Daniel's itinerary was filled with "mights" that led to arguments and troublesome packing. I might be invited to a black tie optional gala while there, and I had nothing to wear. "Don't buy anything," Daniel said, "Just bring something you have." The problem: I don't have anything appropriate. Many phone calls, emails, and facebook posts later, I looked at 10 dresses from generous friends, none of which really fit and ended up packing something inappropriate that I already had. I worked into the wee hours Thursday night trying to pack for every occasion I might encounter while keeping my roomy suitcase under 50 pounds. At 11:30 I received a call from Daniel (already on California time) that I might need an additional cocktail dress. I had to restrategize to stay under my weight limit (and restrain myself).
At the mixer, dance music blared while real estate professionals danced unprofessionally. It was not even possible to mix at this event; it was too loud. We encountered the same girls from before, one of whom grabbed Daniel's arm and talked in his ear. Not for nothing, but I am not a jealous girl. Still, I was out of place. I couldn't help imagining that this is always what it's like when he's on the road, when I'm not there. A drunk realtor from LA talked to me for a while and told me I looked "elegant." In this crowd, at this venue, I wasn't sure it was a compliment. After 10PM California time, we waited outside for a chauffeured black SUV. One of our companions, a beautiful and hilarious Persian woman who ended up buying the group dinner said, "Driver, what is your name, honey bunny? Where are you from?" Gus from Jordan responded, to which she replied, "Are you Muslim?" He said that he was. "I don't believe you," she shot back, so he started blaring Arab music. We shot through the streets of San Francisco like this until we arrived at a Korean barbecue where we ate until almost 1 AM (my body, still on East Coast time, felt like it was 4:00). On the way out, Daniel's coworker assured me, "Most trips are NOT like this," and I know they are not. But it was daunting to feel so ordinary. It's hard to compete with fake. Daniel assured me I don't have to.
The last year has been difficult, a constant state of adjustment. It makes me worry about and consider things I'd rather not. It makes us bicker about issues we'd rather not. It makes it nearly impossible to talk. In the last month, there have been two occasions for Daniel to be home 12 hours or less, before catching another flight. It's better than not coming home at all, I think, but it is hard to get used to. So we have a complicated relationship, the travel and I. Without it, we would never take these kind of trips. But without it, maybe we wouldn't need to.