Just after midnight, Pacific time. We've played our games of Munchkin, I've infected Debbie with a fascination for the card game Set, and our night is done. I'm not packed, but all the Gessamans are in varying stages of bedding down for a long winter's nap.

It's time to go home.

I've been here for nearly a week, and I'm sitting here prattling on with a keyboard instead of writing the thank-you notes that must be done. I had a simple moment of clarity tonight that should show up in my thank-you notes. I've already mentioned it to Adam, but I'll find a way to put it down on paper between now and tomorrow morning.

It's easy for me to think that I have to somehow provide something to every friendship or relationship I'm in. Adam's profession and mine are different enough that we can't really share war stories. I don't have useful advice to give. He's far geekier in hardware and software than I'll ever manage, and lately it seems like the music recommendations always flow from him to me, and never vice versa.

I had a stretch of about two days in which I wondered why I was here, but the question hit me this afternoon: why did I think it was always about what I was able to provide? What if, in the end, it wasn't about work stories or what you did or what you listened to, but just the simple fact that the talking came easy, and that laughter usually followed?

What if it was really just that simple?

That's what this week has been. Simple. We didn't do nearly all of the things we'd considered doing. We did go to Vancouver, and we did do a Seattle shopping day, and I met a few of Adam's friends. The rest was unexpected. I came here expecting only to socialize with Adam, but discovered that his family shared the same warmth and humor that had encouraged our original friendship. (I hope I haven't misread that on my end.)

I sit here in the basement office thinking over the past week and I'm surprised to realize that I'll miss this entire family. I have no doubt that they fight and get on each other's nerves, but they love and genuinely enjoy being around each other. The morning and evening conversations were unforced and pleasant. I was welcomed and got to tag along for the week.

(Yes, that was me raiding the fridge this evening, asking where the milk was.)

I say this knowing full well that these are people I will never see often. It makes me sad, yet philosophical. For me, it brings home the realization that a life including traveling means two things: while you'll rarely lack for native guides in strange cities, it also means you will never have easy, simultaneous access to all the people whose company you enjoy.

So it's time to head home, to a real bed and my very-real cats, with a few new names in the facebook friends list and the realization that yes, indeed, I already want to come back. I threw no snowballs. We didn't do the brewery tour. I did almost no photography. I didn't get to play Set against Eric.** I didn't get to play a fully-cutthroat game of Munchkin against the gamers.

...but if that's as close as I'm getting to regrets here, I should just shut my mouth.

** Eric, if you're reading this, get in touch. I don't have contact info for you. I would have enjoyed talking to you a lot longer!