The storms in the Greater Central Valley of California never get that impressive, at least not in Yolo and Solano Counties. True, there are floods and worse in this area every few years, but, on the whole, the weather around here is very mild. Today, the air has smelled like rain all day; I went to the Borders about a mile from my office for lunch today to have a light sandwich and work on some math problems, and when I came back to the office, the rain had started. It never got heavy, but it kept up for the rest of the day.

After driving home to drop off some books and change, I went back to Davis to have some dinner and coffee and to go to Evilpheemy’s house for some beer and to watch Dune. With Jennifer gone during the week these days on a project for the Big Evil Fish (hereinafter in these documents referred to as BEF), I find myself spending lots of evenings with friends, watching comedy and science fiction movies, or just spending evenings at cafes; anything to distract me from the fact that I’m alone in this big empty house that my wife and I built together while we were still just dating.

It’s not that I’m unused to goodbyes; much of the relationship that Jennifer and I have had has been marked with goodbye. Up until now, with one two-week exception where she went down to the Bay Area to train on some BEF product, I’ve been the one to go away; spending months at a time commuting up to the Pacific Northwest to my own company’s development office to replicate our development environment or develop a new product; or traveling for a month in Ireland and the UK, without even coming home on the weekends. This time, she’s the one leaving; and this time, we don’t even know how long it’s going to be. It could be just a couple more days, or it could be a couple of months, depending on how her job interview turns out.

Jennifer’s dad travels a lot for his job as well. Last week, I wanted to ask her mother if it gets any easier, seeing your spouse off on a trip like this. On Sunday, Jennifer’s left immediately after church to fly out to Chicago for a 2.5 month project for the same BEF that Jennifer works for. After church, Jennifer and I invited her mother to come along with us. We asked her if there was any place in particular that she wanted to go; she said, a bit mournfully, "Chicago". I knew then what the answer to my question would be, and I haven’t needed to ask it.

It’s selfish of me to feel like this, I suppose. After all, I’ve done a lot more time away from home over the past year than she has (probably at least 50% of the time, now that I think about it). And I know that she doesn’t want to be gone, any more than I want her gone. So I commisserate with her and I do my best to be supportive and understanding, but I still miss her.

By the time I left Evilpheemy’s apartment, the storm was getting pretty heavy. The rain was falling hard, and the lightning was right overhead, making the sky as bright as day at times. Driving down I-80 I can see the big empty fields to the south, and over them the lightning sparks gigantically, almost from one horizon to the other. The sounds of the road and the car stereo drown out the thunder, but I know that it’s there.

And it’s short-lived; by the time I get home the rains have already dwindled to a mere sprinkle, barely noticeable when I step out of my car briefly to check the mail. Behind the clouds, the moon is shining; it’s a half-moon, according to the calendar above Jennifer’s desk, but it’s almost bright enough to be a full-moon. The rain has stopped by the time I get back into my car, and I’m glad for it; I wanted to have Jennifer here with me the first time that we listen to the rain falling on our house.

The clouds above Dixon are breaking apart. Through them, I can see a single star.

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