Friday, October 21, 2022

Jonah/Krystle: Settling In, Part Two

Moira and I have been down here almost a month now, and we're almost set in our routine.  I only got as far as actually moving in last time, but obviously there has more to it than that.  I'd been able to get Moira registered for kindergarten on the phone and online, so the next morning, we called a Lyft and went to her new school, signed the last of the paperwork that needed to be done in person, and then waited in the hall while the principal brought her into her new classroom and introduced her.  I kind of wanted to stay there all day, but I had to do all the shopping for stuff I didn't have.

It dawned on me as I left the school that I kind of had no idea where the best place to do this was, especially if you can't really afford Crate & Barrel or anyplace similarly fancy.  I searched furniture and housewares on my phone, but I didn't really know which ones were respectable local places and which ones were kind of shady.  I'd made a list the night before of what we needed, and whistled at the amount of it.  Not just the cost, but I really should have kept the moving van for an extra day rather than renting a car.

And what is the right amount, anyway?  I knew that I couldn't really get away with two plates, two cereal bowls, etc., especially since I can get kind of lazy in terms of doing dishes when things are busy, but eight kind of seems like overkill - although, once I thought about "what if my parents and Momma Kamen and Karla and her boyfriend and her kids and maybe some neighbors all showed up at once", I started to panic.  I went with boxes of four and made a note to buy some plasticware for emergencies when I went grocery shopping, with the idea that I could go buy some more matching good stuff if I knew I'd have visitors a few days in advance.  It seemed like a weirdly grown-up and responsible thought for someone who sometimes kind of still thinks of herself as the teenage boy she was before the Inn.

(On the other hand, I got a text from Gabriel asking how the move was going while I was shopping, and I may have responded with a comment like "you know, if we got married, other people would buy us all this shit as wedding gifts" and he may have texted back "hahahahaha u srs?", leaving me wondering what I would have done if he'd replied "deal!")

I kind of punted on some things, since I only had so many hours to work with before school let out and I didn't want to buy actual furniture on short notice, but did want a place to sit and eat.  It felt kind of wasteful to buy chairs and tables that folded up that I hopefully wouldn't use for more than a week, especially before my first new, higher paycheck, but I wasn't going to have Moira telling her new friends that we were just sitting on the floor for a couple weeks and have people think we were really poor rather than just starting out.  I especially don't want her being told she was poor.  Like, okay, I kind of felt poor a lot when I first took Krystle's life, and it sucks.  It's a big part of why I've been kind of slow to move out of Momma Kamen's apartment even when I'd saved a bit; I didn't want her to ever feel like she didn't have everything she needed.

Anyway, once all that got done, I sat on the steps outside the building and waited.  Moira had been taking school buses at pre-kindergarten in Cambridge before summer, but I still worried about her getting on the wrong one on her first day, especially if she got distracted or forgot her new address, so I sat out there and waited, barely able to pay attention to the book I was reading on my phone.  She and a boy the same age got off at the same time, though, and they were really cute introducing each other when they realized they were neighbors and pointing at their respective apartments.  Then she ran over to me, and I picked her up and asked how her first day went.

"It was kind of neat!  There's a lot of kids in my class, but most of them seem nice.  The girl who sits next to me, Josie, speaks English and French!  Can I speak French?"

"Well, I'm sure you can learn."  I had actually been trying to find a way to get her into the classes where they teach her Chinese back in Cambridge, but I suppose French would be more practical here.

She got on the bus by herself the next morning, and then I went to the gym.  It wasn't exactly in the same neighborhood, but I left early and it's not hard to figure out buses with a smartphone.

The guy I was replacing got there about ten minutes after me, and looked me up and down as he unlocked the door.  I probably wasn't dressed the way he thought I should be, but I'd kind of had to guess what "proper" was.  The manager back at the old location was a guy, and tended to dress casual in khakis and short-sleeved button-up shirts, stuff where he even if he doesn't have to change out of it quickly if he needs to help on the floor, he's still giving the impression of someone fit and active as you'd expect in a gym.  My body isn't exactly built for that sort of thing even when a sports bra is doing its best to keep the girls under control, so I went with a loose camisole that still covered my shoulder, plus a skirt over black yoga pants.  Not quite "casual management", but I'm not really sure how that works for me yet, even a month or two later later.

Not that this guy looked like he was likely to help out on the floor.  I've been kind of lucky in most of my bosses as Krystle, who have more or less been either folks who started the business and shared the load or had been promoted from the same sort of position I have been, but this guy looked like he'd gone to college to be management.  A month or so in, I'm not exactly ridiculing it - it's a skill I'm still learning - but he sure seemed both happy that he'd be able to get back to spending all of his time managing a location in a nice white suburb and to suspect that I'd slept with someone and was either being rewarded or sent far away (or some combination of the two).

He gave me the quick tour, showing where everything is.  Chain places like this are kind of weird; it had all of the walls the location back in Massachusetts did but rearranged because the space is a different shape, with offices and the employee changing areas and break rooms in the back rather than downstairs.  I kind of wonder if there's someone at the main headquarters whose job it is to adapt stuff to the location or if that's contract work.

He seemed eager to get out before the regular employees arrived, and I wonder if there was some bad blood there.  I wouldn't exactly be surprised - both of the guys I met on that first day were a head and a half taller than me, and a little googling says they were big-deal high-school basketball players who wound up not being such a big deal in college and apparently gyms are where you apply when you've got a degree in physical education but your hometown doesn't need a gym teacher.  Indeed, five of the six people doing my old job are guys like that.  The other is a 19-year-old girl who goes to Tulane.

It's kind of weird; a lot of the guys don't look at me as an authority figure at all, and a lot of the time they are not shy about staring at my tits and ass at all, but - and this is only paraphrased a bit from an overheard conversation - I'm also not that white nerd who thought I was better than them, and maybe subconsciously they pick up on how there's a guy their age under this skin and that smooths things over a bit.  There haven't been any real problems where I've had to cut someone's hours or warn them about being inappropriate with the clients yet, but I'm kind of dreading the first.

I'm kind of running first-day and so-far stuff together there, but I guess I've fallen into enough of a pattern to remember exactly what I was feeling those first few days.  I am still kind of keenly aware of the day-to-day with Moira after school.  The elementary school in our area doesn't have the same sort of after-school extracurricular activities the one in Cambridge did, and I still really don't know anybody I trust as much as Momma Kamen to babysit yet.  She's made some friends and often goes to their places after school, but I feel kind of weird asking other parents to look after my kid on top of theirs, especially when it comes to ask which neighborhood teenager or granny is worth paying.

Still - my apartment is looking more like a home, I haven't fallen flat on my face at work yet, and Moira has made a bunch of new friends.  This may just work out!


Monday, September 19, 2022

Daryl/Zee: People Think I'm Crazy

Well, they think Zee's crazy, coming back from vacation, giving two week's notice, and saying she's going to up and move to New York because she met a guy on vacation.  Nope, don't want to stay on as remote after that, either - just making a clean start!  Which surprises them a little, as previous-Zee apparently liked working from home during the pandemic.  I can kind of see why - there are cheat sheets right next to her monitor about who everyone is - but it's kind of not exactly an ideal workplace.  None of her co-workers are surprised by the desire to move on, even if previous-Dee didn't exactly strike them as the romantic type, though the management seems to think giving notice right after coming back from a long vacation is the sort of thing an asshole does.  Can't say they're exactly wrong, but, again, there are a lot of co-workers who think giving the finger as you depart is the stuff of legend.

I was able to pack fairly light for the move - previous-Zee started downsizing almost two years ago, and I told her that she could keep whatever she had come to grow fond of from Zee's apartment, not realizing just how much she'd take me up on.  But that's fine.  She became Zee in her mid-twenties and had been her for three years, and as much as she wasn't looking back, there was a lot of things she was used to, and which I wouldn't know I was missing.

So I went to New York, put some things in a storage unit that J.T. had arranged, and then made my way to Flushing, because the new Magda was insisting that I stay with her and tell her everything she needs to know before completely diving into her new life, which was a surprise, but a welcome one.  Short-term situations in New York are at least one of hard to find and expensive, and J.T. and I didn't want to do the "new girlfriend immediately moves in" thing again, even if it would look less weird with me not appearing old enough to be his mother.  Hopefully I won't be here long, but it's nice to be somewhere kind of familiar while I get on my feet.

I was a bit surprised when I got buzzed up that first time and new-Magda opened the door; she looked younger than I had looked as her and I told her so.  She accepted the compliment and said that she'd spent some time as a make-up artist back before she got married, and had all sorts of experience with shaving a few years off a middle-aged woman even before she'd been one, and "Magda" was aging quite gracefully to begin with - although she said I obviously knew that, of course, because I'd been Magda not long before.

She ran through all that quickly before saying that I'd certainly found myself a nice little landing spot and I said, yeah, I feel a little more like me while still being someone my boyfriend would enjoy having sex with.  She turned a bit red at that - she's actually in her mid-sixties and sort of aspires to be as sex-positive as a Golden Girls character but still defaults hard to cis-het in her thinking, and the idea that I could start out as a "normal" man and get to a point where I was looking for a just-right female body even with magic involved is hard for her to get her brain around.  It's going to be fun the next time that Harmon arrives if she starts thinking of him as entirely Alicia the way she seems to treat me as entirely Zee because she doesn't know what to think about me as Daryl.

Still, she's a pretty apt pupil for someone who initially worried about teaching an old dog new tricks, seemingly excited to learn all the goings-on at the airport.  I asked if she thought she was going to be Magda long-term, and she says it's tempting, depending on what happens with her husband, who has become someone fairly age-appropriate for Magda but...  Well, his real identity is ten or fifteen years older than her, so there's a very real possibility that it won't be there to come back to in the spring, and he doesn't want to stick someone else with so few days.  Apparently, he says she should stay Magda whatever happens, rather than be a widow everyone takes pity on, but they've been together for decades and she can't imagine abandoning him like that.

It was a sobering thing that I brought up with J.T. on our "welcome (back) to New York" date that evening.  We've known kids who became adults via the Inn and vice versa, and I've certainly given some thought to having potentially lost twenty years while living as Magda, but the other end of things is scary.  Just imagine becoming Magda's husband as a teenager and not knowing if your heart will make it to the next Inn booking!

Fortunately, we've got that behind us, and he figures that in time, once I've found a place of my own and a new job, we'll eventually get to a point where we can just look forward.  Easy for him to say - he was only someone else for one year, almost five years ago!

-Darzee (nah)

Monday, September 12, 2022

Jonah/Krystle: Settling In

You ever feel like you have a moment when every adult responsibility you've got doubles in intensity?  That's what the last few weeks have been like.  I thought getting pregnant and having Moira would be as big a jump as it gets, but then I got the promotion, and it has been absolutely crazy since.

Part of it's me.  The Inn sort of has a tendency to freeze your idea of who you "should" be at the point where you changed, and somewhere underneath all of this, I think of myself as still a kid having to fake being an adult, but I'm not - "Junah" graduated from college, so there's no going back to that status quo.  I'm in my mid-twenties and folks think I'm in my late twenties, so I'm not some sort of teen mom, but a grown-ass woman.

Still, it's been a lot.  After getting the promotion, I had to find a place to live in New Orleans remotely, and once I had that more or less figured out, I had an idea of Moira's new school district, so I could go through the process of getting her enrolled, and also out of Cambridge's system.  That's when I told my five-year-old that, no, she didn't have to start school the same day as her friends, because we were going to be moving, far away from Grand-Momma and Aunt Karla and her cousins and her friends, and, boy, did that lead to a lot of screaming and abject refusal to help me pack, even if I did point out that she'd be able to go swimming even in the winter.  Momma Kamen and Karla tried to help, saying that we could do video calls and we'd try to see each other at Christmas and other holidays, and that they were actually jealous, but that just meant that when we put our boxes in the truck, she was sad-crying instead of screaming.

I'd said a private goodbye to my friends in Boston, with "Big Moira" making me promise to keep in touch and Ashlyn and Penny again telling me that starting fresh would really be the best thing for me.  She also asked if I was okay to drive the next day, and I'm not going to lie, that had me nervous as well.  Living in a city like Cambridge, I really only have to drive once or twice a year - mostly when somebody is not good to drive home - and though I'm past the "I never actually took my driver's test!" nervousness, it's still kind of a lie and driving 1,500 miles with a five-year-old who has never been in a car for that long is a lot different than running an errand!  Google will tell you that it's a 24-hour drive, but it took us four days, with one spent going into some of the Smithsonian museums in Washington and another stop to sleep somewhere in Tennessee.  I must admit, I kind of feel like I'm a traitor to my status of being a guy deep down in that, while I'm not nearly as anti-car as Jordan, I can't see why someone would want to drive all the time when there are perfectly good trains and buses.

We got into New Orleans at around two in the afternoon, and met the realtor at the apartment.  Moira had been napping, and when I woke her up, she didn't know what was going on.  I told her we were at her new home, and while I think she kind of wanted to be grumpy, she looked at the building - a very basic one-story with steps up from the sidewalk to two doors, really - and her eyes went wide.  "Is that whole thing just for us?"

"Well, not the whole thing - just the part on the left - but yes, it's just for us."  Once I opened the door she ran in and through the empty living area to the back, and then back to me.  "Mommy!  We each get our own bedroom!"  I said I knew, but she pulled me in to show me anyway, then raced to try and look out every window, find the bathroom, look around the kitchen, very excited about what a big circuit she could run.  At one point she stopped in the entryway and pointed up.  "Why's there a door in the ceiling?"  I said that was the attic, but we didn't need to go up there yet.

After a bit, we walked back outside, and I told her we had to get everything from the van into the house, and it was going to be tricky because we were kind of on our own here.  The fact that everyone else she knew was far away hit her again at that moment, but she started trying to help with some of the smaller boxes.  I managed to wrangle the bed frame in and assembled okay - real-Krystle may not like my arms, but they come in handy for more than just hanging from a fake rock, but the box spring and mattress was going to be trickier.

I admit - I looked down the street and saw some people hanging out on stoops and figured I might as well use what I had, unbuttoning my loose-fitting top and using it to wipe the sweat off my brow.  I was wearing a sports bra underneath, but it was the sort that didn't exactly disguise my rack.  I kept one eye on the open door as a couple young men decided to stir and walk over, hoping I wasn't making a huge mistake.

"Well, well, well," one of them said, "ain't nobody told us a fine-looking lady like yourself was moving into Eddie Grant's place."

I smiled, trying to remember everything Ashlyn - who, longtime readers of this blog may recall, got over any qualms about big breasts making a lot of men eager-to-please very quickly - had told me about flirting:  First and foremost, don't promise anything.  Wear something where you can get noticed, but downplay it; of course you wore the sports bra on moving day.  No innuendo unless you are sure you want to get laid, because they'll lead you down a path you don't want to go.  Just try and show you're smart and fun enough for them to want to be around you generally.

Anyway, I smiled, not too wide, and pulled my hair back in a ponytail, being practical but also letting my breasts ride higher for a second.  "I bet you say that to all the sweaty messes."

The one who hadn't spoken stifled a laugh, and I admit I kind of liked him the best in that moment.  He and his friend each grabbed an end of the box spring, though, and asked where to.  I guided them to Moira's room, where she had emptied out a box and was playing happily, and got them to lay it on the frame.  As we left, the first one took his phone out of his pocket, checked it, and dashed off, saying I had to give him a chance to introduce himself properly, and he might have really had a message rather than deciding a single mom wasn't quite so hot.  Whatever; I could handle the mattress with just one other person to help.  He got it there and we walked back out to the van where he raised his eyes at how little was left.  "Just the one bed?"

I shrugged a little, the sort that didn't set everything moving, and made a face.  "The thing about moving out of your Momma's apartment is that you realize how little you have that's yours alone.  She said I could take the other bed, but did I really want to haul a twin all the way there when I'd have enough room for something bigger?"

I hoped I wasn't implying too much with that, but he just nodded.  "Your Momma's got a point."  He grabbed a box and helped me bring it in.  "And, apparently, your Momma's also got all the chairs, the kitchen table, the TV, the dishes..."

I put my own box down next to his.  "Yeah.  Hopefully Moira doesn't mind roughing it for a while.  I didn't realize it would look this empty."

He raised an eyebrow.  "Moira?"

"Look, there were reasons not to give her a name that was in the family, and my best girlfriend was all that came to mind at the time."  I chuckled a bit, thinking of some of the confusion it's caused.  "If I ever do that again, I'll be more prepared."

He nodded, looking around the place, seeming pretty well aware that, cute anecdote aside, I hadn't really volunteered much.  "Well, if you need anything, I'm Leroy Watkins, my brother is Larry, and we obviously can't complain too much about how people choose their babies' names."

I reached out a hand.  "Krystle."  I was about to spell it out, then didn't.  No need to make it easy for two guys I'd just met to Google it and judge me by the footprint that the original Krystle Kamen left.  Heck, I thought, maybe I could do something along the same lines as Jordan and find a way to be "Joanna" or even just "Crystal" or "Kris" here.

Seeing he wasn't going to get a last name, he shook my hand, either content to play the long game or seeing that I had a lot of other things to check off on the list before "lover".  I saw him out and waved as he walked back down the street toward the place he and Larry share with their own Momma.  The back of the truck was empty, so I reached up and pulled the door shut, then walked in.

Moira walked into the living room shyly until she saw that I was alone.  "Is that your new boyfriend?"

I laughed, pulling the Celtics jersey that was on top of one of the boxes out and putting it on.  "Oh, no, honey, at most he's a boy who might be a friend.  We've got enough else to do with all the other new things!"  I picked her up and spun around.  "Look at all this empty space!  Just a blank canvas to make our own!  And there's going to be new friends and new places to visit and new things to see!  I know it's kind of scary, but I'm also really excited!  Are you excited?"

She hugged me and whispered in my ear.  "I'm kind of scared but also kind of excited."

I kissed her forehead.  "Well, I can't ask for more than that."  We looked around again.  "So, what do you say we put our clothes on the hangers and hang them in the closet, then put your shelves together so you can put your books and toys on them, and then it'll be just about time to return the truck and get some supper!"

"Yay!  Can we get pizza?"

"Baby, we're in a new city, with all sorts of food it's known for!  Your Grandmomma and Aunt Karla and everybody said we've got to try po'boys, red beans and rice, jambalaya, beignets, alligator sausage..."


We got pizza, of course, and she nodded off just as soon as we got her bed made afterward.

Anyway, so that part of the move went okay.  Obviously we've been busy with a lot more since, but, yeah, we got here, at least!


Friday, September 09, 2022

Marc/Chantelle: Down to the last play

Okay, this is almost the last you'll hear from me about softball, now that the season is over.

Our 5-4 record was actually enough to make it to the playoff, which was exciting, even though I had nothing to do with it (and actively harmed the team more than helped.) Word got around and some of the associates and external partners wanted to come watch us play... which included Damon, aka my wife Laura, who I was surprised to see at the diamond.

As if that wasn't bad enough, he brought his wife, meaning there was basically a forcefield around him meaning I couldn't talk to him all night besides a cordial hello, nice to see you here at the beginning of the game (where I did my best to stifle my surprise, disappointment and mild delight at seeing her.)

I was so put off I decided to put my energy elsewhere, focusing on talking to Daisy and, once the game got going, my friend Djuro. I don't know if Djuro is trying to start a "thing" with me, maybe it's in my head and I'm being paranoid but the signs are there. He's always quick to offer me a high five and a congratulations and sit with me on the bench. I, weirdly enough, have kind of encouraged it and probably even crossed a line by offering him a shoulder rub when he said he was tight (he took me up on it and I got about three seconds in before deciding it was weird, but I kept going nonetheless.) We're kind of flirty, and to my own surprise I kind of like being flirty but I don't really know that there's more to it than that.

The game was good, close but a losing effort at 12-10, although I did manage to get on base nearly every at bat, batted a runner in, and didn't completely embarrass myself on the field. After the game, a bunch of the guys went out for drinks, but I went home alone, claiming to be tired but really just unable to cope with the presence of my wife and... her wife.

I got home and put on my PJs and poured myself a glass of wine, and checked my phone to find a string of texts from throughout the night.

From Damon.

"You've got great form."

"Great hit babe."

"Love to watch you run... especially in those shorts" (for the last few games it's been so hot that I've been wearing extremely short and form-fitting red athletic shorts that definitely highlight my posterior and thighs.)

"I'm loving seeing you out there, so confident."

"Chantelle's body looks so good on you."

I felt a rush. This is what I wanted. Attention from Laura. It occurred to me that maybe seeing me having a good time with Djuro from afar fired up her jealousy and made her want to try to win my attention back. We're still in sort of an ambiguous place but it was already seeming like Laura was ready to maybe work on resolving it.

As I was reading and processing all of this, I got another text:

"Janessa wanting to go home early but saying I should stay out with "the gang". Want me to come over?"

My heart skipped a beat. Despite everything, I did want that.

I took a breath and texted... "Sure."

He was there in 40 minutes (which sucked because I was waiting but... beggars can't be choosers I guess.)

I welcomed him in and we did some small talk. I said I enjoyed his texts and he said I enjoyed watching me play, that this all was unlocking a side of me that he liked seeing.

"I feel like, if we were to do something, I would be getting the Marc I love back... and I started to think, how could that be wrong?"

I looked up at him, feeling so small and womanly and vulnerable, my lips trembling as I assured him it couldn't.

We locked eyes, his lips moved toward mine and we kissed.


I had to sort of push myself to realize that kissing a guy isn't that different from kissing a woman, lips are lips, and inside this is the person I love, and I think this body really seems to enjoy (much to my bemusement) Damon's physical presence. It's more startling to kiss as a woman, being small, being held, having his hands search you. I think Laura is really embracing the masculine side of the equation as he started to feel my hips and down my leg and up my arms.

I couldn't let it end. We kissed and kissed and kissed. We kissed on the couch, we kissed on the floor, we kissed with me on top, with him looming over me, side by side. He ran his hands over my hair, I held his bald scalp. There was this element of danger and newness that made me forget all my reservations.

Then I noticed he started unfastening his belt and I put the brakes on.

"Woah-oh" I said abruptly, "I... I don't think I'm ready for that yet."

He kind of looked at me for a while, maybe trying to decide if he should argue his point or let it be, but ultimately he came down on the side of understanding, saying "Sorry, sorry, I was just getting carried away."

"Yeah," I stammered, flustered, "I mean, I could be ready eventually, just... not tonight, you know? Zero to 100..."

"Of course."

I think if he had pressed his case a little harder I may have gone along with it. I could definitely feel my body getting revved up and it was just a snap return to consciousness that made me stop. I think I do want to try it by the time my time here is done, but obviously I have a certain discomfort with that going there. There's the argument that if I want it, and this body is built for it (and I have a partner I can trust) I should go for it, but... would you say that to a 16-year-old? Because that's kind of how I feel as far as my development as a woman. Not quite ready to take control of all that.

I decided to head off some disappointment by offering something else. "If you want I could..." I made a little hand motion.

"You would?" he asked, skeptically.

"Sure," I said, pushing myself to be accommodating. "I mean, I know the territory a bit."

I didn't have to offer twice.

It was... I mean, a little weird doing it from this angle, with a hand that doesn't "match" the equipment, not quite knowing what pressure and speed he would enjoy, but I think I made a good go of it. I felt silly at certain points, but it was nice to de-mystify that part of it, to acquaint myself with "Little Damon." Take some of the fear out of it.

Partway through he asked, politely, if I could go topless.

"Oh," I said blushing, "Curious about what I've got going on here?"

"I'll admit to having a certain admiration for it..." he replied coyly.

I already didn't have a bra on due to being in my pajamas, so I just slipped my top off. I let him feel them a little bit, which was... really nice. Very intimate to let my boobs hang out for him like that. It's nice to have a body that people enjoy touching, that seems so ready for it. They're so jiggly and squishy and just fun, so it's nice to be able to share them with him. 

Anyway, we finished our activity, cleaned up, and rested a moment before I let him get back home.

After he was gone I felt a lot of conflicting feelings... sadness, regret I hadn't gone further, dismay that my wife was still going home to another woman... pride that I had done what I had done, crossed a threshold that I didn't know I was ready to do but also set my limits... hope that this is the beginning of getting back on solid ground between us, and fear that we wouldn't get the opportunity again.

Edit: I've just re-read this and realized at some point I started referring to Laura as "him." So be it... what we did was very physical and she has a "he" body, so... why not. It's not wrong to call me "she," I guess.

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Marc/Chantelle: Some crying in baseball

Sometimes I just can't cope with what this body is doing to me.

I was a pretty stoic guy. I may have felt things but I didn't exactly wear my heart on my sleeve. But this body is changing me inside and out, and it's hard to be comfortable with it.

A few weeks ago during one of our softball games, I failed pretty badly. I got put in a position to make a make a big play, playing the outfield where I could have caught a pop fly and then maybe made a double play. Instead I let it drop in front of me and completely botched the throw and let two runs in, blowing our lead and ultimately causing us to lose.

Nobody really expects much from me. I'm just there to be "a girl on the team" after all, but as a man my pride was wounded and it didn't help that Michelle -- who's more serious than most of the guys -- had some huffy words for me afterwards. I took it to heart and went home crying.

It's stupid, it's so stupid, it doesn't mean anything in the long run since it's just a game, and even Michelle's husband Tomas assured me that she was over the line because it's just beer league, but I took it hard because of how much it surprised me. I don't know how I would have reacted in my old life -- laughed it off, thrown some shade back at her, whatever, because again, it's not like I fancy myself some big softball star but I do want to pull my weight. All these female hormones have really put me on my back foot because I realize they're doing the driving. Emotional reactions, snap decisions, and even personal opinions are being influenced by brainwaves that I don't fully understand and am not totally comfortable with.

In the end it's not really about baseball, it's about wishing I could shut it all off and go back to being a man, even though there are things about this life that kind of work for me.

Anyway, the season's almost over and I'm going to have to find some other way to distract myself besides sitting around the house and petting my kitty.

I mean, you guys remember I have a cat, right? That's not a euphemism.

Friday, September 02, 2022

Andi/Andy: Considering College

For the past year, if you asked me, Andy, most of our friends, our parents, and on out, about college, we'd all make some sort of groaning noise, like uuuggghhhh.   Obviously, the two of us had bigger things to consider about our futures, but even aside from wanting to put off anything that we could really mess up for each other, it's just such a pain, and both our parents and our friends with older siblings say it's more messed up than it was in their days, with Covid making campus visits and taking SATs and Achievements more of an effort, although they're apparently not so important for a lot of places.

Enough still look at them to be a pain, though.  Andy says he wants to major in something like history or pre-law, and those aren't really things I'm going to test well for when I show up for the test with his driver's license; my ideas for my future are even more vague - I don't know if electrical engineering with a minor in theater is a thing you can do, but Andy's scores are not going to get me into a good program for that, no matter how terrific my essays are.

(We both can kind of write, but a lot of our teachers who had us for freshman and sophomore years raised eyebrows at the beginning of last year about how, while our homework assignments seemed the same, our in-person essay tests were odd, with "Andi" turning in better-structured arguments while "Andy" had regressed but had what they called "a livelier style" when I was writing but signing his name.)

Anyway, we talked about delaying, making plans to take a gap year, and I think that still may be the best idea, but Shawna, Cyndi, Len, and a few other people said that sounded nice, but also talked about how we were all planning to apply to some of the same schools and being roommates, and so didn't want us to be a year behind.  And it's not like we want that either.  So we're doing a lot of what we've been doing for the past year, trying to set things up so that we're acting normal and can jump back in when we switch back, although we're doing more to acknowledge that things can go wrong like our friends wouldn't believe and planning for that as well.

So in the meantime, we're kind of trying to split the middle or find some overlap.  We visited a few in-state places the week before our senior year started, both state schools and others that have decent programs in science and what they call "the humanities", and nobody seems to think it's particularly weird if your twin tags along for every stop even if it doesn't seem to be their thing.  Exceptions were made for the place that had separate boys' & girls' dorm buildings, rather than mixed ones, and it was kind of a relief that this was still kind of weird for us - we've been in and out of locker rooms and other spaces where there isn't much overlap, and they were mostly empty with just a few summer students hanging around before the next semester, but it was still something like 10% of the smell of a locker room permeating the entire floor.

All that makes it sound awful, but Andy and I were really excited!  We met some cool people our age on the tours, there were real labs in the science departments as opposed to just a few things in the back of a classroom, a couple places had cool sports arenas, and okay, being in a boy's dorm was kind of weird, but the ones where there were co-ed floors seemed awesome.  You've got your own place, but there's also the cafeteria and the quad and game rooms and quiet rooms and it all feels like yours.  I mean, I love Mom & Dad & Andy, but especially for the last year-plus, we've had so much "you should be doing this!" even as they're supposedly trying to let go makes it feel really appealing.

Mom & Dad have also been pretty good about giving Andy and I some space on this sort of thing.  Like, I know Dad wasn't really going to go to bed at 7pm while we were at the hotel back on the 18th, but just giving Andy and I some time to sort of hang out and talk about stuff that most folks were just pondering themselves but which we really couldn't.  We weren't really super-serious about it - we had spotted a place that had weird Mexican ice cream flavors and decided to stop there before wandering around downtown, but we didn't wander long.  It's partly my fault; back when I was shorter than him, I'd sort of developed a tendency to walk fast when we were together to keep up and I haven't quite shaken it, so he has to try and practically jog to keep up with me.  Anyway, we wound up sitting by the hotel pool, crossing our fingers that nobody was going to show up and be weird.

I admit, I took off my shirt/socks/shoes and jumped in for a bit, because it was still hot even at 9pm.  Andy didn't, but he'd conceded to the heat a bit with a tank top and shorts that didn't get close to his knees, and sat by the edge sticking his feet in.  "You're going to miss going topless, aren't you?"

"Nah.  I mean, a bikini's not that far off, and I do feel kind of naked like this, still.  And, like, watching guys walking around between their dorm rooms with their shirts off and having conversations while one is at a urinal with the restroom doors open is a good reminder that you can take this sort of thing too far."

He stuck out his tongue.  "Ew.  Was I that gross?"

I shrugged.  "Sometimes?  I mean, you could be, but if the last year has shown me anything, it's that a lot of guys don't have sisters telling them something isn't cool."

"Well, sorry for what I did do."  He laughed.  "If it's any consolation, I think some of the girls on the floor I visited were sort of doing a skit where one ran into another's room wearing workout clothes and asked if she had a spare tampon, to show how on your own you were and that there was nobody around treating you like a kid.  Worse actors than Shawna."

"Hey, not cool!  I don't talk shit about Len!"

He didn't respond right away.  "You can, if you want.  I think that I'm going to break up with him before he can invite me to Homecoming."  He paused again.  "He's not a bad guy, but you know how he was trying to talk his way onto this trip, right, like he's got some sort of duty to scope out where his girlfriend might go to school?"


"I don't know that he thinks I'm going to hook up with someone while you're not looking or anything, but he whines whenever I'm doing something with Shawna where he's not invited, and had a lot of opinions about our classes for the fall, and, you know, always tries to sit a little bit closer."

"Duh, he's a guy.  No offense."

"None taken, but I don't think I'd be like that, and not just because I've got you to slap me upside the head."  I must have looked kind of concerned, because he backed off a bit.  "Hey, I don't think he'd attack me or you or whatever, or try to make us do things we don't want to do, but he needs to learn some boundaries, and maybe it should be an actual girl teaching him.  I dunno."

I pulled myself out of the pool and gave him a side hug.  "Hey, it's okay, but I wish you'd told me.  I know we've never done the 'defend your honor' thing, but we always stuck up for each other, even before this!"

He playfully pushed me away and irritably pulled at his top, trying to shake it dry so it wasn't clinging to his right boob where I got it wet without taking it off.  "Cut that out!"

"Sorry."  I scooted over and turned my head.  "You're not worried he won't want to be friends with either of us if you do that?"

He shrugged.  "Yeah, I am, but it's not like we're turning back before graduation, and after that, who knows when we'll see each other again after that?  We may not even get accepted into the same places, so maybe we shouldn't worry about anything from high school carrying over."

I nodded, thinking of Shawna and Cyndi and a few other folks.  "I guess."

It had gotten dark, so I tried to scrape as much water off me with my hands as I could and got dress so we could go back to our rooms.  The next morning, Dad asked what we talked about and we told him the tampon story, and that was enough for him to look like he regretted asking.

Then, the next Monday, we started Senior Year, which so far is a lot like Junior Year with a little extra "hey, this might be our last..." to it.


Monday, August 29, 2022

Daryl/Zee: Meet-Cute

J.T. put on a pretty darn good performance Thursday night, acting like I just randomly caught his eye across the bar, buying me a drink, pretending like he didn't expect me to recognize him but would be hurt if I didn't.  It's a funny thing, our lives - if you've been to the Inn, you're eventually going to get into a position where you've got to perform as someone else, and it's different from what he does in that you don't really have to be convincing, because there's no reason for anyone to actually doubt you, but there are so many ways to be "off" that make it harder for people to follow their own part of the script, so to speak.  When you throw a professional actor like J.T. into it, though, it's something else.

At times, I'm not so sure that's a great thing - he was so convincingly Elaine that I fell for her, and hasn't that made my life crazy over the past few years?  Everyone else either just tries to keep their heads down or commits to living their new life, and while that inevitably makes a mess, because humans are messy, it's usually a clumsy mess that we can stumble out of awkwardly.  But he was just too good.

On the other hand - that night was exciting.  Like, we've kind of been doing some performances together for a while, like our "breakup" in June that got me a bunch of sympathy from the friends and co-workers I had as Magda but which left him a fair amount of time to have his friends start pushing him to find someone new, while I've been sort of laying the groundwork to leave the next Magda able to do whatever she wants without it seeming weird.

Still - it was kind of surprising to see just how well he was selling it.  I mean, I know J.T. well already, and I never really thought of myself as a woman who wanted a man to pay attention to me.  Sometimes I don't even think of myself as a woman, but a guy who has wound up in a woman's body because the girl I liked was really a man and this worked out easier.  But here's J.T., doing that, and it's kind of working on me.  I mean, I've never been a single girl looking for a guy's attention, but I did kind of worry that maybe with this new shape and voice and smell or whatever, we might lose chemistry, but, nah, he's interested and I'm excited by that.

He calls a taxi and we get back to his/our apartment, and we kiss for a long time, letting us get used to how my new lips feel before we do much else.  He's really excited to undress me, though, and I let him, not letting him touch anything until he's got me completely naked, and even then kind of making him look me all over, starting from how I've actually got pretty nice toes (I don't think prior Zees have crammed them into the sort of shoes that squish them together than much) to the shape of my legs.  Then he's laying hands on my firmer ass, and from there it's not far to my tits, and he's kissing those and being kind of cute in how he's not sure whether I want to hear how much better they are or if I'll take that as him saying that he didn't enjoy what I had as Magda.

Eventually, we get to the bed, and for all that it's exciting, I'm tighter down there than I was, and he likes it but it's also a little harder than he's had to work before.  We both get a little surprised when something that had always brought be to orgasm before feels good but isn't quite the same, although we get there eventually, and it's good enough to leave us both lying there, panting.

We hang out as much as we can over the weekend - he is in a show, after all - and most of today, before I get on a plane (ugh, paying for airline tickets!) and head back "home", where I will act so spacey and distracted for the next couple of weeks that everybody will hopefully take my not knowing who they are as being head over heels in love.

--Daryah (maybe? I'm pronouncing it dare-ee-yah in my head)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Daryl/Zee: I can hardly believe this is FINALLY me

Of all the folks posting on this blog, I suspect that Jordan is the only one who really gets how nice it is to wake up in the Inn, look in the mirror, and feel like things are finally right, even if being white was easier in a lot of ways.  Two nights ago, I went to sleep as Magda for the last time, having intending to be awake to watch my body change in the mirror, but one's mid-fifties are no joke, and I eventually flopped down on the bed, only to wake up, see the sun on my darker legs, and suddenly feel energized to bounce up and run into the bathroom.

I'd seen the face already, but it was great to be able to make it smile in the mirror; this may be my fourth face, but I don't know that you ever get used to this.  It twirled my hair, thinking I'd probably braid it, because while it's not super-nappy, it's also not the fine, silky stuff they make wigs out of, so it would take a lot more combing than Magda's did for the same effect.  I said a couple test sentences, and my voice felt a little closer to right.  "Hi!  I'm Zariyah Andrews!  Call me Zee!"

Though I'd grown an inch and a half, it wasn't enough to make the shorts and tee I had slept in as Magda feel tight.  Heck, with the weight off my chest, it was probably a wash up top.  Not that I'm flat-chested now, but Magda had always been busty and had a kid besides, so being perky maybe didn't look quite so impressive, although I remembered from being Elaine that you can do a lot with the right bra.  My legs and butt looked pretty good, and a quick look inside the shorts indicated nothing unexpected.

(I feel bad about reducing this to a bunch of body parts, but apparently four years isn't quite enough not to be waking up a new woman by taking inventory of the sort of thing guys look for)

Soon after that, folks started yelling, so I threw some daytime clothes on and went to help folks out.  After that, it was the obligatory trip to Cary's hot dog truck.  I must have been smiling like an extra-special goofball or maybe nobody else orders a Chicago-style dog - or maybe both - but he sort of held it in the air for a second, considering what a fool he'd look like if asking "Daryl?" was the wrong call, before I busted out "call me Zee!" for the first real time.

He told me I looked really good, and I thanked him, and then he did me the favor of asking how dropping twenty years overnight felt because I wanted to say it was great, thank you very much, without acting like I pitied him for taking those years back after his time as Elaine.  Us having both had the same identity at different times gave us a bit more room to talk about how things were going with the original (and never being anyone else again) Elaine.  She and the guy living as me found each other and are getting married next spring, which is crazy, especially when you think that neither of them were using those names the last time "Daryl & Elaine" was a thing.

Anyway, he seemed genuinely happy that this had finally worked out for me.  I was planning to take over this life a year ago, but then the original Zee's father died, and even if it didn't mean much to the last person living that life, being in it meant responsibilities she couldn't get out of without feeling awful, so we put everything off a year.  I haven't posted about it because I didn't want to jinx this time, which feels stupid but I can't exactly say that there's no chance of jinxes being real, can I?

I spent most of yesterday afternoon making sure that new-Magda would be in good shape - doing laundry, buying a couple new underwear sets, finding a spot where you could print things out so that she had a bunch of maps and diagrams (and making sure they were all stored in her phone), attaching names to a bunch of people at the airport.

There was also a big section in the binder on Harmon/Alicia, more than I might have expected a year ago, but fake family's fake family, and maybe the new Magda would want to spend more time with him.  We never really got on, but ever since I got my own place in Flushing in preparation for this whole switch a year ago, he's kind of made himself at home there whenever his schedule takes him to New York, because after all, Magda wouldn't expect her daughter to stay in a hotel or crash pad, would she?  We aren't actually roommates that often - I still stayed over at J.T.'s a lot - but, we do go through the motions of playing mother and daughter more than we used to.

In fact, she was there when I got into town this morning, and you'll pardon if I switch pronouns up, but you would have to look very hard to see a man eligible to collect social security in the 27-year-old woman sitting on my couch in a miniskirt and a top that was little more than a bra, feet on my coffee table in high-heeled knee-high boots, hair back in a ponytail, barely looking up at me from her phone (where she was probably looking to see if anybody had tagged photos of her from the night before) as I came in using a spare key.  There's something about her that I don't like, maybe because I feel like it's a reflection of me switching lives for my own ends and not looking back.

That and the dismissive compliments, like "yes, I guess that's at least a lateral move" upon looking at me, which probably wasn't actually racist, but sort of felt that way, like being younger and taller and tighter maybe didn't entirely compensate for not being white anymore (I'm not proud that I've worried about that myself).  I shrugged it off and said I was going to take a shower and a nap, because I'd wound up taking the train after a flight or two was canceled.

It hit me as I saw myself in the bathroom mirror that my new face didn't match what I was expecting in this place - by now I expect the Inn to be random, I guess - and I started thinking about what I'd like to keep from this apartment/phase of my life to bring into the next one.  Should I want to bring more mementos, or physical things, than I was planning?  Given that J.T. and I figure to pick right back up where we left off it doesn't seem like I should be leaving as clean of a slate.

Of course, to do that, he's got to "meet" Zee, which is why I've spent an hour or so after getting up from my hap working on my hair and make-up and making sure I chose just the right outfit so that nobody would be surprised when this "tourist" catches his eye at the bar tonight.

It's funny - I've been with him for longer than I have been with any girl, but we've switched our shapes so often that it doesn't necessarily feel like that.  Heck, I almost wonder if we'll start joking about it if we hit a rut in a couple of years.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves - tonight, I'm seeing a play and finding out what these taste buds think of gin!

-Zariyaryl (Hmm, maybe not)

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Jonah/Krystle: Just Like That

It's no secret around the gym that I've been looking for another job; they've seen me come to work right from interviews wearing skirts and heels and other stuff I don't generally go for, and besides, everyone who gets paid by the hour is looking for a new job.  Heck, a lot of people higher up are.  Low unemployment, but lots of bosses who don't realize people have options.  It's a lot easier if you've got a college degree, though, so I've come up short a lot.

I hadn't been on an interview the day I got called into the manager's office at the end of shift, so I wasn't dressed up, unless you consider lycra dressy.  I'm worried about getting fired, of course, but my boss just looks at me like he hasn't really done that since I was hired.  He wasn't alone, though - there was a guy in a suit from the corporate office.  "So, I gather you've been looking for new work?"

"Uh, yeah - don't misunderstand, I love it here, but my daughter's getting big enough that Momma's apartment is starting to feel small, plus she needs school clothes and supplies, and, well, there have been a lot of weeks when it's not close to full time unless someone gets sick.  I mean, I get it - lots of folks in Cambridge still not ready to come inside and exert themselves around people breathing heavy --"

He seizes on that.  "But you haven't missed any time, have you?"

"I've been lucky."  I smile, realizing he probably can't see it under my mask.  "And, you know, I'm careful."

He nods.  "I see that.  It's got you cross-trained pretty well, too."  I shrug.  "So.  How would you like to have a manager's job?"

My eyes go wide.  "Is Bob leaving?"

He laughs.  "No, not yet.  Here's where it gets tricky.  The opening isn't here.  We've opened a few new locations over the past few months, and they've had some staffing issues.  Hiring folks who don't know the day-to-day business, others who do but leave after a few weeks.  Others who, uh, aren't a good fit for the community.  That's where we need you, at one of the new locations."

I racked my brains.  "You need me in Salem?"

He stared at me, the hardest a man has looked me in the eyes since I became Krystle.  "No.  We want you in New Orleans."

I'd like to say I did something cool or funny like laughing, but instead I just stared back, trying to see if this was a test.  "New Orleans, Louisiana?"

"I don't know that there's another one."

I let out the breath I didn't remember holding.  "That's a big move."

He nodded.  "It is.  But your performance reports have been excellent, you are clearly looking for better things, and, like you said, we would lose you soon anyway."  He slid a folder with various papers in it over the desk.  "We will need to have a formal interview, of course, but we can do that on Friday.  As I said, the previous person we hired for the role has quit, and we need the position filled quickly."

I take the folder.  "Okay.  Let me, uh, let me just talk to some folks."

"Of course.  I look forward to talking with you again."

He gets up and leaves.  Bob raises a hand for a high five, and respond, though not really a hard slap.  I'm not sure I really say anything to him on the way out before getting on the T.  When I get to Alewife, instead of walking back home, I head to the buses and go up Mass Ave a bit, getting off at the stop closest to The Changeling.  They've moved it in the past couple years.

As I walk in, Moira - the original - squeals.  "Krystle!  What a surprise!"  She quickly cleans off a spot near the end of the bar.  "What can I get you?"

"Uh...  Heh.  A bourbon, I guess."

She raises her eyebrows, since I don't drink a lot, especially while I'm still wearing a t-shirt over spandex, but she pours one anyway.  I take a sip and wince.  "So what's wrong."

"Nothing.  It's just... this." I show her the papers.

Her eyes go wide and she shrieks a little, getting looks from the customers, and even getting Ashlyn to walk in from out of the back and see what's going on.  "Oh, hey, Krystle.  Coming crawling back?"

We both know she's joking, but Moira's accent triples in strength.  "She is not!"  She shoves my papers in Ashlyn's face and I mumble something about how that's kind of private.

She looks it over and beams.  "Oh, man, congratualtions.  You are going to love NOLA.  It's amazing!"

Moira looked up at her.  "When have you ever been there?"

Ashlyn's been at this so long that she doesn't even get rattled when someone sees something inconsistent with her being girl who grew up in Providence and has seldom been west of Manhattan.  "Hey, I was a real party girl in college, and where's a better place to party?"

I interrupt before Moira has more questions.  "I haven't accepted yet.  Heck, I could still blow the interview!"

"Come on, be reasonable.  There have to be plenty of people closer to the area they could go to if you weren't a lock."  She came around the bar and sat on the stool next to mine, putting her hand on top of mine.  "Besides, it would be really good for you.  Sometimes we really need a new start.  A place that's ours and not, you know, just where life put you."

Moira chimed in, not aware of the context, but talking about how leaving Ireland was like that for her.  We spent the next hour or so talking, and then I got back on the bus because Momma Kamen was looking after Little Moira and had a night shift.  She looked a little concerned when she smelled alcohol on my breath - it was probably some warning flag with Krystle in the before-me times - but I said I was fine and put another stick of gum in my mouth.  I spent the evening playing with my daughter, watched Frozen again, and then stayed up, plugging the New Orleans location's address into Google Maps and then looking at what apartments cost to rent in that area.

Momma Kamen saw what I was doing when she got in.  "Something I should know about?"

I told her the whole thing, and she got kind of quiet before smiling.  "Well, I've always wanted to visit New Orleans, and visiting my granddaughter sounds like as good an excuse as any."

I think it was this that unlocked something that I couldn't identify that had been feeling more strongly all day.  "Does everybody want me gone?"

She chuckled and hugged me.  "Oh, Kryssy, no.  But I've been in your shoes - a baby, no man to rely on, barely a high school diploma, feeling like I was a burden on my momma - and I want so much more for you and Karla.  There were days I didn't think it would happen, especially when you were getting into so much trouble, but look at you - you've grown so much, and I'm so proud of you.  You deserve this opportunity."

Her being proud of me always felt strange and made me feel more guilty - I've taken her daughter's life and now she's a white teenager - so it didn't hit as she expected.  "But what about Moira, and her friends?"

"Honey, she's five.  She'll be mad at you for a few weeks, and then she'll make a lot of new friends, and if you stay down there, she'll never remember anyone from here but her cousins.  Do you remember anybody from Roxbury?"

No, I didn't.  I had no idea that the Kamens had lived anywhere but this Cambridge apartment block.  But I didn't exactly remember a lot of people from when I was five, either.  Heck, I'd lost touch with most of the other people who were at the Inn with me.

I still had a hard time sleeping, though, so when I woke up early, I went out to the fire escape and made a video call to my real parents, who would already be up and getting ready for work.  They were obviously worried that it was some sort of an emergency, and they weren't nearly as enthusiastic when I laid everything out.

Mom was especially not-quite-happy.  "Just when I thought I couldn't lose my son more, that we were getting closer."

"It's not like that, I just - I mean, I'm a Black single parent in an expensive city where I never know when I'm going to run into someone who had a problem with Krystle ten years ago and holds a grudge, and a clean slate kind of sounds nice.  Not totally clean, just..."

I didn't have an end to that sentence, but Dad nodded.  "I understand.  We moved a few times back when we were younger, too.  Every one does, and their parents all have a hard time with it."

We chatted a little more - Mom expressed worries about Moira and Dad tried to give me practical advice for moving - and then they had to leave for work.  I had to get Moira ready for pre-K and then run some errands.

On that Friday, I showed up to work two hours early, in my interview uniform, hair straightened, worrying about whether I look like I'm trying to lean too hard on my looks while still wanting to show I care about how I present myself (men who have never been women have no idea how much this bounces around your head), but I handle it professionally.  I get the offer.  I say yes.

I'm going to New Orleans.


Monday, August 15, 2022

Andi/Andy: Busy summer

As weird as it is to be Andy during the school year, summer has almost been stranger.  You wouldn't think that would be the case, but for as much as I didn't really want to take his classes and do his activities, it's something I can kind of put my head down and do.  Once we got back from the Inn, though, summer was wide open, we've got folks who want to spend time with us, and there's only so much time we can spend on summer jobs (I'm working in a movie theater, he's at an ice cream stand).

Mom and Dad don't really want me talking too much about locations on this blog - we're obviously not close to Maine - but I don't know that saying it's been hot as heck this summer really narrows where we are down in any way.  We don't really have beaches, but there are ponds nearby, and folks do go there to cool off, which throws me sometimes.  I still feel a little weird going shirtless, but I also kind of want to look good that way.  I'm not doing a ridiculous amount of sit-ups or anything, but sometimes I kind of feel like I should be watching what I eat more than I do as myself, which makes Mom shake her head.

I'll often find myself hanging at the pond with Cindi and she certainly has her body in good shape.  I'm not sure exactly what I think about that, sometimes.  I felt jealous the first time I saw her strip down to a bikini, but I feel a little less that way each time.  This hottie wants to spend time with me, and it's kind of fun to have her on my shoulders while she's trying to knock another girl of some boy's back in the water.  Even when she's not down to swimsuits, her summer wardrobe is crazy hot, and if anything, I kind of envy how comfortable she seems to be in her body.  I don't think I ever felt that way as myself, let alone as Andy, and in some ways it lights up the straight-boy bits in the front of my brain even more than her actual body.

(Dad's a doctor, and that's how he explains it - even if the Inn doesn't change most of a person's brain structure, that bit which is really tied in with the nose and glands is affected.  Makes as much sense as anything, I guess.)

Andy's kind of in the same boat.  He's not as flat as I was back when Cindi was awful to me in junior high, but he's got a tendency to try to minimize that part of his body with sports bras and tops that offer a lot of coverage even if they leave his midriff bare.  I kind of think things are starting to get uncomfortable between him and Len; Len wants to make out way more than Andy does, and he's in a rough position where he doesn't want to push his friend away but he also seems really uncomfortable with how this is going, wondering if he's going to try and slide back into his life next year and mostly look at Len and think of the pressure to do things he felt uncomfortable with as opposed to all the good times from before that first date.

I'm kind of glad to see Cindi and him getting along, though it was kind of weird getting there - I had to tell him that she'd been a bitch to me before, and to his credit he did feel annoyed on my behalf, and maybe even annoyed at me for "dating" her after all that, but she actually did apologize when reminded, saying she did not handle getting a lot of attention well at all, and that she likes me for not acting like she owes me anything.  I guess at some point they talked about how touchy Len could get and Cindi said her last boyfriend was like that, it was the worst, and she's cool with me not trying to push her until something happens spontaneously.  There was a "don't tell Andy" on that, but, obviously, we share everything.

So that's weird but also kind of comfortable.  As much as pretending to be my brother is like being on alert all the time, it's funny that the stuff most tied up with being a guy is kind of the easiest?  Like, next week's college visits are going to be a whole lot weirder!


Thursday, July 28, 2022

Marc/Chantelle: Hugger

I want to thank those of you who reached out and weighed in on my little shitfit the other night... reading back over it I'm a little embarrassed to have spilled my guts and let it all out there for the world to see, but at the time I felt very strongly. I hesitate to say it's a side-effect of being a woman except insomuch as maybe I'm a little more in tune with what I want instead of repressing and refusing to vocalize things that I wanted anyway. Laura and I still have some work to do to figure out how we're going to navigate this situation.

Good vibes only for now though.

We won a game the other night, and win lose or draw the new tradition is to go out for drinks and/or wings afterward. At first I was a little bashful about it, wanting to return to my hidey hole and ice my burning thighs, but the camaraderie is really good for me, especially since Daisy, our cheerleader who refuses to take the field, was going to be there.

I'm trying to find my way as far as interacting with people socially as a woman. I'm very leery of talking to guys, like Djuro or others, because when they look at me I get a little spooked, like, "What are you seeing here, are you thinking this is a possible romantic thing?" Just because that's how I remember it being often when I would talk to single women before I was married, even if, on the surface I didn't want to push anything like that, I always felt like it was smart to "keep the door open" and put it out there in case they were receptive... and I kinda-sorta get that vibe from some of the guys. Or maybe I'm just projecting and that's really what an innocent conversation between a man and a woman is supposed to look and feel like.

I've also gotten into this weird habit of... hugging people when they leave the bar? Maybe because I'm a couple of beers deep and loosened up, and it definitely started with Daisy, because I couldn't resist the urge to hug her, but once that train left the station suddenly everyone was getting hugs goodbye from me.

In my normal body, I would definitely hug women socially if the situation permitted it without even thinking about it, so I guess I was just unconsciously mirroring that, but at the end of the night I was like "wow, I really hugged 18 people goodbye, men and women."

It was a bit of trip to realize that. I don't know what it means or implies. But to tell the truth, I am quite soft and squishy, very huggable, and it feels nice, even with the guys.

I don't know. I've been unpacking that all day, and now there it is. What will tomorrow bring?

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Marc/Chantelle: AITA?

I couldn't focus on work yesterday as I was still seething from my interaction with Laura. Frustration and disappointment turned to anger and I felt that I needed to do something, so I spent a lot of time between meetings composing a very long text:

Laura - 

I am 100% NOT OKAY with the way things ended between us on Saturday. Leaving on that note left me confused as to what, if any, is the future direction of this relationship. You say you are trying to be respectful to Damon's marriage, but is that appropriate? Even on the face of it, does what we have have anything to do with them? IMO you should be able to compartmentalize and think of me as your husband first and your FAKE WIFE as secondary to that. I'm not happy about the idea of you sharing a marital bed with a stranger but I understand it as part of the RUSE that you are a man named Damon who is married to this woman. Do what you need to do. But you not even being willing to explore anything with me tells me that you are already ready to close that chapter of our lives together. Where does this leave me? What about what I want for myself and for us? If I'm not married, am I free to explore other options? Don't answer that, only I can say for sure -- IF I don't have a wife who is willing to consider my feelings. I'm not saying I even want to but in this life things get lonely and upsetting when one is used to the comforts of a relationship and I could see myself trying to find that somewhere else, and by turning me down you are tacitly implying you DO NOT CARE. My first priority is to save us, but I can't do that if you're not willing to meet me half way and be with me to the fullest extent our situation allows. I am not ready for this to be done, the same as I was not ready before Maine. I want us to be together in the long run but I also want to make my feelings known.

Some hours later, I received the reply:

I understand your feelings to a degree. I had to go with what I was feeling in the moment, and at that time my thoughts were of Janessa [This is the first time I've heard her name and I don't care for it.] It was a tough decision but I stand by my call, and if we are going to succeed in these lives we have to commit to them and not "cheat" by falling into some twisted version of our old roles just because nobody is looking. People get hurt that way. I know you only think of yourself, but I'm trying to think of everybody -- you, me, Janessa, the real Damon and Chantelle. The fact that Damon and Chantelle were in an actual affair was not yet known to me, so I was playing the Damon character as a faithful husband and if I had gone upstairs with you -- and God knows what would have happened if I had but based on your reaction it could have been something major that neither of us is prepared to deal with -- I would have breached that. And frankly I still AM playing this role that way because I do not want to be a cheater. There's no "compartmentalizing" for me. But that doesn't mean our marriage is over either. I still love you and it is the height of immaturity that you think the only way to express that is by forcing ourselves to have a physical connection when there is so much more at risk than our own feelings. I would think you could at least grasp that there are more important things going on here. If you do love me, if this marriage is real and meant to survive, I would think you would be on my wavelength about this and swallow this bitter pill.

That just pissed me off further so without barely thinking I wrote back:

YOU ALREADY ARE A CHEATER!! You go to bed with a person who is NOT ME every night!

To which she said: 

I'm not going to dignify that with an answer, you have to know that's not how it is.

I was getting frustrated so I laid it out how I saw it:

It sounds like you want it both ways. You want to keep me on the hook but you want to be the "good husband" too. Not fair, not cool.

From there, silence, I'm sure she justified that because she didn't want Janessa to see her phone blowing up.

I was so mad. Her message was so condescending, the way it called me "immature" for wanting to maintain my relationship with my wife, get some confirmation that there's still something there. Is that wrong? I'm lonely, is it so bad I'm craving some touch and there's only one person on the planet I trust with that? And she-or-he doesn't want to provide it.

I just think there's some major double standards at play. Laura may or may not have sex with Janessa, but I'm just supposed to ice myself out for the duration? Does that seem right to anyone? Or am I somehow way off base here?

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Marc/Chantelle: Disconnected -- or, Brunch is Non-Optional

 I was in no mood to go to monthly brunch with the Carey Babes and "Mom" this morning, but it was made very clear after the last time I missed it -- shortly after my transformation when I was still hanging around in Maine getting my bearings -- that it was completely unacceptable. I went to last month's, the week after Father's Day, so you would think my onetime absence would be forgiven. I "had" COVID for crying out loud!

I'll admit, I've never had siblings before but they can be real pests, texting me all week to make sure I would show my face. That's annoying, but I guess it's also kind of sweet to have people who absolutely need my presence for some reason. I try to see the bright side even as it chafes against my usual nature. Without things like that I would be hunkered down in my apartment waiting to be able to go home.

They're good people. Emma is extremely bubbly and a ball of energy, very sarcastic but also kind of spacey. She tells stories where she thinks she's seeing some big wrong and the adults in the room -- me and Chantelle's older sister Amanda -- slyly look at each other and think "Girl, what are you talking about?" Amanda, I relate to because she's older and settled. She pushes the brunches because they're her one time of the week away from motherhood and responsibility. I asked, "In a couple of years, do you think you'll be dragging Keisha to these things?"

"Oh honey, she'll never be ready," Amanda laughs, "Unless she wants to pay her own way in!"

The conversations goes way too fast for me to keep up as Emma and Amanda talk a mile a minute about every minute thing that happens to them, with Mama Carey sipping her mimosa and weighing in when she sees fit (which is often.) The only thing I had to bring to the table was my softball outing, which they actively yawned at even though I thought it was a pretty interesting topic.

"Girl, what about the guy you were seeing, that Damon?"

I was shocked. In all this time I've never even had it confirmed that Chantelle and Damon were a thing, but to have her just shamelessly talk about it with her sisters? These girls really do share everything.

But I'm kind of fuming about it, so I say I don't want to talk about it, or him, and just leave it alone.

Flash back to the night before...

Damon's wife was out of town on business so Laura proposed a clandestine meeting. Honestly I was feeling really abandoned by her. Not that it was her fault, since she's got a "wife" to think about and having too much contact with some random woman he knows, who may be under the microscope as a prospective mistress, is suspicious. She had to lay low. But that doesn't mean it can't hurt, when I'm sitting at home alone with no idea what to do with myself, stewing about the fact that this is not how I wanted this marriage to end, if at all.

So this outing was a little ray of hope. I did myself up real pretty, wore a good bra, a clingy low-cut dress, and hell, sexy underwear just in case. Do I think I'm ready for that? On the one hand, no, but on the other, if that's what it takes to show Laura I'm still in this, I will, because how bad can it be?

My body knows I'm nervous. My chest, neck and cheeks are awash with hives. Damnit, these things.

SHe arrives at 6. Damon's got a shiny black Benz and he's dressed in a sharp suit and I'm thinking, "Okay, okay, female hormones activate." It's weird, but I'm trying to follow my body's lead because I know deep down, under that bald-headed, needle-nosed man's body is my wife and it's probably best for my mental health in the long run if I lean into it rather than fight it, but I was definitely not prepared for some of the effect that seeing Laura like this would have on me. 

I ask where we're going, and she says to trust her.

We start driving for a while and I'm not really paying attention but then I realize, we've left Albany. We have to truck all the way out to Schenectady -- a good half-hour out from Albany -- because Laura is worried about running into someone who knows Damon. I should understand but I honestly feel slighted and it gets the night off to a bad start. It's also a little weird for me to be the passenger between the two of us, but that was sort of the theme of the night.

I try to push my feelings down and engage him -- I've written about what things have been like for me, but I've heard little about her experience. She laments that being a man makes the world a little less colorful -- and I actually know what she's talking about because I feel like with Chantelle's eyes colors are a little clearer, so maybe that was true for Laura as well. She talks about it being kind of a trudge, muddling through office work during her days and trying to stay engaged at home at night.

She keeps the conversation focused on me. There's lots of eye-contact and intermittent hand-touching, which I try not to show much reaction to, good or bad, but every touch sets off a maelstrom of contradictory feelings in me: as Marc, the man who was nearly divorced from this person, and as the man-in-woman's-body out on a date with this person who appears male.

She notes when I just order some pasta, that things have changed from the days when I'd go right for the 12 oz steak. I kind of shrug at that. A few weeks in I've definitely learned my limits -- as tasty as a nice juicy steak sounds, half the thing would end up in a doggy bag and I just don't feel like it tonight.

We keep the conversation light. She muses that if I had to spend some time transformed into a woman, I sure picked an interesting one. That leads to some talk of politics, but then we pivot to what's different in a positive way for women day to day than in years past. Things that used to be compulsory for women -- pantyhose, make-up, jewelry -- are less strictly adhered in workplaces, making me less of an outlier if I want to do away with it. The last few years have seen a huge surge in woman-led businesses dealing in comfortable, non-underwire bras, comfortable shoes that are still in some way fashionable, and absorbent period-panties as an alternative for the traditional more invasive methods. So at least I'm getting the benefit of that -- or at least I could, if I wanted to drop hundreds of bucks on new Knix bras to replace the conventional underwires that Chantelle already owned. If this arrangement is not permanent I wonder if I should bother, or if I should treat myself.  

I take the opportunity to ask Laura is period pain is supposed to be as bad as I've experienced. She kind of smirks, saying it's different for everyone and notes that nobody ever knows what's supposed to be normal.

She says somewhat affectionately yet also a little condescendingly, "Part of me suspects you're just being a baby about it but I think you deserve a little more credit than that so if you think it's especially bad, you should absolutely go to a doctor and get checked out. Not that Doctors' visits as a woman are a fun, stress-free experience..."

I mention that it's not always a picnic for men, and she snickers again. "All that and more," she says. I gulp. The idea of maybe seeking medical advice falls to the back of my mind. I'd rather not worry about it...

I try to lighten up the conversation. One thing we have to tapdance around is her life as Damon with Damon's wife. That is something I absolutely do not want to hear about and would have the potential to completely ruin my night if we had to talk about it at length. I want to pretend that I'm just having a night out with my spouse, and I make that clear. Instead we talked about more comfortable things, like getting the hang of urinal conduct.

When the check comes I start to dig into my purse but she insists she's got it, flashing me this wry grin. I have to admit, it made me feel kind of good, even if she had to pay in cash to prevent a paper trail. Part of me wants to be The Man and take care of these things, and part of me feels like I've earned my shot at this kind of treat and I should enjoy it.

We drive home and the conversation gets more comfortable as we fall into our old rhythm, which includes criticizing every single other driver on the road. We get back to my building and she unfastens her belt, "Let me walk you to the front door."

"How gentlemanly," I say with a bit of a blush.

We walk up the walkway from the visitor parking to my building's front door.

"I had a good time tonight," she says. "I've missed this."

"Me too," I admit.

"It felt strangely natural, didn't it? You and me... like this?"

"At times," I say, shifting on my heels a little. Is that a compliment to 'us,' or a way of saying I make a good woman?

She leans down for a kiss and I let her. It's good, no matter what body we're in. I've been starved for attention these past weeks, alone and desperate. I feel at times I would do anything to get us put back together, so the staticky parts of the night fade from my mind as I grab his bicep and try to appreciate how rough and firm it is (not that Damon is muscular, it's just... a man's arm.)

I can feel my heart fluttering a little bit as I get caught up in the moment and when our lips part I ask, "Do you... want to come up?"

Her eyes flash between the door and the ground. "Um, I probably shouldn't. I want to keep things as far above board as I can for now, you know, there's a woman out there who thinks she's my wife."

Logically, I understand it, but it leaves me very cold, and it stings like hell. I thought we were making progress, getting to a good spot despite our disconnect, but now it just feels like we're on hold. What am I supposed to make of any of this? I feel unimportant.

I know in the grand scheme of things there are bigger things than "my feelings" but that completely discounts what was going on between us before all this happened. Am I wrong to still want to be in my wife's life when things haven't ended with us?

Is this her way of ending things without having to do the hard part?

I flopped into bed and, I will admit, shed a few tears over it. I let them come, I don't care, I'll be a big enough man to cry. So I was not feeling great in the morning when it was time to head out for Brunch. I had like... a feelings hangover.

And finding out that Chantelle's sisters even knew that she was having some kind of fling with Damon -- what she said exactly I don't know for sure yet, but of course she's an open book to them -- really bit my ass. It feels unfair that the real Damon and Chantelle are off doing who knows what while Laura tries to be a better husband than he was, while her own husband suffers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Marc/Chantelle: Distractions

We had another softball game last night -- our first win, and I even managed to bat in a run with one of my patented grounders. I'm getting a bit of a groove, although my body is disagreeing -- I spend most of the week recovering from these two hours of physical activity. Maybe I should join a gym so that movement isn't quite so alien to me.

I'll admit, one benefit to that would be to get my mind off of........ everything. Presently, I work all day, then come home and flop down in front of the TV and it's all I can do not to think about my situation. Not just being female -- although there's still a ton of concern about that -- but being alone. Aside from the cat, the house is so quiet, and I'm finding myself becoming very restless and sad without Laura around. Being in a relationship is such a funnel for so much time and energy that when it's gone you don't even know how to expand and fill it yourself. Bad TV and junk food is all I've got, and that's no answer.

I have some contact with her, but it's extremely limited because Damon, of course, is a married man, and we wouldn't want to arouse suspicion. Which, I should say, I am finding extremely painful, probably moreso because of what this body is doing to me with hormones.

Today, Laura even stopped by the office. I almost had to look twice to know that it was "Damon" since I have hardly seen him since we got to Albany. I tried to keep my cool but then he stopped by my desk.

"So," he said, hands in the pockets of his slacks while he leaned on the doorframe, "I heard you're becoming quite the softball star."

"Yeah," I huffed, "They're calling me the Rafael Devers of the law office."

"I don't know who that is," Laura shrugged. "Anyway, I know we can't talk much here but... the wife is out of town this weekend, and I was hoping you'd be free for dinner on Saturday."

"The wife," I repeated bitterly, glaring at him under my eyebrows.

"Marc, come on," he said in a hushed voice. "I don't like this situation anymore than you do. We haven't had a chance to talk in a while, and we should."

I sigh. Damn, I was really hoping to go for tacos with Daisy on Saturday. "All right, let's do it."

She flashed me a smile and then dashed off, like nothing happened.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Marc/Chantelle: Call me Slugger

Or don't, haha.

So, despite my wariness, I went ahead with my commitment to the softball team, figuring it would be a fun way to put myself out there instead of holing up in my apartment with Netflix and junk food all summer. I squeezed my squishy bum into some black leggings and wore my loose-fitting team t-shirt tied in a knot around my abdomen in imitation of some of the other girls, pulling my hair back into a ponytail through a ballcap (which, the only one Chantelle had was from some corporate giveaway.) I envied the other girls who had their hair braided for the occasion but I haven't mastered that yet and it felt weird to ask someone to do it for me. It's the kind of feminine bonding that intrigues me but I still feel weird about.

The league is a typical self-pitch softball setup, with an extra "roving" fielder. Every third batter has to be a female and three females have to field. Since lineups aren't limited to 9 players, having 10 guys and 3 women meant I was up to the plate a lot...

I have to admit, I came into it with at least a little bit of confidence. What guy doesn't imagine himself jumping off the couch and onto the field and suddenly taking on the role of baseball superstar? But the reality is that Marc Green was no star athlete, and Chantelle Carey probably less so. Still, there's a unique kind of insult when the other team sees you coming up to the plate and collectively moves their outfield to the edge of the grass.

I mean, they weren't wrong... but it stung.

My first at bats were pretty wild. I struck out first (with a member of my own team pitching no less!) and hit a shallow pop fly that was easily caught on my second. My highlight was getting a grounder that managed to sneak by the fielders while I was running like hell to first. So I got on base once.

I was not really prepared for what it was going to feel like getting so physical in this body. running with these legs where the thighs rub together, my boobs bouncing forcefully even under my sports bra, which is just another layer to sweat under... it was different.

Fielding was... well, I was there. Initially they had me in deep right, but for the later innings I played catcher, which is a nice break since there's very little to do there in this form of the game. The guys were very serious and we had three or four really good players. I felt a little guilty not carrying my own, watching these guys who aren't too dissimilar to my original body cracking dingers into the outfield. Worse, I couldn't even be the best girl on the team. One of the guys, Tomas, brought his wife Michelle, who was apparently a serious ballplayer, commanded second base and took on a field general role.

Daisy was there to watch, too, and having something of a girlcrush on her I kind of wanted to impress her. I know I probably shouldn't since she doesn't "go that way" (as far as I know... and I'm not entirely sure what "way" I'd want to go myself, if any,) but I had to settle for some supportive "you go girl" type stuff when I actually did manage to do something right. Djuro was also pretty nice, telling me to keep my chin up when I missed my chance for a big catch while I was fielding.

All in all, playing as a girl is definitely a unique experience as far as what this body can do and what people expect from it, and what I expect from myself. I should loosen up. I'm there to have fun and fill a role, not be Barry Bonds.

I was sore for days afterwards, especially in my arms, legs/butt and boobs, from all that swinging, throwing and running. Then premenstrual pain kicked in and reminded me what pain really is. But I still showed up for this week's game. The results were pretty similar but my attitude is improving. It certainly won't be a dull summer...

Monday, July 11, 2022

Jonah/Krystle: Who Are You and What Have You Done with Jonah Glass?

I don't date much.  Pretty much everyone I know who has wound up staying or stuck where the Inn put them seems to put their old life behind them much more practically than I do, including the parts where they go decide their body has different needs or unlocks something they didn't realize was there.  Especially that - every once in a while I'll be talking with Jordan and she'll just casually mention the way the guy she was with picked her up and put her against a wall or had her wrap her legs around him and that it's super hot because of how much she used to weigh, and I don't really know how to respond to it.  Like, my history since the Inn is avoiding being around other people, getting pregnant from a one-night stand because the guy with my face wouldn't give it back otherwise, pregnancy/new motherhood as an excuse not to, half-assed husband hunting, one guy who dumped me when he found out about Krystle's history, and then a lot of things that didn't take.  Well, mostly.  I'll get to that.

There has been someone over the past month, though.  It started at work, a day where I've got the chance to do more than be eye-candy at the front desk because someone's out sick.  He's a guy who comes in alone, about forty or so, not in bad shape at all but probably starting to notice things are getting a little harder.  You work in a gym, you get kind of familiar with that sort of guy.  Some of them stick with it, a lot don't, either having trouble fitting it into an already busy life or just deciding that, shit, having a bit of a gut is a natural part of hitting middle age, and why pay this much money and that much time to fight nature?  Anyway, a thing a lot of them tend to do at first is either think that something is as easy as the people with some experience are making it look or figure they can start at medium difficulty and move down if they have to.  Anyway, this fellow is part of that last group, which means he gets halfway up a wall and freaks out.  I've got to help him down, and he just won't stay still and let me help, so my breasts are in his face at various points, I'm tightening his harness and pushing at his butt, and, believe me, it's not nearly so sexy as it sounds.  It's kind of embarrassing for us both, and he kind of dashes away afterward.

He shows back up a few days later, though, and starts on a beginner's wall, and does okay.  He comes by the front desk to apologize afterward, and I say it's no big deal, but he persists and asks if he can buy me dinner.  I'm not quite Krystle enough to make a wisecrack about if he always finds out whether or not a girl's breasts are real in advance, but I do say yes, maybe because I've got June already being engaged on my head.  Long story short, he's a good-seeming guy, doesn't freak over me having a kid or being more into sports than fashion, and I think I'm pretty level-headed about him being divorced.

We have sex on the third date and it's good.  It's been a while for both of us and I kind of know that I'm not nearly as good at this as folks would assume someone with my appearance would be, even if they don't know Krystle's life before me being in it.  We start seeing each other once or twice a week, although I don't take him up on his offer to watch the fireworks show on the Fourth from a boat in the river.  Moira had been really excited about that and I'm not quite up to including him in family stuff.

So that's all nice and normal, or at least feels that way, but then we zip ahead to this past Thursday.  I'm heading into work more dressed-up than usual - blazer, pencil skirt, pantyhose, heels - because I'm coming from a job interview.  I like my job, a lot, but this fall will be "my" thirtieth birthday, Moira's bright enough that I really should be saving for college in addition to trying to move out of Momma Kamen's apartment, and jobs that give you raises to keep up with your needs is just a myth boomers tell.  I'm not qualified for a lot, on paper maybe, but I've filled in for a lot of roles that aren't technically part of my job description over the past couple years, and while I don't really get what all the low-unemployment statistics mean, everyone tells me that it's a good time to find something that pays a little better and has better health insurance.

Anyway, I look pretty good, although maybe a little deflated because maybe I aimed too high looking at an assistant-manager gig, but the point is, as I'm walking toward the gym, I'm getting looks, and it's a little tougher for me to pick up the pace as someone gets up from the bench he'd been sitting on and walks to me because I'm in four-inch heels.  Fortunately, he's not a threat, although it takes me a minute to recognize Gabriel.

mentioned him once on here, but all we did after that was go to Flour the next day, chat a bit, and then follow each other on Instagram before he went back to New York.  We like and comment on each other's photos and stuff, and I consider him a friend in the way I do a lot of people I've only met online.  I seemed to recall he'd talked about being in Boston at some point in July, but it never got farther than that.  But, apparently, Momma Kamen really likes him and pointed him at where I work.

And I do get kind of excited when I see him - my voice goes up a bit, I talk about how I'm looking to see what's out there.  He asks me out for dinner after I get off work, I say sure, he comments that he'll make sure he gets into a suit by then, and I say there's no need, if we're just hanging out.  As soon as I get into the changing room, I sent Karla a text asking if she minds Moira staying a bit late, and she says it's fine - as much as we don't always see eye to eye, Moira and her cousins adore each other - and sends me a couple eggplant emojis after saying she expects to stay over.  I roll my eyes.

I roll them a little less when Gabriel texts me a shot of himself in a suit, although I kind of grumble about getting back into my interview clothes.  He looks even better in person, and he's booked a table at a fancy Korean place near the theater district, and I won't lie, I really enjoy being there and not feeling out of place.  We talk way past dessert, and then it turns out we're close to his hotel.  We get a drink at the bar, he invites me upstairs...

... and what we do next is motherfucking amazing!

I'm not going to describe it too much, because I still kind of think that's private, but sounds came out of me that I'd never made otherwise, and even after he'd gone limp, there were still waves passing through me.  He looks at me with this weird grin on his face, and we're both like "what?" a couple times, and then I start laughing, because he'd never believe me if I actually told him that this was the first time I'd actually had an orgasm.

He falls asleep with his arms around me and I just kind of think about what that means rather than try and get out.  I mean, I grew up pretty religious, and while most of my friends sort of got to "well, maybe getting laid won't immediately send you to Hell" at a certain point, that's when I became Krystle and was sure this was some sort of test, and then my first sexual experience was just awful and degrading - Ashlyn tells me I shouldn't even think of it as consensual! - and made it easy for me to think of the whole thing in pretty bad terms afterward.  Even when I started dating, I felt kind of weird about enjoying sex - it felt good, but it was something where I felt bad about it feeling that good, if it makes any sense.  I was supposed to be a guy, and even if I wasn't, good girls shouldn't be doing this, if only because what can happen (I love Moira more than anything, but I don't have any idea how Karla handles three kids; it would break me).

This feeling, though, was sent from God.  Or maybe the Devil, but God's the one who made women able to feel it, right?  I don't know; I just kind of felt like I understood something for a moment and felt like maybe living this life wasn't just some sort of responsibility I couldn't shirk because of Moira.  It felt pretty good to fall asleep with Gabe's hand cupping my breast.

I wasn't thinking such grandiose things when I woke up in the morning, but I felt a bit lighter than I usually did.  I answered one of Karla's texts with a smiley face and let Gabriel treat me to breakfast.  I kind of felt like I should feel awful - a terrible mother still wearing yesterday's clothes after leaving my little girl with someone else on short notice - but I didn't.  Heck, when my boyfriend saw me kissing Gabe goodbye as we went our separate ways on the T and tried to make me feel terrible for it, I just kind of shrugged it off.  I liked him, but this one night had been better than the past month (it was at least almost as good) and he didn't have any sort of claim on me.  I felt bad, but also kind of wondered whether I'd just been accepting that my future might be determined by whoever was interested enough to ask me out at a moment when I was single and didn't have any obvious warning signs.

(That's why I haven't bothered to include that guy's name in this post; what's the point?)

I don't think that's just about "wow, I came, and now I know a woman's life can be more!"  Still...  I dunno, between I feel like having willingly had sex with two guys in the past week and it not entirely being a step toward something else doesn't feel like me.