"Wow," Sibling said as I pulled neatly to the curb and stopped, reaching to press the unlock button so she could get her luggage and catch a plane.
"What?" I asked, thinking my driving was good but not necessarily worthy of comment. I nodded with understanding when she nodded at the couple on the sidewalk and winced a little when she bit his lip. He seemed fine with it though, apparently trying to suck her face right off her head.
"I don't do that," Sibling said, shaking her head and I giggled.
"I was just thinking that people would have reasons to say our team was overly close if that's how we said good-bye before Christmas. So I'm not even going to shake your hand - let's just wave politely." She laughed and we did wave and I turned to pull away before rolling my eyes at the couple again.
"Goodness," I murmured as she wrapped her leg around him and turned to check my blind spot before pulling into traffic and heading back to work.
There is something deliciously romantic about winter. Curling up in front of fires or snuggling under fluffy comforters. Holding hands so I don't slip on the ice or watching someone slip out of a coat and wondering what might come off later. I love sweaters and suit jackets on men and am fond of wearing tights with dresses or cozy cardigans.
So I was thinking - as I drove home from the airport and when I was awake at 1AM and again as I scolded Chienne not to pull me as I waddled across the icy patches on sidewalks - about boundaries and preferences and things I don't do.
I'm fine with seeing more than one man. For me, it seems sensible to divide my focus so that I don't get too serious too quickly. I'm not evaluating anyone for marriage potential and therefore it's delightful to go out. Given that I used to keep a running tally ('did not open my door - minus 1,' 'did not pause between two boring stories to see if I wanted to talk - minus 2,'), it's so much easier to just relax and see how I feel at a high level than averaging scores over email ability, conversation over drinks, manners over dinner and aptitude at ending the evening.
I am apparently not OK with sex without establishing a solid relationship. I'm not sure I have to be in love, per se, but I can't do casual. I say this definitively because I've tried and failed. I can't relax. It's kind of awful.
My level of public displays doesn't seem to vary between personal and professional. If walking, I like to tuck my arm through his elbow. I like hugs and am happy to kiss cheeks. I'll do that with colleagues as affectionately as I do with dates. (Our group is, in fact, a pretty friendly bunch of people.)
I don't mind having men over, which isn't surprising. I love my house and, apart from Chienne demanding attention and putting her paws in non-ideal places sometimes, it's a comfortable place to spend some time. I'm relaxed here which makes conversation smoother and allows for holding hands. I have a thing for men's hands - strength and elegance - so I'm very fond of tracing his fingers or playing with his watch.
What I find both fascinating and frustrating is the lack of an overall plan. I realized as I walked around the neighborhood that it's hard to have a sense of location when my head is firmly down, looking for the next good place to step. The pace is slow and my stride clumsy and I lose my balance more often than I'd like. But I trudge around outside every morning because I love my spoiled canine.
And I go out and nudge at my boundaries and try to understand what to do and what I want because it's both exhilirating and exhausting. Because I know how a really amazing first date goes and how delighted I am to get flowers. That I'm completely charmed (and flustered) when interrupted mid-sentence with a kiss.
Having not dated for years - embracing the solitude and growing up a bit - I find I'm better at this now than I once was. But I have no plans to simulate sex with anyone outside the airport. Just FYI.