Transplanted Life
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Girl stuff
Carter and I both had a day off today, which was actually pretty nice. Carter sometimes doesn't come off well in this narrative, and I blame myself for that. Sometimes it's even hard for me to remember that he was held prisoner for two months. It seems like Carter's been a continuous presence, but he hasn't - it was someone else for two months, and during that time... I mean, as much as most people can't imagine my life, I can't imagine what it was like for him. He deserves all the slack I can cut him. And, well, writing about fights is more dramatic, seems more newsworthy, than writing about making up. Also, I think I tend to focus on the ways his ordeal has changed him, or more specifically hurt him, than on what I love about him.

It's more a sisterly/best friend kind of love than anything romantic now, for me anyway. But when he's in a good mood he still makes me laugh, he still has confidence in me, and we still get into nerd arguments over exactly how awful Enterprise is or whether Riddick or Sky Captain is the movie we're most looking forward to this summer. He still thinks I'm pretty, too, which can be kind of uncomfortable. He gets a little jealous sometimes, even though he's got no reason to any more.

We spent a lot of the day scouting apartments, looking at rental agencies, getting our phone number taken a lot but not yet actually getting a chance to look at places. Anyway, after a few hours of that, we stopped back in at our place and turned on the AC. I asked if he were up for a movie, he asked if we could afford it, I said that if we couldn't afford a late-afternoon matinee then we were in more trouble than I thought. He, of course, insisted on walking, but got upset when I changed into a halter and skirt.

I told him, no whining about my wardrobe. On a day as warm as this one had gotten after the rain cleared out, this was practical. Sure, it showed some cleavage and there was a little gap at the waist (though not wide enough to show off my belly button), but exposed skin lets you vent heat. His jeans and t-shirt weren't doing it.

By the time we reached the Fenway theater, he had agreed to take the trolley back. I was kind of tired, too - a week of waitressing hasn't quite built up enough endurance to counteract nine months of sitting behind a desk. We wound up happily paying for large drinks, although quite honestly, I at least should know I don't have a large-drink sized bladder any more. After the movie, we had a whispered conversation about not having to wait to use public toilets nearly as much when we were men.

In a really wacky coincidence, we bumped into Maureen on the way out. I asked how many people were left at BioSoft; she said she was one of the final four, that Dmitri and Carter had really screwed us over good. She asked what I was up to, and I said I was waiting tables until something better came along, although I was focusing more on trying to find a new place to live, since a studio wasn't big enough for "Sam" and I.

Oh, are you too, like, you know... No, I say, we just sort of fell in together. Carter put in that I was dating a lawyer, and I said I didn't know if we were really dating. She actually looked kind of disappointed, but wished us good luck as she went to buy a ticket for her movie.

Afterward, Carter kind of snickered at her, pointing out how Maureen was trying too hard to be nice. I remembered all the vaguely "you skank"-ish attitude she'd thrown toward me, or how she'd pointed out that she went to a Christian college, but how after we'd nearly got shot, she was bending over backwards to point out how she bore us no ill will. But I figure that's a minor hypocricy.

The bit about "Carter really screwed us over good" bugged him, though. He doesn't delude himself about his original body being anything other than gone for good, but he also tends to avoid thinking about what people think of "him". He, of course, only remembers "Carter" up until he got switched out of that body, and the idea that his good name is as dead as the physical form bothers him.

I told him that he can do what I have mostly done, start over and be the best Samantha Haskins he can. He admitted it makes practical and pragmatic sense, but he just can't bring himself to commit to that. I tell him it's okay, I didn't really commit to being a good Michelle, as opposed to pretending to be a good Michelle, until I started seeing him; maybe he just needs to find the thing that makes being Sam feel worthwhile.

He doubts that such a thing exists. I say I felt the same way, until it happened. Yeah, he says, but since our relationship was gone, how do I stand it now. I tell him that just because gaining something changes your point of view, that doesn't mean losing it changes it back.

He's not completely buying it, but he's thinking about it, at least.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Wacky weather
I work on the other side of the river, near Harvard Square, and it's just weird to walk past the bar, see rain coming down in buckets in Fenway on the TVs which are tuned to NESN, but look out the window and see it clear. Then, twenty minutes later, have things reversed.

Not that Boston couldn't use a thunderstorm or two, it's been hot the past couple days, and the t-storms tend to clear that out.

Anyway, nothing big happening today; just found that odd.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Even I have trouble with how I think of me
Went out to dinner with Doug tonight. Which involved putting up with all the "you're showing leg" stuff from Carter, but I've sort of gotten to the point where I just tune that out. I think my body's fun, he hasn't come to feel that way yet, and it's just going to be a thing with us. If we were a sitcom, it would cue up the laugh track regardless of whether we're actually funny or not.

But, at least Carter has a definite opinion, and sticks to that point of view. With Doug, it was kind of weird tonight. This was our first real date, with no attempts to pick his brain or the like - it was, we agreed, to be strictly boy-girl stuff.

Of course, he knows about me, so it's awkward. He's able to tell me with apparent sincerity that I look sexy, and stare at my cleavage when he thinks I'm not looking. But then I'll smile at him, and he'll sheepishly say something about how I must know exactly what's going through his mind at that moment. Hey, any woman would know that, I'll say, but it somehow seems to have the opposite effect, that instead of it being no big deal, I've called attention to my origins. Which was obviously the opposite of what I intended.

Most of the evening this manifests itself as him taking half a second to think while doing stuff he'd normally do instinctively. He starts to pull out a chair, then thinks maybe (s)he thinks that's weird, then remembers that I've said to treat me just like any other woman. There's always that little hitch in his actions, like he's got to remind himself to trust the evidence of his own eyes.

He doesn't know what to talk about while we wait for our dinner. I try and get it started with asking how I'm getting impatient for Nomar to be playing for the big club (a lot of folks thought he'd return tonight, but instead it was back to Pawtucket), and his brain locks. Like, "girlfriend who talks sports==good" but "sports talk may indicate not really a girl in her heart==bad" but... It's like that episode of Star Trek where they're trying to confuse the computer with nonsense; he's got the same look on his face that the android had after Spock explained that "logic is a wreath of pretty flowers...that smell bad".

So we eat our food and see our movie try to find some topic of conversation that doesn't involve anything vaguely related to gender stereotypes at all. I can't think of anything to break the logjam; I want to scream that I am who I am and you'd best start treating me like an individual or it'll never work out, but I'm afraid that will just push him further away. And I don't want to do that; aside from needing his help, I like the guy.

But here's the funny thing - the very fact that he's not sure how to see me makes me not sure how to see him. I could just be the girl, so to speak, when I was dating Carter, but if I do that with Doug, he'll think I'm being strange and not myself and get weirded out. But I also worry about being too guy-like, in case that grosses him out.

This really bugs me, because things have been going so well with Maggie that I was planning on telling more people - my mom, Kate and Jen, maybe even Wei (I know I'm not ready to tell Kurt yet, or if I ever will be). But if Doug's going to be more typical of how the people close to me act than Mags, maybe I'm better off keeping everyone in the dark.

Monday, June 07, 2004
All I need
Apparently, the landlord has found out about "Sam" crashing here and wants Carter out. Something about the name not being on the lease; I just got back from work and I'm running a bath so I'll worry about it tomorrow. I know I should worry about it now, but I really don't have the energy.

Finding a new place to live sucks. Especially right now, when I've just gotten away from being out of work and I'm still not making very much. Can't afford to put a new security deposit down without getting the old one back, can't get the old one back until you've moved out. I don't have many things, so I suppose I could just crash with Maggie or Kate for a while, except I don't know how cool either would be about having Carter along. One houseguest who's trying to find a new place is a favor, but two is an imposition.

Sunday, June 06, 2004
Just weird for everyone
Wound up working a double-shift yesterday because someone was out with the flu. It seemed cruel to have to work all weekend, but the schedule has be off Tuesday and Thursday this week. Already, I miss the nine-to-five routine. Carter, meanwhile, isn't getting quite so many hours yet, since lord knows you have to wait and see whether someone can handle the awesome respoonsibility of scanning UPC symbols and handing products off to someone who puts them in plastic bags. A strange side-effect of our new menial jobs is that we're getting along a little better. Not only do we have a common nuisance to rail against, but the way our schedules are working out, we're not in each others' pockets so much. He's working all day today, but apparently the supermarket manager has him opening up a few days next week, which is fine with him - he's always been a morning person. Since I don't work at a place that serves breakfast, that's going to mean he's off to bed by the time I get home and out of the apartment by the time I wake up a lot. We get along, mostly, but it's a small place.

Today's shift was kind of strange, though. Right around three o'clock, when it usually starts to die down between the lunch and dinner crowds (or at least, that would make sense), I'm the only person standing up front when they walk in.

Wei. Jim. Kurt. And some blonde girl I've never seen before in my life.

Wei recognizes me first, and starts to turn around, but by the time Jim and Kurt have recognized me, they're already at the little podium thing with Gina asking how many there were and it's way too late to run away. So, I escort them to their table, ask if they'd like anything to drink, and pretend I haven't had sex with anybody at the table or that I don't remember being a guy and their close friend.

Of course, when I bring the drinks back, Wei decides to blurt something out. "So, Michelle, I thought you were..."

"Company got sued out of business when one of the employees was caught breaking his nondisclosure agreemtn, tried to shoot me to cover it up, but wound up killing his accomplice. So, are you ready to order?"

Everyone just stared. Wow, said Kurt, that's the weirdest thing that's ever happened to anyone I know.

"Oh, we know each other?" I figured, yeah, I probably just torpedoed any chance for a good tip there, but screw it. Even if waitstaff are allowed to work for less than minimum wage because we get tips, they still feel like someone giving money to those less fortunate souls who couldn't go to college, and I really didn't want charity from my old friends. "I guess it wasn't true love, after all."

Jim said, hey, that's not fair; what about that guy you were seeing?

"Shot." Sure, not a complete explanation, but succinct. They all looked stunned again.

I took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, that was unacceptable. It's... it's been a rough year and seeing you guys again... If you'd like, I could have them send over another waitress."

No, Wei said, they were ready to order. I wrote it down, but had Clark actually deliver it and some drink refills when it was ready. He was cool when I told him that Kurt was an old boyfriend. When it was time to come over to see if they wanted some dessert, I was a little more composed. They were fine, paid with a credit card, and left.

Which would have been a relief, except that when I was clearing the table, I saw that they'd scribbled a $50 tip in for $50 worth of food. So now I feel like a complete charity case.


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