Then yesterday, Toby asked me about what kind of engagement rings I like...
Anyway, Mom had a really interesting and unexpected reaction.
"You know, I've been thinking, with how much you love that cat...maybe you and Toby should have one."
Okay, I don't want kids and my mom knows this. She's not going to pressure me or anything -- she's got enough grandkids to be content -- but she's NEVER encouraged me to have kids before. I was really touched that she said that, even if it isn't something I want at all. It's a real vote of confidence in Toby, too. Which of course he deserves, but I don't expect my parents to give him full marks since they still love McKenzie a lot and also since I really suck at marriage. But her saying that made me feel really good about how *she* feels about Toby. Yay :)
One of my favorite things about Toby from the very start of our relationship was and is how much he adores his nieces and nephews. He is a doting uncle and they love him back. Then couple that with the fact that he doesn't want his own kids, and he's already 90% of the way to being the perfect man for me. I think it's rare you find people who are so enthusiastic and being aunts and uncles who don't want their own kids. So to find someone whose enthusiasm matches mine on both sides of the equation was really a jackpot situation. AND he loves cats. I mean, he's fucking perfect, you know?
In other news, my friend Cristal won her first national bridge championship yesterday. I'm SO happy for her, and also SO jealous. I played with her in the Portland regional and had a great time. It's what got me revved up to want to play more tournaments. She's a stronger player than I am, so I don't harbor illusions that if only I'd been at the NABC, it would've been me...but a lot of my peers have been doing very well at this NABC, and I do feel like if I were competing there, I'd be celebrating my own successes as well. I don't know when I'll get back to nationals, but it won't be this year. Sigh.
I'm not afraid of my own death. I'm totally at peace with the idea that one day I will be gone from this earth. But I'm terrified of losing loved ones. I've been a paranoid nag about my parents' health since I was a teenager, and I'm so grateful that they're both very healthy for their age, but their age alone scares me and I know I will lose them one day and I hate that. But the scariest thing for me right now is losing Toby.
I am not even a tiny bit worried about our relationship ending. I know I've failed at two marriages, but even in those relationships, I was never 100% sure they would last. I had lots of fear of breaking up, being left, or even my own ability to sustain my love. I don't have that at all with Toby. We're disgustingly perfect for each other and I'm 100% certain that we're in it for the long haul. I haven't had any doubts about this in a long time.
But suddenly I'm really afraid that he'll get sick. One of those illnesses that strikes without regard for how well you've cared for yourself all along or how old you are or anything. If that happens to ME, it'd probably suck, but I'd just take it as it comes and deal as necessary. Toby, though...shit...if I lose him...I just can't even imagine a future without him. I don't want to.
I know that worrying about things you can't control is a big fat waste of time. It impedes your ability to enjoy the present. I get that, and know that worrying won't change anything except my own mood. But sometimes I just get freaked out and have a hard time putting the scary thoughts aside. Now having written this down, I'm going to hope that I can put it out of my head for now.
I'm thinking about my parents, and how much I love them and all that they mean to me, and it reminds me of a story my mom told me once. She was 28 years old, driving home from work or some errand, and she got to thinking about her dad and how much he meant to her. She was so overcome with emotion that she had to pull over to collect herself. When she arrived home, my dad gave her the news that her dad had passed away. And that story has really affected me. Every time I think about my parents, I wonder if I'm having the same kind of psychic experience my mom had when her dad died, and I just worry so hard. I kind of wish my mom hadn't ever told me that story.
I know they'll be gone one day whether I worry about it or not, and worrying only makes the present worse, but it's hard to logic one's way out of emotions. Thinking about how hard it will be is itself very hard.
Toby and I are off shortly, arriving in Portland late this evening. He'll go to C's house since he hasn't seen her in a while, so I'll have the next two nights on my own. I have some real estate work to do, and I have a kitten to pick up tomorrow morning. I won't be achingly lonely, but it does feel like having these fears is exacerbated by knowing I'll be alone tonight. I don't have feelings of jealousy toward C, or wish he wouldn't spend time with her when he does; I just always prefer to be with him than not. It's really nice to like someone that powerfully and positively.
Toby and I are both sick. Not horribly so, just sniffly and sneezy and a little gross. It's the first time we've been sick together, and it's oddly romantic. Blowing snot rockets in the woods is a nice bonding experience. Who knew?
We have one more full day in Virginia, and I'm quite ready to head home, as I'm sure he is, too. Last night as he was dozing off, he started talking in his sleep:
Sleep Toby: Cleopatrick...
Meg: What about him?
Sleep Toby: We need him.
Awwww. It's true. I miss that little furball. I hope he's happy to see us when we get home.
I also have tendinitis in my right hand, which is not getting any better despite wearing a brace and taking anti-inflammatories, and I'm ready to just trade this body in for a new one.
Toby and I ran the Earlysville Turkey Trot this morning. I usually see at least a handful of people I know from high school, but I didn't recognize anyone there today, except for one old friend who actually lives along the course and was standing outside cheering on the runners with his daughters. I shouted a hello as I ran past, but that was it for reminiscing. The run felt pretty good in the cold weather, but the hills were a bitch, as always. Toby finished in 26 minutes. I was slower :)
Toby is fitting in beautifully with my family here. He's socializing on his own, without hanging by my side the whole time. Everyone likes him and he especially hit it off with Bruce and Greg. Casey brought his mandolin and we had a little jam session before eating. That was loads of fun, too.
All the baby cousins are 3 this year, and very cute.
Emily is 38 weeks pregnant now, and I'm very excited for the arrival of her little guy. I just hope he doesn't come until I'm back in the northwest so I can go be there when he makes his debut.
Tomorrow I'm going to Lexington to have a Marma Round Table with Kent, Allan, and Laura. I had sent Kent a bunch of questions about my grandmother, his mother, and he said he was looking forward to answering them, and wanted his kids to be a part of the discussion as well. I'm going to try to record it on my cell phone. I know it will be great to get these stories.
Things are good. Except for politics. But for a few days, I've thought much less about it.
Friendsgiving in PA was awesome, too -- and I was totally right about what I thought would happen...
My demeanor at the bridge table has changed entirely from what it used to be. Playing with mostly beginners these days, I just don't give a fuck about the results, or the stupid cheaty things that happen at the club, because the offenders aren't doing it on purpose and how does it affect my life even if they are? I'm just really nice to everyone and I don't make a fuss over the shit that used to bug me and it turns out it's way more fun this way. There are still some people who rub me the wrong way, but it's not like I have to spend the whole day with them, so who cares? I'm having fun and sharing something I love with people I love. That's a win.
On Wednesday, I played in an open game with a friend I've known for a while but never played with. He's not an expert, but he's not someone who's playing with me to get lessons, either. I'm not sure if he's technically flight C or B but he's a good B-level player who can hang with the A's on most days. We had a 54% game, which I felt great about. We've made plans to play most Wednesdays together.
Then tonight I was going to play with Toby again in another mentor game, but we had to juggle our schedule at the last minute, so I asked Brian to play with me when Toby had to cancel. He enthusiastically accepted my invitation, and we had a 61% game where lots of relevant teaching points came up. Brian is about a year ahead of Toby on the learning train (plus several years of sort of knowing how to play but not actively working on the game), so I feel like going over more advanced theories and practices with him is doable. He did really well, and I feel like the stuff we discussed really sunk in, too. Both Brian and Toby have rather high bridge potential, and I look forward to competing with each of them in the really high level shit one day. I'm going to have to work harder than I ever have at the game if I want to stay better than both of them long-term, but I've got a few years before I have to really hit the books ;) One thing I love about this game is how you can just keep leveling up, no matter how long you've played or how expert you get. No one has solved this game yet.
Tomorrow night, I'm going with Toby and our friend Eric to see Joel McHale do some comedy. I look forward to it eating up some time in a happy way before the election. I'm so freaking scared about this Tuesday and the ensuing political climate, you guys. Even if Hillary wins, the Trumpians aren't going away. They're riled up, they're armed with misinformation and actual weapons, and they're dangerous as any enemy this country has ever seen. I don't know what it will take to bring reason back to our country, but I'm hoping it prevails...not just on Tuesday, but in the long-term. Fingers crossed, y'all.
We have not combined finances, as I very much do not want to allow myself to live off of him, even though he'd be willing and I totally could. I really want to feel like I'm carrying my weight before we do too much life weaving, though we both agree that is the ultimate goal. So his giant raise doesn't directly mean much to me just now, but it's still pretty good news. I've encouraged him to stash away a good chunk of what he can toward buying more property. He owns a rental now, and we both want to own more, so...yeah. I think that's the plan. And one day it will be our combined empire, I guess? That's the hope!
I got some sort of discouraging news last night, though. A friend has been considering buying a new property in Portland for a while, and we've discussed it a bunch and it's always been one of those things where he promised to keep me in the loop when his thoughts get more serious. Without making this too much about other people's personal lives, here's the skeleton of the situation: two of my friends, both polyamorous, are in relationships with other people who do not want kids. Both of these friends do want kids, and have talked about co-parenting arrangements, involving living in side-by-side duplexes, things like that. The idea was that if this were to come to be, I'd find them a property and everyone would live happily ever after. BUT one of those friends (with whom I've never been terribly close; I know the other one much better) is dating Dan (my ex). And apparently Dan is likely to be living in that house now. So they don't think they can hire me as a Realtor. Ugh.
Our breakup was not pretty -- our relationship existed in a very bad time in my life, and as I started to come out of that period of darkness, I realized the relationship was not what I wanted. I ended it as kindly as I could, but the end dragged out way too long -- we were living together (a decision a sane and healthy Meg would never have made, sigh), and the time between the breakup and when Dan moved out got really tense. Still, I feel like I was very kind in how I let him stay until he found something else, and then keep his things here even longer...I'm sure his side of the story is a little different, but my point is I didn't TRY to make it awful between us. I just wanted to end the relationship, and he pretty much decided not to be in my life anymore after that, which has been fine. We haven't run into each other at all. But it was a surprise to me that he would be a roadblock to someone else buying a house from me...someone whom I still consider a friend. I was surprised to hear my friend last night tell me that Dan has very uncharitable thoughts toward me. That's just shitty. I think back on all the awful things he said about his ex-wife, too. Things I took at his word at the time...but here's the thing: she ended their marriage; not him. I ended our relationship; not him. If the partners in his life have been so awful, why wasn't it he who ended things? I know it's never black and white and of course people stay in bad relationships all the time...but when there's a pattern of "she dumped me, isn't she wretched?" maybe it's time for some introspection? I haven't wished him ill in the time we've been apart. Sometimes I've been curious how he's doing, but he made it clear he wants no interaction with me, and I'm content with that anyway. But today I can't help but be angry with him. I can understand him not wanting to hire me as HIS Realtor, but I wouldn't be in this case, and honestly that's kind of secondary to wtf is he saying to my friends about me now, more than a year out from our breakup, that is so uncharitable? Hrrrnnng.
Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal, and I'll get over it soon. Hopefully my friends will still work with me if they do buy a house together. If not, I'll be disappointed but understanding, and hopefully they will at least let me refer them to someone else. Right now I'm going to go cardio out some frustrations, and daydream about the life that exists for me when I am a big shot Realtor partnered with a big shot programmer, and the disappointments of my past romantic follies no longer cut so deeply.
At some point early in our cohabitation, I taught Toby the finger-on-your-nose game. I don't know how widespread this is, but I feel like most people are aware of it -- if someone mentions a task that needs doing, everyone puts their finger on their nose, and the last person to do it has to do the thing. Anyway Toby was unaware, so I taught him. And now he uses it ALL THE TIME. It's kind of darling.
The other day I was in the bathroom and he was in the bedroom, and I remembered that I hadn't dealt with the kitty litter yet.
M: Someone needs to empty the kitty litter.
T: Guess where my finger is!
M: Up your butt?
T: Okay guess where my OTHER finger is, though.
I love that dude. And guess who dealt with the litter box? He did. Because even though he loves to play the responsibility shirking game, he's a giver.
Saturday was a nice productive day, with exactly the right amount of non-lazy leisure time mixed in. Toby cooked while I cleaned up a lot, then we did some chores together, and it was just a really good day. I don't often have whole weekend days with him, because he usually spends some portion of the weekend with his other partner. People ask me all the time how I can handle this, how I don't get jealous, etc. Here's the thing -- I don't mind that he's not here all the time, because I like my alone time. I like spreading out in the bed. I like not feeling like I should be "on" for the person I'm with. So I don't mind that. Emotionally, he and I are on the same wavelength about monogamy. It's just not how we're wired. I can love someone else without that diminishing how I feel about him, so I know and understand that his other partners don't detract from our relationship. And I know that if I need him, he'll be here. I also trust his other girlfriend to understand that. She and I have only hung out a few times, but we like each other just fine. We just don't have a lot of social crossover. But we work together really well -- she's always been flexible about schedule things, and I believe I always have been, too.
Right now I'm not dating anyone else, and not really looking to, but that doesn't mean I crave monogamy. I get crushy pretty often, and I like that there's room for that to happen for me without it having to be a big paradigm change for everyone. If I date someone else, I'll fit them into the time when Toby is with C. But for now, I like being with Toby whenever I can be, and I like my alone time when his schedule creates it for me. I do miss Toby when he's not around, but not in an I-need-him-here kind of way. More in an I-hope-I-remember-to-tell-him-about-XYZ-
Anyway the whole point of that was to say that having an entire day with Toby meant we could get a lot of things done -- including a nap! -- and I feel good about all we managed. Today was a lot lazier, but I did make some progress in my crafts anyway. And I went to the gym for an hour and a half. So not entirely lazy. Just net negative on housework. Tomorrow (er, later today), my friend Keith is coming over to help me fix a problem with my sliding glass door. He's a very accomplished contractor and I'd feel bad about asking him for favors like this except that he repeatedly assures me that it gives him joy and a sense of purpose to do such things for his friends, so! He'll be coming over sometime to lube my back door so it'll hopefully open easier. His words. Maybe that's why he wants to do favors for me....
Anyway, tomorrow, today, whatever, should be a productive day. That's the goal, anyway!
Anyway, we've been working hard on our household lately. Lots of cleaning, prepping, and planning. We spent a lot of time today talking about what the near future looks like, and what we want to do with the house and what our plans are for one day having another house. I've got the downstairs craft area mostly tidied up and organized -- it's seriously nothing short of miraculous how much better it's looking these days! But the big project will be dealing with all the random STUFF in our bedroom. It's all got to be moved out for painting and carpeting, which is going to happen in the next couple of weeks. It's a tall order, but we'll get through it somehow. And then maybe the house will feel more grown up when we're done. We're also looking into hiring a cleaning service. I've been wanting to do that for a while.
We're also spending some time doing crafty things. We're both in the process of making items for Baby Trevor (Emily & Chris's son, due in early December). I've picked up my crochet stuff again and am trying to learn some new tricks, and Toby is a knitter. I finished a blanket last week, and now I'm moving onto a hat. Then I have a few things for myself in mind after that. We stumbled onto the Art in the Pearl festival today when we were downtown, and ended up doing a printmaking demo there. That was super fun and super easy -- we ended up ordering some materials so we can do more of it at home, and we also picked out a class to take together at the studio. I love crafty stuff -- maybe taking a real class will help me get past "total amateur" status in at least one discipline. I know myself, and how my interests wax and wane, so I'm not going to invest heavily in this new thing -- luckily the supplies are minimal and cheap, so I think it'll be a fun thing to just have around and play with sometimes. It'll be fun to try with some kids, too.
Anyway, that's what's up. Happy September, y'all.
( Big Pictures )
It's funny, Toby normally sports a full beard, but he's close to clean-shaven in all of these, so I don't feel like they're the best representation of what he looks like, but I do think you can tell we're very happy together :)
I really miss Cleopatrick, too. He can be a real shit, but I got used to it. And I miss being scratched and jumped on all the time, apparently. I'm really excited to see my family and be at a fancy resort in Mexico and all...but I'm really REALLY excited to be back in Portland with my kitten and my sweetheart. Not that I want vacation to zip by quickly. I love my family and want to be with them. I just want to be in both places at once.
So many things going on. This'll be a long one.
Our flight landed in Newark at 5am on Wednesday. We hadn't slept much, and desperately needed to catch up on snoozes before the drive up to Hillsdale, so we picked up our rental car and came into Brooklyn to nap in my brother's apartment. We got up and got on the move around noon, showered, reorganized our suitcases so that we could leave some non-essentials back in Brooklyn, got some foods and set out on the 3-hour drive to Dodd's Farm. We got there around 4:30 and I giddily ran around giving hugs and introducing Toby to my Shantyfam. Then we went to set up our tent...
Toby opened up my small suitcase to look for it and I said "oh, no, it's in the other suitcase." "The other suitcase?" "Yeah..." "Oh..."
See, when we set out, I went to get the car from where I'd parked it, and asked Toby to bring all our stuff down to load. I stayed in the car while he and the doorman loaded everything, and never really took inventory of what went it. Turns out he'd thought when I reorganized my suitcases, I'd put everything I needed in the little one and was leaving the big one here with stuff I wouldn't need for camping. HA HA WHOOPS.
So we turned around and went back to Brooklyn to get it. It wasn't just the tent, or we'd have borrowed one from someone else -- it also had my meds and ALL my clothes. So going back was necessary. Since we had six extra hours to spend in each other's company, I launched into a relationship talk -- that'll teach him to forget shit! Seriously though it wasn't anything bombshelly or difficult. Just like "hey so we basically live together now, can we get a little more organized about how we handle planning and budgeting for the house and the future and stuff?" and we talked about that. It was nice. We've always been on pretty much the same page, but it's good to talk about it rather than just assume shit.
On the way back, Toby read to me from my new Scientology book. We were back on the farm by 11ish, set up our tent by the light of our headlamps, and got down to the socializing right away.
The festival was great, as it always is. The stars were out in full force each night, and we could see the arm of the Milky Way clearly overhead with our naked eyes. It was hot during the days and cool at night, and only rained overnight, when it was no inconvenience to any of us. We did some contra dancing this year, and like every year, I always come away from that wishing I did more of it at home. So that's on the list of things to try in Portland. We also went to a few more stage acts -- our friend Eric Lee had a solo set on the Lounge Stage, so we checked that out (he's great! so happy for him to be moving on up as a singer/songwriter), saw Mike & Ruthy (of the Mammals), Brother Sun, Eric Schwartz, and The Grand Slambovians. That's like five more acts than I usually see :)
Back at camp, we played our instruments with friends -- I still feel nervous about jamming, but I'm getting better at it, and when it's a song I know, I can really nail it. Eric gave us some pointers that helped a lot, and we learned some new tunes that I really enjoyed. We also did a lot of yarncrafting. Toby had his knitting, and I'd brought a crochet hook and a skein of yarn -- I knew someone there would be willing to give me a refresher course, and after a quick lesson, I was working on a nice rectangle :) The idea is baby blanket, but this may just be a practice one. I'm not sure I have enough yarn to make a very big one, but it's something to do with myself for now and I'll be ready to pick up a few skeins and do a real project when I get home. There was lots of singing and drinking and merriment.
Friday afternoon/evening was our annual camp party. This year it was a steak and martini luau. Luau because that's what we'd planned all along, and steak & martini because Stuart used to always host a steak & martini night for whoever wanted to participate. Janice (Stuart's widow) was there just for that one day and overnight, and we started the festivities with a big circle and chatka for Stu with his favorite Scotch. We passed the bottle around and took turns sharing memories and love, and everyone cried a lot, but it was one of my favorite moments from the fest this year. Of course it was devastatingly sad, but to lay bare our emotions and be there for each other was really special. We hugged and held each other and raised our glasses and our voices to our friend, and it was really beautiful.
Toby and I got back to Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon, and promptly fell asleep for five hours. We still had to return the rental car to Newark, but going later in the evening meant a fairly smooth journey. My cousin Ben and his wife Lorraine were staying here at WT's place as well, so we hung out and caught up with them for a while. Ben is the oldest in my generation (57), and I'm the youngest (33), so we've never really done much hanging out, and I hadn't seen him more than 3 or 4 times since Marma died in 1998. But it was great to hang out and chat, and they seemed to like Toby, too. Good to get the seal of approval, even though I don't require it.
Monday morning we went for a walk in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and decided we'd try to do a theater thing later. Toby's never been to the city before, so I wanted to give him a good NYC experience without being overly touristy about it. (No Statue of Liberty, no Times Square bullshit, etc.) My little cousin Byron from the other side of my family is living here now, so we made plans to meet up with him for a show. I found a ticket app that has discount tickets for same-day shows, and after browsing the list of available options, we were most interested in something called Drunk Shakespeare. The blurb wasn't really clear on what it was, but the title was enough of a draw anyway. Here's what I wrote in an email to Emily about it:
Drunk Shakespeare was amazing. It's set up as this like Shakespeare club meeting thing, and I'm not sure if they rotate different plays each time (from their social media, it's clear that the one we saw has been done before, but it also sounds like they do some others), and one actor does five shots before we start. Also the whole audience gets shots as we're being seated. They constantly call points of order, and this part seemed totally improvised, where one cast member will make a suggestion to change something. Usually it's to make another cast member do their next lines as someone else (elmo, donald trump, liza minelli, in german, while doing the macarena, whatever). The "drunk" cast member is definitely not the only one who's intoxicated, they're just the most so. My favorite part was when the drunk cast member decided she didn't like one of the character's names, and she took suggestions from the audience to change it. The five-year-old boy who becomes Macbeth's main challenger was known from Act IV on as "Big Dick Kitty Cat." They didn't do the entirety of Macbeth, but they hit all the main points, so that the whole story was done in the time of the show. It was a great mix of Shakespeare's original dialogue and some hilarious modernizations and improv. Anyway I think you'd really love it if you ever get a chance to see something like this.
Yesterday we had plans with our friend Craig to do a trivia night in Bushwick, but plenty of time before then to check out some other things. We started the day by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, and browsed around Chinatown and Little Italy (with a gelato stop in Little Italy, natch!) before heading uptown to check out the Museum of Sex.
The Museum of Sex is great and I definitely recommend it. But there was one major flaw. The first several exhibits were, as one might expect, very sexy. It's hard not to get a little hot and bothered in there. And of course I was there with my very sexy boyfriend, so I was feeling a little worked up...but then the last exhibit is about animal sex and sexuality. It was very interesting and totally relevant, but I guess I just didn't really enjoy going into that feeling horny. It was awkward. Great museum, though!
We walked around that neighborhood for a bit afterward, and stopped in the Museum of Math for the gift shop -- we didn't have time to check out the museum, and I'd been there before, but the gift shop had awesome stuff and we got a new game to play and he picked up some gifts for his niece and nephew in Scotland.
Today we're going to check out the NYC Transit Museum, then I'll take Toby to the airport and he'll fly off to Scotland for two weeks. I'll miss him, most of all during the next four days when I'm just sort of hanging around Brooklyn by myself, but then I'll be in Cancun with my family so the second half won't be so bad.
Before this trip began, Z and I had been communicating a lot more frequently, and it had been really nice. Very friendly, not just mere logistics. We were getting along great and being kind and supportive. Still keeping a safe distance, but communicating. Then I found out from Katy that his parents have their house listed for sale. That was a real punch in the gut. I know they have a Realtor friend they've worked with for years, so I'm not outraged that they didn't hire me, but I was surprised they didn't talk to me about it first anyway. It hurt to find out after the fact. So I sent McKenzie an email just saying I didn't really know what to do with my feelings about it and asking him if he knew why they had chosen not to talk to me. He didn't reply. I figured he was busy with the NABC so whatever, I let it go. Then he sent me a short email on Sunday with some quick business about our property transfers (STILL not done). I wrote back, answered his questions, and asked him to please address my previous email. He wrote back but only responded to the condo part of my message, and again ignored the part about his parents. I wrote back again and called him out for ignoring me, saying it's okay if he doesn't want to talk to me about it, but he needs to at least SAY that. So he wrote back and said he wouldn't talk about it with me. There was a little more back and forth and the content is unimportant, but the point is that I could feel that his attitude had shifted in a bad way. I could tell he was upset with me. I have no idea why and he won't tell me, which sucks. I've had so little interaction with him that it's impossible that it's something recent that I've done. He's either mad about something from the past that he only just now learned about or is starting to process, or he heard something from someone else that's not true and is mad about that. In either case, I'd like the opportunity to defend myself, or at least do damage control. Even though we're not together, I hate that he's upset with me, and I hate that we have another backslide now when our communications were at a place where talking to him was leaving me feeling GOOD. So to lose that sucks.
I asked some mutual friends if anything had happened that they knew of that would have caused such a stark change in his attitude toward me. No one could offer me anything more than theories -- he had a bad time at the NABC, or maybe it's the stress of moving. So I found out he's moving to Alabama to be with his girlfriend.
Hearing that was hard. Obviously I'm with Toby and I'm very happy and we're serious about each other, so it's not like it's out of the question that McKenzie could've found the same thing with someone else, too. But it's still hard. I think it would be easier for me to wish him well if he'd told me himself, or if he were still being kind and friendly. But since I'm hurting from the way he's spoken to me lately, my first reaction is not wishing him well but rather smugly enjoying the fact that I know he will hate living in Alabama. I don't like that I feel this way, but...okay. And maybe whatever made him change his tone to me is more about him than me. Maybe he's sad to be moving away and he's having triggery feelings about when he left Portland to move to Virginia with me and I'm sure that's hard for him. I don't know if that's what's making him change his tone the way he has, but until he can talk to me about it thoughtfully the way we had been talking, my feelings are not charitable.
There are several silver linings, though. The FOMO will be so much less -- while he's been in Seattle, he's been in social groups with lots of people I used to be social with and have really missed since leaving bridge. It's so hard to know that he's been up there having fun with the people I really miss. Since I don't know anyone in his Alabama circle, I will be a lot less jealous about his life there. And it makes room for me to get back in better contact with the Seattle folks, since now I could go to Seattle and not feel weird. It also means he won't be working local bridge events, so I'll feel free to actually participate in them again. I really do look forward to that. Toby is learning and I want to play with him in real events. And now I will be able to, so that's good.
I talked to Katy yesterday and told her about some of my concerns, particularly regarding whether my in-laws still want me in their life, since they didn't tell me about the house. She assured me that they love me very much and I'm still family, so that made me feel a lot better. The McKenzie stuff is hard and probably always will be, but I'm in a good place, really. Toby is wonderful and I'm happy in Portland and in the relationships I've got. Things are good. If I'm not scoring 10's across the board, I'm still okay.
Off to the transit museum now!
But first I'm going on vacation.
Toby and I leave on Tuesday for Falcon Ridge. We're dropping Cleopatrick off with Josh and Mary for a three-week stay. I'm going to miss that kitten so much! I'm also really worried that he'll think we've abandoned him, but I know Josh and Mary will give him a good temporary home. I just wish I could communicate to him that I will be back soon and I love him and will miss him. Maybe he doesn't even care, as long as he's got food and water and a place to crap. But I will miss him anyway.
We're taking a redeye to New York, so we'll arrive Wednesday and then pick up the rental car and drive to WT's to crash for a few hours before heading upstate to set up camp. I'm so excited to share Falcon Ridge with Toby. It's the kind of scene he'll really enjoy. And he spent a lot of time with Eric last year and they're like besties, so I know that won't be a source of drama like it was last year. I warned Dan in advance that my obsession with Eric was a long-running joke in camp, but he was unable to take that in stride. Dan was also mad at me last year because I didn't teach him all the songs we were going to sing at camp beforehand. The thing is, we camp together because we all already like all the same music. (Well, a lot of the same music!) Also, I was kind of beyond the end of my rope in that relationship by this time last year anyway, so it really soured a lot of the experience for me...and I'm fairly confident that Toby will be the last partner I ever bring to FRFF with me.
After Falcon Ridge, Toby and I will go back to Brooklyn together and stay in my brother's place for a few days. Toby heads off to Edinburgh mid-week, and I'll go on to Cancun on Sunday for a week with my family. Then we'll both get back to Portland at about the same time, we'll pick up the kitty, and get the house ready for new carpets...which probably also means fresh paint before then, since there's no better time...paint party in Beaverton, anyone?
In the fight to save our marriage, and then in the divorce proceedings, and apparently even now, I've sacrificed so much of what I want/need/deserve in order to preserve the best possible relationship I can have with him. It hasn't exactly worked well for me. We barely have any relationship now. We communicate some and it's nice, but it's only through email and only in brief, infrequent exchanges. My therapist asked me what I needed from him in order to feel better about this hurt I'm feeling now. I don't even know. I need to know he's sorry -- more sorry than he expressed at the time. I need him to know it haunts me still and admit that it was the shittiest thing he's ever done. I did send him a message about it, and he did say he felt terrible about it, but I don't think it's something he's ever reflected on, really. I guess what I really want most of all is for him to take some ownership of our divorce. At the time, he pinned it 100% on me. My impression from recent conversation with him is that he understands that it wasn't ALL me, but I suspect he believes he's somewhere in the 10-15% responsible range.
What does it matter, though? We're divorced, we're not getting back together, and I'm pretty well established in the new version of my life. Dunno. But it matters.
I tell all this to Toby. I tell him what McKenzie did that has me so upset. He doesn't judge -- he doesn't ask me why I'm not mad at him, or why it's bothering me now of all times. He just listens, holds my hand, lets me finish talking through tears, then hugs me. And I know he will never hurt me on purpose. I know he'll do all he can to never hurt me by accident, either. I think I'm a better partner now, too. Largely because I've done a lot of work on myself, but also because Toby is so good to me, I am motivated to be the kind of wonderful he believes I am.
Last night was Ross's birthday party. He always throws a huge shindig at his place, with live music, stand-up comedy, dancing, food, and lots of booze. I always meet awesome people there and have a great time -- I've known him a year and change, and he does the parties for his birthdays and also a winter version, so it was my third one. Last night, Toby and I decided after lots of fun times that it was probably time to go, and we gathered our things, thinking it must be about 1am. It was 3:30. Holy shit. So today's plans were already in jeopardy at that point. Then when we got in our Uber, I started feeling not so great. About halfway home, I asked the driver to pull over, so that I could gather myself in the fresh air and not puke in his car. Luckily, I didn't puke at all, but as soon as I was out of the car gathering myself, Toby came to my side, and the driver pulled away. Toby had told him to go on, but really I didn't think I needed that much time. Oops. So we ended up waiting in the cold for about 15 minutes while we waited for the next available driver. The rest of the ride home was no piece of cake, but we made it, and once I got to bed, I felt a lot better. Toby actually ended up barfing a bit before bed, but he said he felt much better for it and not to worry. Okay then.
Having been working hard all week to get up earlier and be active in the mornings, my body was well into that pattern, and was not interested in letting me get the sleep I so very much needed to fight off the massive hangover I had dealt myself. So I was awake and feeling fucking terrible at 7am. I drank a lot of water and shuffled around the bedroom rather aimlessly for a while, and after maybe an hour of just feeling like total ass, I remembered that aspirin is a thing! So I took some, and as soon as it started to take effect, I was able to drift off to a much more comfortable sleep. Toby and I both had different places to be at 3, so at 1:30, I decided it was time to work on getting up. Toby was out COLD. I had been awake for a bit and rubbing his back and while reading, and usually this sort of thing elicits a few satisfied mumbles from him, but he was almost entirely unresponsive. I finally had to just wake him up so we'd get to where we were going on time, but when he got up, he was sick again. Poor guy. We did finally get out the door, and he assured me he was doing better, but the car ride sorta got to him, too, so we pulled over for a bit for him to collect himself. I dropped him off soon after, and he says he's doing much better now. I'm glad. I haven't been feeling hungover since taking the aspirin, but I've been void of energy all day. I was only out for a couple of hours, and when I made it back home, the plan was to go for a run, but the reality was to go to sleep. Cleopatrick and I got some good cuddle time, and I really enjoyed those additional hours of rest. I came downstairs to have a sandwich for dinner, and have been toying with the idea of some sort of exercise still, but...no. Today is a write-off. So I've been doing some puzzles and online games and just listening to music and drinking water, letting myself recover. I have an open house tomorrow, and plans every day next week, so I'll be back in the swing of things shortly. A nothing day is fine.
I did talk to some family on Facebook, though. My cousin Laura and her husband are splitting up. I don't know any of the details and I'm not sure if I ever will, but I messaged both of them to let them know I'm thinking of them and love them. Of all the marriages in my family, I really had considered theirs one of the very strongest. I'm not around them much, but I've always been close with Laura, and just everything about their relationship that I'd witnessed was the kind of stuff that makes even happy people really jealous. So it's a real shock that they're splitting. Above all, I feel terrible for them, because I know the heartbreak first hand and I care about them both very much and it's so sad. But in the abstract, their split makes me feel kind of comforted? Like, relationship perfection isn't what it seems, and I can retroactively kind of ease the pull of the jealousy I used to feel. It's hard to explain. It's not schadenfraude, because again I am SAD for them. I guess it's just kind of enlightening? And now I'm no longer the only one in my entire goddamn family who's been divorced. The closest divorce in my family is my aunt on the other side, who has been separated, but not divorced, from her husband for twentysome years. No one else in my extended family on either side, going out as far as I actually know my relatives, has been divorced. Being a divorcee in this family has felt a lot like I imagine it would have felt like in the 50's. People just DON'T do it, and they don't know how to relate to those very few of us who have. So...in a way I feel like their split brings me closer to my family, or my family closer to me. These reflections make me feel like I'm kind of horrible, finding a selfish benefit in their sad circumstances. I mean...ugh. I'm not happy. But yeah, the situation has led me to find a silver lining that is only my own. Anyway.
And then, Toby. I am so happy with him. And I think we do have this crazy strong relationship. Others probably would be jealous of it except for the fact that we are non-monogamous, and most folks I know can't really wrap their heads around that. Like they assume we're happy about our relationship except for the poly part. And...no? There are times he's with his other partner when I wish he was here, but there are also times when he's at work and I wish he was here instead. And all of those times, if I say to him that I need him to put me first and be here, he will. So it's not something that bothers me. I like dating others, too, but I do find that I'm not really as interested in pursuing whole romantic relationships with others. I have formed a lot of new relationships over the last year, and most of them are just friends. Even some of the romantic-ish relationships I've had are really only a notch beyond completely platonic. Toby is the only serious partner I have right now, and I'm happy in this situation. But I don't want monogamy. I still like going on dates, I still like that it's okay to explore any feelings that develop, I still like first kisses, etc. Those things just aren't at all attached to the notion that the person I'm seeing could be "the one" or fill some major role in my life that's currently vacant. It's so liberating to date like that. The pressure is entirely off, and everything feels really authentic. And so far, that part of me just wants to cuddle a little and play board games and sometimes kiss :)