If my first couple of nights away with Maddie gave me some very strange feelings - and maybe an indication that there was something on her end as well - the rest of the weekend really flattened that out.
I guess you could chalk it up to a conflict between my male mind, female body, and in-between-everything-else. I'm still not accustomed to close female friendship without any sexual tension, and the way some women act around other women, when they're close or bonding, might read to a man as flirtatious or teasing.
I also had to process whether I wanted it - I've kind of gone heavy with this heterosexual thing lately, and I know, Meg would be the first to tell me that sexuality is fluid and I can define myself however I want -- even if Val doesn't have a proven track record of being experimental, does that mean her body doesn't have that streak, or that my mind in her body might not combine to make one? Or is it all just a distraction from what I really want, which is... I guess... a guy?
The feelings I was having for Maddie... I don't know. They were emotional, and intimate, but it was a bit of a leap to call them sexual. There was a sexual component there for sure, but it's not like I look around at other women as potential partners (it wasn't until recently that I looked at men and saw potential partners either, but here we are.) Whatever Maddie was doing must have breached that barrier, which means its possible for me to still be into women, but not exactly like it was before. And it's all moot because I'm pretty sure Maddie doesn't go that way.
(I actually don't want to be into women right now because I'm having a very good time without that on my plate, and being able to trust all the female relationships in my life as solely platonic, but I still think, intellectually, that women make better partners than men... ugh it's so complicated! A few years ago I would never have had all these thoughts or bothered analyzing it to this level, but a few years ago... things were very different, both for me and for the world.)
So, the reason why I feel pretty confident that all this flirting and connecting Maddie was doing actually didn't have any meaning to it is that the first thing Maddie said to me on Saturday morning once we were up and about was that she had texted her guyfriend and invited him to come over, and hopefully I was okay with that. I took a breath to process that and say of course, why would I stand in the way of that? She said that if I wanted, I could invite Rafe over too, but I waved that off - it was far for him to travel, and I really wasn't in the mood to see him (like I said, part of the appeal of this weekend was to detox myself from him and cleanse my palate.) Plus, even if the cat's out of the bag and everyone at the shop has figured it out, I'd rather just pretend they don't know, or pretend I don't know they know, and not let anyone see how he and I are together.
It all makes me very glad that I'm not going to be Valerie much longer.
Once this guy arrived (let's call him David) I actually found myself quite annoyed, because they retreated to the bedroom for several hours -- which, the idea of hooking up in a stranger's bed like that is a little gross to me (again, notwithstanding my personal history!) and because of course all the caretaking was left to me for pretty much the whole day, I had to walk the dogs, one after the other (because I'm not big enough to overpower one, let alone all three!) in the pouring rain, even though there was three of us now and one was a big strong man.
They also baked some pot brownies and left them out where the dogs could eat them, which would have been a huuuuge problem if I hadn't noticed.
So Saturday was a writeoff as far as I was concerned. David didn't spend the night or anything but I wasn't exactly into sharing the bed with Maddie either, so I took the one with all the dogs.
The next day, of course, because Maddie is a woman, she immediately sensed that I was upset with her and asked me to talk about it. And I didn't want to. So I tried to air my grievances - minus the confusing sexual component - and call her out for basically screwing around (literally) while she should have been earning her pay.
All she said was, "I'm sorry you see it that way. I didn't mean to let you down, but you can't expect me to not have fun while I'm here... you said you were okay with it yourself."
I just sighed. "It's not all about you... I'm just tired of being the responsible one. Feels like I never cut loose."
"Yeah," she snickered, "You are kind of a team mom around the shop. Which is totally why we have to start a business."
"We'll see," I said, looking away.
I guess that's why I fell in with Rafe - because yeah, I do have to be the Responsible Adult in the semi-relationship, but at least when we're together I feel like I can do something stupid and fun without screwing up anybody's life. It's the most free I've felt in years, even if, in the end, it will only prove temporary after I move on and get my next assignment.
Things were still a little chilly after that, but we hugged it out and got on with our last day of lounging around the house watching movies, before the Hutchinses returned, early in the afternoon. They invited us to stay for dinner, and I didn't have anything else to do, but Maddie wanted to go home and I didn't feel like staying without her, so Mrs. Hutchins - Cynthia - kindly gave us a ride to the station.
I told her what a beautiful home she had, and she said thanks... "Not bad for a gal from Tuscaloosa."
"Tuscaloosa?" I said, "Wow, I'm-- uh, I've got family down in Mobile."
"Really? I thought you grew up around here."
"Oh I did, I did... uh... New Rochelle?"
She side-eyed me. "Is that a guess?"
"Well, uh... we moved around."
"Spend a lot of time down there? I think I'm detecting an accent..."
"Maybe... maybe I'm just copying you."
"You know there's a lot of us out there... can't swing a dead cat without hittin' one it seems."
"What, you mean Alabamians?"
"Yes Val... Alabamians."
We pulled up to the train station. I put my hand on the latch of the car door.
I mouthed: "You know."
She nodded, and said in a hush "Let's talk sometime."
I gave a big sigh, wincing, as if to say I'd really rather not, but... she seems harmless.
Famous last words.
-Ty, still Val