Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Weird and exciting and exhausting, Part I
I'm still processing this weekend. I mean, wow, it's the kind of thing I'd like to be spread out a little more, you know? Getting confronted with Michelle in her new body and meeting her mother and seeing the place where she grew up should be, like, separate events or something. I feel like my heart skipped a beat sometime Saturday and didn't quite start again until I got back off the bus at South Station this evening. The whole holiday weekend just seems surreal.
So, where to begin? I got off the bus in Montpelier Saturday night at about ten-thirty, and I don't know where to look for Telly, since I'm in a new city. It turns out he's ten minutes late, and he's driving a pickup truck, which makes me think, oh, god, are Michelle's family truck people? Telly didn't seem like a truck guy. I'm just thinking random stuff like that, and that in order to get to the bus on time I barely had time to throw stuff in a suitcase, let alone change, so when Telly gets there I tell him to wait while I head to the lady's room so I don't have to meet Michelle for the first time since two years ago (almost to they day) with no makeup and my hair a mess and wearing kind of ratty jeans and a sweatshirt. It just wouldn't seem right to look like I've been letting things slide, but at the same time, I was kind of worried about not flaunting that I had Shelley's rightful body and, damn, I made it work.
So I changed, getting into some nicer slacks, and a sweater, washing my face and pinning my hair back. Then it was into the truck, and for the first fifteen minutes, Telly and I didn't say anything. We were stopped at a traffic light when I finally asked, so, how is she?
"He," he says. "My big sister's a guy now. Because, you know, the mind-switching thing--"
"--apparently only works between members of the opposite sex."
"Yeah. Anyway, he's... It's weird. I've only spent a few hours with him, and it's like talking to the brother I never had most of the time, and then something in the room will catch his eye, and he'll be all gushy about playing field hockey in high school or some girly shit like that."
"So, he's not mad at me or anything?"
"No, he was excited when I said we should call you, because he said as far as he knows, you two are the only people who have been like this for so long and you should compare notes. He seems really excited to meet you again."
And he was. We got to the door just before midnight, and I'm no sooner inside than this guy picks me up and hugs me, kisses both my cheeks and then sets me down. I admit, I maybe stumble just a little bit - it's unexpected and he is, like, really hot. I'm not usually one to judge guys physically, but, damn - he's six foot two, close-cropped blond hair, all muscle, and quite handsome. Almost Nordic, really. Anyway, he has his hands on my shoulders for a second and says, damn, I was hot. You forget, seeing a different face in the mirror for two years and remembering all the self-doubt anhd worry.
See, Telly says, not mad.
Oh, I was for a while, he said, don't get me wrong. At first I was mad at how quickly you'd acclimated, and it was crazy because they just left me in this small village in Ukraine where almost nobody spoke English. This girl whose ambition was to be a mail-order bride wound up befriending me so she could learn the language. It was a good deal; I taught her my language, she taught me hers, and I wound up learning that being a man wasn't so bad, either.
And I'm like, yeah, it's amazing how fast that starts to come naturally, and she's like "I know", and we realize that we're going to get along just in time for her mother to come out.
About Mrs. Garber... You can sort of tell that when she was younger, she might have been fighting guys off with a stick if she'd been inclined to fight them off. She keeps herself in decent shape for a woman of about fifty; there's exercise equipment scattered around the little house, and even if it's not used enthusiastically, I can still see hints of where my figure comes from. But you look her in the eyes, and it's pretty clear that this is not a woman who engaged in much restraint in her youth. She drank, and smoked, and probably other things, and her skin and her voice reflect it. Geena Davis, she ain't.
So, she says, I see you two are getting along. I guess you might as well. Then she stumbles off to bed, her obligation to look at us met.
It's left to us to figure out sleeping arrangements. Shelley's and Telly's old rooms are still pretty much as they left them when they moved out, so I say I'll sleep on the couch, at which point Shelley says that he may have only been a man a couple of years but he knows better than that. He's already gotten some blankets from the closet, so it was apparently decided beforehand.
I don't sleep much. Shelley says moving out hadn't been something planned - she had just reached a point where she couldn't stand her mother and left. Which means there are still posters on the wall and a photocollage from Shelley's high school days and a little field hockey trophy and some other mementos. It's almost impossible to get to sleep with all these little pictures of this younger me whose life was lived by someone else, and the room... I feel like such a total interloper, in the house, in the room, in the body. It must be four o'clock before I get to sleep.
Which I can't do tonight, unfortunately - I've really got to show up early to finish up my last week of work in two days, so I'll try to finish this up tomorrow.
Mrs. Garber and your mother should start a support group. But how the heck do you name it without giving the National Enquirer a field day?Post a Comment