It is finally autumn in my corner of California. It might even be winter. Up until later October, and into early November, I had many chances to be reminded that the California coast, even this far north, was a Mediterranean climate. Still walking around sweating in late October, and then more or less within a week in November, the clocks shift back, and I am huddled up at home, wanting just to eat chocolate and sleep.

About two months ago, I posted about my walks across Humboldt County, or at least the easily accessible parts of it. Humboldt County has a wide assortment of transit options, but the "main" bus line runs between Trinidad (population 360) in the north, to Scotia (population 850) in the south. This line stretches 50 miles, and combines aspects of being an urban intracity busline and being a longer distance intercity busline. I didn't make it all the way from Trinidad to Scotia, but instead to Fortuna, a 40 mile distance. (Although the route I took was probably substantially longer). What I would do is ride the bus to a stop, walk a few miles, get back on the bus, and ride home. I would do this for 5 or 6 mile walks at a time, sometimes slightly longer. I walked along the main trunk rode, and also took other subsidiary walks to different places. I did this as the late summer faded into something approaching autumn. It was a fun way to imagine my life as having momentum: go out, enjoy the beautiful forests and beaches of northern California, and come home, sated with my experience. Trying to explain what this is like in subjective, or even objective terms, is difficult. I guess the easiest way is to say that along the 50 mile stretch that makes up the "central" part of Humboldt County, about 50,000 people live, in places ranging from midsized towns like Eureka to outposts that consist of nothing but a post office and minimarket at a crossroads. It is not extremely rural (that would be the Avenue of the Giants, to the south]), but it is in most places at the lower end of suburban. There are charming examples of idealized small town America, Victorian homes around a general store, and also the flat asphalt of car dealerships, dumped haphazardly on the edged of wetlands. The terrain is incredibly varied, from long, flat sand beaches, to steep, forested mountains, and to rolling pastures. Someone driving by on Highway 101 would probably miss all of this, seeing only the loglo of shopping malls and big box stores. Someone who came only to see the beaches and redwood forests would be missing just as much. There is no easy way to describe what this patchwork is like, mile by mile. It is strangely representative of the United States as a whole, but in an unexpected way.

I will say that certain things that were not clear to me at the beginning of these walks were clear to me by the end, when I finished the last leg, 8 miles along the highway between Arcata and Eureka. All it took was a dozen afternoon walks, a dozen chances to eat candy bars from The Dollar Tree and feel an aspartame buzz while the road moved under my feet, and I realized something about the landscape I was moving through, and I realized something about the country I was living in.

For many years I did not like myself. I hated who I was. Whenever I would look in the mirror, I would see my face, my body, my clothes, all the superficial outward things one expects in an appearance check; I could also see the standards I felt like I wasn't meeting, and would resolve to change. Eat less, exercise more, be kinder, quieter, more ladylike, study harder, get more sleep; I saw myself as a collection of lacks and excesses; not thin enough, shops too much, terrible at keeping my mouth shut, etc..., I didn't fit in, I stood out, but not in ways that I respected. Personality theory was interesting to me, but it didn't feel like the typing was ever fully accurate as much as I embraced it. I'm really not sure what changed; I believe it was something I read, and all of a sudden it seemed as if I heard an audible click (I didn't really, it was purely figurative), but I might as well have. Suddenly a lot of things made way more sense to me, and I decided to embrace who I was more fully. 

At work I am one of two people with my job. Scheduling is not fun from my point of view. I work on one side of a luxury car dealership, and we are viewed as the more conservative, less expensive side. Every manufacturer releases maintenance records; not everyone has all of their maintenance done where I work, and my job is a fabulous way of seeing how people act, react, and treat someone who is viewed as relatively unimportant in the organization. In real life, the scheduler can help to make or break a service department, and fortunately for me, and everyone else, I understand that. I know comparatively little about cars, I bought my car from the dealership, and have had all of my work done there. Some of the guys in the shop have been working on cars longer than I've been alive, and I'll be turning forty-five at the end of December.

This past week I backed into someone else's car. I wouldn't have had to tell anyone, the damage was so minimal as to barely be noticable, but I felt like this was news that I had to share. Fortunately, and I can hardly believe this, the guy wasn't furious with me. At first he wouldn't believe me, then I asked if he was mad, and he said no. I work very closely with him, I felt absolutely horrible about the incident, I had been at the dentist, got some pretty upsetting news, and was still distraught on the drive to work. I blame my emotional state for the incident more than anything else, it was embarrassing, I felt like all the stereotypes about women drivers were suddenly magnified, I wanted to quit, I felt small, insignificant, worthless, angry, mostly at myself, but also at the people who had taken my normal parking spot, and a bunch of other things.

That afternoon both of the guys in my department got yelled at by management, and I am still stunned and reeling from what went down that day. I wasn't a part of that meeting, and on some level I am incredibly grateful. I have no idea how some people were promoted, again, the psychology is fascinating. If I was in charge I would immediately add staff, and actually start training people. Rather than actually managing, planning, or preparing for things, the people who are 'in charge' spend considerable amounts of time fighting fires that in my opinion, are largely preventable. When I started in my new position I was nervous, scared, and tried hard to win people in the departments I worked more closely with over, or at least get onto somewhat better terms with them. My strategy, which was really nothing more than trying to get to know and understand people worked brilliantly, far better than I ever expected, or intended. I'm proud of myself for that part.

I no longer remember the first time one of the guys on my side of the dealership said that he appreciated me, he then told another guy that I appreciated him. He was obviously being sarcastic and mocking me, but I also understood that it was all in good fun so I did let them know that I was disgruntled, I also played along and let them have their fun. Then another guy said it, and I don't know if it has happened enough times to have become a thing, but inside jokes are better when you are one of the people who gets the joke. While there are times when I forget how privileged I am, there are other times when I remind myself how hard I worked to get where I am at today, and I know that I have earned that level of respect, and cameraderie. Today I was both crying in front of the guy whose car I backed into, and laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks. It's that kind of place.

Sometimes I wonder whether I am better off capturing moments, or larger impressions. Yesterday I was talking to a guy I work with, we sell clothes, and I've resisted until recently. I hate being cold, I wear vests every day anyways, and I made the mistake of trying one on after he said I should. I had been secretly longing for one for a while, a woman was sitting in the guest area lounge, and I ran the idea past her in case he was just trying to support the parts department (for some reason we consider merchandise a part and it gets billed out of their department). I had one of the two vests I ended up buying on when the guy I like walked through the shop door. It was an awkward moment, I knew he would tell me the truth so I asked him what he thought, he told me it looked good, and that was enough for me.

I was in the shop and saw him veer toward me, then I turned to talk to someone else, and I wonder if that hurt his feelings, or was somehow damaging. Later on I made a point of walking over to talk to him, something I rarely do because I still don't really know how to handle the whole situation. He said he was; 'just dandy' when I asked him how his day was. I asked if he was being serious, and he admitted he had meant it sarcastically. When I asked what I could do to help he told me I could help him find the wrench he had just had, I spent about two seconds looking around while I asked what it looked like. I hadn't expected him to give me a task like that to do, I wanted to be helpful, I wanted to hear more, he showed me the larger version of the wrench, found it himself, and then went back to work.

He made a disparaging comment and I told him that was no way to talk to himself. Then I reached over and used the tips of my finger to lightly scratch the top of his head. Later that night I went over the scene in my mind. I hate it when depressed people bring me down. That being said, it's hard to always be in a great mood at work, and when I first saw him up close this morning, I felt like we exchanged glances expressing mutual appreciation. It's not what we're saying to each other, it's the unspoken attraction, and maybe both of us wondering what other people are thinking. Half the time other people fade into the background when he's around. I second guess this all the time, but I keep going back to him. I have no idea what he wants, he has my number, but has never called or sent me a text, some have theoried that he's scared, and I would buy that.

I'm pretty sure I have written about my therapist advocating journaling, and for a while I wrote out my thoughts on paper. I collected quite a few pages, every night I would stick them in an envelope, and it was really interesting to see what would come out while I was writing. I could be much freer with my thoughts since I didn't have to worry about anyone online coming across them that might know me in real life, I wrote one specifically for (or to) him, and that was so much fun it became a thing. Then I had a growing stack of envelopes, and I was having more and more fun with the idea of potentially giving them to him. Part of me really wanted to, the other part of me knew that this could blow up in my face for many reasons, and I could even lose my job if he felt like showing what I had written to members of management. I didn't think he would do anything like that, but you never know.

So one evening I bought a brand new box of envelopes, took the contents out, put the envelopes I had in there, and resealed the box. I carried that around with me for a long time, going back and forth in my mind on whether to hand him my innnermost thoughts and feelings, or to keep that to myself. Today I walked past him and he said something to me. I was surprised so I stopped. He asked me if I had something against him (or a variation on that theme); I was surprised, and furious, so I told him who I was mad about and why. It's hard to run a romance at work. Either work interferes with your sex life, or your cat and mouse games interfere with your ability to get any work done at all. For a while I had a theory that he didn't want any of his friends (fellow employees) to know how he felt, or what I think he feels to get out, and I respected that.

Then one day another person I work with offered to help me with something. I rarely interact with this person unless it is practically unavoidable, and never when I can get out of it, however on this particular occasion he acted completely out of character, and I still have no idea why. We went to his department, and I walked into a room full of people who were waiting for him, or one of the other guys to help them. I was standing off to his right (he is left handed, and so is my crush), and the guy I liked was standing on the other side of the counter off to his left. The issue wasn't complex, but since neither of us were the people who had originated the request, or the sales person, we were trying to figure out our roles in this process. I asked to borrow a sticky note, my crush was totally staring at me, it was at least a thousand degrees on a very chilly day, and he was at least 950 of them.

I didn't expect him to say anything; but after my request, he said that I should use my iPhone, or watch to help me remember. I had no idea where he was going with that so I kind of laughed, and said something about me constantly misplacing both. This is true, but it wasn't really what I wanted to say. Somehow the conversation took another turn, people jump into and leave discussions all the time, and it's generally considered a free for all which sometimes bugs me. The guy I had been working with said something about my watch, I mentioned that it had fall detection so if I had an allergic reaction, my watch would call 911 for me which is the main reason that I had it. This turned into a discussion about the defibrillator that we have at work, and after I said that it wouldn't really help me if I was having an anaphylactic reaction, he said that wouldn't stop him from trying to use it anyways.

A bunch of people laughed and the guy who had been working with me made a funny comment that also showed that he understood a bit of what I was feeling. I do not enjoy discussing that type of thing, especially in front of someone that I really like. But to get back to my envelopes, I finally worked up the courage to hand the box over to my crush. He looked at them, asked what he was supposed to do with envelopes, and when I asked them if he wanted them he told me that he didn't. Maybe I should have said something to let him know what was actually in those envelopes, I walked away kind of embarrassed, but also laughing hysterically on the inside, and outside because the whole situation was so ridiculous. Sometimes being subtle backfires on you, but I also wonder if there was some sort of divine intervention at work because who knows what that guy would have done had he read all of those pages that I wrote.

Here's my personality theory part; after an initial proposed ISTJ theory I abandoned that in favor of an ISTP one. There's something about him that reminds me of my oldest daughter who is supposedly an INFP. They're both kind of quirky and socially awkward. He's not classically handsome, but he is super sexy, and I've given up trying to explain how some people can be very attractive without also being sexy, some can be sexy without being attractive, while others are both sexy and attractive, and others are neither. Last night I was ready to give up on the guy for good. Then I thought about how he would feel, and how I would if I had to go back to work and we no longer shared moments like we have in the past. I lie in bed or on the floor and try to decide if he is playing some sort of a game with me, or if relationships are complicated in general, and working together adds a layer that wouldn't otherwise be there.

Neither of us is great about expressing our feelings, it's hard to have a conversation in a huge shop where power tools are constantly going off and I don't want people gossiping about us more than they already are, I presume that they are even though I haven't really heard anyone say anything about it to me. This is the kind of place that literally has a camera on me and the rest of my department, there are cameras everywhere, and the shop is no different than anywhere else. I know he likes me, or at the very least is attracted to me, I just don't know how deep that goes. At times I feel very loved, other times I wonder if it is just a sex thing. I would love to get into bed with him and find out what he can do for someone such as myself. I'd like to sit on top of his tool box and either have him take off what I'm wearing, or see if he would let me take off some of the layers he wears.

He's driving me crazy on many levels, and it doesn't seem to be going away. We've gone through some ups and downs together; one day last week I told the guy behind me that I was going to go home because I wasn't feeling well. He said okay, but I didn't leave right away so I was in the service drive when I heard someone come up behind me and tell me that I was doing a hell of a job that day. Since I was not my normal self, and didn't see who had been talking to me, I thought it was a really weird thing for my manager to have said. Then I looked up, and saw him. At the time I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out, throw up, or burst into tears so I asked if he could do me a favor, he said he could, and I asked if he knew where our manager was (we both have the same boss).

He said he had just seen him; I think I told him I had to leave because I was sick, then he and the other guy I had told I wasn't feeling well were both standing together in the doorway, and I think it was the first time I had ever heard him say my name. He's not much of a talker, but he has a way of getting his points across nonverbally. Crushes rarely last, they tend to be terrible predictors of whether or not a relationship will work, and I know that I could go out and find someone else if I really wanted a relationship that badly. But I started this, and every time I want to walk away, give up, or do something drastic, I end up having a change of heart. I invest in him because I feel like he invests in me. I believe in him, I respect him, I have tried to communicate how I feel, and I have also tried to be mindful of the public nature of the work environment, and his wishes.

I really don't know where this is going, what to do, if anything, and writing all of this out is very cathartic without actually helping me solve any of these problems. If I had to say, I think the problem is neither of us is really sure what we want so we both come across as ambivalent, we're watching the other person to see what they do, and the nature of our jobs, the forces of our personality types, the differences between men and women, and two people in general combine to keep us in this come get me, no, not right now, not that way, hey wait, where did he/she just go, what the heck happened, that isn't what I meant, oh wait, maybe I was mistaken about that, but, um, maybe not? It's frustrating, infuriating, fantastic, lush, sensual, streaky, and a whole host of other adjectives. 

Nobody at work has heard me tell them that I like him and I am dying to know how many people either guess, or know. I feel like both of us are exhibiting behavior that blatantly reveals the attraction, I have a reputation for being chatty and flirty, I have heard people say that he is great at his job, and listened to others complaining about him. Maybe we wouldn't get along if we were in a relationship. I've read this huge thing on fear of intimacy and realize that I have much larger issues surrounding this than I ever realized. Sometimes I feel as if he thinks I am out of his league, other times I struggle to see what he might see in me that I don't. There are moments when I am tempted to treat it as a wildly physical attraction and see where that goes, but my hunch is no matter how much we may want the other person, the reason we feel that way is because of the other not so sexual aspects of the quasi-relationship.

tl;dr: I am not perfect and neither is my job, but so many people in my life have told me that this is the happiest I have been in ages, and some for as long as they have known me. I have come a long ways, and I would argue that he has too. The bar has been raised, and we will continue to grow together regardless of what happens. Perhaps we are not destined for each other, and this is a phase one, or both of us are going through. I could freeze him on Monday, but I suspect that his heart is a lot more tender than anyone might believe. I called in sick not long ago, should have called in the next day, and the look on his face when he saw me that next morning told me everything I needed to know about how he feels about me. He looked like he had seen a ghost. I left in the middle of that day, and I feel like he was very worried and concerned about me. Nobody who just wants sex acts like that and for myself, I hated seeing him like that.

We have our ways of communicating indirectly, I found out he was going to the doctor the other day, and because he had mentioned that to someone in my department I got to thinking that maybe he meant for me to overhear that. I told him that I was going to go to the dentist, and that was my way of saying - hey, I'm not going to be in right away tomorrow morning, but I don't want you to worry about me. Maybe we will end up as friends, perhaps I will quit, or he will find another job, it's entirely possible that the relationship will never advance, or that I will get tired of waiting and go out with someone else. I've thought about it because this is driving me crazy on so many levels, then I remember that I prayed for patience, and one of the best moments at this job was when we were standing there with our arms around each other in the middle of a noisy dirty shop where anyone could have walked by and seen us. It's that's not love in action, it was a very close relative.

All my best,


P.S. I have really been into painting lately and he is largely responsible. Whatever else I don't like about him, and there is a list, he really brings out my creative side and that's been a ton of fun.


P.P.S. Hat tip to mauler who posted the latest poll; there's something wildly amusing about it to me...

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