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Peaceful, easy-going. Spending time outside lounging where cool breezes prickled the skin into bumps in spite of the splashing caress of warm golden sun.
Whenever I do this now, I think of lolling on lounges with you.
Today I read, and the dogs frolicked here and there, snuffled in the cracks of the rocks, dug in the dust, chewed on the shrubbery.
A world of quiet contentment.
Marred by thoughts of packing, the travel, the inconvenience, taking away the precious bits of time I have left.
Whatever I end up doing, it will be perfect. With you.
So many emotions to choose from, yet what I manage to feel is mainly a numbness. Walk through this, get past it, endure. The weekend will be here and then color returns to the world, life begins to pulse once again. Emotion can be experienced once more.
I dreamed about this. In the dream I wandered the halls that are today broad and empty but in my dream they were filled with equipment, cables, people scurrying trying to assemble the stuff before the customer arrived. I picked my way carefully around, fretful. And, inevitably, noticed I was completely naked.
Weariness fits my bones like hosiery, choking off movement. The day began too early and ended too late. Dinner crouches in my belly, glowering.
We're behind, of course, on everything, as we knew we would be. All my careful planning told me we would be because my planning required execution and no one was around to execute. New plans, then, the ones that shout "fire" and then flail madly at the flames, heedless of the burns.
We'll pull it off. It will be painful, but we will manage it.
God help us, please let us win this.
Cats herded! I shouted. Fish seized! And yet, I lamented, the day wears on, work still to be done, pressure mounting. Every obstacle knocked over reveals a larger behind it. My instincts are to turn from it, find a different way, different pursuits. I'd rather idle away my time, letting things happen as they will without my direction.
So tempting to just make pretty drawings of the room layout, or plan the seating. Tempting to research video equipment and ignore the need for a detailed schedule.
I'm logging into my remote computer to run Project now.
I tried to sleep. Deliberately got a window seat to snug up against the side of the plane. Pillowed my sweater. Turned off the blast of cold air, pulled the shade.
The legendary Perpetually Screaming Baby invaded my attempt. In my hazy not-dreams I envisioned rising, an appropriately modulated level of wrath painting streaks of pulsing red in my voice ,telling the embarrassed parents that the child was not misbehaving, the child was in pain, so no amount of saying "shh" would do it.
A murmured clucking was all I could manage as I burrowed into my sweater.
What an extraordinarily fun night! Tab at that venue is amazing enough, but last night took it to new levels. Q grows ever more fascinated. Young W continues to helicopter. I now know so many, so comfortably, and all seem happy to encounter me. New faces appear, others wanting to introduce me to them, like I am some prize to be desired by all.
I asked Q to walk me to my car, which was a distance away. He laughed with delight at the invitation. We snogged, and he pushed a little. I still held him off.
Yes. Good. That's it. You know what to do. Put it into practice. It will grow easier each time. This one has allure and it's a shame if it doesn't pan out, but there are so so so many more, all with equal, if not more allure. Truly nothing to lose. Truly.
But for me? Ever less interest in J, but J acquires ever more need for me. I learn more about his frustration. There is in me a desire to help. Not from love -- no. Affection. But the investment has too high a price.
Her birthday approaches. Wednesday. She frets as she stares at one of those milestone years. She thinks she found gray hair. She sees lines on her face.
I still see her curled up on my stomach and chest, thumb tucked into rosebud lips, fine gold down fuzzing her scalp.
Let her not grow bitter. Let her ever find a sense of wonder and wisdom in everything she encounters, even a gray hair that speaks not "age" but "experience."
I weep, for want of her near. As frustrating as her path is to me, I miss her bright spark.
It sounds like a trite aphorism, and yet it is something I know to be true. We must have pain in order to know joy. The pain I feel at thought of losing even a part of you, for even a period of time, serves to show us both how deeply embedded within me you have become.
Know this: the love I have for you has tendrils that twine about every part of me. It can not go away. I say this, not to bind you, but to free you. You will not lose me.
My mind is focused elsewhere. I keep forgetting to do this. Looks like a few of you others do too.
The days are full, here. I start early. I stay busy. I end late. I almost skipped going to dinner with the team, but decided to go. Half regretted it as the managers had arrived. That put a level of srutiny on me.
"What are your travel plans," they want to know, "for the duration?"
Yes, well, see, I'm ditching you at the last moment to go party with my lover and his girlfriend.
Think that'll fly?
I am being punished. It occurs to me that a prime version of Hell is an eternity in the minutiae of a government contractor's finance system.
I needed to get quick turnaround on equipment for the event. Last time I'd tried to process things that cost less than a grand through the proper channels, the admin crankily told me to just charge it on the corporate card. I questioned her. She reaffirmed it was ok.
Apparently she was wrong. Or her answer was only for very specific charges, not what I was doing.
I am buried in forms.
You're a big hearted guy. I like you. But no connection for me.
Sure I had an initial rush of interest. I wish it had stayed, but it didn't. Don't get me wrong; I like you. I'd love it if we can stay friends. We'll see each other at meetups and such. I'm still willing to give advice on Burning Man, such as I can. Put you in touch with my friends from last year too.
The romantic part, though. I can't support that. I just don't have time in my personal life to grow this relationship.
I saw groups of them, small at first. And I paid them no attention. At first. As I stood in line waiting for my frozen coffee drink they began to impinge on my consciousness. A larger group of them were near me. They were uncharacteristically quiet, but it didn't comfort me. These are natural predators and they are capable of emitting the most painful levels of sound, which they use as one of their offensive weapons to paralyze their prey.
I edged away, and went back to my station. With fear I saw them following me. There were hundre...
Ah, sweet blessed day! Sure, it was cold, windy, rainy, blustery. Sure I had hoped for hot sunshine baking my skin into sublime submission. Didn't matter. I was home. Home! And all about me was filled with the joy of that fact.
I felt energized, and wonderfully relaxed. I looked forward to the night's event and prepared for it all efficiently, even though my efforts were all last minute.
So wonderful, being where I belong, being with good friends, and cuddling with my puppies again.
The coming week is still too distant for me to worry.
Blessed sleep. So comfortable, so relaxed, so deep. It was as though I'd not been sleeping for days.
In truth, I hadn't, so this sleep, and that of the prior night, was "catch-up" for me.
I had enjoyed last night, although would've enjoyed it more could I but speak. Being draped in black veil, and silent, using only gestures and body movements to communicate showed me how difficult it is to be mute in a world where everyone speaks with voices and inflections. I had only a few simple phrases I could convey.
Still. I feel good.
I accept what comes my way. I never look. Haven't looked. Or, if I have, it was silently, unaware.
I'd had plenty of offers way back in the past, but they were uninteresting to me back then. I have lots of offers now, but most are uninteresting. Only now a few of them are of interest. Somewhat. I don't want another puppy. If anything comes of any new interest, it must be handled carefully.
E told me he loves me. He's been reluctant to say that, but could not help himself this evening.
I care about him.
Four, although in my heart I've only three. Just need to formalize that.
I have and love my one, the first. I longed for, attained, have, and love my other, the second. Those two, for my heart's needs, are enough.
I began this truly to find a sometime companion. The third is dear to me. I value the time spent. The fourth never should have happened. It would hurt him, though, to hear it thus.
I'd not mind occasional, casual but sexy dates. I wonder if that's possible? They seem to come to need more.
I've longed for this upcoming thing for a year. My heart twisted up tight last year, wanting to be part of this, seeing the photos, the smiles, envy eating me. I am brim-full of joy, being part of it this year.
Timing is bad. I've lied to them, telling them it's my daughter needing me. Guilt eats at me, for I should be here in this wretched place, suffering, working.
The guilt will end once I see you. It will not be in my universe when we dance and drink and astound.
It will return.
Guilt. Anticipation. Fretting. Excitement and arousal. Anxiety. Need, hunger.
I should be there. I'm going instead to somewhere I need to be, have longed to be. I should be with the hardworking, boring people. I will instead be with someone exciting and wonderful and who I love.
Never mind the bullshit about work. It will happen whether I'm there or not. Or it will fail whether I'm there or not. It's just appearances and politics. It would matter if I cared. I don't. Dust off the rez.
Looking ahead: fur, feathers, sex and love.
Burn, baby burn.
Like that, the guilt, the concern falls away. His lean, hard-muscled self, grinning, eyes alight, wrapping his arms around me, pressing his mouth against mine, and nothing else mattered.
Things become simpler, zeroed in to a tight beam focus of breath and scent, light and fire within, mingled sweat and limbs. For those moments: a singularity.
Excitement lays ahead, and preparations look frantic but, from my project leader's experience, it will all fall together and what will be in place when it comes time is what it will be.
My furrst! A piece of the playa for me.
A day for memories. Heat and sweat and work. Then hazy golden sweat of a different sort: unscripted, unpracticed, yet wholly choreographed by the chemistry threading through us. As someone long ago told me, "When you find a part, you just know what to do with it."
And the moments, when eyes locked, and novels-full of words passed in the gazes.
Then later, the worry and exhaustion, until you appeared and were not happy. The uncertainty. The sorrow of things not yet written.
I had anticipated something like that. It did not take me by surprise.
Some usual travel annoyances popped up. Fly into one gate at one end of a building; the connection in another gate at another, far end of a building.
Rental shuttle delayed. Too many people crowd aboard, including an elderly couple, the last on, with far too much luggage, taking so long to cram in.
My name not on the premium board at the rental place. Wait behind the same couple, who argue they cannot afford the car, hoping the clerk will dicker.
Cold. Rain. I have my furr, but only a sweater otherwise.
But this is the final week.
A few hours of sleep, plus a few more. A day filled with activity, herding angry, hissing cats whose tails are being trod continually.
Nothing I hadn't expected, all within my realm of capabilities to handle. Even soothing the cats. They fortunately respond well to humor.
Amidst this, an email trail. Boss's boss wants a report. Boss hands packet to my former partner, pointing her to my source material; he is out on travel, and I am swamped with the customer thing. Asks her to step up to it, to help.
She sends it to me to fill in.
Day one was successful, overall. The minor glitches were smoothly handled. The team performing the demo were practiced, knowledgeable.
Day two, they fear, will not progress as well. They experienced too many issues during the dry runs. The team presenting are not as knowledgeable, not as practiced and, indeed, one is terrified of presentations.
Sometimes I feel it is good to put a scared engineer in front of the customer. This kind of customer does not expect polish -- they suspect it, in fact. Fumbling a bit looks good.
Fumbling a lot? Not so good.
The managers were jittery. The day had bigger glitches in it. One of the engineers, the nervous, prissy one, thinks it was a disaster. Well, okay, the problems occurred during his presentation, and he was the least prepared among them. He knew this, and that caused even more problems for him.
I think anyone who is expected to get up in front of a customer needs to be required to take acting lessons. Not learn over time, not take speech classes, but acting lessons.
I also think at least one member of a pursuit team needs to take courses on reading micro-expressions. Wish I had.
There's a party tonight at the offices of our partners. They are a smaller business, and don't have the rules we have. That, and they've a European corporate parent. Alcohol's kind of the rule for them. I heard they have beers in their vending machines.
And a group photo taken by some of the equipment as a critical number appeared on the test monitor. Thumbs up, hoo-ray, smiles all around, good job everyone.
We're still milling about, waiting for the customer to finish their meeting.
Kind of a let down now. Wish I was home.
Thank god. I'm home. My puppies love me. I have my stuff around me. Thank god.
He picked me up at the airport. Remember how I'd told you he took the car to have the brakes fixed? So they'd be safe for when you and I take it to our thing?
He left me alone for a bit and I got a few things organized. Then he returned, and we went out to a bluegrass concert. It was fun. I liked the music. I enjoyed the people-watching even more. Who knew goth punkers and bikers enjoyed bluegrass?
He's such a genuinely nice guy. He's so ... not right for me. He texted me. What time? I told him a time, gave me a chance to get some stuff done, gird my loins, whatever. Then he texted again. Want me to spend the night? He winked.
Good god no!
I didn't say that, simply said I was too lagged, needed good rest. He understood. Thanks, he said, for being honest.
And that's how the break-up went. I told him. He looked somber. He thanked me for being honest.
More of the break-up.
Anticlimactic, but predictable. As I said, he thanked me for my honesty. We talked a lot, and he didn't beg or cry or ask why, or what he could do different. He understood, he said. He'd thought something was up, he said.
He stayed to help me with my gear anyway. We chatted idly as we worked, hosing playa dust off of the tent, vacuuming a rug, making sure the lights worked.
Took him out to dinner to thank him for his help. We talked more. He has lots to say. It's not very deep, but it's honest.
The last day is the first day.
Since it's the last day of the month, the little "advent feature" stops working so I cannot see the unfinished batches. That's annoying, although I realize that some people have not been around to finish up the last few days' worth. They'll get to it in time.
It's the first day for me. The first day back at home in my normal office, after several months of being either across the parking lot, or across the country.
It feels strange. And dull. Blessedly dull.
Taking the week off, I am. Why not?
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