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.