Transplanted Life
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Wei's Wedding Stuff, prelude
Just a few minutes before leaving for Wei's wedding. I have to say I'm glad she's having it in the city; it's evidently more difficult to book a church, but I've gone to weddings in the suburbs where you have to find a bed and breakfast, rent a car, and all sorts of nuisance. And that's on top of wearing rented pants. And a heat-absorbing black tuxedo on what is inevitably the hottest weekend of the summer.

Today? Green dress which goes from my bust to my knees using about the same amount of material as the pants in a tuxedo. It's a nice day, but the heat should be more bearable, and it's not like I have to do pictures or anything - straight from the church to the air-conditioned reception hall.

I kind of wish I was a bridesmaid, though. Wei was one of my best friends in my old life, and maybe if I'd come clean with everyone earlier I would be. But back then, I was still under the impression that I might turn back and the whole Kurt thing was at its most soap-operatic.

Speaking of Kurt and not being in the wedding party, I did go to the rehearsal dinner last night. Kurt was there, along with a bunch of folks I/Martin hadn't seen since college or since they decided to leave the world of us single people alone. I didn't actually attend the rehearsal, since I had to rush to get from work to the restaurant in time, but it was kind of surreal. Wei's friends and family assumed I knew Jim, while Jim's figured I knew Wei, and only a few people recognized me as an ex-girlfriend of Kurt's, thus thinking my presense was "odd" but not "weird". David was there, too, but he didn't seem to recognize me. Just as well; I'm not really into causing scenes.

I didn't talk about who I actually was - Kurt more or less steered clear of me, and while I suppose I could have introduced myself to people beyond my first name, yesterday and today are Wei's time, and if some girl told me that she had the mind (or at least memories and some of the personality) of a man I once knew, I'd sort of be distracted from the whole wedding thing? Well, at least I would have been before experiencing it first person.

But it's cool. While doing the thanks to family and friends, she mentioned her "friend Martin, who has undergone some trials but is here in spirit", which was kind of cool, and I suppose technically accurate.

Thursday, September 02, 2004
Home alone
My roommates are out on a date tonight. It's a weird sort of stealth date, since if they meet anybody they know, it's not a date, it's a couple friends hanging out. I'm not sure how wide they're keeping that closet door open; if someone asks them point-blank if they're seeing each other, do they lie? Do they expect me to lie? Because I don't want to.

I'm not sure how certain they are about everything. Carter, for example, has been practically doing a victory dance, like I was some sort of weak-willed wuss for not getting myself a girlfriend. I pointed out that Samantha's previous boyfriend was Dmitri, and she was probably using him to get off the streets. It's thoroughly possible that she was a lesbian to start with. Heck, it might be a part of why she ran away from home. Carter doesn't want to hear that, of course. But I notice Maureen hasn't quite asked her to move into the other bedroom on a nightly basis.

So I'm sitting at home alone, doing chores. Laundry, writing the checks for my portion of the rent and utilities, tidying some stuff up, doing all that while watching the Sox finish a sweep of the Angels.

Random observation: The folks at EarthLink are the most polite cold-callers I've dealth with. Sure, being telemarketers makes that a heck of a sliding scale, but they hung up just as soon as I said "no thank you" midway through their second sentence.

Doug's left town already, heading for his friend's bachelor party. Wei's not having a bachelorette party, since her grandparents have the family booked solid. It's not like she's not already up a wall with her wedding in two days, but she's able to handle that sort of thing; really, she's amazing. If I ever get married, it'll be a ten-minute affair with a barbecue for a reception, but I'm not like most girls. Wei's not doing anything extravagent, but there's still a million details which I'm apparently not quite close enough with ner to help with, but she's on top of them.

Well, think I'll tuck in early; afternoon shift tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
"So, how was your weekend?"
Finally got Maureen to come out of her shell at the dinner table tonight. We were just sitting there, saying nothing, until she asked how my weekend was. "OK. I gather it was hot here."

"Yeah, pretty unbearable at times. Couldn't have been much better in Florida."

I said that Nat and I spent most of our time inside air-conditioned buildings and cars, hoping to hear back from my mother after visiting her, but no dice.

"Well, at least you got it out. I mean, just the thought of telling my parents that I'm... that I'm..."


"Yeah." She pushed her pasta around her plate a little before continuing. "I mean, what are they going to think? They're not nasty bigots who hate gay people, but they probably wouldn't want their daughter marrying one."

"You're still their little girl, though. I'm sure that they'll come around."

"Maybe. You know what the funny thing is? When you did your coming-out thing, I was relieved, because I'd had such a crush on you, and if you were really a guy inside, maybe I was just picking up on that, right? But that didn't explain Sam, or Mary..."

"Mary, your old roommate?"

"Yeah. That's why the apartment opened up so suddenly; that night I kissed you--"


"You were pretty out of it, so I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't remember; I had to load you into a cab after your last day at BioSoft. I had to be pretty tipsy, too, since that's the first time I actually acted on one of those urges. Anyway, I told Mary about it a month or so later, and she just got all disgusted and said she thought she knew me and didn't feel safe living with me.

"Didn't feel safe! What, exactly, did she think I was going to do? I mean, sure, I kissed another girl once when I was drunk, and I told Mary because ever since then I'd really been aware of noticing her, but does that make me dangerous?"

I asked if she'd tried talking to Mary since, and she said she had, but considered herself lucky that Mary hadn't just told everybody she knew, including her folks. She knew she had to tell her parents and her other friends sometime, but wanted to do it on her own terms like I did.

She says it's weird, though, that "going out" with "Sam" was different than with guys, that once she decided to accept her orientation, she had to start categorizing women she met. Potential friend, potential girlfriend; she'd never really had guy friends, so this was a new experience.

Then she apologized, that what she's going through is nothing compared to my life. But I disagree; it's pretty brave of her to not just go into denial and make herself miserable. I mean, I can't exactly pretend not to be a woman, but she could lie to herself.

She supposes so, and she likes Sam/Carter, but it's scary to her. I tell her I know the feeling, and we sit down to watch the Sox game.

(And, boy, do I wish I had the Extra Innings package, so we could jump back and forth to the Yankee pummelling. It's a race!)

Monday, August 30, 2004
Well, Maureen got back just fine, but didn't want to talk last night. That's fine; she doesn't owe me anything, and if she wants to open up, she will when the time is right.

So. The weekend. There was actually a driver with a little sign waiting for me, although it took me some time to find it, since it was labeled "Hart". Folks reading: Do not change your name every few months. It leads to nothing more than confusion. Not that I regret any time I've done it, but it's a pain in the neck. If I ever decide to get married, I'm staying Martina Hart. Screw doing this again.

The Lincoln Town Car took me to a Tampa hotel, where Nat met me. She's huge. I knew this would happen, but I couldn't help but think that she's got three more months; how big is she going to be by the time she's ready to give birth? She does carry it well, and all the clichés about pregnant women looking raidant apply.

We got caught up in the hotel restaurant; she asked me how things were going with Doug, my friends, and my roommates (probably at the very moment those roommates were getting it on). I asked what her baby was going to mean for her career, and she said a lot of working from home, which wouldn't be too bad. Apparently her cell phone is her single most important piece of office equipment, and she can use that just as well anywhere. Then it was just idle chitchat until we headed to our rooms, knowing what we were planning for Saturday morning.

It was surprisingly easy to get dressed that morning. I'd been worrying about what kind of impression I was going to make, but sometimes when a situation one's been worrying about finally comes up, you just know what to do. In this case, it was baby-blue capris, closed-toe sandals and a white to that left my shoulders bare (aside from the two strappy things) but didn't reveal any cleavage. Truth be told, I looked more grown up than usual. Now that I think about it, it's mostly teenagers and college girls who usually go for the revealing thing, not because they're the only ones with the body for it, but because they're still getting used to it and showing off. Like someone I know.

Nat looked nice in her maternity dress, and tossed me the keys to the rental car. Made sense; I figure having that huge bulge in your lap must make driving uncomfortable, and I know my way to the place; I'd been there a couple times in my past life. We pretty much rode in silence until I turned off into the development, parking in an open visitor space. We locked the car and headed to the Hartle place, where Nat rang the bell.

Mom opened it, and I just stared. She hadn't changed; she still had the same hairstyle as the last time I saw her a year and a half ago, didn't seem any grayer or more wrinkled or anything like that, and her back was still straight. She looked at us, saw Nat was pregnant, and invited us to come in and sit down without even asking what we were there for until we were in her living room.

"Well, Mrs. Hartle, my name is Natalie Tartakovsky, and I'm from Seattle--"

"Do you have news of Martin?"

I let Nat do the talking. "Yes. I suppose the best thing I can do is show you." She reached into her large-but-stylish purse and pulled out a scrapbook. "The first entry, as you can see, is in October." When Mom looked up from the scrapbook curiously, Nat blushed. "I'm kind of, you know, sort of a person of interest to parts of the local media. They like to get pictures of the single blonde twenty-five-year-old daughter of a local multi-millionaire, for some annoying reason."

My mother reached the point where the clippings started to be about "Martin" being missing and closed the book; she'd probably heard about this stuff from the local FBI office. "So your saying that my Martin is your baby's father?"

"Yes and no. It's complicated, which is why my friend is here."

Mom turned her gaze to me. "I didn't catch your name?"

I hadn't offered it, and now that the time had come, I could only whisper "Martina Hart".

Mom sat up a little straighter, but didn't get excited. "Now that is a peculiar coincidence. Assuming it is a coincidence, of course. I'd ask if you'd had some sort of operation, but you don't look anything like my son. So just who are you?"

"I..." I cleared my throat and started again. "Last year, in mid-July, someone did something - the FBI thinks it was something added to the drink - so that the contents of this body's brain switched with the contents of Martin's while he slept. When I woke up the next morning, I was in a room I didn't recognize and I was a girl and there was a note saying not to tell anyone..." I let it trail off like the rest should be obvious.

"Are you saying you're my son?" The look on her face was raw disbelief.

"At the very least, I remember being him. There's some things about me that seem to be more the result of hormones and brain chemistry and structure and stuff, but, yes, for the most part, I'm Martin. That's why I legally changed my name after everything started blowing up this spring, because calling myself 'Michelle Garber' didn't seem right any more."

My mother turned to look at Nat. "This isn't funny."

"No, it's not. I had to find out that the father of my child, the man I was going to marry, was some kind of wraith or something, who had been pulled out of his comatose body by his son - who's older than I am! - and used that body as a stepping stone to get to your son's because apparently the whole switcheroo thing doesn't work between members of the same sex, and then lied to both of us to keep us from asking questions. Your son had to learn how to be a woman without any help, and she's done an amazing job of it. You should be proud."

"Proud? That's not my son--"

"Then who is? The guy who ran off on me? Is that what you want from a son?"

"Natalie, please." She stopped shouting when I put my hand on her shoulder and let me talk. "I know I'm not your son. I mean, look at me; I can't lay much of a claim to be anybody's son. And that's even without you knowing that I've got a boyfriend. But it's important for you to know that the person who abandoned his fiancée and unbord child - your first grandchild, at least by blood - isn't your son either. And if he comes to you for money or help hiding from the FBI, you can't trust him, because you don't mean anything to him."

"But I mean something to you?"

"I love you. Even if this isn't the body you gave birth to thirty years ago, you raised what's inside it. If you want to prove something - and you should, because what we're saying is complete science-fiction until you're in the middle of it - you can ask me anything and I will know, no matter how obscure it is."

And she did. Oh, she did. Everything from how long I wet the bed to the girls I dated in high school to how we wound up choosing this place for her retirement. By the time we were done, and my description of Martin was far more familiar than Nat, Mom couldn't believe she was believing us

That did not, unfortunately, translate into wanting us to stick around. She said she knew I was the closest thing to her son there was, but she wasn't at all comfortable with my being comfortable with it. She didn't ask point-blank whether or not I'd been celibate for the past year, but she's not stupid. And I think that bugs her, especially since she had some comments about Alexei fathering a child out of wedlock. My mother is older than those of many of my contemporaries, and is kind of conservative about such things. After a few hours, she stiffly thanked us for bringing everything to her attention and took down Nat's and my contact information.

We waited around Sunday morning, hoping for her to call us at the hotel, but even though we waited to check out until the last minute, she just wasn't ready yet. I'm trying not to be disappointed, but it hurts - you grow up expecting your parents to love you no matter what, and the fact that there's doubt in my mind right now hurts.

Sunday, August 29, 2004
Now, I suppose I "should" be writing about what happened this weekend, and I will, tomorrow, when I can hopefully see it in my head and think about it and what it means for long enough to really have coherent thoughts and analysis on the subject as opposed to right now, when any attempt to think about another subject invariably winds up with the image that hit me when I got back tonight and brought my stuff into my room.

That image, of course, being Maureen on Carter's bed and Carter on top of her.

I immediately got flustered and backed off, although not without banging my things against the doorframe enough to attract their attention. When she came out a minute later, Maureen's face was much redder than her hair, and she stammered that she needed to get some things from the store because even if we're not out we could probably use more.

Carter, on the other hand, was just lying on her bed in her bra and panties, smiling. Marty old boy, he says, it is so good to know that even after everything, the ladies still want me.

I'm still kind of in shock at this point, so I ask how long...

Well, she says, Mo and I have been hanging out together a lot, doing stuff together while you're off doing your thing with your friends and boyfriend, and I was thinking how cute she was, but it wasn't until you and Nat headed down to Florida for the weekend that she made any mention of... you know. And she was all apologizing afterward, saying that she didn't have much experience with guys, let along with girls. I told her it was okay, because I do know how to please a woman, and she could learn from me.

I said something about having no idea and Carter said, yeah, she doesn't exactly scream dyke what with all the pink and the family bible and all. I stiffened a little bit at the language, and asked if she was just being vulgar or whether this was like the n-word, where it's apparently okay to use within the group but a slur if someone else uses it. Carter was all "what do you mean..." for a second until she realized that, yeah, someone could throw that word at her now, too.

While she was quiet for a second, I asked if they were just experimenting or if this was, well, a thing. She asked why it had to be either, and I said that even if Maureen likes girls, she still is one, and even if Carter didn't have the mindset yet, she'd had enough experience with them to have some knowledge of it. Carter said she didn't know, since it was still early, and I said okay, fine, have you told her?

I totally know that I was sounding like her mother or something here, and I said as much, but let's face it, if Carter was going to be intimate with Maureen, well, secrets hurt, and I know that from experience. Carter said she hadn't, yet, but it was certainly something to think of. Then she changed the subject by asking be about my weekend.

So, anyway, that was an hour of trying to write about the weekend ago, and Maureen's still not back. I'd ring her cellphone if I hadn't seen it sitting on the kitchen counter fifteen minutes ago. I don't know why she's so embarrassed; it's not like I'm in any position to judge her harshly.

I'll get to my visit with "mom" later; now I've got to crash so that I can handle a day-shift tomorrow.


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