I'm dreaming it. I had been a wreck for almost two weeks. I started sweating alot, for no reason. I lost my appetite and took up chain smoking. I spent every night in the last two weeks talking to Ted, for hours and hours, on IM. I couldn't get enough. We didn't talk on the phone until the day before Thanksgiving, and then it was, again, for hours. Earlier that Sunday, he invited me up for the weekend, to see a show. Now we were just getting through each monotonous day until I would arrive at Atlanta's airport.

We both, I think, liked each other, but neither of us really knew how to feel. All I knew was that I liked talking to him, that I never got tired of it, that I was attracted to him, and that I was worried this would hurt me if he didn't like me back. He was going to come down for New Year's, but after the level of interest had been attained in such a short period, I'm glad he suggested meeting beforehand. Now, of course, we've met twice before, as noders, at gatherings (the usual). But this was the first time we were to meet as two people who had at least gotten to talk to one another, two people who were single and liked each other.

I had to work Friday before my flight. I was so excited people had to remind me to eat, to breathe, to relax. It was a combination of eagerly awaiting something you know will happen and the frustration of its physical symptoms. After my recent breakup, I lost my appetite, and I am not used to it this time any more than last time. Then I lose it again in anticipation of meeting someone else. I was jumping around all day until a co-worker finally took me to the airport.

I was told to get there 2 hours earlier, but as it turns out the time was not needed. I was patted down and gone over with wands, but even after all that I had more than an hour to kill. Thankfully, within the last 6 months a bar in the airport allowed smoking, so I relished this small wonder (it is amazing there hadn't been a smoking section in MSY, considering this is New Orleans) until I was somberly told the bar's last call would be in 15 minutes. It being only 6:30, I was annoyed. The one beer I had managed to gulp down ($4.50 for Abita!!!) on my empty stomach gave me enough gusto to call Ted and yammer at him for 20 minutes or so. Good thing I did call him, because he wanted to make sure I could find him, since the airports do not allow people to pick up or meet passengers at the gate.

I boarded soon after that for nearly the shortest flight I've had that brought me to my destination (a little over an hour). The pilot had a harmonica:

Hello I'll be your pilot (waa waa wawa)
I'll get you where you wanna go (waa waa wawa)
If you need anything (waa waa wawa)
Let these good folks know (waa waa wawa)

Edwin, one of the attendants, got us to wish another attendant, Liz, a happy birthday while he got applause for being voted the best attendant of the year. The running gag for the flight was that Edwin could help you with everything. The other attendants were busting up over the intercom. Very odd, but I guess we all need some humor these days.

I get off the flight and do not take the hints from MARTA that the walk to baggage claim was long. Moving sidewalk after escalator. On and on. I was already sweating to begin with and it was damn hot down there. Finally I reach the final escalator. I pan around for Ted. I walk around a little disoriented until he spins me around and hugs me. Tight. Warm. I had several feelings before I got on the plane that I would kiss him at some point during the weekend I was there, but I didn't expect to in the airport, within moments of meeting each other, as we did. The tremors in my stomach broke away. We just stood there, holding each other.

We walked to his car holding hands. You'd think I'd just come home or something, but it really just seemed to fit. We would look at each other with a playful awkwardness of a couple that had just hopped a few bases on a first date. I was in miserable need of a shower, which was the first thing I did when I got to his place. Ted drove me around the campus at Georgia Tech, where some people had already set up camp for the weekend's big rival Georgia vs. Georgia game. He zoomed around pointing at all the different buildings in light of orange lights, knowing I wouldn't remember any of them once we got out of the parking lot. We went out to get a bite to eat with Ted's friend Jeff at an ecclectic place called R. Thomas. It reminded me of Juan's back home. I tried to make it easy for Jeff to talk to me, but I couldn't tell if I was making a good impression. I can imagine it's awkward when your friend brings some chick to meet you for the first time over burgers and garlic green beans.

We came home and watched this insane video of Aphex Twin called Windowlicker. That man has, as Ted said, the most amazing fixation on his ugly mug. We curled up on the couch. We went up on the roof barefoot and squished around on the rubbery sealant, laying on the trap door flipped open, kissing and annoyed at the orange lights. There were times where we'd just stare at each other, nose to nose. Ted has these big, light green eyes. And when he looked at me, he looked through me. I felt like I had been caught doing something very sneaky.

Saturday morning he made us french toast. He put the plates in the oven to warm them up. I watched him frump around the apartment, all the gestures and movements. He took me for a ride on his motorcycle to get ingredients for the dinner I would make for us that night. I wore his leather jacket. It had been over 7 years since I'd gotten on a bike, but I tried to remember what I'd been taught, the most basic lesson: when the bike turns, keep your body in line with the bike. Don't lean the opposite way or too far into the curve. I trusted Ted, and I knew he wouldn't go too fast, but when you're in the back, you never really know when the driver will turn. It was a combination of relaxing my hips and stiffening in my shoulders. We found the tumeric, the coconut milk and cardemom. We rented Fear of a Black Hat and Lara Croft's Tomb Raider, watching the former and getting stoned before dinner. His apartment is long and narrow, so you have to walk all the way from one end to the other to get anywhere, similar to a double shotgun. I would watch him walk around. He would watch me. In the peripheral, I could see him looking at me, and it made me shrug inside myself. His eyes are big and green, you see. They will find me out.

We walked to the show at The Tablernacle to see John Mayer play. All these beautiful but stupid looking and sounding girls crowded the floor. We noted that it was an all ages show. We noted that all the girls were very small and thin and the boys all had hat hair and cell phones. I won't give too much away, but the show rocked. I had turned Ted onto John Mayer in the last week, so when Your Body Is A Wonderland came on, we couldn't help but treat it as our song. John broke parts of songs off, a little Radiohead. Wind Cries Mary. Even Girls Just Wanna Have Fun inside a chorus of his own song. Every few songs, a man got on stage to update us on the Georgia-Georgia game (not that I remember). Walking in the cool breeze after that oven was bliss. When we got home, someone's van had caught on fire nearby and we walked down to it, not knowing right away what it was, just smelling burnt plastic and seeing the billowing smoke come in like fog. Ted's roommate had pumpkin cheesecake for us when we returned. We watched Tomb Raider and were equally disappointed, except for the gratuitous shower scene.

Sunday was lazy. We drove around looking for the place Ken told us about for awesome ice cream, but after a few passes on Highland we gave up and got some gelato at Paolo's, our breakfast. We were trying to hold out for the late lunch at the Vortex we would have with Phil and Summer that afternoon. This was the first time we had been around noders, noders who had known us in other ways. The last time I'd seen those two was several months ago, and things were different. The restaurant wouldn't let us smoke cloves, but the burgers were good. Phil and Ted tried to talk about Tech stuff, Ted and I tried to talk about all what we did that weekend, but it all seemed like another awkward first date. I wanted so much for everyone to be comfortable, but we are all still new to ourselves. Phil and Summer as a couple are just so durn cute, it made me wonder how Ted and I look, how we seem, so newly bound.

We wandered around Junkman's Daughter, laughing at the poodle shaped purses and ugly, pimp daddy sunglasses. We parted company with them and headed for the airport. It was all at once a sad and triumphant feeling. We had met, things went so well I could barely believe it, and I was leaving. I would come back to my apartment and nothing there would have changed. It could have all been a dream.

Ted blew me a kiss at the security checkpoint, as we got further and further away.

In my seat on the return flight, as I'd done before we met in person, I closed my eyes and imagined kissing him again. Only this time I didn't have to imagine. I knew exactly how it felt. So it must be true.

As the day wore on, it became increasingly clear i had to get out of the fort. i would've gone crazy had i stayed there. Laura had already called me from the New Orleans airport, which was a nice suprise and helped calm me down a bit. Finally satisfied that her flight was in the air and hurtling toward Hartsfield Int'l, i went out for a drive.

Driving around aimlessly can only do so much to calm you down, plus the city was dead. It was a Friday night, but it seemed like the only things happening were in me. i had been completely useless for several days at this point, far too excited and nervous and hopeful to be able to concentrate on anything.

We had both been at two gatherings together, but the typical fragmentation of gatherings hadn't been conducive to either of us being able to converse freely. IM (and a few /msges) served as our main channel of communication for weeks, starting out as random snippets of chat and quickly gaining momentum. My flatmates started to notice me spending more and more time chatting each night. Sacrificing sleep for chat time with Laura became my modus operandi.

i don't know what it was, exactly, but she had me like a habit. It just felt so good. The more we talked and i found out about her, the more i wanted to. i had it bad because she was so good. i had already talked with her about coming down for New Year's weekend to hang out. At the rate we were going, i would've never made it. Fortunately, a convenient excuse came up and with some frantic late-night pointing and clicking, transportation was arranged. i just had to make it through that week. i was dizzy and floating with excitement. My feet seemed like they would never touch the ground again.

Back from my drive, i had managed to kill a whole 20 minutes. i tried my damnedest to keep busy and keep my mind off the fact that Laura would soon be there, but to no avail. Her flight was about 20 minutes ahead of schedule, causing me to jump back in my car and burn rubber all the way to Hartsfield.

When Laura finally emerged up the escalator, a huge smile broke across my face and the jitters i had been cultivating since Sunday disappeared. She didn't see me at first and slowly walked through the crowd. i followed behind her, keeping a few steps distance, watching the way she moved. i put my hand on her shoulder, said, "Laura". i completely melted when she turned around, looked me in the eyes and hugged me tight. She felt so warm, so wonderful, so right. i had a feeling we would probably kiss at some point in the weekend, but after that, i knew we weren't going to leave the spot until we did.

We made our way back to the fort, and left to go have dinner with my friend Jeff. Jeff can be a bit overbearing at times, but i knew he'd be on his best behavior as i had been talking about Laura coming up since Sunday. It's hard not to talk about someone this amazing.

Back at the fort, we got up on the roof and watched the clouds go by, looked down through the skylights and cuddled on the hatch cover. i've never felt as at ease with anyone as i do with her. i was (and still am) in awe at how well she just fits into my life.

The rest of the weekend seemed to go in delicious slow motion. i just couldn't take my eyes off her. Her smile and eyes and freckles when she just woke up, french toast for breakfast, a motorcycle ride to get ingredients for dinner, Fear of a Black Hat and Tomb Raider were rented and we returned back home. The combination of her arms wrapped tightly around me, the wind and vibrations from the motorcycle made the short jaunt around the city the most enjoyable i've had. Smot was poked, Fear of a Black Hat was watched and dinner prepared, albeit slowly and giggly. We walked in the cool air to the Tabernacle for the concert, which rocked. The crowd was interesting, as it consisted of jailbait, frat boys, sorostitutes and us. We walked back in the refreshing air to my ghetto apartment and snuggled on the couch. She was a dream, completely tangible, right there in my arms, so it must be true.

The next day, Ken's fictious ice cream parlor was nowhere to be found, so we settled for gelato before we were to meet Summer and Phil for lunch. It had been a while since i had seen Phil around Tech and it was good to finally meet Summer. i didn't say much as i was still in awe of the previous 40 hours, so fresh and sweet in my mind. And she was still there, which made it hard to concentrate. We played around in a nearby store, trying on Bootsy Collins sunglasses and looking at the lack of posters before we parted ways with the other happy couple en route to the airport.

We hugged and kissed for one last time before she went through the extra-long lines for security. She turned around to look at me and i blew her a kiss as she made her way to the metal detectors. Normally, i love hanging around in the airport but i just couldn't do it then. i drove back home with the radio off, the only sound coming from the engine and tires on the asphalt. i looked around the fort when i got in. There were very few signs she had been there at all. A few butts of her clove cigarettes in the ashtray, some Bill Hicks and Henry Rollins and a few books she loaned me near my messy bed. i soon discovered the t-shirt of mine she had worn. The neck was sweet with the smell of her body spray, but the rest of it had the intoxicating and sublime scent of her on it.

Then i realized what had been here before that was now missing. Somehow or another, she had crammed it somewhere - her carry-on bag, or pockets perhaps. i had no idea, but she made off with it before i knew what hit me. She's fast and sneaky at times and knows exactly what she's doing. How she got past security with my heart is still a mystery to me.

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