I guess the way a couple of things have been going, where I find myself today was kind of inevitable, but it still catches me kind of flat-footed. It shouldn't - I didn't just have it dropped on me without warning - but I've kind of been in denial.
As you see, I haven't been back to the Inn this summer; Brian has been getting treatment as me back home, and though he lost one testicle, and has subjected the other to who knows what, he's been making progress since, and was declared cancer-free in October.
Obviously, you don't get there alone, and he told me about all the doctors and nurses and such, and, yeah, I did notice that one nurse came up a lot. I even caught that they were getting kind of close, but didn't much worry; he figured it would drop off after he was well. Brian's been doing a good enough job of keeping me in the loop that he'd tell me if this seemed to be getting serious.
Except he apparently didn't realize. They were having dinner to celebrate a good check-up and he just blurts out "we should get married". No having this thought earlier and checking with me, or realizing that he should back off, but just this instant, casual proposal that she accepts and that he easily talks himself into.
He calls me after, saying it just sort of happened, but now that it has, it feels right to him. My first instinct is obviously to tell him no, try and sell him on the benefits of giving me my real life back, but I think - do I really want to go back to that life, my career stalled out and missing a testicle? Maybe I don't want to be Joy forever, but getting life back to being my life sounds like something even worse than just spinning my wheels, and that's not me. So I wish him well, shave my legs, put on a miniskirt, and go have some fun with my girlfriends - my happiness isn't tied to that old identity!
Of course, I can't be sure it's tied to my current one, either. I had Thanksgiving with Joy's parents, and they're reminiscing about their first few, with a pre-school Joy irate that they didn't have a proper Thanksgiving dinner like her friends. it was the first time, they said, that they truly realized that they were raising an American child as opposed to raising a child in America. It was a cute story which would have been even cuter if I was responding about not remembering it because it happened when I was four rather than because the person involved was dead and I was pretending to be her.
That's not usually a huge deal for me, hanging around with Joy's friends or talking to her family in Facebook or whatever - it's a challenge to make sure they don't think there's something weird about me and keeps me sharp. In a house where there a bunch of photographs of her and where I'm supposed to be relaxing, it gets under my skin a bit more. Still, I felt like I'd shaken it off by the time I got back home to San Diego. Got back into my life connecting people with apartments, finding a nice beach-side bar at the end of the day, letting myself be chatted up but not meeting anyone I wanted to see for the evening that week. The usual. Then I got home on Friday, and there it was in the mail.
The "Save the Date" card. Because people getting married are so fucking excited that they can't just ask you once. They've got to call you, stake out a date on your calendar, and then send you a formal invitation. Now, I don't think I get particularly volatile or anything when I've had a couple cocktails, even with the low body weight, but somehow seeing that just destroyed what (safe to drive home) buzz I had left, and I needed it back and went for the vodka.
A lot of it. It's been a while since I was as hungover as I was when my phone buzzed to wake me up the next morning so I could pick Iain up at the airport. I kind of looked like shit, but I figured a shower would get me pretty close to human and telling him to take an Uber would have led to him asking questions I didn't feel like answering.
Truth be told, it kind of just put off the inevitable. We spent that Saturday having a ton of fun, but then he mentioned some pre-me thing about Joy, and I held it together for a while but must have seemed kind of withdrawn afterward. Fortunately for me not wanting to explain things, Iain is still basically a dude and presumed that my lousy mood was due to this being his last visit to California for a while. Which, admittedly, does kind of suck, but maybe not as much as he thought. I said, no, I was just going through some other stuff, that there was a lot of people who didn't want me for me, and then there was this stupid wedding save-the-date, which I shouldn't even care about but why is something just coming together for him?
He was sweet, of course, and probably figured that some other guy had gotten handsy because that was the last time something had really had me shaken. That hasn't happened more than usual lately, but I didn't say anything; it was getting late, and I didn't want him feeling nervous about touching me if this was the last sex we were going to have.
But that did come up the next evening, as I was giving him a lift back, and some sort of estrogen surge had me tack "what are we even doing" onto "so, what comes next?" Like, some stupid part of my female brain had to know whether he liked this version of Joy or if he was just having a nostalgic lay every few weeks. Probably really wanted to hear something like "oh no, you're so much more confident and capable than ye were when I first knew ye, and it makes ye even sexier!", but I had to settle for "I really like ye, and these jaunts have been the highlight of my trips to the West Coast."
Which, hey, is still pretty good, although it still sounds like we're probably more or less done as a regular thing. At least, for almost a minute. Then he says "why don't we move in together? The family estate is bloody enormous, and it doesn't really make sense with just me and Dad there. And you know he's been eager to meet you."
"I don't know... That's such a big--" I had to hit the brakes, which dumped the purse I'd set on my lap after paying the last toll onto the floor, and after an obligatory "oh shit!", I started shaking my head. There on the floor were five sets of keys, my birth control prescription, tampons, a bottle of red hair dye that I had been planning to surprise him with before I drank myself to sleep, and all sorts of ridiculous crap.
"What I saying? I'm Joy Fucking Kershaw. I do things I would never have thought of doing all the time! It's my entire goddamn life, and now when a guy offers me a chance to leave all the garbage in my life behind to live in a fancy manor house because he likes me, I'm going to say no? That's not me!"
Iain looked shocked that I said that, but as soon as we were stopped at a light he leaned over, turned my head to the side and kissed me. I let him and returned the favor, long enough for us to get honked at when the light turned. I giggled, dropped him off, and received another long kiss before he made his way to the gate.
When I got back home, what I had just agreed to hit me all over again, but I caught a look at myself in the mirror. I looked cute, as usual, but there was a bit more to it; my hair was a mess, my wide-necked t-shirt was exposing a shoulder, and I took myself aback. I didn't look like I was trying to be anyone else for once - not Simon, not the original Joy, not even the sort of person I thought I'd be if I'd been born this girl.
This, I thought, is what Joy should be: Pretty. Wanted. Always on new adventures. And easily able to find a man who will look out for her.
I guess it's not that feminist, but so what? I'd always known that girls were naturally looking for what I'd just been offered, and they couldn't even see it as commendation for what is had taken away.
So, yeah, I'm moving to Scotland in the new year. Big yard sale at the end of January - save the date!