My early weeks and months as Sam Platter were a complete nightmare. Every day I woke up I felt my stomach eating away at itself with anxiety. Being in a strange body may have carried some amusing novelty under other circumstances, but I'm a simple gal -- all I ever wanted was to live a quiet life. As Sam though, all eyes were on me to be a "hotshot" decision maker, bold and leading edge. I didn't feel like I had any choice -- it was one thing to risk my livelihood, but I had to support a wife and three kids and try to keep things stable until the real Sam could be restored.
I kept it to myself -- such a manly move -- and barely tried to build any trust with Shannon. I barely wanted anything to do with her, I even considered moving into another room to leave her alone. Not out of dislike per se... although it's true, I did feel pretty predisposed against such a pretty, skinny, perky, perfect woman who does Tiktoks with her daughters and everything. I just felt like, we didn't have anything in common and it was weird to try to push myself to be a "husband" to her. I didn't know what that meant or why I should try. I had other important things to do. I didn't, however, change beds, I just kind of kept on the low and focused my energy to the kids.
The kids are great. Obviously "Corinne" was taking up most of my time and energy. She and Sam had taken the trip to Maine as a "bonding" experience and I guess you could say it worked all too well. I took point on her as she headed into her junior year at high school. Being so dedicated to cheer and other activities gave my dad something to focus his newfound energies on. I wouldn't have thought he would take to it, but I think there's something to be said for the influence of one's body: knowing what Corinne-the-body was capable of seemed to stoke Nevin's interest in pursuing it. So we spent August "re-learning" back hand springs and flips and everything, things that people train themselves from childhood to get good at. I covered most of it because I didn't want Shannon to see how far backwards Corinne's development had gone. But
I asked him about it and he said, in that gruff version of a teenage girl's voice he's got, "When I was Corinne's age, I was taking cars apart to figure out how they worked. I was a star runningback, too. You never saw me then. I was obsessed. When I caught something, I caught it bad. That's how it is today. I can't explain it, but doing all this... it get me going, you know?" Fair enough.
Then there's the two other girls, 12 and 9. They all have their own personalities: the middle-child is a musician and fills the house with the sound of piano practice, and the other is a budding artist. Part of me admires how picture-perfect it all is, and part of me has my stomach turning because life was sure never like this for me and I don't know quite how to process it. So I could only focus on work, and I hated work. My life felt like a nightmare, made worse by the bizarre fact that I felt like my dad was thriving.
(I occasionally thought about what if the situations had been reversed and I had been the young girl and he the dad -- I didn't think I would be any better of a Corinne and I knew he would just mess up as Sam, so I had to comfort myself that this was for the best.)
Being at work every day put me at odds with my body. I was the caretaker of a male anatomy and it was weird. The guys saw me as one of them. It was intoxicating and withering all at once because I felt, deep down inside, like I was a fraud, a fake. And not just because I didn't know what I was doing at work.
Men. I understand men and I'll never understand men. But it's true that so much of who and what they are is filtered through sexuality. It was gross hearing the way some of these guys talk to each other, but I couldn't bring myself to speak up. Maybe I was becoming more sympathetic because my brain was basting in those same hetero-male chemicals, but I couldn't quite spare it with my own sensitivity from years of being a woman. But there was a distance between me and the other guys at work that I yearned to bridge, but I could only do so by plunging further and becoming more of what I appeared to be. I had to be a man. I had to increase my experience.
I had to... sleep with my wife.