As fast as it seemed to begin it is now over. A few hours ago I drove Rob to the airport and it was over. My Canadian friend is on his way back to Canada and I am back at the office. This feels weird.
The fears I had about my routines and space in my house were greater than they actually were. In fact, I grew accustomed to the new schedules and new routines. When I say routines I am talking about nearly everything, all the way down to where people sat at the dinner table. At first it felt weird and I wanted to go eat elsewhere in another room because the order was askew, but in time (a day or so) I grew to accept the new order. It's weird that things will go back now.
I found it amazing how the adaptation to change progressed. I am rigid in my routine and I do the same things over and over again. This is made easy because, for the most part, I am alone, but during these two weeks my personal order had to be changed. I thought this would be impossible, but I once I grew to accept a small part of it more and more small changes occurred without me thinking about it.
Rob and I drove over 1,000 miles through Illinois while he was here and this too was weird because my car is not accustomed to a passenger. Truly there are times where one would be unable to see my passenger seat due to papers and cds on it. And the leg room area? That's where I keep my trash bag, but not for the past two weeks.
Driving all the miles we did made me feel like I was doing something that most people do and that is a college age road trip. Like I said, I do most things by myself and it was a weird, yet amazing feeling to be traveling with company. I think most people probably take others in their presence for granted, but try living like me and you will see just how much one person can create such a different feeling (this, of course, is if I want that person around me!).
It was nice to be able to constantly have conversations even though a lot of them were Rob commenting at just how flat Illinois is (remember, he comes from Vancouver where mountains are the norm). What was difficult though was always having to remember that I wasn't the only one in the car. That sounds like a simple task, but remembering that I would not be the only one hungry and I wouldn't be the only one to feel what the car's AC was set at.
There was one point in time at a gas station that we were both in line and I checked out first and I went to the car, unlocked it, started it, and just about drove off. I'm sure Rob would not have appreciated being left alone in the middle of Illinois, but it was so hard for me to constantly realize that I was not alone.
I don't want to drone on and on about the end of this invasion, but I found it amazing at how difficult it was for me to keep my mind centered on the fact that there was someone else around me. I noticed that I have always been this way, but this was the first time since being diagnosed in 2003 that I had someone around me for a long period of time.
Being able to identify this difficulty brought a smile to my face because I know I can explain it better now. It's not that I wanted to strand Rob in Illinois, but I am usually so deep in thought, and so used to being deep in thought, that I run on a sort of autopilot that doesn't have that great of an ability to process where other people are and what they may want. I knew this and I have written about it, but like I mentioned above, this is the first time I have had this happen since being diagnosed.
As much of a smile that I had then, and even writing the last few paragraphs, I have grown to wearing a frown for it is over. Rob is somewhere in the air and my room will be back to being mine and mine alone. I won't have to worry about annoying him, or waking him up in the morning, and I can go back to recruiting an army of soda cans as I forget to dispense of each one as I finish them. I can play what I want to play and watch what I want to watch without having to consider someone else and when Rob first got here I was sure I would be secretly counting down the days until he left because I was sure I was going to be unable to withstand the invasion, but I did withstand it and actually didn't mind it. What I thought I would secretly hope for will come true when I get home, but I am afraid. I will have complete freedom once again, but I will be alone again. Sure, I will be able to talk with him, and all my other friends over Xbox Live and I am sure we will dominate the rink on NHL 11, or the globe on Risk, but it will be impersonal again and actual people will be either a disembodied voice or represented by an avatar.
The invasion is over and I learned several things. Among them is that I must not be that annoying in person because Rob didn't punch me in the face for the entire two weeks (yay me!) and secondly I learned that I am able to sustain a friendship in person. Seven years is a long time to be alone, and this invasion may be over now, but instead of fearing the next one I will be looking forward to it, whenever it may be.