Sunday, August 31, 2008
At what age do most people with normal lives stop making a big deal out of their birthdays?
I ask this, of course, because among the many, many days where I didn't write anything here this summer was July 18th, which marked five years of Martina, even if I didn't realize who I was or use that name at first. It didn't go completely unobserved - even if Kate and I were in Montreal at the time, there was a party when we got back home, which was fun and all.
It sent me into a bit of a funk, though. It's lasted much of the summer, too nebulous to put into words for the most part, and what I've finally started to credit it too seems both obvious and overly simplistic.
I'm getting older.
We all are, of course, but it's still kind of a shock for me. When the contents of my mind was placed in Michelle's body, it felt like getting five years younger in a lot of ways, and there's something exciting about that. And for a long time, I would think of myself as a twenty-nine year-old man in a twenty-four year-old body, even as time started passing. Now that I've caught up, it's time to assess things somewhat, and I'm not sure about where I stand.
Professionally, I've spent the last five years getting back to where Martin was before the switch. Everyone I know looks at it as an accomplishment, since they see it as someone who was a receptionist five years ago in a professional job with vacation and benefits and a good salary, but for me that's having been forcibly knocked down the ladder, and kind of a disappointment. We all have fantasies that if we could start afresh knowing what we knew now... Most of them involve being able to leapfrog something, which didn't happen for me.
In a way, I almost envy Amy with her clean slate. Bits of skills reappear, along with some random facts or unexpected instincts, but the disappointment isn't there. I know she's got her own demons, and I wouldn't want any part of those, but knowing is its own issue.
Another thing that reminds me that I'm not still the person who I became five years ago is, well, my physical flesh. This body will turn thirty this November 18th, and I'm hardly the first person to recognize that approaching thirty as a man and approaching it as a woman are two different things. I don't really mind the lines on my face, in part because I've come to accept that face a lot more; I'll even admit to being sort of pretty, if you like brunettes without much in the way of cheekbones. The laugh lines help. But I've been finding fewer opportunities to put on my bikini this summer. My butt's softer than it used to be, and my breasts are starting to sag in opposite directions, giving me that inverted-V cleavage should I wear a dress that I can't wear a bra with. I'm swimming twice a week rather than just on Wednesdays, and it's wearing me out a bit more.
Five years also makes me feel like I've failed Michelle somehow, not having answers for Telly about what happened to her mind. No-one really expects me to, and it's mostly Agent Jones and company that have the resources to look, but it's more personal for me, and I've failed.
Kate says I shouldn't worry about it, but this is her first time facing down the big three-oh, and she's pretty satisfied with her life. Me, I feel like everything in my life but her is running behind. (And don't get me started on the "subtle" hints my mother's been dropping about that!)