Coda: Frances, part II
After fewer than four hours of sleep, I was on the road again. I'd been shaken awake with a jolt, and I was dressed and charging headlong into Brian and Suzan's kitchen before I'd really awakened. We headed out, Jake and Chris and I, in the middle of one of the worst thunderstorms I've ever driven through. Brian and Suzan's road more closely resembled a moat, and getting to I-20 represented a difficult tightrope balance of caution and insanity.
We were running late, of course. Jake waited longer than he'd planned on to wake us up, and the weather was such that I could not make up any time by driving fast. Driving fast would do nothing but pancake us into another car, thus guaranteeing we'd get to the airport even later, if at all.
We didn't talk much. Hard to talk much when you're functioning on so little sleep, and what concentration you have is focused on not dying before you gain consciousness for the first time that morning.
I hugged the boys at the airport and sent them on their way, then made my way back to I-20.
It was about that time the phone call started.
* * * * *
It was the only voice that could've been appropriate at that moment: Brian. Brian, with whom I'd spent countless hours meeting, planning, strategizing, documenting, and worrying with over the past eight months; one of very few people who knew what it had really taken to make DCTV happen this year.
When Jody totaled up a rough estimate of the number of hours I'd worked on DCTV this year, more than one person asked me why I'd done it. The only response I had for them was that Brian didn't ask anything of me that he didn't also ask of himself, as well.
(We won't get into what our respective spouses think of that. The MPAA doesn't have a rating for that.)
His had been the voice that started this eight-month journey toward 'con; it was only right that his would be the one I heard as I was making the last drive to finish off the final wrap-up of dragon*con. We were headed in opposite directions on I-20; as I was returning to his house from the airport, he was heading to the airport to catch an early-morning flight out to California.
It had not been practical for me to take him to the airport with Chris and Jake. His flight was scheduled to leave several hours later than the Colorado boys' flight did, and he also needed to have access to a car when he returned several days later.
"Where are you at?"
"Hang on. I'll get you a mile marker."
"Oh. That exit. We're about seven miles out from each other."
I looked at the other side of the freeway, the Christmas-light expanse of twin white lights pointing toward the interior of metro Atlanta, and remembered the brain teasers of my childhood: two cars driving toward one another, with a fly continually criss-crossing back and forth between the two cars as they crept closer and closer.
Eventually, enough time passed for me to know with certainty that we had passed each other, and I wondered which of the anonymous white lights I had seen, distorted and warped by my rain-sluiced windshield, had been his.
I hoped he arrived safely. I hoped he slept once he got on his plane.
* * * * *
I have some regrets about DCTV this year, but they aren't as many as I expected. We aimed higher than perhaps what was reasonable, and we found a way to make it happen, but at the cost of our personal lives for a period of months. But I don't regret the work I got done, or the research I did, or the groundwork I laid for next year.
We are slowly building up a library of content that we can reuse year after year. We know what worked - and didn't work. We've found additional people to help us next year.
We're also on enforced sabbatical, Brian and I, until January. We're allowed to read and contribute to the discussion on the DCTV forum, but we are not allowed to do any work until January.
Part of me still harbors the lingering remnants of the panic mode I've functioned in for the past four months, the "oh God I have to get this done somehow somehow somehow" pit of dread in my stomach that kept me up at night and guaranteed that I'd find ways to finish each graphical project, no matter how nearly impossible.
Part of me is glad to have the decision to work taken out of my hands.
Part of me feels a little lost.
But there's always knitting, which I've been doing in nearly record pace since dragon*con ended.
* * * * *
But the voice on the phone - the person behind it is part of the past eight months that I have no regrets over. DCTV is fleeting; most of the people who saw what we did won't remember the specifics of what they saw even one week after the convention ended.
Thankfully, friendship is less ephemeral. Spend eight months working side-by-side on a project and you learn a lot about each other. Sometimes they're things you wish you hadn't known, or could've lived without knowing ("thanks, now I know what you're wearing when you write those early-morning emails, can I get a refund now?").
Sometimes you learn that the guy you're teamed up with handles stress in the same way you do: by obsessing more and more over each detail, each tiny little element, until the overall meaning is lost, and the other person has to step in to forcibly stop the cycle before there's a brain detonation.
Sometimes you learn that someone who had been on the periphery of your life, because you were too shy to strike up a closer friendship, shouldn't have been on the periphery at all.
On the way back to the house, in the midst of the remnants of a hurricane, sleep-deprived, still a little queasy from my bout of [food poisoning | stomach flu], I found myself praying for clear skies and safe flights, because people I very much cared about were once again subject to the vagaries of the air.