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)
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