No cookouts for us today. Today is my Friday and his Monday, and this morning when he left I was out cold. Didn't hear his alarm or the espresso kettle's splutter or the pipes groan. I'm sure he came in and kissed me goodbye, because he always does. He must've been on time, having a smooth morning because Late/Tornado/Freeman isn't something you sleep through. Molly kindly alerted me to her pressing need to be outdoors, one full hour before my alarm, by standing on my bladder and sighing. Yeah, my dog sighs. She's figured out by now that this little maneuver is the sole thing that I cannot feign sleep through. As soon as I let on, even a tiny fucking bit, that I am some semblance of awake- they rocket themselves off the bed and down the hall. The playfighting commences, and it would be funny and cute to watch their expert little dance if they weren't so damn vocal and HEY! Watch where you're going! I've never been good with mornings, okay? It's a minor miracle that I haven't seriously injured myself or put my dogs up for adoption- because going from totally asleep to stumbling around with a tangle of teeth and fur underfoot in sixty seconds cannot be ANYONE's ideal way of waking. I grumble at them, and they try to tone it down for approximately thirty seconds- a token gesture really. I know who owns whom, here. Grabbing their get-up from the hook, I turn to face them and they do The Thing. So here are these two dogs, clearly fucking eager to be outside, and so happy to be awake and alive and beating the shit out of each other. And here I am, a reluctant pile of incoherency and sleepy limbs with collars in hand- and they get cockshy. They start to back up, retreat, trying to start a dancing game. This is the icing on my little, frustrated cupcake- and I become a growling, glaring, pissed off dog mama. Realizing this, they come back- sweetly wagging their tails and dropping their heads. Why we cannot skip THIS step in our morning routine, I will never understand. They're on a twenty foot lead, but I've learned the hard way to keep them reined in until AFTER we've descended the steps into the backyard. The twenty foot lead was the best thirty bucks I ever spent, literally keeping the beasts at bay as I start to wake up. Yes, my body has been performing tasks for the last two or three minutes- but I don't really start to wake up until I'm squinting in the sunshine in the middle of our backyard. I don't really like sleeping in clothes, but have accepted that waking up in them is critical to the success of my morning. The compromise is a 'beater and tiny boxer shorts. Even in winter, where I just add a parka and boots before heading outside. I'm sure we are a sight to behold, the two-headed monster leading a squinty and surly bear this way and that. I know I amuse the hell out of the retired schoolteacher who lives next door. She's learned not to try and talk to me this early, beyond a hello and a wave, but her arched eyebrow and the twitch at the corners of her lips get the messaged delivered. The retired pastor and his wife, on our other side, also voice their opinion by studiously ignoring the spectacle. I love that we went from the stronghold of sanity in a building full of crackheads and crazy people to being the unwed low-rent couple on Cadillac St. Living in sin is pretty great, I'll miss it. I wonder what else will change? In some ways- this set up feels a little off-kilter for people who are going to get married. We don't see that much of each other, and honestly when we are both home, in the evenings- we don't really talk all that much. He reads or plays video games, I write and listen to baseball on the radio. He takes the dogs out at night, since I have morning duty. We have random bursts of non-sequitorish conversation. We really don't have that much in common, interest-wise. And we're as different as you could be when it comes to how we interact with the world. We do always wind up close to another though. Couch, bed, kitchen table. Whomever sets up camp first, picks. Comfortable silence, that's what we do best. The one thing that we undoubtedly have in common, is that we are odd. Weird. Quirky. Not normal. Cannot fit into the prescribed parameters. And even though it manifests itself in totally different ways, I believe it's the reason that Gav wound up being "it" for me. When we first started becoming friends, seven years ago, I realized pretty quickly that he was in his own head most of the time. Sure, he was gregarious- part of a huge group of friends that I envied. And he followed the conversations easily, made people laugh. Could they see it? I could tell that he was actually somewhere else entirely. I could tell because that's the way it's always been for me. I asked him that first night, quietly, what he was thinking about and he eagerly launched into a rant about plants that I quickly lost the drift of. Those plant rants still occur, mixed in with industrial engineering and alternative energy theories and ghost stories and obscure 80's reggae bands. He sits through documentaries on the topics that I'm passionate about and doesn't bitch about the repititive commercials on the Red Sox Radio Network. I really don't believe we are perfect for each other. Our puzzle pieces probably don't even come from the same box. But I'm in, anyway. Or as Gav said to me last week, " who wants to marry themselves?"