Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Daryl/Zee: You Would THINK This All Counted for Something!

I still think of myself as pretty young, because not only does Jonah/Krystle have a point about your self-image kind of freezing as you were the first time you went to the Trading Post, but I was Magda for four years, and even after almost two years as Zariyah "Zee" Andrews, I still know what it's like being past menopause, feeling a little worn down, and having people look askance at you and your younger boyfriend.  I've been feeling like I imagine a young woman feels.

Except, well, I'm not, entirely.  When I talk to my "mom", she asks if I'm ever going to give her grandchildren.  I've started wearing reading glasses on occasion.  Younger people in the office say I look good "for my age".  And, I admit, when I saw that Jonah's boyfriend had proposed, it kind of hit me that I had been with J.T. for over six years and we hadn't really talked about it.  Well, we kind of had, but we'd more talked about talking about it - this is my fourth face, after all, and before I got it we kind of needed to be able to uncouple and recouple without a lot of fuss.  It hasn't been that way for a while, though.

I started to fret about it with a girlfriend, being vague about some things and trying to come up with "equivalent lies" for others, and she pointed out that I had, from the sound of it, made the first move throughout our relationship, so maybe that was just our vibe.  It felt like a really obvious thing when she put it like that; after all, I'd been the guy and he was Elaine when we met, I had gone to him when I was Elaine, had made the huge gesture to let fate decide if I should get another body, moved to his city (twice!), and sought out this younger shape myself.  He had gone along with what I wanted and was ready for, and it wasn't just dropping hints.  I was going to have to ask him.

So I went to a jeweler, let them think that I was proposing to a girlfriend, and bought a pair of matching engagement rings, both with small, kind of subtle diamonds.  We both wear jewelry, though it's more often just an earring or a pinky ring for him and I'm not a lot fancier.  Yesterday afternoon, I got the call that it was finished, and I told my co-workers that I'd be knocking off early to pick it up, and would check in later in the evening.  I got the rings, headed back to the apartment, and smiled a bit as I heard the noises from the bedroom.  This is going to sound stupid, but J.T. has been on this Euro-sleaze kick lately, "research" for a film that thought it would be fun to cast the former teen idol as the svengali figure, but also because they're kind of dumb fun, which is why I didn't think anything of opening the door and asking what he was watching.

Only to see him fucking Harmon Keller-slash-Alicia Polawski-slash-Harmony Kelton on our bed.

He was on his back and she was riding him cowgirl, so he saw me come in and pulled his hands from her breasts and tried to push himself away, and she looked over her shoulder and smirked, nonchalantly pulling away from my boyfriend's cock, picking up her uniform and slipping it on over her head, then grabbing her high heels but not bothering with her underwear as she used her other hand to grab the roller bag from the corner of the room.  She blew him a little kiss, mouthing "call me", then favored me with a quiet "bye mom" as she sauntered to the door and then the elevator.

As Magda, I'd given a probably-reasonable but probably also unhealthy amount of thought to what I would do if J.T. ever cheated on me, and the answer turned out to be cool anger.  As he reached for his boxers, I stepped on them so he couldn't pick them up off the floor and stared downward.  "All the actresses and models you work with, the girls who had a crush on you as kids, all the other women in fucking Manhattan, and you do this with fucking Harmon Keller?"

I was apparently angry enough that he feared I would do something violent, because he moved his hands to cover his shriveling, now semi-erect dick.  "Honey, it's not like that!  I mean, yes, Harmon can kind of be a pain, but she's like us, and was nervous about embracing this part of womanhood, so when we met while she was doing an audition for something while I was shooting in the same building, she asked for some pointers, and--"

"She was at an audition?  I talk to Magda, asshole, and I know she hasn't been trying to get into show business beyond her YouTube thing for a year and half!  How long has this been going on?"

He repeated the sound "I" a lot.

"It started while I was still Magda, didn't it, and she was me but with a perfect ass and nothing sagging and buttering you up about how she still wasn't sure she knew what she was doing but you were such a good teacher and nobody else would understand, didn't it?"

He lowered his head.  "Yes."

"And you probably ate it all up, didn't you?  And you know what, I'll bet she's been pushing you to do stuff that made it more likely you'd get caught, right?  She's hated me ever since I told her I'd be moving out of that apartment in Oakland any more and probably figured blowing up the thing that took sabotaged her easy little life would be good revenge."

Apparently suggesting that she wasn't primarily into him was the thing that would get him to react.  "Honey, it's not about you--"

I leaned in.  "It's about me even if the bitch didn't mean it to be.  Do you not understand that I started completely new lives twice for you?  That the only time I've talked to my original family in six years was at Elaine's wedding, and that was just small talk from a former co-worker?  That instead of Magda, I could have become somebody who wouldn't make it through the winter?  All so you don't have to sacrifice one bit of your comfortable situation!"

"Look, I never asked you to do any of that!"

"Oh, but you let me, and said how lucky you were to have someone who loved you that much!  And this is how you repay me, going behind my back with that asshole!"  Angry, I walked over to a closet, pulled out a suitcase, and started putting some clothes into it.

His expression shifted a little, like I sometimes saw at work from someone who figured I'd left myself open.  "Come on, let's talk about this!  Where are you going to go?"

"It's New York, there are hotels.  Not like I can exactly crash with Magda, is it?"

"Come on, you said yourself, we've got so much invested in this!"

I turned around.  "I said I have a lot invested in this.  You, apparently, just have a couple of closets!"

I didn't wait for a response and took about the same path Harmon had toward the elevator, and realized that I didn't even really have a travel app on my phone on the way down - J.T. had taken care of any vacations we took, and the couple of times I've traveled for work, the office handled it.  I wound up just looking for hotels on Google Maps, which I suppose is fine, but probably cost me.

Anyway, this is my second night in this room, and I'm not sure what to do.  J.T. has left a few voice mails and text, but I feel like he should be trying harder to get in touch with me?  Is that just crazy woman brain, crazy guy brain, or me knowing just how central this relationship is and expecting it to be valued similarly?

-Zee?

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ande: New nickname!

Well, at least I'm going to try giving it a spin.  Don't know if I like it yet, but maybe the weird combination of letters nobody else uses will help make some stuff feel normal!

Anyway, like I mentioned last time, my twin and I are working at the same place this summer - a colleague of our dad's retired, opened an Italian restaurant, and hired us to work there.  I started the other night and did a double take we got into the car and I saw the "Andie" nametag my brother-slash-sister was wearing.  "What's up with that?" I said, giving it a tap.

"What do you mean - oh!  Of course, you wouldn't have known to change the contacts on your phone just hearing it!  You know how it is, it's always weird writing our names and feeling like we're impersonating each other, right?  We did it for the last two years of high school because people would give us weird looks if we changed it, but it's weird, right?  Like,  whenever I try to sign 'Andi' with an I in cursive, my hand feels like it's doing something wrong."

I gave an uh-huh.  I don't know if other folks who've been to the Inn have that sensation, or if it's just us, because our names are so similar and I often find myself correcting myself midway through the word.

"Right, so I figured, heck, I don't need to do that at a new school, and adding that extra E, and for some reason, that doesn't seem like I'm forging your signature, or trying to lay claim to everything you've done, or, you know.  It's, like, mine."  She kind of mumbled that last bit.

"Huh."  I just sat there for a moment, thinking.  "Shit.  I don't want to be a Drew."

She laughed.  "You are so not a Drew!  And you're really not a Dre!"

"Oh my god, can you imagine me going back to school in the fall and trying to get people to call me Dre after being Andy for a year?  Everyone I know would mock me and I would deserve it!"

"Maybe you could go with two Ys or something?  Or E-E?"

I gave a fake-pensive look and said that maybe one E would work.  "Andie" liked it, so I'm trying that out and accepting that a bunch of folks are just going to call me "And".

The job's okay; I'm mostly busing tables while Andie is up front as the hostess, which means she can sort of stay put rather than walking around.  I'm not sure which of us has the better job - I've got to move a lot of stuff around but she's got to deal with people who are irate that they can see an open table and she can worry about the people who have a reservation in 15 minutes if and when they arrive - but I do kind of wonder if I've got the right attitude for hers these days.  I've done a pretty good job getting the testosterone and bad temper it can cause under control, I think, but I do kind of appreciate not having to do that sort of thing.

It's funny to watch, though - like I said yesterday, I don't necessarily feel the need to turn my maleness up at any point, even if I'm kind of absorbing it, but I do see Andie kind of turning girl stuff on and off, or at least adjusting her levels.  I asked her about it on the first drive home after work, and she shrugged, saying that I know it's something all girls have to do in a male-dominated world and and that she has to do it even more, both because of how she grew up and because she's consciously been trying to work out who and what Andie's going to be ever since she found out about the long covid.  She doesn't know if there's really a version of Andie that she'll ever be all the time, even more than other women who have to have their guard up.

When we got home, I asked Mom and Dad if they'd known about Andie doing the name thing and if "Ande" was silly, and they were just as surprised as Andie that I hadn't realized she'd done that.  They immediately changed their contact lists to show "Ande", though, and felt encouraged that we were staking out their own new identities.  I'm not sure how rare that is, and how much of it's because the Inn left us like this, but there are a lot of folks whose parents are not nearly as supportive of figuring out who they are and want to be, and I do appreciate that.

-Ande

(BTW: I kind of want to apologize if I've given the impression that Andie is stupid or foolish in my posts.  She's actually quite smart, even with brain fog sometimes slowing the process down a bit, and this kind of thing is more in her wheelhouse than mine, which I'm especially well-aware of from trying to take classes in her intended major last fall.  I blog when mad or frustrated a lot, and it doesn't always tell the whole story)

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Andi/Andy : Freshman Year Down, Summer Starting

So I just realized that there's nobody who might come in and look over my shoulder as I post something here, two weeks after getting home, and I guess this means that I'm just used to this?  That I'm going to be Andy for life and maybe going back would be harder than staying this way.

The funny thing is, Andy probably could have updated the blog with his/her adventures as a freshman girl all year without it being a big deal; his roommate was a cool lesbian who is really into writing slash fanfic for some detective series and even if she didn't believe "Andrea" used to be "Andrew" before visiting a magical inn, she would absolutely have been into someone writing about their life as if they were really someone else dropped into it.  Me, I got a jock who gave me a hard time every time I said I'd been to the museum or streamed a movie that was not built on explosions.  So much more testosterone in the room than I wanted!

The whole floor was guys, which was some crazy immersion therapy, even after having been Andy for the previous couple years, because we could always come home and have each other and our parents know who we really were, or really had been after Andy unilaterally decided he wasn't going to saddle me with his long covid by switching back.  Now it was 24/7, and it was kind of either be Andy or go nuts.  Not that most of the guys on the floor were like my roommate, or I was at some boys' boarding school where you could go weeks without seeing anyone else or anything like that, but when you're surrounded by guys during your just kicking back/studying hours, it starts to mess with what you think is normal for at least that part of your life, it can kind of bleed over into the rest.  I wasn't quite a complete idiot in less than two weeks, but I did kind of notice the way I was talking about girls with other guys after a while.  Not disrespectful, I hoped, but much more "them" than "us".

Plus, I spent less time with folks who knew me.  I thought I'd see Mack occasionally, but the day in September when she came down for the Janelle Monae concert was kind of uncomfortable.  She looked more grown-up than she had before - she'd gotten her hair curled, put on some makeup, and padded her bra a bit - but even though I'm just a year and a half older than she is, officially, folks looked at the college freshman hanging around with the high school junior kind of weird.  Not much, but she pointed out that I'd just get to know more people who would wonder what our deal was if she kept coming down for stuff.

Cindi and I thought we'd be seeing more of each other, too - she's going to school in New York, and that didn't seem quite so far, but apparently it is in the Northeast, especially since we left our cars back home.  Even with regular buses and trains between the cities, you're still maybe looking at leaving later than you would and coming back earlier, her roommate was not going to let me crash in her dorm room (and that's reasonable! I wouldn't want her trying to sleep around my roommate!), plus you often can't just go straight there, but there's stops in Providence or Hartford or New Haven or whatever.  It's a huge hassle, but whenever one of us implied it was a huge hassle, the other felt slighted, we found we had less to talk about at Thanksgiving, and...  Well, not sure exactly when we broke up, but we did.  Not like Andy and Len - we're still following each other on Instagram and stuff - but it got weird for a while.  She's blossoming, but I kind of had a bit of a "I shouldn't even be dating anyway, because it's all a lie" funk.  I haven't seen her since coming home.  I hope it's not too weird.

What is weird is how much Andy has committed to my life/his life/her life.  I was still mad at her when I went off to Boston, and Thanksgiving was kind of weird, but by Christmas I'd sort of settled into the whole guy's dorm thing, and started talking about changing my major and looking at other parts of the class catalog.  It still kind of felt like giving up, but Andy's recovery has been kind of slow, and I kind of think about the number of hills I walk around campus or the time I spend on public transportation and I'm not sure I'd swap good lungs for ovaries.

Spring semester was more fun, though - I knew the city and campus better, the classes were more interesting, and making Andy's life my own has made things a little smoother.  I do, occasionally, wonder if this electrical engineering major would have been more difficult as myself.  I haven't been a jerk, I hope, but Andy and I have been noticing the way teachers and classmates have been treating us a bit differently for the past few years, and while this isn't entirely easy mode, I do sometimes wonder if I'd be on track to getting frustrated as myself and even wind up reverting to some more traditionally-feminine major.

(Looks at all those "myself"s and sighs)

I'm going to have a real hard time with the whole "I'm a guy going forward" thing, aren't I?  I've kind of got to, because Andy is doing more to embrace his - her! - feminine side.  It's getting warm, and I can't miss that she's shaving her legs more, letting her hair grow out, and hasn't made any comments about clothes or makeup or anything being weird since I got back for the summer, aside from wearing wedges most of the time and saying she misses being taller.  Heck, she wears actual heels at work.

(But more about that later!)

-Still kind of Andi-with-an-i in my heart.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Jonah/Krystle: Well, I've got news

Sorry I haven't been posting much.  It's the usual deal:  I've been just being a regular single mom for the past few months, and this is kind of a blog about people finding themselves in new lives, and that hasn't been me in a while.  I've been pretty confident, doing okay as Krystle, to the point where it kind of seems right.  I kind of think I remember more of my life like this than being Jonah, and wonder if I should stop using that name even here.  This is me.

Or, you know, until last weekend.

Gabriel was in town.  He shows up for a long weekend every couple months, and the nature of it sort of changes depending what our lives are like.  Sometimes he comes with a friend, often that friend comes with a girlfriend, sometimes we hit the sights and restaurants, one time it was mostly a Pelicans-Knicks game, sometimes we spend a lot of time in bed, sometimes it's just two pals hanging out.  When anyone asks, I say it's a great friends with benefits relationship, and a lot of my girlfriends say they couldn't do it.  I sometimes wonder about that, because sometimes I think about how uptight I was about sex even as a horny teenage boy and also wonder if having been a guy just lets me just be buddies more easily.

I haven't really been keeping track of which weekends are like what or anything, but this past one was just us.  Well, not just us - Moira is playing tee ball and had a game Saturday morning and they we did a trip to the zoo - but the nights were ours, and the plan was to spend them at his hotel while Moira slept over at a friend's.  And that's how it went; we went to one of the zillion nice restaurants in town and had some time to kill before the jazz show he'd purchased tickets to, so we started walking along the beach.  I had taken my heels off and was enjoying walking barefoot, and had just pulled out my bag to put a wrap on, because I've kind of acclimated to what people here call "chilly" even though I spent most of my life in New England, but as I was saying that, he coughed and I was about to turn around and ask what his excuse was.

And then he got down on one knee.

I don't remember exactly what he said - it wasn't any sort of "never met a girl like me" thing, but that he'd never been drawn to someone so much, even when we weren't nearby, and that I always seemed to know how things should be even when he was drifting or I said that I felt overwhelmed, and he'd been kind of afraid to move forward because I was so independent, but, well, we hadn't seemed to just be friends for months, and it was time to make it official.  Would I marry him?

My legs went weak.  Like, weaker than when I woke up as a grown up woman after going to bed a teenage boy, weaker than when I slept with the creep wearing my old face because it seemed like the only thing I could offer him to become myself again, weaker than when I found out I was pregnant, weaker than after I'd just given birth.  Why?  I mean, why?  My life had changed so much in a moment before, and this wasn't close to the same category, was it?  But then, when had it really changed in a way that made things feel more solid?  Like, all of that was ways in which I was going to have to adapt in a way where I would have to rely on myself more despite not having any idea of what I was doing, and this was being told I was good at my life and made someone else's better and I wasn't prepared to hear that.

All that went through my head in a second, and I said yes.  He took the ring out of the box that, quite frankly, I hadn't paid any attention to, we kissed, and some of the other folks on the beach applauded.  

The rest of the night was kind of a daze - there was music, there was sex - and then the next morning he checked out of the hotel and we went to pick up Moira, together, because his flight wasn't for hours.  On the way, we talked about just what we do at this point, because while Moira really likes Gabe, she's a kid, and would this be too big for her to take in?  Like, what if she said she didn't want Gabe to be her daddy, or even to be around all the time?

That didn't happen, thank God.  I sort of turned the ring around, kind of hiding the diamond so that it didn't become a whole topic of conversation with the other adults until we got back to our place, and then tried to explain to her like she was a big girl that Gabe and I had decided that we should all be one family, and we really hoped that she liked the idea.  She had a lot of questions - was Gabe going to be around all the time now?  Where would he sleep and put his things?  When were we getting married?

We'd talked about some of them - Gabe could work remotely from anywhere, so we would probably look for a house over the next few weeks and he would move in when we found one, although that might take some time.  We'd probably get married next summer, which seemed like a ridiculously long time to her, but I pointed out that we had to make sure we could find a date that worked for Momma K and maybe her daddy Jonah and definitely Grammy and Grampa Glass, and Big Moira and Auntie Karla and maybe even my friend Jordan, and that meant planning a long time in advance.  But what if we changed our minds before then, and I told her that a man doesn't buy this kind of expensive ring unless he was really sure we wouldn't change our minds.

She said it was pretty, especially since Mommy almost never wore jewelry besides earrings.  I said it really was, although to myself, I was kind of thinking it was heavy, this weird and unfamiliar weight on my hand.  Not, like, in a way that meant more than that, I don't think - not like my breasts did when I first turned into a girl! - but I do feel it and my brain is doing its level best to treat it as a reminder that Gabe loves me that much.  Although sometimes I kind of freak out when I bang it into something.

It's really new, and while the reactions have been mostly good.  I almost think that this might be the thing that gets Mom to be okay with all this, even more than Moira, like I'd passed some sort of girl test.  Jordan kind of can't believe it.  When I sent Moira's namesake a photo she called me up immediately to screech into the phone.  Klara and Momma Kamen are really proud of me, which is weird.

Krystle/Mackenzie...  That's complicated.  She barely remembers Gabe from when they were kids, but kind of wishes I had found someone who had never met her at all.  She's never going to forgive me, I know, but we're a little more cordial these days (I think finally being old enough to date without it being too weird and starting to look at colleges has her treating my life less as what she should be rather than what she could have been).  She's not going to say "good job", but she's not automatically going to "why are you fucking my life up so much" anymore.  Gabe seems like a good guy to her.  Probably the best I can hope for from that end.

So all that happens, and I kind of feel like my feet are just now touching the ground again.  And while I don't exactly have a lot of fantasies about a fancy wedding that have been in my head since childhood, Penny tells me that I should prepare for the next year to be insane anyway!

-Jonah/Krystle