J.T. is home this weekend, and thank God. It's not just that I've missed him, but I've started missing me. Not having someone around who knows that I'm not the same on the inside as on the outside was not quite exactly what I expected it to be, but it does make me wonder how far off the day is when I think of myself entirely as Magda.
That seemed impossible the last time I blogged, but I sometimes think that the Inn wants us to take the places of the people we've become, and the only thing holding us back from doing so is our own stubbornness and attachment to other things. J.T. is my link to my old life, so while he's away, it's easy to slip into the things a woman in Magda's position does.
I've been working in this airport long enough to know my co-workers, so it's not particularly strange when they invite me to join them for a drink after work, although some do raise an eyebrow when I actually accept. I'm worried that I won't fit in, but it's actually easier in some ways than fitting in with J.T.'s friends, who assume I've got little to say to them. We've got work, a after all, and if you've ever been standing behind an unreasonable person while waiting in line, you know airline workers are going to have a list of grievances at the end of the day.
On top of that, there's a lot of physical things that I kind of don't realize are wearing me down until I'm not doing them any more. Just walking down the street with a bunch of 5'6" women in their forties is kind of a revelation w when you spend most of your time trying to match the pace of younger, taller men because you think that you should be able to do so, even if you leave heels completely out of it. So is ordering a glass of wine instead of beer or liquor. I gather the health benefits are mostly bunk - most of the benefit ascribed to having a glass of wine or two a day also correlate to the other dietary choices wine-drinkers make - but it seems to match my palate and throat better. It's strange but true.
They don't just talk about work, though, and the topic turning to kids is where things started getting a little surreal for me. I can go weeks without giving Harmon a lot of conscious thought - it takes a moment or two for me to recognize that all the selfies and stuff "Alicia" posts on social media is kind of a performance as opposed to just the amounts of some ordinary girl when I'm scrolling through my phone, and then I take a moment to think about whether I'll ever go that native.
I hadn't actually watched his YouTube channel until one of the ladies was talking about how her kids don't listen to the radio or watch TV but just go to YouTube and I mentioned that my daughter had a channel just to have something to say. Someone got out a tablet and we watched them, and I was kind of surprised how much he seemed to be enjoying himself, even doing a couple in the uniform I remember him taking off as soon as he would get home during our time living together.
(I mentioned them to Lindsey, who I kind of keep in touch with every now and then, saying that Harmon must finally be staying to enjoy his new life, but she doesn't buy it, thinking he'd just found a way to exploit himself or the next person who becomes Alicia just like he always did girls like her.)
A couple of weeks of this made me pretty happy when Jenn texted and asked if I'd take her to a movie because people keep carding her when she tries to buy a ticket to Hustlers. I kind of laugh but say yes, heading out to the Bronx on my next day off to meet up.
She's not at the theater when I arrive and hadn't sending me messages, so I get a bit worried and walk to her address.
I get buzzed up when I say it's Magda for Paola, but when I open the door, it's her "Mom", adding that she's sorry, but the school confiscates students' phones when they've got detention. I ask what that is about, and she just shrugs. "I try to just let Jenn be, but if she's anything like me, she is not taking the whole racism thing well. Pray you don't ever have to find out just how many awful ways there are to refer to Latinas in general and Puerto Ricans specially!"
I actually smiled a bit at that. "I am a black man under all this, you know."
"Right! Sorry! Jenn told me. Is it okay if I say you wear your new skin well, though?"
"I hope so; gotta keep a younger man interested, after all."
"I hear that, even if my guy sometimes seems to forget that he agreed just as much as I did overnight." We laughed, and then she said that maybe we should lean into the middle-aged woman stereotype and have a couple glasses of wine while we wait. Like I said, I'm willing.
It's more or less like doing the same thing with real middle-aged women; we tell stories and laugh a bit too loud, only hers are about trying to come up with excuses for why a grown man in the body of a ten-year-old girl is acting out at school and mine are about subjecting myself to a mammogram because I'd been wearing bras a size too small. Maybe it was the wine talking, but I feel like she's the first person to find my story of trusting fate with J.T. romantic without reservation.
We were on our second glasses when Jenn and her "sister" arrived and ditched their things. The others turned down the chance to come along, much to Jenn's relief. I guess I technically wound up part of a fake family too, but Harmon/Alicia is not someone I have to deal with regularly.
"So, detention. What's that about?"
I was trying to make conversation as we headed to the box office, but she just grunted. "I'm pretty sure you mean well, Daryl, but can I just hang out with someone who will treat me as an adult and not talk about high school?"
"Sure, no problem. So, you've been in New York longer than me - should I root for the Knicks or the Nets?"
She didn't really have an opinion on that, but it did get her to talk about the differences between the boroughs a bit, and how there could be bigger differences in traveling a few stops on the subway than across the country, and that was before trying to bluff how good your Spanish was.
The movie itself want bag, although I was expecting a heist more than a scam. Jenn liked it, although I tried not to look in her direction too often, because I'd feel guilty even though I know she's not really a kid and is not like I've ever really been any sort of prude about what teenagers song some boobs or hearing the word "fuck". What kind of middle-aged white woman am I becoming?
One who at least can joke about how J-Lo being 50 makes me both feel better about the age that the Inn made me and also kind of saggy in spots, I guess. Jenn laughed at that, and asked if I'd ever tried any of those shoes, because she once bought a really ridiculous pair to give her boyfriend an anniversary surprise and felt ridiculous. I said the original Magda had a pair, and I tried them on while sitting on the bed, but knew I'd fall flat on my face if I tried to stand, so they went to Goodwill. She just pushed hers to the back of the closet and almost completely forgot them, but now she wonders what became of them, since she hasn't heard about new-Jenn breaking her neck.
"That got dark."
"Yeah, I'm just... I don't know. You ever wish you could go to therapy for this?"
"Every damn day."
"Now try it when you're not old enough to drink and have to get up for school every morning." She yawned, and we split up at the subway.
I've got to admit, I'm really excited about J.T. Being back home tonight. I'm ready to feel like myself again.