Monday, July 08, 2024

Jonah/Krystle: Just a bridesmaid, not yet a bride

 ... but it's good to see things from inside.

(Doesn't exactly rise from just rhyming to poetry, does it?)

So, I don't talk about the family I was shoved into a lot these days.  Part of moving to New Orleans was that being part of someone else's family is weird, after all, and it's not fair since Momma Kamen and Karla and the rest don't know that they're part of this weird identity-switch thing so they shouldn't be too much a part of the blog without knowing.  But it sometimes means I'm probably not fair to them; Karla, especially, probably got a raw deal because I still kind of looked down on women like her, raising multiple kids from multiple men and moving back in with her mother, when I first became Krystle, and even when my life started running on a similar track, I had a tendency to see it as God teaching me humility, which can kind of let you still think less of someone, like the important lesson is "don't be a jerk about it" as opposed to actual empathy.  That she kind of enjoyed her little sister getting knocked down a peg didn't exactly make things easier.

But things are better between us now, and not just because we're far apart and our kids liked each other.  She's also really gotten her life together as well, and while I certainly know a lot better than I would have before to say it's because she's got a good man in her life, Rakim's presence has not exactly hurt.  They both seem to think so too, because (as I'm sure anyone reading this has guessed by now), they got married on Saturday.

Also obvious:  I was a bridesmaid.  It's kind of weird, because I'm not really her sister and I don't know if I would have been just a few years back when we saw each other often, but I suspect she might have included her sister Krystle just to please her mom even if she or I had been fighting.  Which meant that I took a full week of vacation for this and flew up to Boston with Moira last Friday.

We got there ahead of Gabe, so I checked into the hotel he had booked and took Moira to the Children's Museum, which isn't far off from where his train would get in at South Station.  I'd kind of expected this to be a group thing, figuring that when I told Moira we were taking a trip back East, she'd want to see some of her old friends, but she never mentioned them.  It's been two years, I know, an eternity for a little kid, but she had left her old life more or less completely behind.

Eventually, Gabe got in, and we made an early night of it after getting some dinner because even one time zone change can hit a kid hard when bedtime is supposed to be 8pm.  Sitting in the hotel room with Gabe that night was kind of a strange sensation, because we hadn't arrived a week early just so that we could see the fireworks on the Fourth - we were going to be introducing him to a fair number of people, and wanted to do it early enough so as not to look like we were stealing the bride's thunder.

And we did.  Of course, Saturday was already spoken for, as Karla had made an appointment for me to actually try on my bridesmaid's dress so the shop could do any alterations.  She clucked a bit about forgetting how muscular climbing made my arms - I really like it, but I readily admit that anything sleeveless really highlights them and anything with sleeves looks tight unless it's fairly loose, and because of my chest, anything too loose makes me look fat; even when I'm not going to a wedding, I try everything on before buying, which I never did as a guy - but she rightly cooed about how adorable Moira was in her "junior bridesmaid" dress.  Seven is apparently too old to be flower girl, and Rakim has a younger niece.

Then we spent most of the day with Karla, her kids, Rakim, Momma Kamen, and some other Kamen family I've probably never mentioned.  Some of them had met Gabe before, but either before I was Krystle or during the height of the pandemic, so it was basically new.  They all seem to like him, although there were a lot of questions about whether he knew about "my" wild past, and thus a lot of cutesy "I'm a whole different woman these days".

Sunday was a chance to see "Big Moira", who remains completely taken with her namesake and joked about how if she'd known that all it took to get me to visit was someone getting married, she'd have started looking harder for men who aren't complete shite years ago (leaving Little Moira confused as to whether or not she'd said a bad word).

After that, it sort of became a blur.  My parents came down to see Moira and meet Gabe, which justifiably left him a bit confused as to why I almost seemed more excited to see them than my mother and sister, and I said it was complicated, that they'd been a big help when I was pregnant and continued to be even though things were really complicated between me, them, "Jonah", his girlfriend, etc.  Hopefully he'll never have any reason to really dig into the chronology of it, because we all kind of stretched the truth a lot.

While Gabe and Mom were playing with Moira in a park, Dad chuckled, saying he never thought he'd be telling me I'd found a really good man, then awkwardly mentioned that he didn't know if he and Mom would have been okay if it had come to that without all the Inn weirdness.  He likes to think he would, but it's taken them a long time to really come to grips with it, especially since he really didn't understand if I was trans, nonbinary, or what now.  I said I really didn't either, that I know some people in the same boat who have gotten into what the Inn does to our gender identities, but I've just been trying to take it as it comes, and eventually Gabe was part of what came.

He was being very careful about asking whether, in the moment Gabe had proposed, I had felt like I could tell him the truth.  I knew that part of the question was that if I had, I'd be able to tell him who Mom and Dad really are to me, and it probably hurt them a little that I hadn't.  I told him truthfully that I was overwhelmed in the moment, and that as I thought about it afterwards, I wasn't sure.  Gabe's not homophobic or transphobic, to the point where I've seen him tell a guy that hit on him that he had a girlfriend, but, hey, it can't hurt to ask, but I don't know if I want to because it's hard to kick out one of the things a relationship was originally built on even if we've created a much more solid foundation.  He understood, and understands that I hate lying, but hopes that maybe I'll see it from another perspective sometime.

After that, there was Karla's bachelorette party; I haven't had that much to drink in a long time, and I've really glad that I legitimately don't know any embarrassing stories about her youth, because maybe I'd have spilled them.  Karla seemed to appreciate what she saw as my restraint, though.  We rented a canoe to watch the Fourth of July fireworks from the river, which was a thing everyone should do at least once even if it's not exactly easy to be part of a mob returning small boats to a dock in the dark at 11pm and then another mob getting on public transportation.

Then Saturday, an the wedding, and my God, am I going to have to be in the middle of that next year?  So much makeup, and hair, and calling the venues to make sure everything is okay.  I've never been this close to the center - I was a last-minute plus-one at the only one I've been to as a woman and barely remember any I went to as a kid - and I absolutely understand why "wedding planner" is a business.  I manage a small franchise location, which is like a half-dozen employees and maybe a couple dozen guests at a time, and while a lot of the concerns are the same, it's like ten times as many people, everyone is emotionally heightened, and I've probably got more experience in management then most people who suddenly have to plan a party for a hundred folks who will try to take advantage of being your good friend or family do.

But, Karla looked beautiful in her dress, Momma Kamen cried about how strange it was to be really on her own for the first time since she was in her twenties (although I ribbed her about the silver fox she'd brought as her plus one), we danced into the night, and, boy, was Gabe really still full of energy when we went back to our hotel because Moira was ready to drop.  Spooning afterwards, he asked if I still wanted to go through with that, and I honestly said that, yeah, I did, although I'm still trying to talk myself into a big life-change requiring you work yourself up about it so much.

Sunday morning, we all had a nice brunch before Karla & Rakim jetted off to their honeymoon in Bermuda, and then we parted ways at South Station as Gabe got on a train and Moira and I headed to the airport.  Hopefully, we're not going to be parting at the end of a weekend much longer; he's visiting NOLA early next month so we can look at neighborhoods even if we're not exactly looking at specific houses, since he trusts me to be the person on-site while he looks through the phone's camera.

I guess that's our next step, just a year behind Karla.