In the past two weeks I've migrated from "having a cup of tea in the evening when Gareth makes it" to "time for my evening cup of tea."

"The house is quiet," I said when Jeff called this afternoon."Well, it wasn't as if it wasn't quiet before. Gareth probably wasn't making a lot of noise while he was here. But I know what you mean." Over the line, I could hear the smile. Stay married long enough and you start to automatically translate what your partner said into what they actually meant to say.

By my watch, Gareth is probably home now, or close to it. The typical mammalian brain, even when saddled with a working understanding of the vagaries of air travel, sometimes has trouble grasping that the damp towel left in the bathroom this morning was left by someone who went halfway across the world today.

Funny; is it just a bit of squinting and imagination on my part, or did we have six people over for dinner last night? The stillness of the house belies such imaginings, but surely I can't imagine such a wretched loss at Settlers such as the one that I went through last night?

Was it on the phone with Kat that I said, "It's not that I like or dislike people—it's that I can only handle being a social butterfly about once a week"? Perhaps. It sounds like something I'd say to her. I've done well, though, and I said as much to Gareth today at the airport—"You do realize that there are very few people in this world that I could have as a guest in my house for two weeks without wanting to kill them?"

The fact that I change back into my ratty pajamas and leave my scraggly hair uncombed the night after houseguests leave has absolutely nothing to do with being grateful that they've gone home. In fact, it's quite the contrary: we'll miss having Gareth around.

Quite a bit, actually.

There's no denying that there's always a hint of strangeness when someone stays with us. The years together have changed us. True, I still can't stand to have someone in the room when I'm watching one of my guilty-pleasure TV shows, but it's been a couple of years since I've attempted to hide from Jeff that, after ten p.m. or so, the chances of my actually getting a glass to get a drink of milk are pretty small.

Edmund has stayed out of the guest bedroom for two weeks now; pretty impressive when you realize that the guest bed is the official site for Competitive Daytime Napping™. Tomorrow I'll find his "catnip angel" (a tiny, 3" stuffed kitty angel with wings that I regularly douse with catnip) and place it on the bed to signal that Competitive Daytime Napping™ may begin again.

Geof: "Recluse."

Me: "Duh."

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Yes, I do believe that it was me you told that to. It sounds familiar at least. But then, to make up a good group of friends, it takes all kinds, even the ones who can only handle being a social butterfly once a week. :) I can't say that I blame you too much, though. I appreciate my solitude when I get it. Mornings are my time for solitude now. I get up early enough that I get a few minutes in after my shower to just relax and prepare myself for the day ahead of me. It's kind of nice.

I think I said "Recluse." So nyah! :D

So you did, and so it has been changed. :)