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Warm & Fuzzy: communication negotiations

You know how polyamorous relationships are infamous for the need to negotiate and/or plan out every little detail of interaction, or especially how to wind up spending enough time together and/or get in touch with each other so everybody gets enough time and no one feels crowded?

I'm not even dating him, and we do that.

It's a careful, measured dance. He works. I work. He wakes early. I sleep late. I work weekends. He has weekends off, for the first time in five years. With us, a hi-and-goodbye call is rare. We get sucked into each other. Today his father pried us apart after two hours of the sort of running-over talk that you get when the principals have much to tell each other after a long dry spell, the priming of that fresh gossip being just the thing to bring up gush after gush of stopped-up old confidence from those deepest crevices of the well... We play off each other. I talk about my trip. Final Fantasy comes up. He tells me how he beat the game. I giggle at him and grab a tangent. We're all over the place. We can't even track our own conversation.

We have to set a schedule, not before that, not after then. We've been known to start talking at six and not stop until eleven -- and still feel as if we're cutting it short. I tell him about what's been up with me. He tells me about what's been up with him. He has a phone voice for work now. It sounds too much like his father's. I didn't tell him that. His phone voice isn't the warm hazelnutbutterchocolate purr that makes me melty. I didn't tell him that, either. I have a phone voice for work. Mine sounds like I'm plotting something or hiding something from him. Glass masks. People at work see me polite and professional. He sees me, hiding.

After six, before nine on weekdays. He needs his sleep. Weekends, Wednesdays -- I work and have my writing group. He won't be doing any more driving than necessary until he starts getting his paycheck. I have a hellish schedule that doesn't coincide with his much. He's calmer, now that job search isn't screaming. Maybe we can even make a regular appointment for meeting and spending quiet time together.

He shares what's up in my life with his parents. He didn't say that in as many words, but it shows. His father commented on the length of the conversation, with concern -- from Alaska? Nope, I'm back now. I blew a raspberry. He relayed, raspberry and all. After I'd told him to omit the raspberry. I chided him. We laughed.

We both work in call centers. He updates information in his company's address book. I do random phone surveys. We both get Very Wrong Numbers. He's called the Boy Scouts. I've called Pizza Hut. He's called a law office. I've called the American Idol hotline. He's called a church. I've called a minister's cellphone on a Sunday. We laughed. We've both applied to be monitors -- this call may be monitored for quality assurance.

He plays paper-games with co-workers, tic-tac-toe flung over the cubicles. I withdraw and write. I complained about Mr. Bitter. He hasn't met anyone like that at work yet. I hope he doesn't. He hopes so too. We picked apart the symptoms of a systems crash. Both of us are far too curious about the systems to just be phone peons. We want in. He's got ASP errors. I've got Telnet. He's got two windows to deal with. I've got one ancient one. We commiserated. We laughed.

I want to show him everything as if he were seeing it through my eyes. He went into the same sort of detail, the same sort of omission. I expect him to somehow be able to peer over my shoulder all day long, my invisible friend who goes everywhere with me. For someone who's supposed to be a painter, I don't tell him how things look, often, not the things I see every day and take for granted. I use our common visual referents -- remember that text-based COBOL front end thing you made? Yeah. My telnet screen looks like that. Blue, with white text. I'm staring at a bluescreen all day. And he walks me through the call procedure from his work as if I were in his pocket, watching his button-clicky...

We'll survive. We're too stubborn to not.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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