It always happens, for I believe she hates to lose as much as I do, and so we do have skirmishes. She is not, however, as skilled at winning. Though she's smart, I'm smarter. I'm also vicious and manipulative as hell, willing to pull rank and call in favors and use all the tools at my disposal to nudge people in a given direction until the scales tip toward me and I can scoop up the glory of getting my way.
The short story is - and has been for the last 2 years - that she wants me to do something and I don't want to. So I either refuse or put it off until past the deadline and then flirt or cajole or work behind the scenes until everyone agrees with me that it was a silly task to begin with. Then she looks sad and I feel a tiny bit guilty (but mostly pleased that I won).
The air is deliciously brisk in the morning, the ground dusted with a layer of frost and littered with drying leaves, and I embrace the change from the last of summer's warmth eagerly because, I think, I'm operating from a position of stability. I'm happy because everything is under control, despite the fact that my toes grow numb in my flip flops as we walk along the sidewalks and paths that have grown so familiar. It's good to make changes, I decided, thoughts drifting from personal to professional and back again as I followed Chienne around after dawn, and I went to work feeling a bit sleepy but almost fluttery with happiness.
"I'll go," I offered when I overheard a colleague begging for help to meet a deadline. "I've not done that since grad school," I told her of the task in the lab, "but I was trained for it so I can get it done in the next couple of hours."
"Hello!" I beamed when PrettyHair stood in my doorway, even as I moved from my chair to hug her. "You're back! How are you? We should get lunch!" She's been out lately and I've missed her.
"No worries," I assured a member of another team. "I can handle it and I'll send the final material when I'm finished so you stay in the loop."
Acknowledging that I was agreeable and helpful because I was happy, I came home this evening and was thinking about some of the potential changes ahead. It's edging closer to the time when I should apply for new jobs at work - I'm on a good trajectory but it will demand a promotion sometime within the next year or so. I'm starting to date - and enjoying it - but it could mean that I have to make room for someone and even as I want that, I'm afraid of it.
I know how to be alone just as I've learned how to do my job. I daresay I'm good at it much of the time. So I feel a bit unsteady at the moment, perched upon some hill that I painstakingly climbed and in the moment after the exhilaration fades and my confidence falters, I'm left looking back and forth, deciding between a graceless retreat or another tentative step forward. Torn between comfort and craving, my stomach starts to turn and my neurons exhaust themselves with playing out various scenarios, attempting to find that elusive balance between the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain.
But instead of moving impulsively, for that is my habit, I'm going to pause here a moment and consider the options. Understand, as CS Lewis would say, what I want and what I ought. And when I know that, I'll move again.
But for tonight, I am unsure and afraid. I never have been all that fond of heights and, after all, I understand peacocks only fly when necessary and even then can't do it for all that long.