My office has a little perk that they call "Floating Holidays." The way it works is that in addition to your usual vacation time and sick leave, you get four additional days to use as you like. Call them personal days, mental health days, whatever you like: they are nice to have, especially now in the dog days of summer when I don't feel like doing much of anything besides sitting in my living room in a coma, not even just going to sit someplace cooler--it has cooled off quite a bit lately, though--and certainly not getting up and getting dressed and proofreading and identifying software bugs for nine hours or so.
You'd think that I'd watch for them vigilantly, that I'd go look at my Outlook calendar three times a week and count the days till my next one, right? Well, if you thought that, you'd be wrong. I missed one in April because I was out of town on an installation when it rolled by; the day went by and that was that; I had to reschedule it. At least I had an excuse for that one. But I just realized today that I also missed a day in July. I forgot--I forgot, can you believe it?--that I'd taken a day off then, and didn't even realize it until my current boss asked us to let her know how many we had left this year. So I've rescheduled again, my boss laughed long and hard at me, and now I have Halloween off, which is just as it should be because I believe Halloween should be a candy-freebasing, silly-costume-wearing, get-out-of-jail-free national holiday.
Anyway. How much do I love my job? More than I ever thought possible, I guess, for me to be missing vacation days.
I have been feeling nostalgic this morning for my Baton Rouge days, a few years post-college, post-and-pre-New-Orleans-Bad-Trip. Baton Rouge, which it must be said is not a town for one to aspire to, was where I went to lick my wounds after my first NOBT, and I spent four years or so there and was unexpectedly happy there. I mean, Baton Rouge is a cipher of a city, had few of the amenities I expect from my cities. But I fell in with a crowd of people there who made it seem like the best place in the world. People who you could call on five minutes notice and say, "I am going to go see Fight Club for the seventh time, want to come along?" And they'd be waiting for you at the theater. You'd go out to dinner, eight of you crammed into a corner of a restaurant, and you'd all talk at once and people would keep stealing the calamari off your plate and you'd snag bites of their mushroom calzones. And you'd have dinner parties with twenty people crammed into your tiny apartment because your friend B. invited ten extra people but you had plenty of food because B. always does this and you knew to plan for it.
I know that some people, when they are lonely but not missing anyone in particular, feel the absence of romantic intimacy most strongly. Someone to wake up next to, snoring in the bed beside you. Someone to spend hours on the phone with, having phone sex or just talking. Someone who makes you part of a world of two. But that's not what I miss, at all.
It's not that I have anything against the world of two, exactly. Worlds of two can be great, when you get them. But when I say I miss intimacy, that's not the intimacy I mean. I don't miss worlds of two; I miss worlds of many, the extended Found Family I'm talking about when I talk rhapsodically about my bungalow court: a group of people, open, hardcore friendship, a revolving door of support that is never empty. The company of people you really love, as much as you want, sharing each other's lives the way you share calamari at the Italian bistro, casually and intimately at the same time.
I think I'm feeling a little nostalgic for it just now because so many of the people I've grown to love here in Macon are drifting away, the way you do from your safety stop-gap cities. They are going off to grad school, they are looking for real jobs, they are ready to pack up and move away. I am going to miss them. I am already missing them, the idea of them. And so of course I am thinking about the days when I came the closest I've ever come to getting what I wanted out of life and didn't even know it at the time. I want it back.