Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Jenn/Shona: How To Be Fat

Not to harp on it or anything but... I'm fat. Borderline obese, in medical terms. I can't seem to forget about it, so why try letting you?

I say that word to myself every day, you know. As a way of trying to own it and get okay with it. The way people tap dance around the obviousness of it all.. curvy, plus-sized, "bigger" "full figured"... it's all just a nice way of saying "fat." But "fat" is a fact. I might as well admit it. Reclaim the word... somehow.
I'm trying to be okay with it but so far it's been very hard. I can't get over the change. It feels too different form how I started. Going from being Jenn to being Zack was in someways easier. I'm very aware of the space I take up, of the reactions from strangers that I pass on the street. Of how I look if I try to eat anything. If it's bad food, "Ugh, she just can't help herself!" If I try to eat a salad, "Bless her heart, she's trying!" Damn it all.

Shona left behind an interesting example to follow. On her Instagram she is a very pretty woman - great at make-up, keeps her hair well-styled, with this very confident, "Give No Fucks" image. she dresses stylishly in a way that highlights her body rather than trying to downplay it. On the woman in the Insta feed, I think it looks good, and "good for her" for looking so pretty. When I try it on myself, I feel like a fake. I feel like I don't know how to be "that" person. Not yet. I aspire to it for sure, but it's frustrating trying to get there, outwardly and inwardly. To learn the ins and outs of dressing and styling yourself when you're a fat girl. To feel good about yourself. To feel like you deserve to look good.

Steven has texted me. A lot. I have kept him at arm's length. I don't like being "bequeathed" someone's old boyfriend. I took my time getting back to Gainesville and didn't let him know when I arrived. He didn't take the hint and is happy to "give me space" but won't stop checking in or updating me on the minutiae of his life. I suppose it fits... we're supposed to be a couple. I can see why someone would want to be with this guy, but I am so far from being "there" it's more of a nuisance than anything.

I guess I can't completely bring myself to cut the cord. I look at myself in the mirror and think, if this is "it" for me, where am I going to find someone who wants me, who I think I deserve? I know that's just an awful thought, but I guess I've been brainwashed and I can't quit it.

It wouldn't feel right to pursue anything with this guy, and yet I feel like he's, well... a bird in the hand.

On the plus side... it's beautiful here. Georgia is very scenic and there's lots of hiking trails. I only wish I felt fit enough to spend much time on them, so that's another thing that weighs on me... so to speak.

I bought a new camera, since I got the photography bug from Zack. It makes me a little homesick for Colorado, but it's nice in its own way.  I'll probably never be home again.

Excuse me while I cry a minute...


Monday, July 29, 2019

Valerie: My Friend

It began innocently enough.

I was having a rough day. One of those hot, sweaty, fast-paced, never-ending, "What am I even doing in a coffee shop in Brooklyn in the body of Valerie Stewart" kind of days. Everything was frustrating, needlessly aggressive customers, snide "real housewives" types, leering college boys... just everything that cold be thrown at me.

Then my saving grace. At 2:30 PM, almost right on cue, in walks Kevin, aka Silvertop. He gets his coffee, gives me his usual nod, and goes over to his usual seat by the window to read.

We hadn't talked much since I ran into him a few months ago at a competing coffee shop and had a really nice conversation. Just chitchat in passing - he keeps to himself, and I am usually pretty swamped.

Today, I needed to vent, and there was no Maddie or anyone around that I felt like I could. So I made like I had to go wipe down some tables and approached.

"Hey - mind if I sit?"

He looked up from his book - one of those weird nonfiction things he likes reading - and first seemed surprised and maybe a little confused, but he gestured in a friendly way.

We got to talking again, I started to go off on what was bugging me about my job and my life, and I got a few minutes in when he raised a finger. "Hold on, I just want to be clear on something. This is one of those conversations where you just want someone to hear you out, isn't it? You don't actually want me to try to offer any solutions, right?"

I smiled. "You've been married."

"Long time ago, yeah," he said bashfully.

I went on and on and honestly I don't even remember what I was annoyed about that day, but the underlying theme is that sometimes it sucks being Valerie the Coffee Girl.

The next time I saw him, he asked how I was, and I said fine, and he eased me for giving a generic answer, so I elaborated on some things that were not fine.

The time after that, I must have gotten him talking about his life - about being a divorced father of two, a small business owner, just generally getting his perspective on things. I'm always wary not to take up too much of his time, because he's reading all these books because he enjoys them, not because he's waiting for someone to talk to, but he still lets me chat him up for ten or fifteen minutes during my shift.

And then somewhere along the way we became friends.

I had already kind of looked forward to seeing him, just because it was nice to see a friendly face. And then when we start talking, I thought, it's nice to have a guy to talk to - as much as I enjoy inhabiting the world of women, there are ways that I still feel excluded, where I feel like I have to fake it, where having the complete matching set does not make me a true woman underneath.

But to Kevin, I'm... I don't know. A nice younger woman, someone to keep him company. I gave him my phone number and told him he could text me if he wanted to, and the second I did that I thought, "Oh, shit... what am I hoping to get out of this?"

I mean, I really screwed myself up a little bit. Without realizing it I had developed like, a really serious crush on this guy. And it's so weird, because yeah, I've crushed on guys before - specifically Ryan, but if we're being honest it goes back to Josh and even, way way back, things I didn't want to let myself feel for Phil when I was Lauren. But it's different because this guy is... well,  different.

He's older than my real self, he's experienced, he's smart and funny. He has kids! It's weird that I should find myself interested in him and entertaining the notion that he might be interested in me!

I'm trying to play it cool - honestly I'm trying to completely pack it away, because he hasn't really indicated that he thinks of me that way, and I feel silly getting my hopes up.

But during our texts he mentioned oh, I have my daughters on weekends and they're getting really tired of chicken fingers and spaghetti. I reminded him that I cater sometimes and have a few cooking tips and tricks up my sleeve... any interest in learning some of my techniques?

He said sure and asked if I was free Thursday night.

I am.

It...  it feels like a date, right? This is suspiciously datey.

I couldn't believe it. I wasn't even sure I wanted to do anything, it just fell out of me, and when it was out, I only halfway wished I could take it back. It just felt weird, because I haven't ever really pursued a guy this way. As Valerie I am so accustomed to being pursued that it never occurred to me that I might like someone enough to make the moves on them.

It's almost annoying that I have been the one to push for him - like, hello, can you not see what's in front of you? But that might be what's so appealing to me. The idea that he might be a little immune to my looks. I like that.

I... am very nervous. Surprisingly so. I don't know what's coming next. At least I have a few days to figure out what to wear...


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Jenn: Back to the Inn Part 2

It was shocking to realize I was going from being lean, athletic Zack to overweight Shona.

I hadn't expected it based on her photo. Maybe it was out of date. Maybe the DMV lighting flattered her. But really I guess I expected... in my imagination, being a woman meant being my old self. My old proportions, a face not too different from my own.

As I lay there I just felt... heavy. And dejected. My only thought was... how am I going to do this? How am I going to face the world looking this way?

It's shameful, really. I thought I would have more... I don't know, body positivity. Open mindedness. Well it's all well and good whwn you have years to work on self-acceptance.  But it's a whole different matter if your body transforms in a night. It takes time to process. Later, once I had accepted my fate, I beat myself up over fixating on myself, my looks my new figure. I probably seem so shallow and superficial.

I heaved myself upright. I made my way over to the mirror. I wanted to see my new face in realtime. She was actually quite pretty. (I know, I'm fixated on appearances but people treat you based on your appearance most of the time and mine has changed drastically!) Big round green eyes, a cute little nose and full lips. But beneath that face, two or three chins.

I didn't even want to think about sleeping. How could I? I was so uncomfortable. I texted Pete. "Done transforming. Don't think I can sleep." A minute later there was a knock at the door. I was hesitant to open it. I was still naked. I threw a blanket over myself like a robe and opened the door a crack.

The face there gave an involuntary jump of wide-eyed surprise upon seeing me, a prelude to how people would look at me from now on.

Even in shadow I could tell Pete had won the lottery again. He was older now than I had ever seen him, for sure, but it was hard to pin down his new body's age. When he said 41, I thought wow, she's even better preserved than Lena because she could pass for late 20's or early 30's. She was larger than April (I think - hard to tell from here) but still petite, with a curvy mom bod and well-styled shoulder-length sandy brown hair (definitely dyed but still.) She wore April's pjs, and they were only a little missized. I took in her cheekbones and angular jaw and felt a pang of envy.

As he stepped in he probably did his best to be delicate, saying "wow what a change, how do you feel?" I was probably similarly not considerate in hiding my feelings by saying "Better than I look, probably," which was also probably downplaying how I felt. I paced the room trying desperately  ot to let my footfalls be too heavy, trying not to jiggle my extra flesh, as I tried to mentally come to grips with my new reality.

It's only a body, I told myself. It is just my exterior shell. I'm still me inside... yeah, I thought, but I was facing a year of people looking at me like there was something wrong. And worse, I knew I was going to be ne of those people too. It just wasn't going to be something I wanted to deal with. I wanted a nice, easily-ignored body that could get from point a to point b and maybe wouldn't look too bad in a little black dress.

I distracted myself by asking if Pete knew who he was. He said Laura Carling - a mother of two from the Boston suburbs. I was disappointed to hear this meant our journey together was over, but it made me feel very justified in thinking we would have been wrong to pursue anything that might complicate matters. Given how completely unsexy I felt in that moment it seemed to be for the best.

Once we talked through Pete's situation, the topic turned to the 250-lb gorilla in the room. I had located a lengthy typed note from the original Shona. She detailed her recent employment history and some moderate health issues, and her relationship with a guy named Steven.

As I read it through it I reached this paragraph and my hands shook:

"As surprised as I was to find myself in this situation - transformed, reborn, whatever you may call it - I have decided to embrace it. I am Shona Nash no more. Do what you will with the life I leave behind. Please make no attempt to contact me. If I need to, I will find you."

I was struck. I had lost my body and now here was someone happily casting their asidd. What had she found i her new life, did it even matter? She didn't say, nor did she obviously point out why she had to leave it. I assumed automatically it was related to her body.

I just sunk. I know from Tyler how hard it can be to get into a situation where keeping a body doesn't feel like stealing... and how crazy it would be to pass up the opportunity like this. But I'm not prepared to commit to being Shona permanently. I just... can't make that decision right now.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Jenn: Back to the Inn Part 1

A month ago, we headed off to the Inn. I put in a lot of work smoothing things over with Pete, not that he would ever have declined to go back, but I want things to be good between us because there's an outside chance that we're not done taking this ride together. We did get separate rooms, in an effort to ensure Zack and April get sorted back to their proper places.

The first few days were relaxing as Pete and I had managed to get in ahead of the crowd. We had good weather and hung out on the beach. Knowing there was no chance we would be transforming soon was both relaxing and stressful. We talked some, but it was awkward because anytime the conversation turned to the future, I cringed. If the topic came up my mind would spiral at the possibilities.

Of course the first thing I did when we got there was to open the suitcase in my room. I was extremely relieved to find it was that of a woman. While I have enjoyed peeking through to the male experience, I just don't feel loke that's who I truly am. Maleness is so intoxicating though... Being treated the way everyone probably should be treated, beig listened too and admired rather than dismissed. And there's something to be said for being tall, leanly muscled and hamdsome. But I knew I would feel more at home in the body of a woman. When I looked and saw I was to assume the life of one Shona Nash, 23, of Gainesville, Georgia, I practically squealed. I knew it wouldn't be permanent but it felt like a heartening move.

I was downright giddy for the  hance to be a woman again. Hair and makeup, fashion, girltalk... I would even welcome periods and bras. It's not out of dislike for being male, truly Zack's was a great body to be in but it's not "me" and somehow, perversely, I would give up all the privileges on manhood, the raw primal experidnces of Feeling Male, to get back in touch with my feminine side.

I studied her face over and over across the days. There's not much you can learn from the overtly serious bland face on a drivers license photo. Was she fun? Easygoing? Driven? Friendly, mean? Did she have a sense of humour, did she cook?

Was her family missing her?

So many questions and no answers. I dared not rifle through her things further. That was for later. You never know.

It was around midnight on Saturday night that I guess the magic started to happen. My skin felt... itchy, tingly, hot and cold. Like hives mixed with a charge of static. If you didn't know what it was you would probably sleep through it, but I was waiting. I had sequestered myself in my room in anticipation for days, to ensure I was where I was supposed to be for Zack.

I waited and waited. It was maybe an hour of just that feeling and noting obvious happening. I thought maybe I felt a gurgling inside me - perhaps my insides were becoming Shona's? I kept changing position, pacing the room, feeling my hair to see if it was growing. Finally I was reaching over to grab my phone and text Pete to check on him, when I noticed my fingers had become more stubby and slender. The hue of my skin had changed ever so slightly.

Good, I thought. I stood up straight, expecting to start shrinking anytime now.

I stripped naked. From what I could see looking down, my legs were now hairless, as was my chest. My pecs and abs were softening too. I bid them a fond farewell. The penis was noticeably retracting, which was fascinating to watch, and for an instant it was like I was a man with no penis and the faintest of breasts.

I liked that. I immediately felt reborn. I would miss the strength and confidence that I jad come to associate with that appendage, and yet losing it didn't make me feel weaker, it energized me.

My body started to take of a familiarly feminine shape as Zack's hips grew round and wide. Those pecs started to swell and sag. But they weren't the only things. My hips seemingly doubling in width from Zack's. Hm, I thought. That's quite... extreme.

I had no idea.

As dark hair draped itself across my shoulders, my nipples expanded across my breasts, whoch were swelling out bigger and bigger. I started to pace again and felt the movement of a bulkier mass behind me than I expected. I reached back and ran my hands across the surface of my bum - a much much bigger territory than I was expecting to find.

I noticed that my thighs had swollen out into each other, and my once rather well defined arms soon became saggy with flab. My belly had been softening through this but it soon became clear it was ballooning too, forming rows of rolls.

I lay back on the bed and felt the frame creak and sag under me. I hyperventilated, waiting for the end.