Never buy lingerie with the expectation that anyone will see it, I reminded myself, meeting my reflection's gaze in the hotel mirror as I brushed my teeth. I wore a new bra, carefully selected for the blend of sexy black lace and a flirty floppy bow in the center.
"No one will see you," I told the fabric, trying to be matter-of-fact but knowing I sounded sad. "But you are very pretty," I offered consolingly. And once I finished dressing, I'd recovered my professional composure and finished tucking the last few items in my suitcase.
Once I'd finished answering questions and evaluating presentations, I made my way home. And found that traveling while being overly thoughtful is nearly torturous.
There was, you see, an invitation. Since I issued it, I can admit that it was rather tentatively given and more implied than explicit. But the pretty bra with its small, floppy bow remained hidden to all but me and the little black dress stayed folded atop the impractical black pumps I'd packed while battling nervous anticipation that, in the end, was moot.
The worst part, I decided, was the waiting. And in lieu of a refusal, there was simply silence. And in the absence of certainty, my mind can spin all sorts of reasons why I'm undesirable and unrealistic and undeniably neurotic. And I hate waiting for email - the dreadful droop of the shoulders when Gmail looks for but fails to find new messages. When the caller ID stubbornly indicates only my parents or colleagues have called. And while I wonder what the hell is so wrong with me, I can come up with a ridiculously long list.
Feeling simultaneously pathetic and sad, I would talk myself into a better mood throughout the day only to drift back into a lingering sense of disappointment. And I realized I'd pushed so hard to meet - had prepared myself for a brief affair - because I didn't want to grow attached. I didn't want to wait for email or care if he didn't call. I wanted to be confident and self-sufficient, charmingly sassy with my wonderful life and job and house and, I don't know, dog.
Yet there can't be some potential reward without risk. Some potential gain without at least a little discomfort. And while I am hurt - it's OK to be honest about that, right? - it is not the agony past situations have elicited. It's rather an intermittent ache that fades when I'm distracted but appears when I picture the black dress I moved to the back corner of my closet or lingerie I moved fondly under its more practical counterparts in the drawer when I arrived home.
Tomorrow I will lead two meetings with global participants. Next week I will speak in front of about 300 people and will do so with knowledge and confidence and pride that I can contribute to a vocation I find rewarding and important. In two weeks, I'll go home and give the Ones their birthday gifts (a bouncy thing for Smallest - looks fabulously fun to me - and Squinkies (do you know how hard it is to find these squishy little suckers?!), Zoobles and Silly Bandz, none of which I completely understand but all of which I almost want for myself) and am quite excited about being a good Aunt Katie, who comes bearing gifts. I'm going to Asia, which now strikes me as more terrific than terrifying.
So I'm fine. I'm good. I've had a bath, read a book, wrote on my blog and I'll go to bed. And the ache will dissipate. And maybe - eventually - I'll try again.