By Wednesday morning, it started to feel like routine waking up next to Cayden and leaving for work. No, I didn't want to leave him, but it started to feel comfortable—like he lived there and I didn't need to be sad to leave because he'd be there day after day, night after night. That's what I was afraid of.
Before this trip the longest we'd spent together was 4 nights. Tuesday night was our fifth night. Wednesday morning was our fifth morning. It was too comfortable. I had to remind myself that in six days I'd be waking up alone. The thought of it killed me. It made me snuggle closer to him that morning, savoring every moment I could have wrapped in his arms.
I tried to picture what it would be like waking up alone again. Looking to my right and seeing nothing but an empty pillow and pink sheets that hadn't been touched. Even when I sleep alone I stay on the right side of my bed, never touching the left, which makes it much easier to share my bed because I don't have to adapt to a smaller space. It was like that spot was reserved for him. It wasn't mine.
Again, he got up with me, made my bed while I got ready, and rode to work with me. We said goodbye in the lobby of my building and then he walked across the street to Starbucks and I stepped into the elevator. Every morning that week, I'd taste his lips still on mine as I rode up to the third floor. I still smelled like him as I walked into my office. I'd sit down in my cubicle and look at the two dried bouquets of roses from Cayden and the birthday card from his 'mum' hanging on my cubicle wall.
Then I'd clear my head of thoughts of him and dive into my work—editing, writing, and researching to pass the time until lunch. And just as it had the past two days, it worked. I got more done than I usually did, without having to stop and wonder where Cayden was or what he was doing or trying to email him between projects. Before I knew it, it was noon, time to meet Cayden for lunch. Only today it wasn't only Cayden I was meeting. My family (Mom, Meg, Noelle, and Jay) met us at my office so we could all have lunch at Roccos Pasta and Pizza.
Rocco's was one of my favorite lunch spots. There's this dish called Rocco's Pasta, and it's to die for. It's so spicy the waiters warn you when you order it. "That's really hot, you know?" But they stopped warning me. They knew my order before I sat down.
I'd only been there for their lunch specials until one night Carson and I tried to go for dinner before a party. We went all dressed up in our heels and skinny jeans. It's BYOB so we downed a bottle of red and we each devoured a dinner-portion of pasta, which just happened to be three times bigger than the lunch portion I was used to. We left there so full we had to stop at my place for a breather before the party. We woke up on my floor hours later, still in our party clothes. We missed the party.
But Cayden had heard me rave about the spicy pasta, so he had to try it himself. And apparently so did Noelle and Jay.
"So, are we allowed to steal Cayden when you go back to work?" Meg asked. "We're going to the aquarium!"
"He's all yours!" I said, wishing I could bail on the rest of work and join my family at the aquarium, even though I had little interest in going to the aquarium, ever. I don't like those. I barely like zoos. Once I've seen a fish I've seen em all. Wow, that monkey just flung his poo at that other monkey, who ate it. Cool. I don't know why I don't like aquariums and zoos. They just aren't my think. Now put me in a store full of puppies and it's a whole different story.
But if Cayden was going, I wanted to go.
"I heard there's a bar there," Noelle said.
"What? A bar, IN the aquarium? That's insane," I said. I tried to picture a tour guide leading them along a row of fish tanks full of baby sharks, taking shots and pointing in the tanks saying, "Now that little fucker, that one bites."
That's my kind of aquarium. If zoos also had bars, I'd probably like the zoo more, too.
"Are you sure you can't take off the rest of work?" Meg asked. "I mean, this is a family thing. Don't you have sick days you can use?"
Of course I had sick days. Thirteen of them, to be exact. But I wasn't sick. I'd been in perfect health all morning, smiling and being productive and saying "good morning!" to everyone who passed my desk.
"I'm not sick. I was just in there and I was fine."
"Yeah, but maybe you had something bad at lunch and you got food poisoning and started throwing up everywhere? You could totally pull that off," Meg said.
"Gross. I wish I could, but we're shipping this week, so I can't miss work. Yall have fun at the aquarium, though."
I silently wished I could be more irresponsible. Just take the rest of the day off. I deserved it. But I couldn't do it. I didn't have it in me. I'd always been a dependable, punctual, hardworker, and I couldn't start changing that just because I fell in love.
"You're going out to Roanoke tonight, right? Want us to take Cayden back to Keller, and then you can just pick him up from there after work and head up to Roanoke?" Mom asked.
I pictured it in my mind. Keller was south. Roanoke was north. My office was east. There was no easy way around it. But I had to go south before I could go north because highway 114 was under so much heavy construction, it was best to avoid it at all costs. So I'd have to take 183. It would take me nearly an hour to get to Keller in rush hour, and then another 30 minutes to get to Roanoke.
"Yeah, that works," I said.
My high school friend Annie had gotten married and I hadn't seen her in years. I hadn't even met her husband. These are the things that happen when you grow up and rely on Facebook to keep you in touch with your former best friends. She lived out in Roanoke and had invited Cayden and I for dinner and dessert at her place.
Our other close friend, Colbie, had recently gotten engaged, and while I had met her fiance, I hadn't yet seen her ring. So we joined parties and decided we'd all meet in Roanoke for a night of reuniting. It would be Cayden and I and the two other couples. This would be my first couples-only outing (aside from dinners with Shanna and Ronnie and mall visits with Joyce and Joey). Cayden and I would be the dating couple, Colbie and Justin were engaged, and Annie and JC were married. It would almost be like an episode of Rules of Engagement.