It really felt as if that last month of the title year was flying by and a part of me wanted to just finish the ride, disembark, and quietly leave the amusement park for a relaxing hot tub...for a few months.
And then it was over. Done. There are now new shiny people, and they are wonderful and excited, and there's a lot of happiness for them and congratulations for you and life returns to normal.
But does it?
What is normal now?
Normal shifts because normal is what you become accustomed to doing. Normal is different for everybody, because it's part of your daily routine. So scouring social media for information becomes normal. Responding to emails from pups and trainers and interested parties becomes normal. Planning your next trip, airline bookings, transportation arrangements on both ends of a trip, booking hotels or arranging hosts, unpacking suitcases, doing laundry packing suitcases and planning wardrobes, thank you notes, long range and short term plans, planning time to spend with your partner, job searching, event planning, dodging drama, getting educated, writing classes, coordinating with mosh organizers to donate snacks because some of the most common snacks will kill your puppy (honey allergy), and I'm sure a dozen more things I've forgotten - all that became normal.
And that stopped. So now it's time to recapture the old normal, and that's not so easy.
Please note: I am not complaining or whining. I (sorta) knew what I was signing up for when we ran. I do my best to be open and honest here, and there's challenges along with the fun.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime journey and I will always treasure the wonderful experiences we had and the amazing friends we made. One year is great. I cannot imagine how people can manage a regional title year first and then an international circuit title year. But I took on a new load of responsibility and that became my life for a year. It becomes the new normal. And while I sometimes yearned for the old normal to return, when it did, it was not as much fun.
I spent many many weekends away from my partner. We don't live together, so we had to find time during the week - date nights, so to speak. Our former routine was Friday afternoon through Sunday night - we were together. We went to movies, out to bars, dinners together and with friends, and that was the old normal. We spent a good chunk of the last year learning to not be together on weekends, and the ones we did have, I just wanted to be lumpy and together and quiet while he wanted to go out and socialize. Now we have those weekends back, and I feel a struggle to fill the time. The new normal was to be gone and busy with events planned by others, and now that's done. The new normal was we learned to be apart on weekends (and weekdays) and now we have to un-learn that.
In the last year, I learned how to approach almost anyone and strike up a conversation, and hold that conversation for at least a few minutes. I learned how to engage people better, to open up my own life and learn about theirs. Even the ones I find really hot. That was hard! My historical behavior around people I find attractive tended to be sidelong glances, awkward approaches, and stunning opening lines like "I like beans.......<doh!>" I've gotten better. I found that I like meeting new people and seeing new places and sharing my experiences with whoever will listen to me jabber or read a blog.
That is not happening much these days, and it hit me really hard this last weekend as many of my friends made their way to Washington, DC for the Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend and I stayed home. Did I want to go? Oh yes. Could I afford to go? Not right now. So I went about my back-to-normal life and (not-so-very) quietly pouted about missing my friends.
So what's next? That's the big question. I'm still figuring that out, four months down the line. I've kept busy, and I'll backfill this blog, but it weird to redefine normal once again.
But while I ponder, plan, and dream, you are all in my thoughts.
And until our paths cross for the first time or the twentieth, I leave you with this..