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 Maybe it was out of date.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.