Tag Archives: travel

More to Come

20 Nov

My husband’s deployment was the hardest year of my life — outranking two divorces in my childhood, the murder of a friend, and the cumulative effects of post-graduate depression — and yet it’s the hardest for me to write about because I don’t feel unique.  My husband blogs from his perspective, books have been written, wives military-wide have experienced this for over a decade, every previous generation has war-stories, and even a young teenage girl has published a memoir of her painful fourteen-months without her mother.  I don’t know how my experiences stand out amongst them all, especially when so many war-wives (even most of the ones I know) had it “worse”: their husbands engaged in combat, or divorced them afterwards, leaving them as true single-moms.  

My year of loneliness, single-motherhood, cynicism, and grief seems sometimes to only be unique (and interesting) to me.  

Regardless, I can’t shake the desire to write. 

He deployed from our military home in Hawaii in April of 2011, and was gone for 355 days. Our son was 15 months when he left, and two years, three months when he returned.  We packed up our home ourselves and put it all into storage, shipped my Volkswagen back east, and with only as much as I could fly with my son and I traveled the East coast from family to family for the entire year.  My son has been on 19 planes and 11 of those he and I flew solo! Lots of ladies go home during a deployment, though.  

It’s hard to know where to start, because the beginning seems to keep reaching further and further back.  Did it begin the day he left?  The day we found out he’d go?  Or perhaps the story begins when we fell in love?  More than likely the story begins with his own childhood as an Army brat.  Our whole story matters, though, because it wouldn’t have ended as well as it did if we didn’t have the foundation we find ourselves on.  Truthfully, without this deployment we would have never known just how strong a foundation that is.  Stress and anxiety threatened us (the unit “Us”) to a breaking point, but grace and humility healed us.

We both are forever changed, but thanks be to God we have changed together and not apart. Some of this I’ve already written about, but there is more to come.

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All we need are our arms and hands and lips

15 Sep

Usually when I feel this level of un-rest it’s not in expectation of anything real. I’ll get antsy to the point of paralysis, and my circulation will reduce to whatever is necessary to keep me alive. That’s what it’s like right now; my extremities are tingling, and all I want to do is eat Cheese Its and play Angry Birds. But I have a pretty extensive to-do list. Because this time — this restlessness — is not just for philosophical dilemmas. This time, it’s for a reason.

My dear HD is boarding a plane soon — a couple hours soon — or maybe a helicopter. I’m not sure how the first leg of his journey will begin. His ruck is packed and I doubt he’ll sleep at all. It’s mid-afternoon for me, but his flight takes off at midnight his time. He’ll hop from one country to another, and after about five days he’ll be with me.

I’m paralyzed with anticipation, despite how long my list is of things I want to do to prepare for him. Nothing will be enough. Everything will be wasted, too, though. Nothing is necessary. All we need are our arms and hands and lips.

My mind is dizzy. I’ve gotten quite comfortable with this single life. Not every day is hell, like it once was. Now he’ll be amongst us again. His voice in the air, his smell on my sheets, his touch on my skin. All this but for only a short time.

This really, truly is so much like being pregnant. I feel like I did when my labor was in the early stages. A rush of panic to prepare the last-minute, finishing touches, but a light-headedness that sends me reeling in circles any time I try to stand up.

I’m glad I’m not alone with just the Young G. My mother-in-law is here and was married to an officer for over 30 years (still married, no longer active duty). She knows, if anyone knows.

My Perfect Mug

27 Jul

Ten, maybe twelve years ago, I bought a mug from a little cafe in my college town.  My roommate worked behind the counter at this little market-style shop, and we all enjoyed walking downtown for pastries and tea.  They brewed Lion Brand coffee there, too, and I bought a mug with that logo on it.  I loved the coffee, and the classic drawing of the lion’s head. 

Back in those days I would carry my coffee to class with me every day.  I lived about three blocks from campus, so I rarely got ready for school early enough to drink my cup before leaving the house.  My roommate and I savored our morning walks together while drinking our coffee.  We were different majors, so most of our time together was spent in very personal moments, like sharing the first words of the day over fresh coffee. 

Once on campus, this empty mug got thrown in my back-pack.  Many mugs were lost, borrowed, broken, or otherwise misplaced.  Sometimes we splurged on styrofoam cups specifically for walking to school with.  But week after week my Lion Brand mug remained.  Never broken.  Never lost.  Continue reading

Ignorance

7 Jul

I’m in love with home, and it doesn’t even bother me that both my parents are here together.  I missed the smell of the South East, the sound of cicadas, and the reserved classiness of the Atlantic Ocean.  Normally my parents — who have spent only two occasions together in the last ten years, one being my college graduation and the second my wedding — getting together is a stressful event.  But today I didn’t mind because they were here to just be family.  The Baby is all they care about, and that through me, so them being with their Grandson is all I care about too!

Getting here was arduous, though.  What was supposed to be a mere eight-hour flight became a twelve-hour one, and that only got me to my lay-over.  Fortunately the final leg was a 44 minute hop.  Young G doesn’t like to be held for long periods of time, and he doesn’t normally fall asleep while being held (unless he’s being worn and I’m walking).  So I had to wait until he was too weary to possibly stay awake any longer, at which point my neighbor was thoroughly dissatisfied with her misfortune of being seated beside us.  Well, I assume she was.  She never said one word to me for 12 hours.  Even when we were parked on the ground in Oklahoma City for two hours. Continue reading

Explosions

4 Jul

I could see the grand finale of the fireworks display over Pearl Harbor as I drove home from the airport tonight.

Do you believe in rock’n’roll? Can music save your mortal soul? Can you teach me how to dance, real slow?

My hand was still regaining blood flow from how tightly he held it the whole ride to the airport, as I returned home without him. We’d both told each other that it wasn’t so bad. We’d said it had gotten easier now on our third week apart this year. There’s always a hollow, empty space left behind, though. At first he still lingers, like the tingling in my hand, or the dampness of the hand towel where he last dried his mouth after one more tooth-brushing. But gradually his absence makes his presence fade.

I fool myself into thinking my bed isn’t empty by sleeping on his side of the bed. That way my side of the bed is empty. But I’m still right here! So, you see, no one’s missing!! Brilliant!

Fortunately, for me, he has always come back home right about the time I’m supposed to wash him off the sheets.  It’s scary to think that the time will come when I have to do that.  When I have to celebrate the 4th alone. And then New Year’s.  Birthdays, anniversaries. When I will have to relearn how to live life alone.  Well, separated.

I know that you’re in love with him ’cause I saw you dancing in the gym.

Priorities

8 Apr

I cannot write.  I can’t think of a single thing worth writing about.  At least, nothing that is longer than a Facebook status update.

First I’m gonna make it, then I’m gonna break it till it falls apart.  Hating all the faking, I’m shaking while you’re breaking my brittle heart.

Young G is napping and I think about sleeping, but shouldn’t I do productive things while he sleeps? There is laundry to do right now. Wash, dry, fold, put away.  I also have a pot of beans to freeze.  “A bag of beans produces about 7 cups of cooked beans.”  This is one of the ways I work to save us money.  I feel like we earn so much, but at the end of the month there’s never anything left.  Because it all goes into savings.  Hundreds of dollars a month is put into savings and IRAs.  Every time HD groans about taking money out of savings we have to say, “that what it’s there for!”

We need to buy my plane ticket home.  I’m not looking forward to flying with an infant, because I’ll be going alone, and probably coming back alone, too.  The HD got his ticket through the Army since part of the trip will be at a conference.  He’s getting to go to more than one conference this year, too.  One is for forensics, and he’ll be gone over his birthday.  His thirtieth birthday! My boy’s growing up. The forensics course is special for the HD because he’s on a select team of forensic dentists here.  Then, over Memorial Day he’ll be in DC at a conference he was nominated for to represent junior medical officers to the joint chiefs, or something.  Finally, in July he’s going to New Orleans for another conference he received a nomination for to represent the Army at large.

None of these conferences include me.  I’m disappointed.  Part of the fun is getting to travel with your husband and stay at fancy hotels and swim in pools.  I’ve done that once, and it was great.  But now it’s too far to fly.  What about the baby? It’s not like we could go out in  the evenings.  It’s just easier if I stay here.  I’m scared that this is the beginning of Diminished Me.  Once the notorious socialite, now the unshowered mom who is freezing beans.

So I think maybe I’ll write more.  I’ve got to stop thinking I’m writing for an audience.  Audiences stifle me, I talk best when I talk to myself, or if I’m talking to you, of course.  Then, just as I think I’ll write more, I think of something else to do… Read a book! Crochet some little things! Start a home business! Find new friends!

There aren’t enough hours in the day to do things and I have no idea how to prioritize things on a list when they all have the same priority.  Nothing is really important when Young G is asleep.  He has what he needs, and nothing else matters.