Thursday, November 29, 2007

Doing The 'D'

If all goes to plan... and I'm able to wake up on time... by this time tomorrow evening, I'll be back in the city I called home for 35 months. Dallas.

In the next five days, I plan to enjoy being surrounded by a city of five million people... even if that means being stuck in traffic on the DNT. I plan to spend some time with my friends Lee, Diana, and their kids; hopefully enjoy dinner with Monk and Quinn, for the first time in five months; and park at the approach end to runway 15 at Addison Airport, looking up as bizjets and the occasional Amerijet DC-9 speed overhead at 50 feet.

Oh, and also to enjoy the main reason for the trip... to see Billy Joel at the AAC Tuesday night, a performer I've always wanted to see in person.

I hope to arrive in town early enough -- and awake enough, after a 10-hour drive -- to enjoy some drinks and camaraderie with some former coworkers and good friends from AG, at the only bar that will ever provoke an emotional response from me.

It's not that I don't like living in Albuquerque. I do, really; watching it snow last Friday... as the sun ever-so-briefly hit the Sandias, illuminating the peak in a dazzling pink... was all I needed to reaffirm to myself the "novelty" of being back home. The day before, I had my parents over to my place for Thanksgiving dinner... which I cooked. The following Sunday, I spent all day stringing up Christmas lights on my balcony. Home. Comforting. Familiar.

But Dallas will always hold a place in my heart reserved for no other. I grew up in this city, beginning at the age of 28. I came to Dallas nervously... with an over-inflated sense of self, a cubicle job I found boring -- but did well -- and a fat moving stipend burning a hole in my pocket.

I left Dallas far more humble, a lot poorer, and as a cancer survivor... who could successfully land an Evektor SportStar in a crosswind, and got to write about it for a living. Some would say that's not a bad tradeoff.

I plan to pay my respects to Dallas over the next five days... and give thanks for the person I became in my time there.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Smiles, Everybody!

OK, enough of the self-agonizing BS that seems to have populated this blog of late. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I get to write about airplanes for a living, god damn it. Even if I am stressing because I'm still working seven days a week, and I'm starting to feel increasingly insulted by that fact.

Yeah, I may have broken up with the woman who two months ago I strongly suspected to be The One, but at least I filled up the 6 this week just before gas prices soared over $3.00 per gallon. So, there's that. And of course, I have my health... through December 11, anyway, the date for the next CT scan.

In other news, I've been on an eBay streak lately, buying up some old GI Joe toys (yes, planes) I used to have when I was a kid. In fact, looking over the auction list has been a trip down memory lane for me... since I pretty much had ALL the GI Joe toys available through early 1980s, thanks largely to my grandparents on both sides of the family.

Now I need to buy some cheap display shelves... and find a place to put them in the office.
I also splurged this week on a new MP3 player, a 4GB Sansa to replace what I have discovered over the past two years to be a really shitty Dell DJ Ditty (I did not mean for that to rhyme, really.) If it sounds like I'm burning through cash... let me just say it's amazing how much the pocketbook frees up when you're not buying flowers all the time, or driving 550 miles round trip every other weekend.

I'm also eagerly awaiting my first trip back to "The Big D" since I moved back. Lee bought tickets to the Billy Joel concert December 4 at the AAC, with the only condition "you're on your own for getting out here." At this moment, I have no clue how I'm getting out there -- car or plane -- or how long I'll be able to stay (see above, "working seven days a week)... but I am absolutely adamant that I WILL make the trip, and that I WILL have enough time to visit Lee and Diana, Monk and Quinn, Shoe, and the Addison Airport.

In the short term, I fully intend to enjoy this weekend as much as I can. I have a couple books at the ready, including a bio of Harry Chapin, and if the weather holds I may even FINALLY make the Jemez drive I've been wanting to make for the past five months.

Eep... has it already been that long?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Operators Standing By

Five times. Five times I've held the phone in my hand, over the past week, ready to type in a series of numbers preceded by the new "575" area code... and each time, I've set it down without dialing her number.

I've had the message -- I doubt she'd answer if she saw my number -- ready. Memorized. I've practiced variations, played with different turns of phrase. I've sounded out the dialogue, the cadence. The process looks to the untrained eye like I'm talking to myself, but they'd be wrong. I'm having a conversation with myself, playing each part. It's a trick I use when writing dialogue, and I don't think it makes me crazy.

Five times...

"Hi, it's me," the message would say. "I'm calling to say I'm sorry... well, not really sorry for what I said, but how I said it. I didn't mean to sound so rude, so upset... but the fact is, I was upset, and I still am, and I think I had a good reason to be..." This is why I haven't dialed her number. An apology should never turn into an "I told you so," even if you believe you're on pretty solid ground.

We hadn't seen each other in almost a month. It wasn't long before that we spent every night on the phone, often for at least an hour. Thank God for unlimited long distance. We always had something to talk about... and it wasn't just "I really wish you were here with me, when can you come down/up here?" Although that was often a conversation topic, too.

I don't think I've ever felt so... comfortable... in a relationship. "This is the first "adult" relationship I think I've ever been in," I told a friend shortly after her and I started going out. An unusual statement to make, at 32... but, hell, I've always been a late bloomer. Better late than never.

She relaxed me, gave me confidence. I'd look at the sky aimlessly and think of her, feeling strongly that she at the time was doing the same, and thinking of me. Often, the phone would ring soon thereafter.

"I just went on break, and I just wanted to call and see how your day was going, honey," she'd tell me.

We openly cherished the time we spent together, the way couples in budding relationships do. She spent Labor Day weekend with me in Albuquerque; I visited her several times in Las Cruces, often working on the laptop on her dining room table (because I never do have a true day "off," god damn it, but that's a lamentation for another time.) I got along well with her two sons.

I sent her flowers at work, on each of our "anniversaries." I'd often find a card from her waiting for me in the mail, with a short message. "I am so happy we found each other again," she wrote.

For my birthday, she made up a basket... with a stuffed teddy bear front-and-center, bearing the message "Together 4Ever." She texted me often when I was in Atlanta. "I wish you were here!!!!"

We were connected, even when we were apart. Both of us spoke -- cautiously, but still -- of a future together. And then it changed. For the life of me, I don't know why... or what I suspect is the entire reason why. I know she was upset about her youngest son, and problems he was having in school. I offered to help; I'd helped him before with his homework, and he seemed to enjoy it. I did, too.

She resisted my offers to help... saying that would send the wrong message to her sons. She had a point there, but I still believed there wasn't anything wrong with the occasional visit -- especially since both her boys seemed to understand how I slotted in with their lives, and seemed more or less OK with that.

She felt differently. I'd planned to visit earlier last month, but she told me a few days before it wasn't a good weekend to come down -- "I wouldn't be able to spend the time with you I'd want to," she told me.

The weekend before last, I was down in Cruces on business. She knew I was coming. She left for El Paso with her sister instead, without even a phone call. "How the hell was I supposed to feel about that?" I asked her, rhetorically, afterwards.

She said it she had to go visit family who were in El Paso; I replied my phone number is pretty easy to remember, and she could have told me.

What I said after that -- out of hurt, frustration, and a small degree of paranoia, although mostly the feeling of being treated like the appendix in the body of her life --  will echo in my head for some time to come.

"Good luck, and goodbye."

A mutual friend tells me she has no idea why I was "rude" to her, in saying that.

Five times I've picked up the phone since then, ready to say I was wrong, I was a jerk, and I'm sorry... conditionally. I don't think this makes me a jerk. I think I have the right to be treated better than I was... especially given how far our relationship had progressed.

I don't know how this will play out; no, wait, yes I do. It has likely played out already. I do know this will be the last blog post I write on the subject, unless something significant develops. I'm sick of sounding like a lovelorn teenager; 32-year-old Managing Editors need to practice some decorum.

But seriously... what happened? That's a question that may never be answered.