It’s hard to believe this is still going on. I just returned from the same annual meeting which kicked off this whole rom com 2 years ago in Alaska. This year it was in Rhode Island. We ended up having dinner alone the first night. I told him a family story. We chatted about his mom. At one point I looked up and he was just looking at me. I looked back and waited for him to saysomething and he didn’t. He was lost in some thought. So I said what? And he snapped out of it and said “nothing”. I organized a unofficial Bike trip and 8 of us, including him, rode 20 miles to a lighthouse and back. I could tell he was loving it, flying around on his bike like a kid. When I changed into my bike clothes he said “awwwwww” in his teasing but adorable way. We hung out together in a professional way during the meeting. At one point a speaker refered to him with “let’s say it was your fault” to illustrate a point. I looked at him and we both shook our heads and said nope it’s never his fault and the guy behind me who works with is patteded me on the back. the entire audience burst out laughing. They all got the joke. Many times when we were apart he would interject himself in a personal, I know her better, kind of way. For example, I was discussing an old issue and letting go of anger with this guy and he says across the bar to me how we’ve been talking about that for years. These are all ways of marking his territory and I am okay with that. I want to be his territory as long as he is mine. The last night someone offered to take our picture together and he said no in an embarrassing way. Then a close colleague said later that someone asked if we were a couple. His response was thats why he said no to the picture. He doth protest too much methinks. After the meeting I took a week off to go to Maine. He honestly wanted to go with me but we couldn’t find a way around how it would look. Even so he seriously considered it but in the end we both agreed there was no way to do it. So at the airport I walked him to the check in counter and we talked for a while. A long slow lingering goodbye, His soft gaze killing me. I said I was sorry he couldn’t join me And off I went alone. We texted and emailed all week. I bought him some used books. he asked how it was going, how I was feeling because I had a cold. I’m back now and going on a bike ride tomorrow and he might join me. How is it that we can spend so much time together all week every week for years and yet it is not enough? He must know by now it’s me. It’s just a matter of figuring out when and how.