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!