Transplanted Life
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
With so many of my friends married or otherwise coupled, there's no big Halloween thing going on this year for me to participate in. Heck, since Jen's historically been the one that throws the parties, that's sort of in limbo while she tends to her baby. And then there's the whole deal where going out so soon after (effectively) breaking up feels wrong. The folks I would normally hang in lacking a significant other are all busy: Kate's got a Tuesday evening class, Gertie is dealing with more drunk college students than usual, Mags has a new boyfriend, and I haven't spoken to Telly in what seems like months. That's why I wound up spending the night on the couch, having myself a little Takashi Miike film festival to celebrate Halloween, pausing it on the rare occasion when some munchkin neighbor rang the doorbell to yell "trick or treat!"

That's kind of fun, actually. The apartment doesn't have an outside door, so it's generally really little kids whose parents don't want them out on the streets. They probably barely know what's going on, but they understand free candy. Happy kids are great. Also, you can feel like you've dressed up for Halloween even though your entire costume consists of a robe and a hat. I don't want to make that too much of a pattern - opportunities to deck oneself out in something crazy sexual just for walking down the street and have people approve don't come every day, and one would be a fool not to take advantage of them. But little kids are awesome too. I can't wait to see what sort of pictures Nat sends me of little Marty.

Arg. Tangents. That's what happens when you try to get something down while your thoughts are fresh despite it being late and wine having been consumed. Or, indeed, because of them - I have a sneaking suspicion that if I don't get this down now, then there will be details missing tomorrow morning.

Anyway, it was about nine-thirty and I had just put Gozu into the DVD player (insert Kate's joke about that being an apt choice for me here) when there was a knock at the door. I was kind of surprised, since it had been an hour since the last kid and I was calculating how much swimming I would have to do to counteract all those leftover peanut butter cups, but I went up to answer it.

I didn't recognize the girl at first - she was in a nurse costume, holding her shoes in her hand, crying. "I can't walk in these. I keep trying, because there are so many pairs like them in my closet, and I'm getting better, but they just feel wrong."

Then it clicked. "Amy?"

But she barely heard me. "I failed two of my midterms, and my parents say I've never failed a test in my life. I knew I was going to, because I'd been doing so bad in the classes, but I just figured it would come like in my other classes. My psych classes, for instance - even though I couldn't remember taking the prerequisites, I knew everything I needed to; it all came so easy

"And I can do other things. My friends and I were coming back from Salem Saturday night, and I was the designated driver. The roads were slick from all the rain. We were almost in three accidents, but I avoided them each time like nothing, and Annie says that I could barely parallel-park last spring.

"And tonight, my friends and I were at this party, and even though this costume seemed so cool while I was picking it out and trying it on in front of the mirror, as soon as I walked into the fraternity, I just panicked, and I couldn't stand the idea of any of them looking at me, so I just ran! That when I remembered I had you guys' address in my purse, so I just kept walking here."

I put my hand on her shoulder, and she hugged me like she'd blow away otherwise, burying her face into my breasts and crying. I patted her back a little awkwardly, and suggested we maybe move into the apartment. I was pretty sure at this point that she wasn't Korpin - it's one thing to fake crying, but this girl was shaking.

As I closed the door, she looked at the paused TV and pressed play on the remote. "I can't understand any of this."

I refrained from saying something about no-one really understanding Miike, because that's clearly not what she meant. "Amy's bilingual."

"You heard my mom - she barely speaks any English. I've supposedly learned both English and Japanese since birth. So why would my brain block one and not the other? It just doesn't make any sense!"

Yeah, I said, I know. I told her to stay calm - that even if you can't remember who you are, you're not just a blank. You've got likes and dislikes and skills and weaknesses and a personality, you just have to trust yourself to let it come out. You can be yourself if you just don't worry about being yourself.

She thought that sounded fine as far as it went, but I hadn't started as a completely blank slate. It made her worried - did any of the other cases I knew about involve memory loss? None that I knew about, I said, but I suppose it could explain why we haven't heard from the original Michelle Garber in almost three years now.

Of course, Amy's not entirely convinced that she actually had the whole mind-switch thing going on; she wants some way to prove it, but doesn't want to deal with the FBI. I point out that it severely limits our options, but that I knew some people. I'll make some calls when I get up tomorrow... Well, later today, I guess.

I'm assuming, of course, that she really does have amnesia and it's not just some ego thing, where she can't admit to someone else either that she's a guy in a girl's body or that as a guy she can't handle some girl stuff, or just doesn't want anyone figuring out who she is because of how embarrassing the whole situation can be. I hope that's the case, because amnesia just makes things more complicated even if it makes all of us trying to figure out what's going on jump through hoops that might not be necessary.

Selfishly, at least I've got something to occupy my time with.

Monday, October 30, 2006
Neither of us admits it openly...
... but it's over. We spent the weekend packing Alex's things to put into one of those Door-2-Door boxes - which was, of course, outside in the driving/pouring/miserable rain, with the help of his roommates. I think he's trying to keep all his options open, because he never made any remarks about me doing anything to bring us closer together. He doesn't say "you only have to say the word", he doesn't say Austin is a decent market for IT work, or that the Alamo could replace the Brattle for my offbeat movie house needs.

It's because, I think, neither of us wants to make the move that sets a break-up off. We're taught that such things are awful, that they mean we've failed somehow. That once you've committed to saying "I love you" in the present tense, you've also obliged yourself to the future tense. Or that being in a relationship is so natural, that once one has started, it should just gain momentum like a stone rolling down a hill, and if something happens to stop that momentum, you must have screwed up, especially if you can't identify any one part of it that is obviously doomed from earlier on.

I don't think that's the case. I think the experience of being in a good relationship is so good at the time - and it really is, having that kind of trust and closeness and somebody with whom to share the things we love - that when it falls apart for whatever reason, we try and recreate that, assuming that we know enough from one big break-up to keep it from happening again. It resets not just our goals, but our expectations.

I might be kind of lucky, in that I've been able to have my expectations re-reset, but with the experience to recognize that that's what's happening. Three years ago, I knew sod-all about dating as a woman, and I think it's helped me to realize that we never truly stop learning how to do this. Every relationship is a learning experience, and not every one is going to have the potential to last forever and ever. Point-blank, Alex and I don't have what it takes to work around this obstacle. That's just how it is, and I'm good with that. The past few months haven't been wasted; they've just been what they were, no more, and no less.

Of course, I haven't delivered this speech to Alex. I don't want to say "you're not worth uprooting my life for", even if it's the literal truth. He doesn't want to say "you're not worth staying for". I know it's the truth, but I know it will hurt to hear it. So we do what reasonable people do instead - we spend Saturday and Sunday night having great good-bye sex, with visits to favorite shops, restaurants, theaters, and the like in between. We resolve to exchange emails, and we all know full well that sometime, maybe next month or maybe next year, we'll each use those emails to say we've met someone new, we don't want to compare this new person to each other... It's just different, and this is easier, and I hope you'll like him/her when you meet.

And I'm good with that. I hope he meets someone nice. My ego would just prefer it not be tomorrow.


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