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!