As a person fairly new to being active and thus less acquainted than I'd like with the concept of food management for daily performance, peanut M&Ms are my new favorite emergency fuel. They're like bananas with a longer shelf life. When I don't quite guess right when to fuel with what in order to be fueled for what, they're great for a quick blood sugar boost (chocolate) that doesn't crash hard (peanuts) and gives you a chance to remedy it with a proper meal in the next hour or two. There were stretches of the Coast to Coast that I would not have made if I hadn't had two large bags of Olympic-themed (British red-white-blue) peanut M&Ms in my pocket.

I had an M&M moment this morning; today was (is) the day Sebastian flew back to Boston, and I'm never in the best of mental shapes on the days of goodbyes, so I spaced out and went to the gym without having had a proper breakfast. (Note to self: a glass of coconut milk is not a proper breakfast.) This was perfectly fine for about 50 minutes of exercise, but another thing that happens when I have emotions that I don't know how to process is that I throw myself a bit too much into anything that lets me blow off steam. So: empty stomach, probably a bit of dehydration, and a still-beginning-to-be-trained body going way too hard at sprints. I didn't notice until my blood glucose levels abruptly slammed a hazy grey curtain across my vision and the world began to slowly, gently spin until I sat down.

Little sips of water and some cool-down stretching, then pushing a $5 bill into the nearest vending machine and sitting down and slowly munching peanut M&Ms until both the floor and my vision seemed unambiguously solid. Nothing too scary, but an acknowledgement that my body had let me know when I was pushing it too far; I'm learning that if I want to push myself, I also need to be gentle with myself. Tackling difficult things is impossible without self-care. And part of self-care is acknowledging the way I feel and how it affects me, even if I can't articulate it yet. I don't know good words for the kind of subtle sadness that I feel pulling the second towel out of the bathroom and into the laundry hamper, or when I see my sneakers by the front door without a pair of long brown shoes alongside, dwarfing them.

Echoes help; the shampoo that is decidedly-not-mine still in the shower, the 5-gallon water bottles he thoughtfully hoisted up the stairs and onto the big metal shelf beside the water jug to remind me to hydrate more. Leftovers from last night's dinner in the fridge, gnocchi with carrot-onion-sausage sauce sun-dried tomato spiked with sun-dried tomatoes. The picture of the Grand Canyon standing on my electric keyboard, a gift from his recent roadtrip with Brett and another addition to the image wall we're building of beautiful places we've been. Maybe I am sentimental, when I slow down and let myself have actual emotions. I don't let it get in the way of my work -- or at least I try, and I think I'm usually successful. But I do stand in the airport terminal and watch until he disappears through the metal detector, every single time.

And every time, as I walk off, the feeling-of-missing-someone rolls through me like a smooth, small knob of polished hardwood, stained dark, tangled with a burl. Its unfamiliarity is becoming more familiar over time; it's a feeling I don't think I really experienced before we became friends, even with a ridiculously distributed extended family and a father who took frequent business trips throughout my childhood. I've been lonely, I've been homesick, I've often wished I could see certain people more than I get to see them. But the existence of a small space inside me that can only be filled by one specific person, and which is always quietly present unless he is there, is... an odd thing.

I wonder what it's like to have that not be there; it must have been that way once, before we met, but I don't remember any more.