As impossible as my life has been for the last three weeks or so, I can't imagine what it must be like for the vast majority of people who go to that place and wind up tossed into a new position which is not only out of their experience, but which itself has been left in the lurch, with nobody to help them except maybe someone else who is equally confused. As much as it's still a shock each morning to wake up as Theresa Moreau and reacquaint myself with all the female things that I'm not yet taking for granted, I at least grew up in her hometown, and was at least a passing acquaintance, if only because I was a little better in school than people expected and was on the same sports teams with the kids who had some money. I was even kind of friends with Austin, at least during baseball season, so there's a part of me that wants to forgive him for doing this to me, although I mostly just want him to fix it and make this as painless as it can be.
On the other hand, the people who took the place of Austin and Theresa during the past two years? They are the literal best. I didn't mention it in the last post or two, but I get the impression that they were an older couple, and just fantastically organized. It's not just the new underthings and stuff, but the bedrooms had slip cases containing three-ring binders which themselves had printouts slipped into plastic sleeves, filled with pictures, maps, and relevant information side-by-side. Even though they must have expected the real Theresa back, the information that they would have found useful - that Theresa's friend Lana had twins named Gil and Phil, or that the frozen custard place had to run a fundraiser not to close permanently - is still helpful to me. They also seemed to anticipate something possibly going awry, including some more basic information, or putting little tabs in the textbooks Theresa used to study for her realtor's exam so I know what's especially important (although I guess they could just be leftover from when the sub did the same).
(Speaking of subs - I've had emails from the new me. He seems nice enough - or would "they" be more appropriate, since he or she is uncomfortable enough with sharing information about their real life to the point where they haven't even volunteered that much information? - but I try not to think too much about what they're doing on a daily basis)
All that preparation didn't mean that my first week "back from vacation" wasn't difficult, but I'm trying not to imagine how it would have gone if I didn't have Austin doing my makeup or if I didn't know where Cedar Woods was. I still got seemingly good-natured jokes about my mind still being on the beach when I was a little slow to respond at times, and certain things about showing houses and condos still elude me, let alone the exact current zoning regulations for when somebody asks about putting a deck on the back of a place. I've rented ever since graduation, so all of the talk about offers, escrow, and closing feels like a test I'm constantly studying for and having to pass.
That's at least something that can be studied, and I can apply myself. I've had jobs where I was kind of learning on the fly before. It's the moments in between, when the phones aren't ringing and the four of us in the office are just chatting that are often the hardest to navigate. I expected the other young woman to have the strongest opinion on me staying with Theresa's natural hair color, but it's actually the other guy, a few years older than me, and it makes me really uncomfortable. He's got a girlfriend, and I suspect Theresa turned him down some time ago, so what's it matter to him that my hair is "drab"? Is he going to be checking out my ass constantly if I ever start wearing skirts and heels?
That's not happening any time soon, though, if only because I kind of feel lost with Theresa's clothes on the weekend, and Austin's helping is sometimes not helping. The first Saturday, I figured it was the weekend, so I grabbed some shorts and a t-shirt, but it didn't quite look or feel right (beyond the question of how ladies' jeans fit, whether they go halfway to the knee or to the ankle). I was expecting dressing for work to be tricky, but I suddenly realized that I had thought about women's casual clothes even less. I just knew a girl looked good or real good, but never paid attention to why, or where the line was between what she wears to a club, a concert, or just hanging around. We haven't been doing a lot of "hanging out" - needing to read up on this other life is a handy excuse - but Austin's parents have been known to drop in, there's occasional shopping to do, and the Fourth of July was last weekend.
And that's where it gets super-weird. From the way he describes his last couple years, Austin spent a lot of time on looking good as a girl, but if you think it's kind of creepy when a guy tells his girlfriend to wear, triple that for when that "girlfriend" is actually a guy not totally sold on "sexy" and the plan is to hang out with Austin's family, including his big brother who likes to make jokes about how if they don't get married soon, he's going to steal Theresa from him. I'm just glad the weekend of the holiday was rainy and unseasonably cool, so I could wear jeans and a long-sleeved tee rather than the U.S. flag crop-top and the tiny shorts that go with it.
I suppose that I'll find a way to be Theresa that also lets me be myself a bit over the coming months - most folks either seem to manage that or get completely swallowed by their new life, and I still can't imagine that. It's still hard to imagine finding the right middle ground right now, though.