She doesn't re-appear until 9:30 -- she had helped close the party down, blaming S for inducing her to drink more and such. She says Flower drove her back, which sends this chill down my spine: Flower is only in her early 20's and still immortal (as such things go) and undoubtedly was just as altered as Val was. Sure, it was only a few blocks away...
Anyway, I admit I was a bit of an asshole about it. I went all cold, and we might have parted on bad terms, except I honestly love the silly little twit and went back to H and S' room to apologize and give her a hug, and to offer up the simple explanation that I was hypersensitive about these things. I was raised by a drunken step-father, after all, who often drove me about in the suicide seat while three sheets. Understanding now what he was going through doesn't remove the definite PTSS-like after effects.
The drive up was nice. Traffic was FAR better going through LA (about 90 minutes faster), so we made good time to get to the Iron Skillet past the grapevine, and odd experience in and of itself. It's geared toward truck drivers, with a special "driver only" section with phones at all the tables (for making those calls between legs of a trip), showers, and a gift shop to ameliorate any sort of absenteeism guilt.
While waiting for Roni to use the little ladybug's room on the way out, I made the mistake of picking up one of those real-estate guides. There was this one listing for a lovely 20 acres, with well water, for about 100K that made me seriously consider the merits of settling in such a lovely little foothill nook (with trees), even if it IS in the realm of Bakersfield. Hell, I could start my own village at those rates...
Made it up by 7:30ish, despite stops for gas and peeing. All in all about 5 hours from SF to Costa Mesa... not bad.
By the time I got to lovingstones and lavendersage's place I had that all over body "hum" that only driving for 8 hours can produce. Fortunately they took WAY too good care of me, having rented The Motel Room with the hot tub that allowed all three of us to soak in mutual hedonistic bliss. By the time I got to sleep, I was decidedly un-tense. I crashed incredibly hard, waking up with that mellow and un-sore feeling that made it REALLY hard to get up.
Wow, almost caught up...I'll post this, have lunch, and cover the previous week in a moment.