Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Eddie/Theresa: Hair, Wardrobe, and Makeup

The second time waking up as Theresa was in some ways even stranger than the first, because not only was there an alarm jolting me awake, but I was in someone else's home and bed, completely disoriented.  I didn't even know how to silence the alarm on Theresa's iPhone right away, making me nervous that it would wake Austin up and he'd offer to help.

There would be no avoiding that, but, still, I wanted an hour or so before he was awake to myself.  He'd been either in the room or just out of sight for the past 24 hours, and I was already starting to feel a bit smothered, and though I wasn't really thinking in terms of it being a guy-and-girl thing, the fact that we were in his life and he had experience with both the Inn and being a woman had him tending to take charge.  I don't necessarily feel like I have to be the guy in charge, but between not seeing anyone for a while and the pandemic, I hadn't been spending more time with anyone than a thirty-minute rideshare, so it had felt like a lot.

I stood quietly in the bedroom after I'd silenced the phone, listening to hear if I'd woken Austin.  Apparently not.  I got some of the new underwear out of the drawer and a robe from the closet, and made my way as quietly as I could to the bathroom, quietly shutting the door behind me before looking in the mirror.

Either Theresa gets bedhead too, or there was still some part of me there.  I'd never seen her like that, but seeing half my hair kind of puffy and one side pressed flat made me feel a little more myself.  It inspired me to make a few faces in the mirror, which was kind of reassuring, because I thought maybe Theresa's face wouldn't make the right expressions or something and I'd just look blank instead of looking like I was thinking.

Then it was time; I pulled the t-shirt I'd worn to bed off and saw what I had in the way of breasts.

Given how many people on this site talk about being really big, I guess I am lucky or unlucky, depending on how you look at it.  I'm not quite flat, but I don't look like I've got something attached to my chest.  I had a pretty clear tanline, although my skin wasn't that dark.  I gave them a little poke and even pinched at a nipple a bit and was glad when I didn't just immediately melt into a puddle or anything.

I still avoided looking between my legs more than I had to before taking a shower, which wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Yeah, there's a weird moment or two at my chest being soft and I kind of forgot just how much water and shampoo hair can hold when it's this length, but mostly it felt nice to get a couple day's worth of sweat off, even if it meant I was touching things I had no business touching that way and a little unnerved as I felt my breasts squish and move as I scrubbed.

Drying took a little while, and my first time putting on a bra was a challenge, but I didn't want to ask Austin for help.  I'm don't know why the clasps aren't in the front in most cases - is it an engineering thing, or just a women's clothing traditionally having fasteners in the back?  Seems like that would make things a lot easier.

I brushed my hair into a shape that looked more or less okay, put the robe back on, and took a breath as I left the bathroom.

Austin was awake by then, and looked me over critically, said "Well, you look nice, but not work-nice," and then led me to the dining area, where all of Theresa's makeup products were laid out, and apparently the first lesson was mascara.  And it was weird.

Not just the makeup - although using semi-solid gunk to extend your eyelashes is really weird - but the way Austin seemed to change while putting it on me made me wonder what months of being Theresa would do to me.  He had said the day before that he'd enjoyed being a woman and had wanted to be the one to become Theresa, but it had just been a thing he said - he'd seemed to fall back into being more or less the guy I remembered from high school quickly enough, in terms of voice and mannerisms and stuff, but as he went on about doing this to me, his voice was a bit higher, and he seemed to light up a bit.  And it didn't really feel like envy - he really seemed to enjoy just doing this thing and seeing the results that made me look prettier.

I guess it could be worse.  He didn't really seem to be trying to recreate me as someone he'd be more interested in having sex with, and I guess a lot of people who go to the Inn find themselves on the receiving end of lessons in femininity from people who don't look like they should know anything about it, after all.  Just weird.

The whole morning was like that, and much of the week.  He's been pretty good about starting me slow with the clothing, in that I've managed to stay in pants and flat shoes for almost two weeks, although I think he's dropped by to take me out to lunch a couple of times less to ask me about how things were going than to see how the women in the office were dressing so he could suggest that maybe it's time for skirts, heels, and maybe a different color of lipstick, although he's also pointed out that some of them go with a lighter hair color, like the one in the box on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet.  He also seems to take his time figuring out which earrings and stuff go with which outfits.

I'm starting to get the hang of it, but I also get the impression that he's not terribly worried about that beyond my being able to touch it up in the afternoon - that aside from brushing my hair, he's pretty content to be in charge of getting me dressed and made-up in the morning.

That's handy.  But weird.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Jonah/Krystle: Not Exactly in the "Never Going Back" category, but...

 ... I've probably pretty close to waiting my last table for a while.

(You thought I meant the Inn, didn't you?  Well, that too, but...)

It's not that I had a bad experience at the Changeling - Moira is still my best friend and Ashlyn is sometimes the only person I can talk to when the feeling of being a huge phony comes over me - though I know that there are a lot of people who were pretty badly exploited in that business.  I'm lucky that Moira, having grown up in her parents' pub in Ireland, brought the idea that servers should be paid a living wage here with her and it's one of the conditions she had on partnering with Ashlyn to open the place.  Lord knows others haven't been so lucky.  Still, they could only pay an hourly wage and shifts were relatively scarce until very recently, especially if you don't have a car with which to do delivery, since it took a while to be at 100% capacity and that means both fewer people working and fewer people to tip per person.  On top of that, tipping has become a real all-or-nothing situation lately:  The folks who demanded that restaurants be open in the middle of a pandemic are lousy tippers, while the folks who are easing their way back into it to the point where they don't take their mask off until they're ready to take their first bite will regularly hit 25-30%.

I'd been picking up what I could when I got a call from the gym, mentioning that they were re-opening and if I'd like to renew my membership.  I wasn't facing the nagging sensation of getting out of shape that Jordan was - you can't slow down that much with an energetic four-year-old - but I wanted to get back to climbing pretty badly.  Sadly, I told them, I couldn't really afford it right now.

I got the feeling that they'd heard that a few times from the sigh on the other end, but then the lady on the other end surprised me by first asking if I was vaccinated and then if I'd like to apply for a job.  I kind of laughed, saying I'd only been climbing for a few months before the pandemic hit, but she said that was good enough for making sure people were strapped into their harnesses properly and, besides, they'd probably start me at the front desk anyway.

So I applied, and I've got an interview tomorrow.  In a week or two, I could be doing that on a regular schedule and even getting benefits.  And the regular schedule sounds pretty good, especially if I can work it around school hours in a couple of months.

That's right, school - Little Moira turned four years old in January, and in Cambridge that means that she is eligible for "junior kindergarten" starting this fall.  And that whole experience has been kind of crazy!  Just forget that I technically never finished high school and it kind of feels like I should have some sort of graduation behind me before having my kid start, but the fact is that I grew up in a fairly small town with one elementary school, so it was one-size fits all, but here there's a lottery and you're expected to make decisions about what direction a four-year-old's life is going to be set on.

It's nuts!  More nuts for me, because if faced with the same decisions, my parents certainly wouldn't have had any way to know that they should prepare their baby boy for being a single mother that everyone thinks used to be a stripper, and here I am, trying to figure out what I want for my little girl even though I know there's just no predicting where life will take her.  It feels so random at times that I can see why some people are tempted to just take care of now and put their kids in the most conveniently located school.

I'm trying not to do that, though.  I suspect that our applications were all kinds of a mess but that it really doesn't matter that much, since I intend to be involved and attentive and all that.  Still, there will be chances to switch things up when we get a better idea of her interests than "she really likes Legos so maybe she'll be an engineer someday."  I'm a little disappointed that she got wait-listed for the Mandarin-immersion program, and hope it's not some "why would a lower-income black girl need to know that?" thing.  Maybe it is a silly bit of ambition I'm putting on her, but Jordan says that languages like that are a lot easier to learn if you start young, and it seems like the sort of thing grown-up Moira could use in 2035.

Listen to me.  2035.  I'm trying to make decisions that will affect another person's life in 2035, when I got here by just falling into a situation randomly and then making one desperate decision that had the exact opposite effect that I intended.  But I guess that's why I'll probably never be going back to the Inn, at least not before 2040 or whenever she graduates college, because it's entirely possible that she may wind up with someone somehow even more ill-suited to all this than me!


Monday, June 14, 2021

Eddie/Theresa: I can't say the face in the mirror is unfamiliar

I'm going to guess that most people writing on this blog don't say their shoulder is the first thing they notice as different, but that was the first thing that struck me when I woke up Sunday morning.  I've been doing a fair amount of rideshare driving, and some older gentleman had apparently opted to put a  cinder block in his carry-on, and I managed to strain something between getting it into and out of my trunk.  It wasn't so bad by the time vacation was over, but the first thing I noticed yesterday was "huh, all better".  I stretched a bit, half-noted that it felt kind of weird but not bad in the chest, and then got out of bed and headed for the shower.

That's when I encountered the bathroom mirror, saw Theresa Moreau wearing my t-shirt, and jumped back, making a clatter as I hit the stall's sliding door.  I was briefly embarrassed at the noise, then leaned into the mirror.  Taking a good look at my face.  I'd seen her briefly when I went to Pineland to put Mom's affairs in order - she was one of the agents at the real estate firm I had list the house - and my face looked more or less the same.  My hair was darker than hers had been, and she'd been wearing a mask then, but I'd liked her in high school and this was basically the same face.  I tentatively brought my hands up toward my chest, as the pull of gravity when I leaned in had kind of clarified that the odd sensation while stretching was breasts, but just let my hands hover a few inches out.  Belatedly not wanting to wake anybody, I whispered something like what sort of weird dream was this to myself, quietly enough that I couldn't really hear much difference in my voice.

My banging into the shower door had apparently awakened someone, though, as there was a knock on the other door in this connecting bathroom.  "Eddie?  Are you okay?  I know you've just had a shock, but I can explain!"  There was a pause.  "Can I come in?"

I did a quick inspection to make sure I wasn't showing anything someone else shouldn't see, and then answered okay.  The door opened, and I saw Theresa's fiance, Austin Greene, and not the person who had been there the last week.

"Austin--?  What's going on?  Where's, uh..."

"The cute co-ed you didn't even mention in your blog post?  That was me, and I've got to say, I was kind of used to making a bit more of an impression.  As you can see, the Inn is 'cursed'" - he made little air quotes - "and what with the Inn being closed for Covid last year, I got to spend a whole extra 12 months as her before getting back here, and a lot happened during that time, which is why Theresa isn't back yet and we needed to have a sub."

"And you decided that I'd make a good Theresa?"

"No, I figured you'd make a good me!  I've spent almost two years as a girl, and I really liked it, so I was going to be Theresa, but the folks who were living our lives must have slept on the wrong sides of the bed or something, and things got mixed up.  I'm really sorry, but try not to look at it as a bad thing, but that you've got a while to walk in someone else's shoes and see how the other half lives!"

"But," I sputtered, "you can't just do this to people!  I've got a life of my own!"

"But not much of one, right?  We looked at all the people we know and trust, and you were the one who seemed like he'd do well as me and didn't have much else going on.  And who knows, maybe someone else in your spot will build something you wouldn't have thought of!  This whole thing is usually random, but it's good for people to have their lives and perspectives shaken up every once in a while.  And it's totally reversible - the Inn gets booked pretty solid from people who have stayed here before and know how it works, but sometime next year you and the new you and hopefully Theresa will be able to line things up and get back to normal, if that's what you want."

"Next year?"

He shrugged.  "It's a curse, man, not a service!  We're just lucky that someone figured out the pattern.  Now, c'mon, let's get you dressed in something that fits."  He walked back to his room, wheeled in a suitcase, and stood there as he left it in front of me.  I said something about being able to do it myself and retreated back to my room, locking the door behind me.

The previous Theresa - and it was just starting to hit me that the one I talked to last year wasn't the real deal and I'd had no idea anything was off - was helpful.  Both dirty and clean clothes were rolled up tightly, the dirty ones in a plastic bag, with a little note apologizing for not doing laundry before leaving.  There were some items on the other side of the suitcase that I wasn't close to ready for, but most of it was casual.  Taking a deep breath, I let the sweatpants I'd been sleeping in drop, and then pulled my boxers after them.  The t-shirt I was wearing was big enough on Theresa's body that I didn't have to look at what was between my legs as I pulled a pair of still-in-the-package panties with no lace or anything like that up, and then a loose-fitting pair of slacks.  There were ankle socks and a pair of sneakers, too.

I pondered the bras for a second but couldn't bring myself to put one on yet.  There was a Paw Sox t-shirt in the bag, and I took my sweaty nightshirt off while looking at the ceiling, closing my eyes as I grabbed the other one and pulled it on, trying my best to ignore the hem touching my nipples on the way down.  I started to tuck it in, but that made the chest feel kind of tight, but it was loose enough to be kind of comfortable when I untucked.

There was a mirror in my room, and I looked in it.  My shoulder-length hair was a bit of a mess, but I'd worn in that long before.  I didn't look quite right, even as Theresa, but I'd had girlfriends who spent an hour in the bathroom before they felt ready to face the world, and it made me wonder how much of my image of her was either selective memory or her putting on makeup and coloring her hair.  I wondered whether me doing that would feel more like pretending to be her or someone else.

I unlocked the bathroom door, opened it, and saw Austin with a towel around his waist.  It was reassuring, I guess, that I didn't feel any sort of desire, even though fake-Austin had left him in pretty decent shape, and he didn't put a bulge in the towel on seeing me.  "Ah, the casual look.  I remember it well."  He gave a little wink.  "So, feeling good?  They leave Tee in good shape?"

"I guess.  I mean, I didn't look at anything."

"No?  I kind of went straight for the boobs, although, to be fair, they were bigger than Tee's.   Couldn't miss 'em.  Every guy in my group who turned into a girl did, but then, we just thought we'd turned into girls, not specific girls, until we read the letters.  I guess that's different for you."

Different was an understatement.

I just gave what I hoped was an angry look, and he continued.  "So, letters - you should probably write one to help the new you get oriented, and then we should hit the road; turns out they need you in the office tomorrow.  Let me get dressed, and you can start on that."

He closed the door, and I checked the suitcase for a letter to me.  There wasn't one - fake-Theresa must have figured she'd be handing the life back to someone who knew it - but there was a small purse with a wallet, including Theresa's driver's license, social security card, and credit cards.  There was also an iPhone, along with a charger and a note saying the PIN ("change it - better safe than sorry!", with a little smiley face on the letter I).  It had drained, so I plugged it in and started writing.  I was annoyed how quick it went, because that sort of meant Austin was right about my life.  I tried to pack up in a way that matched what the previous Theresa had done as closely as I could, but still found it strange to put my wallet, keys, and phone inside my gym bag and close it, trusting someone else with my whole identity.

Not wanting to go through the bathroom again, I grabbed the bags and walked out the door, knocking on Aaron's.  He saw I had both and said to put mine back, that finding strange bags in the room was a part of the whole Inn thing.  I did, and by now I was kind of numb as we walked through the parking area, by head turning a bit to track my car as we passed it.  After loading the trunk, we both approached the driver's side of Austin's car, and he chuckled.  "Sorry, my car.  Tee's got a cute little Mini.  But while you're here..."

He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a little box, and I immediately recognized the type.  "Oh, no.  No, no, no."

He didn't smirk, at least, actually getting a concerned look.  "What, you want me to get down on one knee?"

"Hell no!"  I snatched the box from him, opened it, and held my breath at the sight of the diamond ring inside.  I plucked it out and felt my hand shaking as I started to slide it on.

"Uh, other hand.  Now you're got it backwards..."  I righted it, feeling like fifty pounds was sitting on my finger.

"Good god."

He grabbed my fingers and pulled them up.  "Don't worry, it's a long way away and we can probably delay it again, long enough so I can wear the dress like Tee and I planned.  It's just folks would talk if we came back from vacation and you weren't wearing this."

We got in the car and didn't talk much.  I think I was kind of in shock and running what would happen if I bailed and went somewhere else through my head but not coming up with a better idea than seeing it through.  And though he smiled at me and tried to be reassuring, I sometimes got the vibe that he was angry at me for having the body he'd wanted for himself.

We arrived in Rhode Island sometime mid-afternoon, by which point I was kind of amazed I'd held the coffee we'd bought at the first Dunks we encountered in.  He pointed me to the bathroom and I sat, my body somehow knowing what to release.  I tried to stand as soon as I was done but didn't like the wet sensation, so I sat back down, pulled some paper off the roll, and said "I'm sorry Theresa" out loud before looking down and wiping/patting everything dry.

(I'm not going to describe it; I felt I was invading Theresa's privacy enough as it was!)

The rest of the day was kind of a blur, with Austin pointing out what was different and me silently noting that it was nicer that any place I'd ever lived.

We agreed I'd take the guest bedroom; less on the walls to remind me that the space specifically belonged to someone else.  I spent a couple hours moving clothes in there and arranging them, giving me a look at my new wardrobe.  Theresa doesn't seem terribly high-maintenance; about half is comfortable weekend wear, half blouses and skirts for the office, and a few fancier things but no necklines that go down to the belly button or anything.  She's got more shoes than I've ever had at once, but only a couple pairs have difficult-looking heels.

Just as with the bags at the Inn, the drawers were considerately organized, with a couple week's worth of bra and panty sets still in their plastic.  There was a new toothbrush, and hairbrush, deodorant, and a few other grooming/beauty products I didn't recognize right away.  It actually calmed me down a little.  Just think of it as checking into a really nice hotel.

That said, I still made sure not to look when I changed into a nightshirt for bed that night, although I knew from taking a little sniff of the armpit area that this particular courtesy couldn't last much past morning.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Daryl/Magda: Planning for futures

The virus closing the Inn for a year has been downright peculiar - this time last year, I was fretting over being stuck as Magda and losing myself, and I think I had a little bit of a breakdown not long after my last post.  It's the sort of thing I always figured I'd be more sure of, but instead it only became clear in reflection.  J.T. had taken a job shooting some small independent film, and while I'd planned to join him, I got kind of freaked about the virus, never got on my flight, and instead turned that week into a "staycation" where I spent a lot of time in bed eating ice cream and watching Netflix, barely got dressed, and spent a lot of time freaking out because new-Daryl took a while to get back to me when I asked how things were going and seldom had questions.  It seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, especially when the time off ended, my alarm rang, and I put on my uniform and went to work like the past week had just never happened.

And here's the weird thing:  I was more centered after.  Things didn't rattle me as much, and having my planned new life fall through got me to a point where I guess I accepted that I would live my live out as Magda Polawski and was less worried about the real me showing through.  I hadn't really been hiding, but I think I'd tried too hard to show I wasn't a boring middle-aged woman around J.T.'s friends and not to be weird around the people at work, and just doing what I wanted felt like a weight off my shoulders.  This wasn't the life I'd planned, but it was a pretty decent one.  I have someone I love, I have friends, I know that the world is a little more remarkable than most people understand.  Even under weird circumstances, my job was steady and I got to help people most of the time.

Apparently, it showed up in my performance.  I don't know much about the original Magda, but I kind of get the impression that she was dedicated enough to herself and Alicia to pick up extra shifts but that was the end of it, at least at work, and Lindsey was just killing time until she could be herself again.  That's not really me, though, so I'd help the new people, show up a bit early or stay a bit late if needed, and, I don't know, engage more?  So by the time I was working an extra shift on Thanksgiving weekend, a little freaked about how too many people were traveling but doing my best to make it work, I wasn't really worried about being laid off when I was called into an office.

It turns out, I was being offered a promotion.

It's weird for an Inn Person(tm)!  Like, I've known several that have quit jobs or changed paths to something more suited, and some weird relationship situations, but being told that I am actually better at some parts of being a middle-aged white lady than an actual middle-aged white lady?  It's mighty disconcerting, but not actually bad, once I considered that my priorities clearly aren't the same as Magda's were, and that some of it was probably because I'm not entirely a MAWL - ability to connect with multiple generations makes me a better leader.  Send your management candidates to the Trading Post, corporations - they'll get a ton of new insights!

Anyway, I'm not a spiritual person, but I do kind of wonder if finally settling in as Magda, accepting that I could see a life as someone other than myself, has made the universe more willing to smile upon me, because Pete found me another candidate for a new life.  Zee's in her early 30s, presumably mixed (clearly Black but lighter than either Elaine or I was), in nice shape, and pretty much a blank slate - her parents aren't in the picture, and she's between jobs but has some savings.  I initially said he should just settle down that way, but it's almost like having the same DNA for two years after spending so long living other people's lives has made him antsy, like he wants some guardrails even though he's unmistakably Pete no matter what face he wears.

I downloaded the pictures to my phone and showed them to J.T., asking if he'd break up with me for her, and bless him, he recognized what I meant right away, especially once I said there was no reason for "her" not to move to New York.  I made a joke about how maybe I could use my new position to recommend her to the airline, and he said he didn't necessarily want people to think he had a thing for airport workers, and, besides, it was a chance for me to get back to doing what I'm good at.

(And then he showed that he still found this shape attractive, thank you!)

I told Pete yes, and we've been exchanging emails.  She seems nice, and has a clean bill of health, but I don't know everything about the real her, though I don't need to.  I get the impression that she's white and younger than Zee from some of her emails, like she's always enjoyed being looked at but it's not necessarily the same when she goes to her favorite places as a Black woman, and from how she was kind of stunned that I'd basically accepted losing 20 years.  Still, from what I can tell, I could enjoy being her.

It does mean making plans not to leave Magda's life a mess, though.  I've put in vacation time for August, and I'm trying to figure out how to stay cordial with the folks I know (they're good friends, by and large) but not actually commit "myself" to anything that next-Magda wouldn't necessarily want to be part of.  I've also been looking at apartments, and holy shit, but New York rent is insane!  I thought the old place in Oakland was crazy for what it was, but New York City is a different level, and that's just basically pretending like much of Manhattan doesn't exist.  Staying in J.T.'s nice place for the past three years has kept me kind of isolated from that, but there's a good chance that next-Magda might find herself in Jersey, because even if I might be happy with a cozy one-bedroom, she may be bringing someone else along, and I don't want her to feel like this life is a prison with no room for the rest of her.

Because it's not, even if I am looking forward to having two shoulders with a full range of motion again.  Being Magda for three years has been a bit of a test, but it's not something one needs to get past.