Saturday, April 24, 2004
The new roommate
I'm not sure how I'm going to work this blog now that Carter's living here. He knows of its existence, of course, and it's out there for him if he wants to read it. I told him that it's kind of theraputic to just put yourself out there and write about how you're feeling, what you've learned about your new self, that sort of thing, but he's not interested. He says he's not even going to read this, and he seems to mean it. He's pretty deep in, well, not denial, but shame...
Okay, I just stopped and stared at the screen for ten minutes. I don't want to say something bad about someone I know in case they might read it. To a certain extent, it's the same way with Maggie. She, I know, reads this daily. Which is potentially awkward, because although she's been nothing but great since finding out who and what I am, what if she does something that just pisses me off? She says I should feel free to write anything I want in here, because it serves not only as a personal diary but as a documentation of how I deal with having two identities at odds with each other. She will, she says, try not to take it personally. Let's hope we never have to test that.
But, anyway, I imagine I'll be in for some trouble with what I have to say about Carter, but I'm going to get it down anyway. He's not coping well. There is absolutely no reason to expect him to cope well, and if I had gone through what he did, I doubt I'd cope nearly as well as I have - which, according to Carter, is not coping, but surrendering. I mean, let's review - after getting his mind switched into another body (I tell him it's more complicated than that, but that's how he sees it, so we'll just run with his perspective) on a night he'd intended to spend with his girlfriend, he is told that said girlfriend has the mind of a man, too, and look at her now... that's going to be you in a few months, they tell him. Then he's held bound and gagged in a dark room for two and a half months, half starved, probably only kept alive so that the body he's in can be used to bring another guy into the country, told that I can't tell the difference between him and someone else in his body (true, unfortunately) and in fact like the new Carter better (lies), barely escapes with his life a couple weeks ago, and then has to deal with the Haskinses thinking he's their missing daughter and treating him as such.
Then there's the things I don't know for a fact. Both Sam Haskins and whoever was in his body probably smoked, and being denied nicotine probably drove him as crazy as anything else while he was held prisoner; he gets tense around other people smoking, like Sam's body wants it but he's forcing himself to resist. Then there's the whole macho thing, which with his background is probably a bigger deal. Carter was a black man who grew up poor and made it through college by signing up for the military. From what I gather, being an outsider, there's a more open disdain for gays and transsexuals among minorities, and even though the military is co-ed, so to speak, now, it's still a man's world and "don't ask, don't tell" is still the order of the day. Martin Hartle wasn't the world's most tolerant person, but he tried, and while Carter Drummond tried too, it was harder for him, which makes it harder for him to accept what he's become.
And I think Dmitri may have sexually assaulted him. The docs did a rape kit, and didn't find anything, but that might just mean it wasn't recent or Dmitri was careful. Carter denies it to me, to Sam's parents, and to the police, but we all sort of take it as a matter of faith that it happened. With all that pervert did, you'd almost think it would have to have happened. Which would make things even harder on Carter.
So, even though Carter doesn't own much in his current body, he came with plenty of baggage.
Last night was, as one might imagine, uncomfortable. Maggie and Jen had each suggested a housewarming party, but Carter wanted none of it. So after a teary farewell at the hospital, as Janet Haskins made sure to remind "Sam" that she (Janet) didn't know why her daughter wouldn't come home but would take her back in an instant, we headed back to my place on a damp night.
And then just sat there. I didn't want to leave him alone; he didn't want to talk. Eventually, I asked if it would be all right for me to turn on the baseball game - it was Sox and Yankees, but I think it was more just to have some noise and activity in the space. He said fine, but wound up getting upset when I got excited about the ass-kicking the Sox put on Jose Contreras. How, he said, can I care about that with everything else that was going on.
Carter, I said, I say this as a friend, someone who's been in your shoes, and as someone who loves you. Just because our lives have changed and been redefined doesn't mean they've stopped. I enjoyed baseball "before", I enjoy it still, and if I ever stop, then I'll really be worried that something fundamental about Martin Hartle is gone. I told him that if we spend every day moping about which lives we lead, then those lives will inevitably be empty, and we will have been nothing but victims, and I hate willing victims. And it's especially important for him, because...
"Because I'm stuck like this. You could someday become yourself again, but Carter Drummond is, as far as the world's concerned, dead."
I told him I didn't mean to go there, but he just got angry and tried to stomp off, but there's not much to stomp off to in a studio apartment. He wound up settling in front of this machine while I finished watching the game, running internet searches for stuff about body-switching.
Today was about the same. Not just because there was another ballgame (there's always another ballgame), but in that there was just no pleasing him. I got up first, because he's still gets tired easily and because the floor's not terribly comfortable. He's cross when I finally come out of the bathroom, since he had apparently had to pee for the prior half-hour. He asks why I was in the shower so long, and I sheepishly tell him I was trying to get the dye out of my hair. He asks why I dyed my hair blonde anyway.
"Because Car-- because he said I should."
That leads to the bathroom door slamming.
Later, around eight o'clock, he points to something he found on the internet. He gets mad when I tell him it's a dead end; I found that site last July. I tell him that a new pair of eyes can't hurt, but...
I don't know what to do. I'm afraid of leaving him alone - afraid that he'll hurt himself or worse - but it's tough to take his anger. I get the feeling that he's staying with me because the only alternatives are the Haskinses and the street. I just hope I don't make him angry enough that the street starts to look better than me.
Writing all this might be the best way to ensure exactly that, of course, but maybe reading it will do him some good. Not that he will. It's pulling teeth to get him to talk about us as individuals, so he'll probably avoid this site for a while.
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