I returned to my house precisely 12 hours after I departed from it. I blinked at the clock and wondered if that was a good or bad sign. I smiled and kissed Chienne's nose as she offered ecstatic greetings and decided not everything was a sign. Sometimes things just...are.
I woke up too early but, fearful of sleeping too late if I drifted off again, I came downstairs and drank coffee and watched the news. I winced because I was dreading going back to work, leaving my haven of quiet safety by my cozy fire for an unforgiving office.
The pretty ribbon on my sleepy pants fell in the toilet when I was using the bathroom, leaving me mute with horror and carrying the pants - pinched between two fingers and held as far away as possible - down to put in the laundry. I decided that if a load of laundry by themselves was insufficient, I'd throw them away.
I climbed both flights of steps to stand in my closet and stare at my clothes. I pulled on gray pants and one of my many black tops and wrinkled my nose over looking like a cloud of doom. I shrugged into a sweater - the shade hovering between peach and pink - and beamed at my new ring when the color matched said sweater perfectly. It made me happy all day, the silly flower made of beads perched atop my left hand.
I drove to the airport, undaunted by the morning traffic, and looked forward to seeing Sibling again.
I had Work It (Missy Elliott) stuck in my head for the trip. Which was really not the best.
"Hi!" I greeted Sibling after taking two conference calls from the cell phone waiting area. "Welcome back!" And Missy Elliott was silent at last while I heard about vacation and shrugged over boys.
"Are you OK?" she asked and I nodded. "You're not often quiet," she offered gently and I laughed.
"I'm fine. Honestly," I assured her. "I'm just a little sad. A bit confused. And somehow slightly frightened. But I'll bounce back. Promise." She nodded and patted my arm and I smiled over at her. "I'm thinking of looking for a new job," I offered, though the idea was mere moments old.
"If you go, I'm coming with you," she replied and with that comment, I settled. I was happier and more certain and peaceful.
My first difficult meeting went better than expected - I didn't even have to talk very much.
I had an interesting - if passionate - conversation with Adam about the pool party. It's so completely crappy. And I'm right at the center of it.
"This is so bad," I told Will of another professional situation last night. "Bad, bad, bad," I noted, repetitive when nervous or worried. I happened to be both in that moment. And after two meetings and three phone calls to discuss it, I realized it's as awful as I expected. Completely predictable and equally unavoidable.
But in the midst of dealing with problems that have no happy solutions, colleagues would stop in to chat. I would ask how they were and care about the answer. We would talk and laugh and exchange holiday stories. I teased someone about his new beard and then laughed until my stomach hurt.
"Lunch?" I asked Sibling when I was hungry and tired at noon. So we escaped to Panera for soups and sandwiches while we talked some more. I nodded when she asked if I wanted part of her cookie and went back to the office feeling better than when I'd left.
"Oops," I chuckled when I leaned back to talk to one of our most important leaders in the hallway. "Thought we were done kissing after the first one," I murmured, turning my head to brush my opposite cheek with his. "Oh, one more!" I giggled when he kissed my first cheek again and leaned forward to nuzzle him affectionately as he joined my laughter.
"No worries," I assured a colleague when she sat in one of my chairs and looked near tears. "My fault," I assured her though we both knew it wasn't true. "I'll take care of it," I told her, patting her shoulder and sending her on her way. And then I did, having a difficult conversation, but feeling rather responsible about the whole thing.
I decided I was on a roll when someone else came to ask my advice. Magnanimous, I wandered to her desk and reviewed a document over her shoulder, asking smart questions and offering insightful advice.
Growing bored as daylight began to disappear, I checked personal email (for the first time ever at work) and read a dramatic and fascinating message from my bestest grad school friend. When she asked if I wanted to take a trip - Vegas, perhaps? - I immediately tapped out an eager acceptance.
Sibling took me to dinner, a cute place downtown where we could share small plates. When I couldn't decide between braised mushrooms and patatas bravas, I got both. And over caprese and beef medallions, I admired photos of her vacation and said I had no plans after dinner.
Shrugging out of my pink sweater in my closet upstairs, Chienne pracing at my heels, I put on clean pajamas and tightened my ponytail. Settling happily in my favorite spot on the loveseat, I sighed with relief that spending time out of my house has gotten me out of my head. And, feeling rather blessed, I'm using my evening prayer to offer thanks for colleagues I respect and enjoy. A job I find important and interesting. And an early night before a very early meeting tomorrow morning.
It's good to be back.