I write this while sitting at John’s XLNT Foods. The waiter just asked me, “You doin’ well, buddy?” which struck me as an odd combination of casual address and unusually correct grammar. I am in a neighborhood called Willow Glen, which has a nice little main strip of shops. Most of the places are trendy and upscale; there are at least five coffee shops — only two are Starbucks — and there are no bars. OK, actually there is an upscale-looking wine bar, and I bet they even serve beer, but it didn’t look like the kind of place to settle in and open up a laptop. So I’m at John’s, and while (as you will see) there is no reason at all for me to order food, I noticed that they had egg salad sandwiches on the menu, and a craving ensued. It was, um… excellent.
Things have been quiet here the last few days. The drive from Arizona to the bay area was routine; I stuck to the big roads and arrived much sooner than I expected to — and earlier than That Girl expected me to, as well. I cooled my heels for a while in a nice little deli, ate a remarkably good sandwich, and read a few chapters. Overall, it was a good way to transition from life on the road to life in an apartment.
When enough time had passed I popped over and was made welcome. There’s something different about the second time you come to visit someone. The first time is an unknown; anything could happen, it’s an adventure undertaken with limited expectations. For the second visit there is history, and it has been recognized by all that there is something going on that is worth developing. Consequently, there is something to lose. It is the visit, to harken back to a previous episode, when you open the mysterious door. (My mysterious doors have proven to have rusty hinges and missing handles. That Girl is patient about that; she figures I’ll manage to pry them open when the time is right.) The second date is the time you regret not mentioning you don’t like mushrooms during the first visit. There’s a lot at stake, and already the misunderstandings are piling up.
We have a good rhythm, That Girl and I. We talk a lot, snuggle often, and when we need to we get out of each other’s way so we can work. That Girl has a square job, so her weekends are valuable for doing what she really loves doing. Yesterday she spent several hours tucked away in her office, working on her own media empire, and I know what it’s like to have other personalities around pushing into your space. We went to our respective work places, enjoyed the quiet, but (at least in my case) it was just a little better knowing in the back of my head that the mental elbow room was a gift happily given by someone close by.
That Girl cooks excellent meals, and I pay her back by making yummy noises as I eat. I feel like this arrangement is one-sided, but one thing I’ve noticed about relationships is that it’s OK for things to be lopsided. There are even times when both parties feel they are getting the better end of the deal, and those times are what we have relationships for.
Weekdays when That Girl is at work I’ve devoted to getting my work done. I have The Screenplay That Refuses to Get Shorter to wrestle with, and last night I submitted “The Short Story that Probably Should Be Longer” to another paying market. It is the third time I’ve submitted the story; the first time it was 1100 words, now it’s up to 2000. At some point the words will be there to allow the reader to see what was in my head. If it gets rejected enough, it will end up an epic. But a good one.
So now I sit at John’s XLNT Foods, sipping Sam Adams, belly full despite the large amount of really tasty leftovers filling the fridge back at That Girl’s place (and cookies! Cookies cookies cookies! And home-made truffles! yum!). Paying John six bucks for a sandwich, however XLNT, is really pretty dumb, but there you have it. I mean, come on! Egg salad!