While the Cat's Away

  • Barbarella

I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you.

-- Roy Croft

David is leaving me. I've seen this coming for months now -- at least, that's how long the date of his departure has been marked on my calendar. David doesn't have a calendar; he relies on me to tell him where to be and when. I've suggested he get one to help me monitor our hectic schedule, but, after last week's e-vite incident, I changed my mind. The information for an after party celebrating the unveiling of a new public sculpture in Imperial Beach entitled "Banner Art" arrived over a month ago in David's e-mail inbox. Dressed to impress, with a bottle of Italian red in hand, we arrived at the residential venue and let ourselves into the back yard. Following the glow of lights and the sound of voices, it was there we encountered the hostess, who (after staring at us blankly for a moment and then doubling over in laughter) let us know through tapering giggles that we were 24 hours late. We were invited to stay for Sunday dinner with the family, during which we were told of all the wonderful people and conversations we'd missed the night before.

Because he's learned not to trust himself with tedious things like dates and times, David checked with me, his calendar, before making his plans to leave. I always go with him when he travels. But when I tried to imagine myself on this trip -- hanging out alone in a strange city during the days while he's at his seminars and sitting, un-amused, at dinner while he and his fellow photo geeks proceed to talk about each other's equipment like dogs sniffing each other's butts -- it seemed tedious. In the way he hesitated when I asked him for his thoughts on the matter, I could tell David agreed that it wasn't a good idea for me to join him. And yet, like lesbians, we loathed the idea of being separated for four long nights.

With the exceptions of David's trip to Seattle early in our relationship and my jaunt to Vegas with my sister and her friends a few months ago, my hip attachment and I have not spent a night apart in four years. Though he usually reports boredom and listlessness when I am not around to entertain and annoy him, I think David gets on better than I do when we are separated.

David is my stabilizer; he's the control rod to my nuclear reactor, the boron that absorbs and calms my crazy flying neutrons. Within the first three months of being exposed to the placid properties of my new partner, I quit smoking and began to favor sleep over my usual weekend cocktails of GHB and cocaine. But when David went to Seattle toward the end of our sixth month together, the first thing I did was buy a pack of cigarettes, call my drug delivery boy, and decide which club I wanted to go to. A few days later, coughing, sniffling, pasty, and exhausted, I welcomed David home with open, desperate arms.

On my way to Vegas earlier this year, I was secretly hoping someone in the party would break out the good stuff -- ecstasy, coke, G, even acid -- whatever it was, I decided during my solo five-hour drive that I was going to do it. Once there, however, it became clear that everyone, save my innocent sister, had been counting on the rest to provide the party favors, and that no one had had the initiative, forethought, or sufficient desire to try and acquire anything ahead of time. My initial reaction when I realized I was facing a weekend in Vegas sans the proper party materials was to feel a crushing disappointment. I should have known better , I thought while lounging by the pool with girls, If you want something fun, you've got to get it yourself. On the drive back, alert and well-rested, I was relieved to have been spared the unpleasant aftereffects of a weekend bender.

When I told him of my final decision to remain behind, David, his dimples flashing mischievously, said, "This will be a chance for you to go out and party all night, tear up the town, you know, snort cocaine, smoke cigarettes." I briefly considered the taunt as an option, and then, just as quickly, I dismissed the idea. It appears as though David's straight-edginess is rubbing off on me.

I mentally sifted through all of the activities I enjoy in which David has no interest. Dancing was first, rejected as soon as I conjured memories of drinks spilled on my shoes and creepy randoms taking advantage of the crowded dance floor. I thought about having a party, but David usually does all the hard stuff (nibbles and sips, music, visual entertainment, and clean-up) while I flash my verbal acumen. Of course, it's been a while since I watched The Color Purple , but I really need to be in the right mood for that, and I already had my period this month. I rejected every activity until I got to "turbo socializing." My eyes lit up and I immediately got on the horn to start booking back-to-back dates with friends and family members.

I may be dreading the prospect of sleeping alone in our giant bed, but I'm ecstatic when I glance at my calendar, now filled with plans for each waking moment of David's absence, plans I made in a frenzy to ensure I would be neither bored nor lonely while my lover is away.

Possibilities for socializing can be delightfully uncomplicated while Numero Uno is out of the picture -- I won't have to solicit his agreement before inviting someone over, or make sure he is preoccupied with tasks that don't interest me before I head out of the house. I can rest assured that he is off doing something I find to be exceptionally boring (which quells those "missing out" anxieties to which I am prone), and take comfort in the fact that for a few days, I won't be annoying my mild-mannered man when I blast Les Miserables and act out every scene -- with props and costumes -- in the living room.

I'm sure David will enjoy this little break from what my friend Ollie calls my "incessant yapping." But I also know that, because of our nauseating addiction to each other, he will miss me. I've been hinting to David that I will be partying it up Keith Richards style. I can imagine him, lying in his hotel bed, trying to get to sleep on sheets of inferior thread count, thinking of what kind of trouble his woman is getting into, intermittently checking his cell phone for missed calls from the San Diego Police Department.

But, after my social adventures, none of which involved drugs or smokes, I will brush my teeth in the company of silence, climb into an empty bed, and fashion a body out of David's pillows, into which I will then burrow, wrapping myself in his scent, and taking as much solace as I can in such a poor substitute for the man who keeps me sane.

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