Tag Archives: travel

COVID Flying

I got on a plane last week to fly to Kansas (you can read about that in a prior post).  I was really nervous about it and wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing (safety-wise).  I’ve basically been barricaded in my apartment for the most part since the virus outbreak (aside from a weekend at Disney – which is cleaner than the grocery store), seeing only a handful of people.  It’s been like this since my office shut down back in early Spring and I started working from home.

Certainly, I’ve avoided small confined spaces with strangers like the plague (get it?) since this started, so getting onto this flying tube with a bunch of other random people did make me nervous.  But… I wanted to go.  I needed to see what would happen when I got there. I needed to know what it would FEEL like – this… thing… we’ve been flirting around with, off and on, for the last eighteen years. And when I get it in my head that I want to do something, I do it.  This does not always work out in my favor, granted.  But when I think something is important, I make it a priority – often putting myself at risk.

And anyway, in the middle of a pandemic when literally anything could happen, in a time that found us both unattached for, really, the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel like I had the time to waste… or to push it off.  Or at least there wasn’t the certainty that the opportunity would still be there when things became right again.

Still, because I am a planner, a prepper, whatever the hell you want to call it, he and I did take precautions.

I flew on Southwest, because (at least through November 30), they are leaving the middle seats open.  That doesn’t help a ton – because there’s certainly not six feet of distance between the two seats, but it helps some.  And it lowers the volume of people who are on each flight. 

At the time I chose direct flights – I thought if I were going to be exposed to people, it would be better to be exposed to the same group of people for that extended period  of time instead of meandering through random airports on a layover while I waited for another flight.  I am still not sure which is safer – it probably depends on where the layover is, how long it is, etc.  They say that prolonged exposure is more dangerous than short exposure, but they also say that walking through aerosols and touching surfaces isn’t great either – and I’m much more likely to come into contact with both of those things if I’m wandering around several airports than if I’m sitting, facing forward, on a plane.   And anyway, layovers are frustrating at the best of times.

I then decided to get an upgrade on masks.  After doing some research, I went with some masks from Masqd (www.masqd.com) because the reviews talked about how comfortable they are, how well they fit your face, and because many of them accommodate removeable filters.  I don’t know how well the filters work in comparison to masks without filters, but I wanted to make sure I had that option available if I went with it.  So I ordered three of their masks, and a box of their filters.  I’m happy to report that they really ARE as comfortable as they claim, that they really do fit my face (and I have a narrow face), and I could easily breathe through the filter – even if it did certainly increase the weight of the mask slightly.

I found a container of sanitizer wipes and also brought a bottle of hand sanitizer with me on the plane (TSA lets you carry those through now).  The plan was to wipe down everything before I touched it with my bare hands (like the seatbelt). 

The Professor and I talked about whether I should change and/or shower before I let him touch me after getting off the plane but ultimately we decided it wouldn’t be necessary so I didn’t pack a spare change of clothes in my pack (everything was in my checked bag). 

Finally I was ready.  I am happy to report that it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  The airport was empty, for the most part, and there were hand sanitizing stations everywhere.  Seats were blocked off to encourage distancing – and most people did stay the hell away from each other.  One lady decided to sit next to me while I was waiting for my plane, took her mask off, and started speaking loudly… so I just got up and walked to another location (of which there were plenty, since it was so dead in there).

Southwest’s boarding procedures are better, too, as people don’t line up like they used to and they board in groups of ten.  I am sure it helped that I paid for an A-spot upgrade.  I got my pick of seats (a window seat to ensure that I was at least away from people on one side) and didn’t have to pass through crowds of people as I walked to it. 

During the flight, Southwest still does snacks and gives out small cups of water to those that want them during the flight.  I abstained because I didn’t want to remove my mask for any reason.  A lot of people did (and I really felt, during that entire flight, that that was probably the most dangerous time) and afterward put their masks back on – mostly… a few people had to be reminded but no one got bent out of shape about it.  Really, those was two of the more subdued flights I’ve ever been on – and that’s a good thing! 

Like the boarding process, the deboarding process was also very organized.  No one was shoving anyone, everyone let each aisle leave before they started to push forward.  Southwest didn’t really orchestrate that like they did the boarding process, but at least on that flight it wasn’t needed.

All in all, under similar circumstances, I’d fly again if I had to.  I mean I don’t do it every day, I don’t have to travel for work, but I felt pretty safe with the safety measures in place and was confident enough, when I landed, to feel that I was at least at the point of decontamination so that I didn’t have to wear a hazmat suit to say hello properly after I got my feet on the ground. 

Like I said in an earlier post – I don’t know if (though I think it’s likely) or when I’ll go back up there.  I don’t know if (though again, it’s “most likely” – per him) or when he will come here.  I hope that either (or both) happen soon.  But whenever they happen, or if they do, if the pandemic is still in full force (and I mean come on… with all of it exploding again, how could it not be), as long as there’s an airline that has at least some of their protective measures still in place, I won’t feel so iffy about the travel part of it.   

Travel

Last weekend I went to Kansas. I know, it’s not really a “vacation hub” by any stretch of the imagination… but I was invited by (and the trip was funded by) a friend that I hadn’t seen in eighteen years (The Professor to you). I was nervous about flying (it’s really not that bad, but definitely something you still want to be careful with), and nervous that things would be awkward after so many years, but I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, so I went.

Only a few people knew I was going – or even where I was going. Ormsby knew I was traveling, but he didn’t know where – and flipped out on the day I was leaving because he decided I was going to have a hot, steamy love affair with a musician/massage therapist that I knew in Kentucky (who has a girlfriend, and who I don’t even talk to anymore because of one of Ormsby’s freakouts). Ormsby and I are not talking now… it’s probably for the best, though it was was a bummer for him to get all shitty like that while I was sitting at the airport, preparing to get on a plane. It took the better part of the 2.5 hour flight to de-anger myself, because I sure as fuck did not want HIS freakout to mess up my trip. He’s spent the last six years dragging me (not always, but a lot of the time) into his darkness and holding there. Not anymore.

Anyway, when I landed, The Professor was waiting for me. And it’s not like the TPA airport, where you have a good 5-10 minutes from the time you land to figure out how you want to greet the person that’s meeting you, as you make your way through the terminal. In Kansas, you have literally seconds… because their terminals and their doors are all right there together still. So I got off the plane, walked through a door, and there he was. I gave an awkward wave, then walked toward him, and we engulfed each other in a hug and then… well… it was like no time had passed at all. Suddenly I was 19 again; we were in each other’s arms, and it was 2002 instead of 2020, and the airport and all the people in it melted away and just didn’t matter. Time, for a few minutes anyway, just… stopped… reversed… stopped again. I don’t know if I can really explain how rare of a feeling that is, and if you’ve never experienced it yourself, it would be hard to bring you to that point of understanding it or feeling it… hovering between two eras, knowing you’re in your own time but your brain is sure that you’re in the past too… just.. suffice it to say, it was one of the most surreal moments of my life. And we remained basically inseparable for the next four days.

I am not going to write down a play-by-play here. It would take too long and you don’t want to read all that anyway. But I will say that I have never, ever, in my entire 37 years, been as spoiled or as well treated as I was that weekend. No one has ever gone out of their way for me the way that he did. I didn’t want to leave.

Not wanting a repeat of the Buttface era, though, I made sure to clarify some things before I left – because in that era, neither of us ever told the other what we wanted, and things went to shit because we were operating on different frequencies. Time was wasted, people got hurt, and there’s just no reason for that now – not that there was then either… but certainly not now. And especially not in COVID times.

Anyway, to summarize, it was decided:

Though nothing is “official” we will see each other again as we can. No one is making any hasty plans to relocate or anything. That would be extreme. And too fast. As he said, “Whatever happens, happens.”

Neither of us are seeing anyone else at the moment. Neither of us are crazy about the other person looking for/seeing someone else either, because we don’t like to share. If that changes, then we’ll communicate it.

I am putting all lingerie shoots on hold – I don’t need the money, he’s not really comfortable with it, and I am adamant that I’m not going to do anything to hurt him or to make him not trust me.

He asked me what I wanted… I said I did not know. But upon consideration, I told him I wanted to rent, as it were, with a later option to purchase if I liked the rental enough. He laughed at that (I can get businesslike sometimes when I’m negotiating this stuff), and agreed. I also told him that while last weekend had been heaven (and it really was heaven… absolutely magical), I need to see what “normal” looks like – to which he also concurred.

Ultimately? I don’t know how this will turn out. I want to see him again, I think he wants to see me again (at any rate, he says he does), but I have been burned like this so, so many times that I’m keeping the walls up. And it’s still so soon after the Ormsby debacle that I have to take it slow. The distance… well… the distance kind of forces us to anyway. Still, this is different… in some ways… than all those other times. It’s been eighteen years. We’ve moved on, danced with other people, been married… divorced… (to other people, obviously) and we still keep coming back here. Albeit this is the first time we’ve danced in person since 2002… but the point remains – after all this time, we’re not going to just disappear from each other’s lives. And “forgetting” each other isn’t likely either. Not for lack of trying, mind you.

So yeah… I don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean is it ever really possible to predict these things? After all, a month ago, I wouldn’t have predicted that I’d be “here.” But I’m watching and waiting… for now. Not hanging my hat on it at all, because I have done this tango often enough to know that it is more likely that I will twist my ankle than come away uninjured. But still hoping that he’s being real with me and that we really WILL see each other again, because now that that seal has been broken, I really don’t want to put a lid back on it.

P.S. – COVID-wise, the airport (at least these two) is very clean… people are distanced. Southwest does the best they can to keep everyone safe. I’d be ok with flying again (obviously). I do have a bit of a sore throat today, but that just as easily could be (and probably is) due to the temperature and weather change as much as it could be the virus.

A Decade in Review

In early 2010 I made the decision that I was tired of/done with living in Louisville (and also sick of the cold weather) and was ready for a change.  At first I thought the smartest option for me was to move to Ohio to be closer to my friends and to the guy I was madly in love with (who didn’t feel the same – but who also didn’t have the decency to tell me that). 

It wasn’t until after a trip to Tampa for Spring Break in 2010 (and the realization that things in Ohio probably weren’t going to go as smoothly as I thought) that I began seriously looking southward as an option for relocation.  The only city where I knew anyone at all was Tampa (even if the only person I knew was my ex-husband who I, conveniently, get along with very well) and, since I am not independently wealthy and because it was in the middle of a recession when finding work was next to near impossible unless you lived in the location, Tampa was where I set my sights.

So I started saving every spare penny in Louisville – I didn’t do much except work and save (and play World of Warcraft), started researching what I could DO there (I decided I’d try to get a teaching certificate), and figuring out how much money I’d need.  By September, I was ready.  I put in two weeks notice at the job I was working at in Kentucky, weathered the storm of dissenters – one, in particular, who asked, “Well… what happens if you don’t like it there but you get stuck?”  (My reply: “I can think of worse places to be stuck.”)  And on October 6, I boarded THE plane that would change my life.

Oh, I won’t lie and say I didn’t have second thoughts when I was sitting in the Birmingham airport on a layover – especially when I ran into a client from the place I’d just stopped working for back in Kentucky.  It was as if Louisville was making one, last, desperate attempt to keep me there. 

But I kept going, I boarded the second plane, and when I finally flew over Tampa at night, saw the city scape and the bridge lights that were accented by the twinkling dots of boats in the water, I got excited.  I’d sat near the front so I could be one of the first people off the plane (which worked), walked to the little train things that take you from the concourse to the common areas of the airport, and called my parents to tell them I’d made it (and to wish my dad a happy birthday – admittedly, leaving Kentucky on his birthday was probably not the best thing I could’ve done). 

I hit the ground running… found a job in a month, then another job a couple of weeks later that was a better fit for me than the job I’d found (and it had benefits too – the first one didn’t).   That was a huge deal, see, because in Louisville – in the interim between my last semester of grad school and the job I’d gotten, it had taken eight months to find anything.  To even get one job offer.  In Florida I found two in a very short period of time. 

Anyway, I started that job on December 1… as a receptionist for a small software company.  I figured it’d be a good holdover until I could take the test for the certification and then get a classroom.  Florida had other plans.  Within a week of working there, their Technical Trainer quit and I was offered her job at a higher pay than what I was getting as the receptionist.  I took it, again figuring it would only be temporary, but discovered that it was something I enjoyed and was good at.  I am not (or at least wasn’t then) very adept at software and computers – but it turned out that my layman knowledge served me well when I started to train other people.  I didn’t use technical terms, I could talk to them as one novice to another.  It worked… and I was very successful.

My coworkers, too, became close friends – and drinking buddies, since we were allowed to drink in the office.  The owners gave us wine and beer, and introduced us to Cake vodka (Three Olives, please, not the rip off other stuff).  We started a WoW guild, spent afternoons and evenings (and weekends) shooting the shit, and I’d never been happier (and sometimes drunker) in my life.  In 2012, a little piece of software that our developers coded got picked up by a much larger company and 11 of us were transferred with that software to the company.  I got the biggest bonus of my life, severance pay, and a 40% salary boost.  And I still got to work with my best friends – who were now, at this point, more like family.

I built a big network for modeling – and did a ton of it here.  My best work came from photographers I found (or who found me) in Tampa.  Work I helped produce here has been award winning, and one of the photos has even been internationally published. 

Dating-wise?  Well… it was entertaining.  Most of that is documented here.  I won’t reiterate it all… you can read it if you’re so inclined.  But let’s just say I never found “Prince Charming” – or if I did he was more of a “Prince Charming/Florida Man” combination, which I guess is expected – I got a lot of stories out of it anyway.

When I left Florida (for a very short time) in 2014, I can only claim that I was out of my mind.  I thought that what I’d built here could be rebuilt somewhere else.  I’m not going to talk about what did (and didn’t) happen there, except to say that no matter how much I tried to uproot it, my heart stayed in Florida.  My success did, too, because I did not find anything anywhere close to as awesome as what I had built in Tampa.  Within two years, I had to come home.  (And this is why I don’t really count the time that I spent in Louisville again as separate from the ten years I’m claiming in this post – home is where your heart is, and my heart was never there.)

So I came back, hoping to get it all back.  To see if the magic could work a second time.  It did.  I didn’t exactly get to go “home” again, but I found a job I liked and got several promotions and raises, got the lead in a play (a two-person play, no less, that dealt with some very complicated subjects) and my photo was in the Tampa Bay Times.  

And when the job I got that brought me home went to shit, I found something even better with the same sense of community I had at the place I worked when I first got here in 2010…  and I’m doing Tech Training again (and a lot of writing – I can actually say I write professionally now). It’s my niche. It combines writing with performance, it’s something I like, and I am really, REALLY good at it. 

And so now, here I sit.  “Stuck” in Florida, thanks to the pandemic (and I still stand by my original statement that there are worse places to be stuck), in an apartment that sits above (I like to say on top of) a tree – so I finally have accomplished my dream of having a treehouse.  Working my pretty sweet job with a promotion on the cusp (whenever HR gets their shit together – also delayed due to the pandemic).  Sitting in my home office, surrounded by my ever-expanding Star Wars toy collection.  Modeling on weekends when I want to, but because I am no longer broke, accepting only the jobs I want (rather than the jobs I have to take).  A master of improvisation, working on novels, ever-honing my writing (and gaming) abilities.  Just generally enjoying life (even though most of life, at least what life looked like back in December and before, doesn’t look the same anymore). 

It’s been a good decade.  Moving here was a risk, but one that has paid off in very high dividends, and I have no regrets (except maybe that I ever left it to begin with – temporarily or not).  I’m happy here.  I’m satisfied with my decision.  And while I may leave sometimes to go visit other people and places, I feel more at home here than I have ever felt anywhere else.

Circa 1978. Best find I’ve gotten at a toy show so far – their joints are still tight and uncracked, and R2 still has his Death Star plans.

The Now is Better

I keep telling myself that I need to post – and I want to post – but the thoughts that are in my head are nowhere near enough to provide me with any kind of clear narrative (and, hence, make it impossible to write about them). 

It probably also does not help that I’ve been surrounded by noise lately.  Neighbors downstairs that made it sound like their apartment was a war zone (they’ve since been evicted)… people screaming at the pool (which I can conveniently (inconveniently?) hear through my door), lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and then during most of this week and part of last, the landscaping service that is trimming trees during the day – making it impossible to do work, let alone anything creative and extracurricular.  Or, really, anything that requires any kind of thinking.

Good thing I can do the webinar delivery part of my job on autopilot. 

So, things are still pretty much the same.  Playing a lot of Fortnite with my friend.  I’m getting better at it. 

Shoots are scheduled, and I’m returning back to the world that makes me “tick” – ever grateful that if this all had to end (and it becomes clearer to me by the day that this really was for the best), at least it ended while I was still young enough to pick it back up again… if not where I left off, at least with enough time that I can keep doing it at least for a while longer. 

I finally got my car fixed – earlier this year a bunch of the dash lights started coming on… the computer had gone haywire and the ABS was no longer working.  It was a pretty expensive fix, and some people might argue that, since it drove and was basically fine, I shouldn’t spend the money on it.  But I love this car.  I have wanted this car for a really long time.  There’s no way I’m getting rid of her… ever… if it ever came down to it, and the engine died, I’d find another engine before I got another car.  So not getting her fixed was not an option.  I had to wait until I could save the money to do it – but my bonus from work came through, and the first stimulus covered some of it too, including what I had in savings already.  Not wanting me to spend all I had, my parents chipped in about half (probably also because my father also really loves my car), and that helped.  Anyway she’s all fixed now… good as new… and we zip around together when I need to run errands.

I guess the biggest news is that plane tickets have been purchased and I’m going on a trip to an undisclosed (because I’m not disclosing it, not because I don’t know where it is) location in two weeks.  I’m a little apprehensive about the flight, I won’t lie, but I’ve done all I can to take all the precautions that I can to keep myself safe – including investing in more expensive masks that contain replaceable filters (NOT the kind reserved for healthcare workers).  I am also slightly apprehensive about getting to the place to visit my friend… it has been a really long time since we last saw each other, though we’ve kept in touch periodically (and pretty consistently since the end of August).  I am sure that it will all be okay, and it’ll probably be like no time has passed at all, but you know how it is… you don’t really know what to expect.

Sometimes I sit here and, for a minute, I miss what was… I guess my brain starts doing that thing where it tries to convince me that what I had is better than what’s happening now.  Thing is, I think my brain also knows better – because if I really look at it, objectively, it wasn’t.  It wasn’t simple… it wasn’t easy… sure I didn’t have to worry about who I was going to do stuff with, but I had to worry about how I was going to pay for all the stuff that was being done.  And I had to worry about being the sole earner, the bill payer (I guess I’m still that – but it’s just my bills), the caregiver and support system, the optimist, etc., etc., etc.  And it was stressful.  I won’t say it was always bad – there were some good times sprinkled in there in some places – but if I’m being really honest, the good times were always followed by longer, unhappier situations that became progressively more extreme and serious.  And it always led to more debt that I will, whether I want to or not, have to pay off.  You can’t call American Express and tell them you shouldn’t have to pay this off because you spent six years supporting someone that you shouldn’t and it didn’t end the way you thought it would. 

And as much as I know that Ormsby wants to walk it all back… to put things back to the way they were, the truth is, the way they were was not good for me.  I was in too deep to recognize that at the time, and I guess when I DID recognize it, I told it to shut up because I wasn’t really thinking of my own wellbeing.  But now that I’ve gotten some distance from it, and I am thinking only OF me, I can see it more clearly… which is, of course, what sometimes happens when you change the perspective.

For someone who didn’t know what to write, I guess I figured it out.  All the same, I’ll leave this here… I have to go get treats for the cats in a few minutes anyway.  It’s a nail trim night.

Taverns and Parking Lots

It’s not that it was, really, a huge surprise that he showed up.  I mean, he’d said he was going to.  I’d believed him… if only because I needed to believe him… though, as it was late, and as I didn’t know when he was going to be finished at the bikini contest, I wouldn’t have blamed him for skiving off for the evening if he’d been too tired.  But if he was, he didn’t say so.  And when he showed up that evening at the bar Mary and I had finally settled on, I was glad to see him.

I’d been drinking… though not as much as she had.  I’d gone up to Louisville thinking that I was going to be drinking a lot… after all, once Botboy had come home from this deployment, I’d have to stop if he and I were going to get together.  I didn’t think it was fair for me to drink when he couldn’t.  And really, I was okay with that, if it meant settling into something more permanent.  Some things are worth the trade-off.  But drinking is funny for me… sometimes, I can do shot after shot and not think twice about it.  My stomach doesn’t react, it just accepts it the way that it accepts water or anything non-alcoholic.  I’ll feel it… eventually… after the fifth or sixth, a slight buzz that, if I keep going, will turn into a ridiculously good time.  But other times?  It rejects it.  Just flat out rejects it.  I’ll try to do a shot, my stomach will lurch, it’s like I’m trying to drink straight peroxide or something.  At least, it does that until I force it over the hump – the hump in which it no longer cares whether it’s being obliged to digest the poison or not.

And that’s where I was – or at least, had been – since the beginning of that night.  The first one had gone down okay, but the shot I did afterward just hadn’t sat well at all.  Mary, on the other hand, was doing fine… she’d had a try at the Cupid Shuffle and I’d watched, laughing, as I took sips off of the shot I’d gotten and forced it down with water.  I’d sat there, digesting, waiting for the nausea to pass and, like magic, once it had, I looked over and saw him standing in the door to the patio.

I was glad to see him… the music in the club was loud.  Having gotten over the hump, I ordered a couple of drinks after the first… enough to stay a little buzzed, but not so much that I’d be drunk.  Ormsby, Mary, and I ended up in front of one of the bars, in the first bar room off of the club’s entrance, watching a band play.  The singer wasn’t terrible… she reminded me a little of Stevie Nicks, and, of course, we all tried to talk to each other, but I don’t know that any of us could really hear what we were saying.  It was fun, anyway, and it was nice to be back, away from Florida, having drinks with Mary and with Ormsby – who drank very little – while watching the show.

We explored the club a little as well.  That’s the cool thing about this club, called the Phoenix Hill Tavern.  It’s very eclectic on the inside.  Signage everywhere, strange statues, plenty of comfortable sofas to lounge on, well away from the musical areas.  I was buzzed enough to be able to let my guard down and enjoy myself… buzzed enough to pose with an Indian statue in the corner.  Buzzed enough to take it in stride, and even fall into it, when Ormsby put his arm around me on the sofa.  It’s not that I wouldn’t have been okay with that were I sober… in fact, I would have been VERY okay with it.  It’s just that… buzzed… it seemed to make more sense than it would have.  It needed less thought.  And sometimes, being able to stop overthinking is a VERY good thing.

At about three or four in the morning (this is the first time I’ve been out this late since… oh god… I was twenty-six), Mary and I started talking about getting back to my hotel.  She’d stay in the second bed in the room I’d gotten so that she’d be sober enough to drive back home the next day.  I wasn’t really sober enough to drive, either, though I may have been able to once she and I had walked back to her car.  Ormsby, however, offered to drive us, and so the three of us walked back to his studio, where he’d parked his car and dropped off his stuff before meeting us at the Tavern.

His studio was nice.  Nicer than the ones I’d worked in since I’d come to Tampa.  Nicer, if I remembered, than many of the ones I’d been in when I’d been working in Louisville, too, and I said so.  Mary and I waited as he got the keys and he drove us back to my hotel.

Shit really didn’t happen, honestly, once we got back there.  At least not right away.  The three of us chatted in the room awhile, and I offered to walk him back out to his car.  We needed to make arrangements for the Kentucky Kingdom trip on Sunday, anyway, and part of me really wanted to see him after my sister’s wedding the following night.  It would give me something to look forward to… something pleasant to suffer for… and he was fun to be with.

I am fairly certain he kissed me first.  It’s not that I was too drunk to remember it later… I wasn’t… it’s just not something I was really focused on at the time – not that that was a bad thing.  I think I’d wanted him too all along, and there’s something about getting what you want with very little effort that is incredibly satisfying (though one could argue that I’d waited a good nine years for it, and I suppose that is more than a little bit of effort, but again, let’s not overthink it).  I kissed him back because I WANTED to kiss him back, and we stayed that way, in front of the back of his car, until he put a wandering hand down the rear of my jeans and I pulled away.

And again, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want it there.  A part of me really DID want it there.  A part of me did not want him to stop.  But I made him… for three reasons.  First, because his hand was kind of cold.  Second, because I could hear people coming in and out of their hotel rooms, and I didn’t want an audience.  And third, because I felt that he needed to know about Botboy.  Not, again, because Botboy and I were in a relationship… we certainly weren’t, and I had no guarantees, when I really thought about it, that we ever would be or that he’d even come back when his deployment was over.  But, I’m a straight shooter by nature.  I don’t break my promises, ever, and I don’t believe in hiding aces up my sleeve (not that I was wearing sleeves that night), and certainly, he deserved to know.  And so I told him that I was waiting until July.  That I was not in a relationship, but that I was waiting.  And that I did not have sex with people outside of a commitment.  But that that did not mean that I did not fool around… and it did not mean that I wanted to stop kissing him either, and I think he understood that, since we went back to it.  If it bothered him about Botboy, he didn’t say so.

I think it was maybe four or four-thirty when I went back inside.  Mary had gotten worried and had poked her nose out the window.

“You know,” she said as I was brushing my teeth.  “I don’t know Botboy.  I know I’ve never met him.  But I like Lord Ormsby.  Do you think anything will come of it?”

“No,” I laughed.  “Well, I’m having dinner with him tomorrow and then we’ll hang out on Sunday.  But after that, I’ll go back to Florida and keep waiting for Botboy.  I did promise.  And anyway, even if I wanted it to, Ormsby doesn’t want me that way.  He, as he puts it, is emotionally unavailable.”

“You never know,” she said slyly.

But I did know.  I know how hard it is to sway someone when they’ve got their mind made up.  I liked Ormsby.  He WAS nice.  She was right about that.  But one of the many things he’d told me was how he was, now and forever after, emotionally unavailable after being hurt.  I didn’t agree with his decision to shut himself off completely, after all, I’m not one to say “never,” but that was his decision to make. And I didn’t think I’d be able to change his mind, even if I wanted to try.   Anyway, I had dinner plans with him tomorrow.  Then we’d go to Kentucky Kingdom on Sunday.  Maybe we’d make out again.  Maybe we’d fool around a little.  I was open to that.  After all, wasn’t I on vacation?

So I went to sleep, setting my alarm for 8 the next morning, knowing I’d be a complete zombie at my sister’s wedding.  But a happy zombie.  And that’s what mattered.

Travel

I never really feel as if I belong anywhere.

Some days I feel like I need to be in one place.

Other days I think I need to stay right where I am.

And then there are the days when I think that maybe I don’t need to be in either of those places at all, but maybe somewhere completely new.

Of course, then, I’d feel the need to go back to the other two places, as well as the one I settled in, effectively splitting myself into three pieces instead of just two.  Maybe this is an occupational hazard of being a “wanderer.”

And then I throw up my hands and figure that maybe, eventually, if I’m patient, I’ll figure out where “home” really is… I get tired of being a nomad all the time.  But then reality sets in and I realize that no matter where I go, I’ll always have demands to meet in the original place.  I am exhausted with demands.  Sometimes I just want to curl up into a ball (a happy little ball) and be satisfied with things for a minute.

That said, I’m going on vacation, back to the other place.  I’ll finish posting narratives and the like after I have returned and sewn myself back together (I think the stitches get thinner every time I travel).

Visitation

Around the middle of April I was sitting at work, firing up the computer screen to do another webinar that, I expected, would not be very crowded.  They hadn’t been lately (and still aren’t), but that didn’t make me any less responsible for them – though it did mean that I had more time for texting and chatting.

I’d been doing that a lot… I’d installed, finally, the Facebook messenger on my phone.  More or less because I was beginning to see the necessity for it.  I don’t have any Facebook friends that I don’t know personally and, certainly, none that I would feel uncomfortable giving my phone out to, but there’s something about being able to type your chats from a computer keyboard rather than that ridiculous phone touchscreen if you possibly can – and I recognized this, preferring to do it myself.  At any rate, I installed the messenger.

1.0 and I had been chatting a lot lately.  Getting to know each other again.  I was glad to have my friend back, and, further, glad to have someone to talk to when the days at work were particularly long (and they were particularly long very often).  We’d run the gambit on conversations – work, why I moved, his current college goals, and had finally stumbled into the familiar territory of relationships.  We talked about the ones we were currently pursuing.  He told me about a woman he was getting ready to break things off with because she’d stopped talking to him.  I told him a little about Botboy, how I was waiting, why I was waiting, and had mentioned that he hadn’t really talked to me in months, but how I was, more or less, continuing due to the principle of the thing.

Finally, one afternoon, just around the time his finals were ending he asked what I had planned for May.  I told him nothing, really, except for the last weekend in May, since I needed to be in Kentucky that weekend for my sister’s wedding that I really didn’t want to go to.  He mentioned wanting to come down, to get away from the city for awhile, to take a break from finals.  I was fine with that – and of course after I said that was okay with me, he pretty much invited himself to stay at my apartment.  Again, I was fine with this this time.  It wasn’t like the last time… my divorce was a long time ago now, and I have a futon in my living room.  He bought his tickets, sent me the itinerary, and I now had something to look forward to during mid-May (which was great, since I was really dreading this wedding).

He wouldn’t have been here long, but nearly immediately, I started getting my house ready for his arrival… making sure the sheets on the futon were clean, moving my paintings from the patio into another area so we could use the patio for sitting, just general straightening… oh, and making sure that Metalhead had a place to go for that weekend since he was still staying with me then due to some heart issues.  1.0 and I continued to talk nearly daily… I started to suspect that he wanted more than just to come down here to visit, and I didn’t know how I felt about that, yet I continued to entertain the idea of him visiting.  After all, it was only going to be for a couple of days… true, Botboy hadn’t said anything to me in ages, but how much damage could someone do in two days?

So I began to make plans with him.  I was going to show him the abbreviated version of Tampa… downtown, maybe a beach, Ybor city… the high points.  I had enough planned to show him for two days until he asked, one afternoon, if I minded going to Orlando to see his friend.  I didn’t mind visiting.  It’s always nice to meet new people that live in Florida, as I know so few.  But when he told me that we’d be staying there with him, possibly, since he had room in his apartment, I started to get a little edgy about it.  I’m not much for spending the night in places I’m not familiar with – at least without proper accommodations.  Having plenty of money to stay on my own, in hotels, I don’t find shacking up with strangers to be something that is particularly necessary anymore.  But I didn’t argue… it was one night, at the worst.  And at best, perhaps I could simply say, later, once he got here, that I would rather sleep in my own bed.

The thing is… a week later… this came up again.  But this time it didn’t have to do with Orlando.  A week later, he asked me if I’d ever been to California and what did I think of it…

“I went once,” I answered, “for a day.  I didn’t stay long enough to form an opinion honestly, why?”

And that’s when he dropped a bomb and invited me to go on a two week vacation with him, touring the West Coast.  I was tempted for a minute.  I really was.  I love to travel and I get to do so little of it these days, since I don’t like traveling alone.  But then when I started to ask for details he told me about how we’d be seeing all of his friends and relatives and how we’d be staying with him.  Immediately I started having 3.0 flashbacks.  I started remembering how 3.0 had taken me to Tennessee for a wedding, how we’d tried to stay with his friends, how the accommodations had been severely lacking (like, I’d had to stay up until 2 a.m. just to make the bathroom liveable) and how I’d been blamed for “freaking out” when I’d asked him, nicely and before we went, to get a hotel for us to stay at instead of with his friends or twin brother.

I’ll be the first to preach against not letting past experiences affect the present or the future, but you know what… I know how I am… if I do not feel comfortable in a place, be it due to hygiene, the company, whatever, I am not good company.  And on top of that, I like my space.  I understand, coming from New York that his life is full of constant roommates (something I could not do at thirty) and parties and company.  I understand that shacking up with people he knows, family, friends, is a no brainer to him.  But I do not have a roommate.  I have not had a roommate in years and, given my way, at the end of the day, I need my space to come home to.  To decompress in.  Someplace where I am not required to “put on a happy face” and be sociable when all I want to do is relax.

Besides that, though, he was moving really, REALLY fast.  Like, I hadn’t even been in the same room with the man for ten years.  I didn’t know that we’d even get along the way that we used to.  I was apprehensive about it.  When Metalhead told me I needed to chill and take it as it came, because, of course, here was 1.0, putting in effort, where Botboy was not (and had not since he left), I agreed, and I tried to put it out of my head… but I couldn’t.

Finally, in an attempt to be political and tactful about it, I simply put off making a decision by saying, “Why don’t we see how your visit goes here and then I’ll make a decision re: California?”  Thankfully he agreed and didn’t say any more about it.  I meant it, too.  I wanted to see how we interacted for a couple of days, first, before I made a commitment to spend two whole weeks with a man.. not just 1.0, but ANY man.

So I continued to make preparations.  I continued to make sure that Metalhead had someplace to go, other than his car, for those two days and I told him, no matter what, that if it came down to a situation where he had nowhere to go, that I wanted him here.  I’d put them both somewhere, though I had no idea where.  And I simply hoped that, when he came, he wouldn’t put me in an awkward position that I felt uncomfortable with… after all, I wasn’t the same girl I was when I’d known him in 2002.

Insurance

Those who know me know I work for an insurance company’s corporate office.  This blog is not about insurance, I am not trying to sell you stuff.  But I did take out an insurance policy this week.  I felt it was warranted, considering the climate, but let me explain.

I have made it a priority, lately, to try to make the best out of situations that do not exactly please me.  Obviously you would think that this would be something that I would do all the time, and I do try to.  But I’ve always been one to try to do that within the “confines” of what I could get away with without stepping on too many toes.  Never exactly fully liberated, I’ve been trying to please myself while pleasing everyone else at the same time.  It hasn’t worked.  And I’ve often found myself to be damned if I do, damned if I don’t.  So, having had plenty of time to think about it, I’ve realized… I need to do what I need to do for ME.

So let’s start with the first policy.  My sister’s wedding.  As I’ve said before, I don’t want to go.  I don’t want to be a victim of the politics.  I don’t want to deal with the fallout of having to sit there, nitpicked.  I don’t want to spend four days with my parents and a mother who, after the ceremony, will have a lack of things to do and who will likely spend her time wanting to have more “heart to hearts” that always result in her making me feel like shit.  But, as I’ve also said, I have to go.  To prevent the chats from happening, I got a hotel room in Louisville.  But I still had to be there, for four days, one evening of which, awkwardly, I’d be at that wedding.  I made a few contacts, figured I’d see some friends, have some drinks with them, but that would be it.

Then I decided you know, I don’t know when I’ll be back in Kentucky now.  Since I am not welcome at my parents’ house anymore, I don’t know when I will see my friends in Kentucky again.  So, I started throwing things out there, and I’ve decided that if I am stuck up there for four days, I may as well make the most of it.  I’ve decided to do a little research at the university archives.  And I’m going zip lining.  Because I’ve always wanted to.  But also, many of my friends are coming to visit me there – from all over the state, some from out of state.  It’s a nice, central meeting ground for all of us.  And I will get to see my best friend.  She and I will actually get to spend some real time together – this time not interrupted by needing to make sure I’m back at my parents’ house before they go to bed, this time not impeded by the fact that I have to lead a double life.

I’ve stopped drinking… officially.  I don’t like to be drunk all the time, and considering that my mother died at 39 from alcoholism, I don’t want to go that way myself.  However, considering I will not be in Louisville again for a very long time, and considering I won’t be seeing my friends for a long time either, I’ve decided that, for this one weekend, it’s warranted.  I’m not thrilled about the wedding, but now that’s become a minor inconvenience – just something that gets in the way of my zip lining time.  Sort of a side attraction to the main attraction, which is my time up there, with all my friends, having a good time the way that we all used to so very long ago (and for the first time with some, since being married to someone who would not let me socialize, really, at all beyond work or school made doing that very difficult when I was made to be home at a certain hour, with dinner on the table).  I have missed my friends.  I do not miss Louisville.  Not at all.  I would not move back there for anything.  But I miss my friends.  And it will be good to be able to see them, and to have all the time that I want to eat at all the restaurants I like up there.

The other policy is a larger trip.  One to be taken in October.  And it comes with the realization of something that is, for me, very hard to admit.  I made a mistake last year.  I waited for Botboy.  That, in and of itself was not the mistake, but it led to the mistake.  You see, I waited for Botboy under the assumption that when he came home, we would be in a relationship.  I did not expect, nor desire, to spend every waking minute with him, but I did figure that my schedule, routine, and life would, ultimately, change to a degree.  And I still think I would have been right in that assumption.  But what I failed to do was to make any plans for MYSELF beyond May.  I was looking forward to his return, to getting to know him, to getting to be WITH him, and I was so distracted by this that I didn’t think for a second about what I would do once that had happened.  That was my mistake.  Because once May came, and once things went to shit, I had nothing left to look forward to.  My whole life had become defined by the Gchat messages 17 hours out of every day, out of sending those packages to Afghanistan, out of taking those Transformers for him, storing them, reading the comic books.  I lost myself in that.  I didn’t mind.  I loved him, I still love him, and I loved being able to share those things with him, but I also have realized that I need to be myself.  I need to have myself.

So, while I am still waiting, I’m doing it differently.  I’m giving myself something to look forward to after he is due to arrive – a few months after, to be sure, partially because the Louisville trip is wearing on my bank and also because, if he does decide we want to try something, I want to give us time to do that.  But this time, if things go to shit, then you know, I won’t have hours and hours of nothing except darkness to spiral into.  I am going to New York City.  I have not been there since 2007, when I saw JK Rowling at Carnegie Hall.  I am going there to see the city, and to see a friend that I have known for almost two decades (but who I have not seen in 12 years).  And I am excited about it.  I’m excited about the possibility of seeing my friend, of eating pizza, of buying awesome shoes and going shopping.  I’m excited about being able to do New York MY way (instead of the tourist way that Mr. Ex always insisted that we do).  I’m looking forward to seeing Central Park again and going to some museums.  Maybe I’ll catch a play if something good is on Broadway then.

Because I’ve realized something… when things go to shit, or if there’s a possibility of things going to shit, I can do one of two things.  I can lose myself in that shit, and I’ve done that before.  When I do that, the shit wreaks havoc on my life, and I can’t move forward.  Or, I can prepare for it – take out insurance policies.  Give myself something to look forward to.  I like the second option.  I like it a whole lot better than what my pattern has been before.  This way, I’m distracted.  I have things to think about other than wedding drama I’d rather not consider, or worrying about whether I’ll get a shit show again in the summer.  It’s not that those thoughts aren’t there, but they don’t take center stage anymore.  And it reminds me that, even in the middle of shit shows, there are silver linings.  Things to be happy about.  Things to look forward to.  Life doesn’t end just because things don’t go my way.  I mean it could, but that would be my prerogative, and I don’t want to surrender.

Of course, things COULD go my way too.  Things could be peachy and uncomplicated when I get to Kentucky.  Botboy could come back from his adventures and be exactly what I’ve been looking for all this time.  It could happen.  That’s the funny thing about life.  Bad things happen sometimes when we don’t expect them, but, likewise, really good things happen too, and often just as unexpectedly.  But even if all of that good stuff happens, then you know, all the other fun things I have planned are just icing on the cake.

And I can’t wait to get started.

Internet Dating Escapades Part VI

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This one was so good it needed two pages. (Click the pages to read the full posts… worth it, I promise, and not a virus.)

Yet again, true story (because my car DID break down on the way to Cassadaga, and it WAS because I was trying to go there on my own when I was clearly not supposed to).

Because telling the truth is always better than making up stories.  Yes.