Oh, hey! How's it going, Old Friend? Good to see you again. Yeah, I know, I do look like shit. I don't really sleep anymore, I suppose. Sure, I go to bed, but I feel like I just stay awake all night chasing this monologue in my head. The mind's always racing, y'know? At least the new Tempurpedic is nice – it really solved my lower back pain.

So it's been a year, huh? I bet you thought she would never leave town. And look at you! You're still here, still ticking. There aren't many that would have handled it as gracefully as you did. What Liv did to you, to Gwen, to the neighborhood; it really shook the whole neighborhood. And Gwen, poor Gwen. Over twenty years she and Dale were married. He went and threw it all away. Mid-life crisis, I guess, and who knows what the fuck Liv was thinking.

Dale, though, he was struggling with the layoff. Silicon Valley isn't kind to software engineers in their mid-fifties. He saw the writing on the wall. The company he was working for was recently sold, and this wasn't his first rodeo. He knew he was going to be let go. It took him a long time to find another job, and it was tough for Dale and Gwen for a while, Gwen, being a teacher and all, supporting the two of them. Dale loves working for those start-ups, but he isn't getting any younger.

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That motherfucker could brew some beer, though, couldn't he? It's a shame he's such an asshole. I remember Gwen getting so pissed when the crew would hang out on their back porch late into the night drinking. Gwen's doing better these days. She spent some time in therapy after the divorce; Gwen took it hard as you can only imagine after your husband cheats on you, then leaves you, for a girl young enough to be his daughter – twenty-six years his junior, to be exact. Twenty. Six. Years. It's crazy when you think about it, right? The divorce was quick and about as painless as it could be. Dale didn't contest and simply gave Gwen everything, to his credit. Unfortunately, she had to sell her beautiful home. It sucks, to be sure, but at least you got a dining room table out of the deal.

It's good to see Gwen coming around. Her "Eat-Pray-Love" trip to Italy was good for her. She's moving to Italy in October to teach for a while, so be sure to see her before then. You guys have come a long way in the past year.

And that bitch, Liv. I don't even know where to start with her. I saw it coming, I really did. She never did grow up; it seemed like she was stuck in high school. The way she acted as if everything was going to be "all-good" after it all happened was baffling. Quite the opposite. This might be San Antonio, "the nation's seventh-largest city" as they like to tell us, but Southtown is a tight 'hood – news travels fast.

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That first neighborhood happy hour was awkward, huh? Jill and John found you and made sure you were alright after Gwen broke the news to them. It was good to see the 'hood come together to support you guys. The gall Liv had to show up that first week. Fortunately, you weren't there. Jill tearing into her in front of everybody must've been a sight, though.

The crew stepped up big time for you, too. Dave and Karen really went out of their way to listen. Who knows how you would have coped had they not been there? I mean, you were really going through some shit right after it happened. Blaming yourself, ashamed, devastated. It was heart-warming to see everyone have your back and give you support.

I know what you saw in Liv, though. Like you, she was a hard-worker. When you met, she was juggling three jobs while trying to get hired on as a math teacher. Whatever she put her mind to, she did it – even if "it" was Dale. Bitch. At least she's in China now doing who-knows-what, and who cares as long whatever it is it isn't here. Four years, man. I don't know how you did it. At least it wasn't twenty.

All that is behind you now, but I know things are different these days. Like I said before, Southtown is a tight 'hood. The bartenders down at the Friendly Spot heard the news pretty quickly. You were saying how you could tell in their voices that they knew but they didn't want to say anything. You appreciated that, I know. You've always been a private person that way. When you finally did mention it to Jay, he acknowledged that they all knew and didn't want to blow up your spot. Then, he slid you a Sculpin on the house. Jay was always good people - even when you bumped into him and Terry tripping on 'shrooms at the Artpace event several weeks ago. Those guys were gone.

The Artpace thing reminds me… Y'know, it's pretty awesome how you're getting out these days. You could have just locked yourself up at home and wallowed in your misery, but no, you tackled it head-on. Good for you, man. I really think that helped you get over the hump. You had me worried the first couple of weeks. It's a little weird, I suppose, going out by yourself. You're at that age when it seems like everyone is married. Your friends are certainly all married. These days, you're either flying solo or you're the odd wheel. Going out to Portland was good, too. That trip through wine country, the Blues Festival, and hiking around the Columbia really helped you get your mind off things. You were really in great spirits when you got home.

Speaking of trips, have you started getting everything together for your trip to Napa this fall? Yeah, I didn't think so. You really need to coordinate with Carey and Trish to see when they were going to be in the area so you can meet up with them. Then you need to get your shit together and book travel, rent a car, and get a room. And for fuck's sake, get your reservations booked at the French Laundry. It's the whole point of you going out there and you know how fast tables fill up. Besides that, you need to make sure you can take off of work.

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So have you heard any more from Art about your new position? Yeah, yeah, I shouldn't be talking about it since it's not official yet, but hey, head of Business Intelligence is big deal. Ha, "Buisness Intelligence." Oxymoron, amirite!?! And they got the right moron for the job, too! Hey, I'm just fuckin' with you. It'll be good exposure for you even if "exposure" really isn't your thing. Look, with all your experience with customer data and you filling in for Linda on the Supply Chain and IT Governance stuff while she's on maternity leave, the BI role will make you the obvious successor to Art when that time comes. It'll be a lot of work, for sure, but it'll pay off in the long run.

Art's always looking out for you isn't he? You guys have been working together for a long time. Hell, you've been with the company nineteen years and Art twenty-one. You guys were at the same store when you started and have been working together off-and-on ever since. It seems only fitting that you're still working with him now. Only it's different now after the accident. You're one of the only people here that remember him walking. Even after, what, ten years, it's still tough seeing him in that wheelchair. He seems happy, though. I guess he could have died, and that would be worse. He's always cracking disability jokes and they're funny if not somewhat uncomfortable.

Art's a helluva guy. He, too, supported the Hell out you during the whole Liv fiasco. He already had approval for you to set up an office in Austin. Hell, you already had an apartment lined up across the street. Man, that was a pretty sweet setup, too. It would have been career suicide, though. There's no way they would have let you continue to manage your team working remotely. That, and you would have had to drive down once a week to "check-in." That would have gotten old quick. I think you made the right decision to stay. All your friends letting you know how much they care for you really made things easier to hang out, at least a little longer, in San Antonio even if Liv was still in the 'hood.

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That was a pretty sweet apartment you hooked up last summer. Shit, walking distance to work, the bar. Sure not having your own washer and dryer was inconvenient, but Dave and Karen let you set it up at their place when Joe's and Bethany's house burned down. The timing was eerie, right? Dave and Karen deciding to move back to home on Vitra right before the fire, so they had the Highland house available for Joe and Bethany to stay in while their house was getting restored. Incredible, isn't it? Dave and Karen are truly great people.

And damn, that Highland house. Dave and Karen really do some fine work on these hundred-year-old homes, huh? That place was a dump when they picked it up and now look at it. Well, I guess you do every day now. The restored wood floors, the revealed shiplap walls, the opened-up kitchen? Now, the paint, the crown moulding, and those coax runs, that's all you, but holy shit, they really hooked you up. Looking back a year ago, would you even think that you'd be here right now? Shit, man, you're a trooper. Now, you just need to get a good woman in your life. Your new neighbor, the artist, she's cute. You really need to go introduce yourself. But remember, no crazy women. You always seem to pick the crazy ones, but I guess it takes one to know one, right?

Well, hey, listen, it was good talking to you again. Heh, I was just rambling away as usual. Get me started and I don't when to shut the fuck up. You know me. Hell. You know me better than anyone. What has it been? Thirty-five, almost thirty-six years? It's been a long time, huh? Hey, you get at me real soon, capiche? I want to go over those Napa plans ASAP! Take care, now.

"Don?"

"Huh? Oh hey, Dr. Chase. Sorry about that, I must've spaced out for a minute. So, yeah. Well, I'm here because it seems like I don't sleep anymore…"