It was my second to last day of work, and things were starting to get real. Mostly, I realized just how much I had left to get done before I left for good the next day. I was working on a huge travel feature for our February issue, and I had to tie up all the loose ends before I bounced.
Sadly, I couldn't bring Cayden to work, so he spent the day at the Starbucks across the street. My mind kept wandering from the travel feature to Cayden then back to the travel feature then to the fact that Wednesday was my last day then back to Cayden then to my big upcoming move to Addison and then to the sweet, gentle way Cayden made love to me after we finished a bottle of wine and the delicious meal he cooked for me.
I had Thursday and Friday off, and then I'd start my new job the next Monday. That meant I had four full days that I wouldn't be working. I'd get to spend all day with Cayden. Of course when my mind wanders to Cayden I eventually remember he'd be leaving again soon and my heart sinks, my eyes fill with tears, and I completely forget what my travel feature is even about.
I looked around my desk and saw the two separate bouquets of dried roses from Cayden. How was I going to transfer those to my new cube at my new job without destroying them? They were so fragile. I looked at the birthday card from his mom and the picture of my family hanging next to it.
On the wall behind me was a beautiful painting of a beach scene by Justin Gaffrey, an incredibly talented artist in Rosemary Beach, Florida. Justin himself gave it to me when I was down there for a press trip. (OK, so he gave one to all of the journalists on the trip. But I still felt special.) It was my first real piece of artwork, and every once in a while I'd run my fingers across the thick, hard paint and wonder how in the hell he managed to make a painting three dimensional.
Next to that was a 5x7 picture of an old black dog with white fur near his mouth like an old man. The sun above him and the flash from the camera created a halo effect around him. Earlier that year I had written a story about how to love your dog, and we had readers send in pictures of their pups. Someone sent that photo of the black dog with the halo around him along with a note that said, "This was our family dog, and we loved him very much. But he was very sick and very old. We had a family vacation planned so instead of boarding him we put him down." I cried when I read it. I couldn't bare to throw the photo away, but I tossed the letter immediately. I pinned the photo on my wall and looked at it from time to time, wondering what his name was.
Next to that was a framed picture of me and my sister Meg feeding a white African porcupine at the Denver Zoo. I'd written a travel feature in Denver and Meg had tagged along as my guest. Aside from the zoo, we paraglided off Lookout Mountain, got smashed on a brewery tour, got wasted at a wine dinner, went rafting with 3rd graders, and went on a horseback ride from hell, which explained the heavy bronze horseshoe that hung next to my VIP button from the Denver Zoo.
A piece of orange coral and a dirty oyster shell adorned the top ledge of my cube--souvenirs from a trip to Florida. Carson came along as my guest and we took a road trip up and down the coast of Northwest Florida Beaches, stopping along the way to tour the Naval Aviation Museum with Captain Jackass, stand-up paddle board with two of the sexiest instructors from YOLO, camp out in Seaside in the most luxurious beach house I've ever seen in my entire life, spend the night at a haunted Bed and Breakfast in Apalachicola, and go oystering with an old man named Kendall in the muddy frigid waters of Apalachicola Bay.
I'd had some good times at the magazine, and I was truly going to miss it. I made a mental note to take Cayden down to Florida to show him the beauty that is Seaside, Rosemary Beach, and the other new urbanist beachside communities along 30A. We could rent beach cruiser and bike along the water, enjoy a rooftop drink at Bud & Alley's, and then make love in the beach house's king-sized bed, finding sand in places sand should never be. We could make love all night and then pull ourselves up to the beach house's tower where we'd watch the sunrise, and then fall into bed, exhausted and satisfied and sleep deprived.
"What are you doing?" Cayden's chat popped up on my gmail screen, pulling me out of my daydream.
"Dreaming about you. Can we go on a vacation? Let's just run away somewhere."
"How about we plan dinner first. Then we can run away."
I looked at the clock and saw that it was already 5. How had time gotten away from me? I thought it was only 2 pm when I was dream-rafting in Denver and dream-sexing in Seaside.
"I have an idea."
Cayden walked over from Starbucks and met me in the parking lot.
"So what's your idea?" he asked suspiciously.
"Wine. Red wine. All good ideas start with red wine," I said. "Well, except the bad ones."