Real Life 2

Liz sighed. She hadn’t seen her grandpa in years, and he really wasn’t in the best of health. She realized she should probably go see him, but she also just really didn’t feel like it. But she finally got around to it. At least one last time before he died. Honestly, she was incredibly selfish and really should have done this before now.

Sitting in the BART on the way to Oakland airport—flying Southwest, of course—she tried to figure out the order in which she’d have to contort her gender presentation to minimize conflict. She had managed to change the gender on her passport, literally right before Trump came into office, so she figured she was fine wearing a skirt through security. But her grandpa was kind of conservative—like, he was in his nineties—not to mention he watched a bunch of Fox News. She wasn’t exactly out to him. Not to mention all the weird-ass loser uncles that she barely knew. How bad did you have to be doing in life to move back in with your parent at sixty?

Honestly, she hated Idaho just in general. Goddamn fat white Midwesterners in a Walmart who gawked at anyone who was visibly different. She didn’t even mean herself—she hadn’t been there since transitioning. But last time they went everyone stared at her mom, like they had never seen an Asian person before. Maybe they hadn’t. She wasn’t sure whether to be glad or angry that she mostly just looked white to people.

Idaho was weird, anyway, at least to someone who grew up in the LA area. All these fields and barns that were slowly being devoured by minimalls and chain restaurants. She knew the result, just not the process. Her grandparents had wanted her to go to Boise State but she just straight-up refused. It was definitely for the best.

Not that Berkeley wasn’t annoying in its own ways. All these fucking cis lesbians who’ve convinced themselves that they’re SO GREAT about trans issues but will jump on how terrible penises are at a moment’s notice. Fucking “Allies.”

Anyway, so back to what she had been thinking about. God, she got distracted way too easily. So to get through this security, she better look female. But she better look male by the time she got to her grandpa’s house.

Also, honestly, did they even have Uber in Idaho? Because she hardly wanted to make her ancient grandpa drive or to sit in a car with one of her weird uncles for half an hour.

She dicked around on her phone until the BART finally got to Coliseum, then switched to the shuttle. Honestly, this thing was so nice. It made her feel like she was in the future or something.

She got off at the airport and headed for the terminal. She tensed up in trepidation as she stepped into the scanner, but for once they didn’t pat her down. She wasn’t sure whether to be happy about that. It might’ve just meant they pressed the “male” button.

She sat around a while waiting for the flight. She was kinda hungry—she just ate a single, dry piece of bread for breakfast—but also she didn’t want to spend ten dollars on a shitty airport wrap.

Finally, they called her flight and she stood dutifully in line until she boarded. She loaded some stuff on BigCloset on her phone before the plane took off, but there was an old professor-y looking guy sitting right next to her and she didn’t feel comfortable reading it. Arguably it was super inappropriate and showed there was something deeply wrong with her for her to even consider reading what was basically porn in public. And she didn’t exactly want to risk getting an erection, not that that was especially likely.

A flight attendant came by and Liz just asked her for hot tea. She kind of had a headache (as usual). She absently noted that the attendant was pretty attractive but didn’t know what to make of that thought.

Finally, the plane landed. She got out into the airport, which was honestly nicer than she had been expecting. After thinking for a little bit, she went into the women’s bathroom with her luggage, and sat in a stall meant for disabled people—kind of shitty of her, unless you considered being trans a disability—took her bra off, and changed into jeans and a hoody. TBH she didn’t usually wear makeup anyway so that wasn’t really problem. She bet her nipples were going to get chafed, but there wasn’t much for it. Technically, the jeans were women’s but she bet no one would notice. Also she didn’t even own any boxers anymore but she figured that her panties looked enough like tighty-whities anyway. Just to be save, she changed into a white pair with an unadorned waistband. Finally, she fished a tie out of her purse and fastened her hair back in a low ponytail. After thinking about it a little more, she took out her wallet phone and put them her hoody pockets, then buried her purse in her luggage under some t-shirts. She winced as she straightened up and her phone fell out of the pocket and onto the floor with a loud smack. She picked it up and pressed the battery cover back on. It was fine, but she should really get around to getting a new one one of these days. Money, though. She just felt so guilty about spending it. Blame her parents.

Finally, she emerged from the stall. The few women in the bathroom—or people, she guessed she should say, for all she knew they were closeted trans people or nonbinary or something, she shouldn’t assume—didn’t seem to think anything of her being in there. She wasn’t really surprised by that. Normally she’d be happy about it, but with what she was going for it was maybe not a good sign.

She requested a Lyft on her phone—like a good liberal—and winced as she realized her account said “Elizabeth.” The driver didn’t question anything, just asked if she was Elizabeth when he pulled up. She tried to chat with him for a little bit but he didn’t seem into it, so she ended up just sitting there silently for the rest of the drive out of the city into the weird housing-development suburbs.

She kind of hated these newer suburbs. Like, she was used to suburbs—she grew up in the South Bay (the one in LA, not the Bay Area)—but these were just, like, aggressively annoying. All the streets were incredibly winding and named bullshit like “Falling Feather” and “Seven Oaks,” and for some reason there were a bunch of random ponds. All the houses somehow looked completely different and yet the same.

Finally they arrived. She swallowed. The house was familiar, despite her not visiting in years. Since before her grandma died. She lugged her luggage—wait, was that why it was called that?—out of the back seat and perfunctorily thanked the driver. Then she walked up, dragging her case, and rang the bell.


She had to ring several more times before she finally heard someone stirring. Finally, the door opened.

Her grandpa looked much older than when she had last seen him. She felt a sudden stab of guilt as she realized how stooped his posture was now.

He welcomed her, almost immediately deadnaming her. She tried not to let it get to her. It’s not like he knew any better. In the background, Fox News blared on a big screen TV, with a plush armchair conveniently positioned in front of it. As he led her to a guest room, one of her weird uncles walked by without really even trying to say anything to her. Honestly she wasn’t even really sure which one that was.

She honestly immediately felt depressed being here. She felt isolated. In a weird way it felt like she had never left.

That night, she ate overcooked mediocre steak with her grandpa sitting on the other side of the table. She swallowed her impulse to respond angrily as he vented about how all these goddamn Berkeley hippies were destroying this country, replying in noncommittal monosyllables. She was almost relieved when he somehow got onto the subject of how he served in World War II and proceeded to go on about it for far longer than necessary.

She basically did nothing the next day but watch cartoons on her grandpa’s cable. That was the one nice thing about being here. Her grandpa came by and pressured her to go with him to a gun show tomorrow. She replied noncommittally, knowing she would find some way to worm out of it by then. She just really wasn’t interested in that kind of stuff. A lot of the time she really felt like she just wasn’t at all the grandchild her grandpa wanted.

The days blurred together as she did almost nothing but watch TV and look at erotica on her phone. She had initially felt like five days sounded like forever, but she realized now that it was actually very short. She walked around a little bit and would’ve gotten lost in those goddamn winding roads if not for her phone. She and her grandpa went to a farmer’s market one day and a restaurant that her grandpa liked another day.

Finally, it was time to leave. Somehow, even though she had felt so guilty about not seeing her grandpa in so long, now that she had it felt kind of pointless. He didn’t really know her. Somehow, a relative she had grown up with was now more distant than a stranger. Was worse than a stranger at actually seeing her.

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