than when I thought I was going back to the inn. I got up in the morning, got dressed and did my hair, and served coffee. I spoke as little as I could with my roommates. I went to Vermont a few times to see Meg - who was very understanding about my choice how to move forward as Val, maybe a little too much so. Years later I think what she liked about me was that when we got to know each other I was like a "little sister," so me being female works for her. (She doesn't like this interpretation but this is my post, hah.) We're still friends, and working on being closer than ever now that the door to us being together is truly closed.
All year I've kind of been writing on this clean slate that I got after Josh left Valerie for his ex. I had my fling with Rafe, and then my unfortunate encounter with Ryan that left me feeling really terrible, since he played me and went back with Alexa, and brought up all these issues that have been in me since the wedding. It's hard not to be bitter about how that went down. He and Alexa spent the rest of the summer in California and we didn't talk.
I've been avoiding all my problems by working a lot, both at the coffee shop and as an increasingly clutch waitress at the caterer. At home I've just been tiptoeing around the apartment, trying to be seen and heard as little as possible, and working up the nerve to make a change. I never used to doubt myself when I was male - if I didn't like a situation I would pack up and leave without hesitation, but I can't muster that energy so easily as a woman. That bothers me.
I am pleased to say that after being a magnet for it, I haven't indulged much male drama since re-upping as Val. I have a whole life ahead of me so I'm not in a rush to meet someone new, and I may even end up as a spinster... although it would be a waste of my youth, looks, and all the time I spent getting comfortable with enjoying sex as a woman. I just don't have a burning need for it right now.
Looking back I'm a little embarrassed by how the first six months of this year went down. I blame Josh. About a year ago he did some voodoo to me that made me realize I could fall in love with a guy if I let myself open up to it, and after he dropped the bomb, it left me very unresolved and needy. But hey, Tyler Blake has always been in love with love, too.
Rafe and I are actually talking again, after a long awkward summer. I think he understands why I ended it...mind you, a lot of that was spurred on by the idea that I was going back to the Inn. But the official story, which is the true story no matter what, is that I was not really happy just being a sexual object for him and getting nothing back (besides some consistently good sex.) I think I can have it all, I think it's out there for me, I just need to be patient and find it and not settle.
I mean, I settled for being Valerie, but that doesn't mean I have to settle in other ways. I can move, quit my job, date whomever I want... the future's wide open.
But about Rafe: it's good to have him as a friend again, to joke around and flirt innocently. He'll see me standing on a milk crate to reach something high up in storage, and instead of offering to reach it for me, he'll admonish me for being too proud to ask, then try to tickle my midsection while my shirt is riding up. (Sue me, I like the attention so I egg him on a little bit.) He says he's seeing someone, but it's not serious, which I think is his way of hinting that he would get back with me if I wanted it... but I think if he's happy and she's happy, that's great. I don't miss him.
I do miss my friendship with Ryan, but that will never be back. He's asked me to sing some more with him, and my response is always a polite no, with the secret meaning of "You son of a bitch."
Pete and I have spent surprisingly little time together - April actually lives in Jersey, and she works in Manhattan, so it's kind of the opposite way to get to Brooklyn, but we've texted a fair bit and she really wants to do a big catch-up in person.
Maddie and I have talked about moving in together when her lease is up in October, and she won't let this "We have to start a business" idea die. And now that I have all this time on my hands, this whole future ahead to define my Val-ness, it's starting to sound appealing. I still occasionally think how cute and sweet she is, and it's the one thing in me that still feels male -- I feel like I really missed the boat by settling for being her friend.
Then I get home, hole up in my room, take my bra off, and study makeup tips on YouTube and think, wow... I really am a fuckin' girl.
Nothing to be ashamed of.
-A girl named Tyler (Or Valerie)