The Holidays saw me running ragged. Not only did I have to do as much as I could to spend time with "my family" - that is, Val's family, which is, you know, my family now, seemingly everyone from my past wanted to crop back up all of a sudden.
It started when Dylan's parents said they were considering visiting New York, and wanted to know if I was still living there and wanted to see my former "kid." I was struck - It feels like multiple lifetimes ago that I was Judith, and being reminded of it brought up unexpected emotions. Echoes of the guilt I felt about whether I was a good parent, nostalgia for having that kiddo in my life, the fraught nature of my relationship with Kitty. I have enough baggage as Valerie now, it's hard to even think of stuff from when I was that person.
But since it came up, I became very excited about the possibility of seeing him. I told his parents to bring him to the subway near my apartment - it would be best if my roomies didn't see any of this - and I could show him around Manhattan for a day.
Dylan arrived with his mom. She put on a friendly, but neutral, face, as we shook hands. I asked how she had been.
"Not bad, all things considered," she sighed, "It's been a long few years. Lots of adjusting. I can't say I'm happy with the way things worked out, but going back to my old body is just... not happening. So this is it for me, and we make the best of it."
"Right," I nodded. I had forgotten that Dylan's parents wound up getting switched, and I supposed their aversion to the Inn made them decide never to try to go back. It would be a lot to expect everyone to thrive this way, I guess, but I hope s/he doesn't bring too much bitterness home. She gave me a few ground rules then went off back to the hotel.
Dylan smiled when he saw me, and stooped down to give me a big hug. "Woah!" he said, "I mean, I've seen pictures, but I totally forgot you look like this now. I still think of you as... well... when you were Judith I could sometimes tell you were a guy in there. But now...?"
"Yeah, yeah," I said. "Well, let's get over our shock. This is me, and yes, I do think of myself as a woman, but I'm still me."
"That's great," he said, "So cool. You know, the kids at my school are just now starting to learn about LGBTQ and gender identity and stuff. It sucks that I can't tell them what I've lived through."
"Yeah, sometimes you really do wish you could explain it to people," I sighed. "By the way, holy crap you got tall. I mean, I got short, but you got tall."
Dylan is 15 now, and stands 6' tall. He told me about his love for basketball, and his other hobbies - he writes now, and does a little bit of music. He played me some stuff off his Soundcloud - not really my thing, but not bad.
We went to some markets, saw the Museum of Natural History, and hit up one of my favorite lunch spots. There was the inevitable moment where I had to take my coat off and he glanced at my chest, but he tried to play it cool and generally kept his eyes north. I get it, they're impressive. For what it's worth, I was wesring a loose sweater, not something that invites attention, but thry do a good enough job of that o their own.
He told me he reads the blog, which makes me a little embarrassed considering most of what I post here is about my sex life.
After lunch, we walked around some more and he told me about his girlfriend.
"It was weird you know. For a long time after I went back, it was like... what am I? I wasn't that into girls before I became one, and by the time I was done being Livie, I kind of did like boys. It took me a long time to sort out... until I met Theresa. Then it was instant."
"I'm happy for you," I said warmly.
He went on, "My parents are worried that hanging out with you is going to make me want to go back to the Inn, because of what you said."
I raised an eyebrow. "Oh really?" I remembered what I said - that someday when he was 18 if he still wanted to, that would be his choice.
"It's tempting," he said. "There was a time I went to bed every night thinking I was gonna be a girl for the rest of my life. I look at Theresa and I see what that would've been like
Sometimes I get jealous because she's so beautiful. But I'm lucky because I get to be with her."
"So, no going back then," I said, hopefully.
"I don't know. I'm still young. Who knows what I'll want. I'm happy now. But I also know that going back and becoming something else isn't a death sentence."
"Tell that to your dad-- er, mom. Neil."
Dylan snickered. "He's just playing. He thinks if someone like you finds out he doesn't hate being a woman, it's like he lost or something. But he's a lot more like you than he wants to admit. Honestly, I think my mom's almost got him convinced to try for another kid."
"Woahhh," I said, "Now that's a subject I don't need to hear about."
In the end, I told him, that's what the real world is, what every person walking the Earth has to face in one way or another - how much is sucks to feel stuck, but how good it feels to put down roots in the end.
He took this advice in, and reflected on it, then said one more thing. "I'm glad I never got a period."
I wrapped my arm around him. "Be grateful."
For the rest of the holidays, I sleepwalked through some time with "My" Family, and then our little group faced a shakeup as Charli left New York for Brooklyn. Maddie's on-again-off-again boyfriend moved in, which left me feeling crowded and wondering if it's time for me to make a change. I had a pretty interesting year but I was ready for it to end.