On The Run From A Vast Government Conspiracy

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 3.618% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I was supposed to be home this week, curled up with my wife and my dog and my daughter.
Instead, I’m holed up in a Pricelined hotel in downtown Cleveland, listening to the cold winter wind whistle past our eighth-floor window, my sweetie Fox in my bed, living on cold cuts out of a hotel refrigerator.
Life’s a little weird.
The reason for this escapery is because Fox was scheduled to visit me this week, and Fox has two highly relevant traits:
1) Fox is an opera singer, with a show they’re going into rehearsals for in two weeks;
2) Fox is highly immunocompromised.
Neither of which would be an issue if not for the third problem:
3) My daughter came down with strep throat while we were in New Jersey picking Fox up, and the doctor says she’s going to be contagious all week.
So I was faced with a weird choice: see no Fox at all, as we really cannot risk this gorgeously-voiced opera singer missing their role as a villainous chocolatier in the Steampunk opera Absinthe Heroes – or run away, away, away from my home and hole up with Fox for the week.
And now I am holed up.
And this is oddly like being on the run from a vast government conspiracy.  I cannot go home until our house is not a plague of viral contagions, so I am missing my wife fiercely, missing my dog fiercely, missing my daughter fiercely.  I am frantically trying to finish a book and cannot go to my usual basement retreat to pace in my library and frantically mutter as I plot out what happens next.  I can’t watch movies on my gigantic TV screen.  I am desperately trying to adjust my work schedule to program remotely in an only-slightly-uncomfortable hotel chair.
This is not my home.
Yet we are, intriguingly, building a culture.
Fox and I have only spent snippets of time together – a day here, a weekend there, always riven through with some other distraction.  We’re at a convention.  I’m visiting for a day.  They’re visiting me at home, where my daughter lives, and as such we can’t smooch at a moment’s notice.
Here, however, we have a full week to take this awkward rented space and discover who we are together.  And already a rough schedule is coalescing: cuddle in the morning, slog out of bed to get to work, exchange music with each other all day while I program and they mark up their copy of the Absinthe Heroes script, finish at five, write for three hours, go out to get dinner in fine downtown Cleveland, return home for Steven Universe and kinkiness.
I am getting a gift I rarely get with any of my partners:
The gift of boredom.
We cannot devote this time entirely to each other, and so we are discovering what we are like when the tedium strikes.  The day is laced with the mundane tasks of showering and chores.  We are finding our spaces – this chair is mine, the right side of the bed is theirs.  I learn to be quiet while they’re napping in the afternoon.  They learn to stay quiet while I’m pacing the room and plotting. I learn to deal with their chronic illness and brain fog, seeing them work through neck cricks due to their Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; they learn to deal with my endlessly discussing Mah Book and the analyses I am continually subjecting my prose to.
This is a ludicrously small space. We cannot get away from each other; even the mirror on the wall reflects images of the bathroom into our eyes.  And neither of us have the foods we’re used to, Fox living on Giant Eagle tea and me making very small glasses of chocolate milk in cardboard cups.
Yet there is intimacy in figuring out what portions of our space we work with.  Debating where we’re going for dinner tonight.  Discussing bills and living quarters.  The silence of texting others and refilling our introversion meters.  The small gossips of sharing funny things we found on Twitter.
And there are moments where I miss Gini so keenly tears sting my eyes.  I saw her this morning for all of three minutes and I still quiver from the need to hold her; I couldn’t.  She pushed me away, correctly, an act of love for all involved, as strep has a three- to five-day incubation period and she will not infect Fox.
I returned, shaken, to my hotel room, missing my wife’s touch.  Fox told me, quietly, “You know you can go home at any time.  It’s okay.”
I think of the love that surrounds me – Gini letting me go for a week to protect someone we both cherish, Fox willing to live alone in a strange town so I could be with my wife.  And yet the curse of this is that this outbreak means I can choose only one, and I choose the person who is more transitory.
I will not get this experience with Fox again.
And all the while, there is the awareness of this liminal space.  Things are strewn about like a hotel, the messiness of dishware in a space not designed to hold it.  The endlessly fending off maids who respect no “Do Not Disturb” sign.  This will be packed up and stored away and the room will be reset and the next visitor will never know what we had here.
Still.
Still.
I slide into bed with Fox at night.  Fox is a snuggler, holding me tight even in their sleep, and when I wake they have rubbed their scent all over me.  We kiss in the mornings before my eyes are fully open, Fox purring as I touch their back.
This is such strangeness.  This feeling of being on the run from our normal lives, yet forming something alien and yet simultaneously completely normal in the center of it.  Drinking orange juice in bathrobes and watching the storms come in. Both of us separated from our support groups, transforming this distance-separated relationship into the casual intimacy of roommates, threaded through with loneliness, and lust, and labor.
Spending time.
Peering into each others’ lives.

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