Reason suggested that I wait until we were face to face because our moments of attempted [serious] communication can be understated by a comparison to torture. We don't work it out, we just wear each other down until we're tired and disarmed and I've cried and he's taken the lord's name half a dozen times in that raspy, far away tone.
And in the last text I sent, I "said that I needed time," which he accurately decoded, a little to my dismay. I didn't want to talk to him. Didn't want to read the little digital message about the sun and the good day he hoped I was having. Didn't want to think of his eyes or his smile or his wonder and intelligence. I wanted them gone...like in the cartoon when the wee man with the giant pencil turns it over and begins erasing. I wanted a faintness to descend on the things that would break my heart so that my mental departure would perhaps be less devastating.
In the minute before I desperately wanted him on the phone, I desperately never wanted to hear his voice again. So naturally I called and texted in a manner that only an established girlfriend can get away with. I hated him and loved him and hated and loved myself and hated and loved the warm spring air and hated the heavy-heartedness of night. But I decided that it needed to be now, the dreaded tete-a-tete, because I'm that impulsive. And when his returned call interrupted the voicemail I was leaving on his phone, I threw my trusty maze of madness out the window and gave clarity a go.
He confirmed some fears. I created some. I secured myself close to composure and his boots crunched earth beneath them. He walked and listened. I parked and talked. Then he talked and I listened. Making sure not to venture too far from the mold, he still spat an abbreviated hiss or two and I shed a few silent tears. I hope he understood that I understand a great deal, though I am also overwhelmed with the unfamiliarity of acronyms and objectives. I know that giving himself is hard under the kind of pressure put on him. I also know that "manning-up" is not my style.
He has to go before we can really even begin. He says, "I love you. I really do." and for the first time in weeks, I believe it [the words]. And he's sorry, so sorry that I'm feeling distraught and sorry that it "falls on his end."
[I'm sorry that I'm not stronger. I'm sorry I had to tell you that I'm scared it all might be too much.]
In a voice unexpectedly calm, I tell him, "we just need to figure out how to make it work." And before he again leaves behind the world where I exist and enters the other, he affirms that "we will."
I'm glad to report that I just weathered the most awkward and fumbling group presentation in which I may have ever participated. It was one of the last notoriously school o' business projects I will ever have to do, and for that I am eternally grateful. Having it now in the past will significantly reduce the recent tidal wave of stress I've been churning under.
My role was to talk about the process of alternative implementation based on a detailed analysis of both a TOWS and SWOT matrix. An unspoken part of the requirement was also to speak with sophisticated use of business jargon, or at lease it was encouraged by certain other team members. So last night, in the midst of those who actually comprehend and care about corporate strategy, I was sure to pick up some intellectual catch-phrases. Several of our suggested alternatives fell beneath the umbrella of "Pause and Proceed with Caution," a formula that is pretty self-explanatory. It is defined as a sort of temporary time-out to regroup, where a company decides to stop promoting some particular aspect of operations just long enough to sit down with a task-force or some other savvy group of expertise to bat around solutions. After choosing some "best remedy," it is implemented and the process continues toward success [or so the company hopes].
I'm not sure that I've taken adequate time to truly bear my deep running hatred for corporate America and thus this stupid degree that I chose after a long and rambling stint of art-ful majors. Starving is not becoming on a princess so I sold out to the man...I did a number of dumb things around that period [we'll cover those another day, perhaps]. That to say that I spend most classroom hours distracting myself with daydreams or untimely gossip or internet surfing or...the list is long, friends. I don't pay attention because I don't care. In the rare occasion that some strategic concept enters and sticks in a pocket of long-term memory, the angels sing and rays of light part clouds to bask me in a celestial glow...or something of that nature.
I've had this pause and proceed with caution idea all over my mind through last night and into today. It seems so simple - acknowledge a potential problem, pause, problem solve, and proceed.
[I haven't clearly unearthed the entire story of inner discourse for several reasons, the largest being that I'm tired of looking at it and thinking about it and fighting it and writing about it. The task of spelling it out would be exhausting and redundant. Also, I know that sometimes [though not often] he takes the time to read a little blog post here and there. Some things are better "discussed" when eyes can connect through interaction, not technology.]
Seven minutes in 8 days is not much - I don't care if you are the Time Keeper, himself. It isn't. It is a long time not to communicate, and I'm tired of pretending that I've undergone some mystical shuffling of perception. X months versus XX months is also a long time. But hey, I am getting the swing of secrecy. Trust no one. Share nothing. We're all a bunch of ghosts, whispers of people...jesus.
I spend four-day blocks praying for my phone to startle me. On the days that it does I am unacquainted with the caller's voice. I know he's tired. I do think of him and how lucky I am to be able to sit down at the end of a long day to gain a moment's peace. I'm proud of him and empathetic to the lengthy lists of reasons I shouldn't think about myself. I AM. On the other hand, IAM also half of US and this us is feeling a little fucking hard to fuse.
We all have our baggage, God knows I've got trunk-fulls of my own worn and tacky luggage. Beyond what we bring to the table, it makes us into the people we are. I am an overly-expressive, needy, over-analytical, neurotic drama-queen. And he is a composition very different from myself. I'm privy to that notion, too, just in case anyone wants to remind me how conditioned/trained he is to be hard and frank and direct and reserved, how different his lifestyle is, how...
I know. I know! I KNOW!
I can't have another empty conversation. Pardon my moment of intense selfishness, but I can't. I can't sit through the unbearably unemotional minutes when I'm about to pull out my own fucking hair. It's my last semester and while it isn't a matter of life or death or national security or war, I just can't feel guilty about being stressed and needing a little love myself. And I hear that this is what the deployment's like. If a prolonged version of this looms on my futures of X or XX months apart...
I've listened to this Incubus album 4 entire times [easy]...I've typed over 2,550 mindless, meaningless words on a topic that I can only describe as excruciatingly boring...I haven't had a substantial conversation with The Staff Sergeant in almost a week [or a good night's sleep]...beyond this paper, there's still so much work to do before it's over...my jaw aches from chewing gum, but it channels my anxiety somewhere other than my fingernails or bottom lip or innocent pen...I want to shut this laptop and crawl into someone's arms who is more concerned with my splitting seams than the tax man, who listens when I need to be a little unnecessarily broken, who punches out motherly encouragement in bold, red letters, just in case I glanced over their presence on a page.
Last night when I came in from work, I had mad plans of starting on this monster paper I've been deliberately putting off. Fifteen pages of intricate analysis regarding some large corporation about which I do not care. Knowing myself and also the luck of myself, I should have expected nothing less than downed internet, still heightened emotional instability due to a chronic lack of sleep, and the tear-jerking power of that stupid chick flick [where Deborah Messing gets to have wild, steamy sex with that guy in a boat and the most action I'll see is the loving 10-word text from afar]. I'd actually rather have the text from him than boat-sex with anyone else, but I'd really prefer...
[...you know where I'm going without having to spell it out]
When my computer was obviously not going to allow for corporate research and the most compelling plan for the night was to bury my head in a pillow to wail in animalistic fashion for 10,000 reasons other than missing him [namely stress from school], I instead tied on my proverbial apron, instantly making Martha jealous, and whipped up these tasty little pastries: Morning Glory Muffins
Is enough to say what's necessary, to make me leap from my seat and bound into the rain, to cause re-butterflies, to get through another work-week [if need be], to sturdy Certainty and ban the what-if? madness, to know I miss you.
[Yes, Birthday Girl, you do know me well. I blogged it...[bitch]. Hope it was a good one - your birthday, not the blog!]
I've mangled a once perfectly cylindrical straw while slowly sipping a triple-shot-iced-americano-with-room-for-cream. I'm full of poor choices, this being tonight's most pronounced. Last night's being the 3am bedtime and the 4 hours of sleep, thus producing the need for three robust hits of concentrated caffeine.
...and so begins the self-destructive cycle of semester's end.
It's been eight months and if not every single day, at least once a week I get a new flavor of the mil-life. A preview of what is to come, if you will*. I never catch up, mostly I am left scrambling behind the group, awkwardly towing all of the information and the cultural norms it seems I should have been issued at birth. It is often that I wish he had broken the actually-I'm-in-the-army newswith a sweet little how-to handbook for unknowing girlfriends-to-be. As it would seem, Life has a darker than that sense of humor and has probably not stopped laughing yet as I fumble my way through the steps.
Keeping in tune with the past, this time apart is unlike the others. He's busier than usual, the circumstances are different, there is possibly more demand. He seems further away and somehow...vacant. Today it occurred to me that this communication tempo is most probably foreshadowing of the future. There aren't foretold days of silence, rather windows of time that open and close either with or without his voice. And when we do talk, the colorful hues are missing. The timer on my cell phone rolls through the sepia-toned seconds, logging the lengths of flatness. Of course, the mere echo of his voice across the expanse curls my lips into a smile. It's just that I miss...him.
I send unnecessary volumes of text messages to his phone, on some level thinking that the mechanical buzz will shake him loose from the grip of the guns and The Army just long enough to remind him of the soft and fragile girl at home. Then I watch my tiny screen for reciprocation, willing his number to dance across in blue light [mostly in vain]. I wish and wish and wish for that connection and upon defeat, I drag my feet to bed to dream of more luscious bursts of life we've shared. This is what I've chosen to walk next to, hand in hand with the shadows of togetherness...
I would never call myself "strong" although my bests assure that I have it in me. This may be the most trying endeavor I've ever taken on, yet even when it's hard I love him. My mind is saturated in war from every channel, even my periphery has begun instinctively clothing the public in digital camo. The reminder of The Beast is everywhere beyond and within my slight frame, and the ease of giving up is the devil's temptation. Tonight, though I'd cry myself to sleep if sleep were upon me, I choose to stick it out. Princess, put on your big-girl panties, my mother would chide. And in the late hours of darkness I'd slink them on, burn the white flag of surrender, and stare down the devil's offer.
*referencing the even more unfathomable idea of the longterm [not "loose lips"]
I am fascinated by how much a good night of sleep can change you and how settling a phone call can finally be. In ritualistic nature, I'm seated here in the middle kitchen chair with my morning's hot tea and sleep in my eyes. For the first time in a week I feel rested and blessed by the company of the sun.
I needed that quality shut-eye and the late call that finally arrived. I'm fairly certain that the lack of both was beginning to turn me into a fanged beast destined to wander the night in search of random prey...or more realistically, an intolerably pissed-off individual. Just to drive the point home and to revel in my reborn self, as I write these words I am smiling.
I continue to be unsure about the magazine. Part of my heart feels traitorous, but The Staff Sergeant has thrice now given the go-ahead. Last night's was the most convincing, and even still I waver slightly. I want it and with his encouragement, I'll pursue it. He says not to worry about stepping on [his] toes, so with cautious candor, I'll see where it goes. I'll offer the pen name for everyone's sake and I'll write about me, which I mostly do anyway. Let's face it, the readers don't want his details. They've got immeasurable lots of their own they are trying to know how to process. Why add to their pile? Why add to mine?
My eyes have become alert and my tea is cool enough to imbibe. I think I'm going to email the editor and take this possibility now to the next step.
Now is not a good time for writing, but here I sit in my ready position, damning the tears that dare to well and the institution...and the war...and the whole fucking thing. I lack the capacity to hold it all in - IT'S NOT WHO I AM! My walls are just not that thick. They just aren't.
[for better or worse]
I talk a lot. I don't like following the grain. I share myself - the joys and fears of this life that I lead. I am not...[a number of things]. I write a lot. I drain the feelings that would otherwise sink me, an emotional pneumonia that would snuff out the fire. I know her, the body trapped beneath water, eyes fixed on its surface, watching the shimmer of sun fade. I cannot, will not ever be her again if I can help it.
Desperate is the search for a true outlet, for a reason to back away from the ledge - someone wearing the same shoes, an empathetic warrior, a place to call Home [where unconditional is a silver key and trusting me and not being so bloody scared]. A chance opportunity presents itself - remarkable and lustrous - and I am rendered to childlike wonder. Eyes wide, pounding heart, a giddiness conquering the synaptic response. And then come the rains [again] that call off the parade.
My heart breaks and he'd never know it if I didn't say so. The event isn't sharp and precise. There are no telling tracers, obvious and burning in the night in a language he would understand. Funny is the obligation I feel suddenly to keep it that way because the culture says to hold it close, circle up the wagons, girls. Be stronger than the predators' threat.
[I'd sooner leave the camp of false rigidness. I am no column, no tower of tenacity.]
From this proverbial leaping point, I gaze into the valley's greener grass then turn back, looking again behind me to survey the people of the mountain. I wonder [for the thousandth time since August] if I will ever belong.
...then I plan to rehearse a "gracious" stance of refusal to said Chance Offer, and enough maturity to quietly release the ache of a dashed dream.
Back last night from a weekend in Memphis now to sloth through the painful hours of a Monday morning. I am not embracing its new day promises, rather I scowled at its sunrise. If ever I have wanted to stay in bed, this morning was the epitome of such. I am so sleepy - even the marrow of my bones is tired. I shouldn't have tarried till 4am in the Beale St. bars with all of the beer and booty music. No, I should have and I did and it was rich - migrating from one fine establishment to another with a pack of girls.
Oh!, the sanctity of a night and the Beale St. beer and booty music. Sometimes even the classiest of girls needs a period of raw ridiculousness. The high points will go down in the eternal list of remember-whens, but will be omitted from the public eye. True incrimination would not be their product, yet they're best left to pad the walls of the verbal histories that later leave us weeping with laughter over Cracker Barrel biscuits and hangover hot tea.
[I should have napped in my car between classes instead of writing...]
His boots are the color of sand. worn in the creases from nimble movement made in places I'll never know and never really want to know. the laces are long to snake around his ankles. ends tucked out of sight. tightly wound. old and familiar.
I could so easily slip in my tiny feet, losing them in all of the dark space leftover. I could rest my soles in the low grooves made by his. soak up the stale desert sweat. march around not to mock but to know. to feel the rhythm in his step as though it were mine.
He bought for me small lounging shoes, sporty and gray. slight and suede. holding one in the expanse of his hand, I recall the way he questioned its feasibility. It lay perched, fragile in his palm. a perfect size seven.
I would guess not but a fragment of his toe would settle inside. awkward terry walls tightening at the ball of foot. he'd never try to fit them on. nor would he mimic my bohemian parade. no reason for him to match my gait. brief and strolling. quick and deliberate. running to halt to run again.
He would huff, "they are your shoes. walk." and I would wear them both. white laces bow tied, hidden within his jump boots.
I'm not in a place where I can call everyone I know to unleash the tidal wave of excitement. So here I am, embracing the trusty blog delivery.
I emailed a casual note to a chief editor of a small, special interest magazine. I told her how I thought I could contribute, how my experiences set me apart. I sent her some samples not expecting anything more than a busy woman's "delete". Less than an hour later a reply sat boldly highlighted in my inbox. She liked what she read, called it interesting and well written. She wants to talk about having me write for the magazine and I can't stand the minutes until I can dial her office and direct extension.
After a week off, I'm gettin' back into the swing of Pole Dance classes: round 2. We're going to be tackling some new transitional moves and I, specifically, will continue trying to master this trick so I can rightfully claim it in my repertoire...and then I'll rock it sans hands. That'll really wow my sheet rock audience!
In other news, the opportunity I mentioned before, to move to the other side of the classroom, came up again tonight. Me? A bona fide pole dance instructor? It sounds a little delicious, no? It is pretty much a win-win scenario: free studio time, obligatory motivation to work out, an additional pay check, hope for the dream of Madonna's arms, AND best of all? the sheer shock-value of my answer to that age-old post-grad inquiry: So, what are your plans now? Eh, I think I'm gonna pole dance. for money.
Against the better choice: to accept the emotional state of right now as the mere result of sleep deprivation and one of the less flattering aspects of femininity - I sit, fingers resting on tired keys, poised and ready to release whatever it is that is contained.
Instead, I am a heavy hollow, all of my insides alarmingly dry, yet I could drain a tear or two. Dare me. I would do it. I realize that this is the furthest I will ever be from his return. I'm still laughing at last night's jokes, still looking into the memory of his eyes. Every lucid bit of recollection hangs vibrant and vividly in the boughs before it succumbs to the dilution process, one atom at a time. I hate that, and I hate that I haven't heard from him yet, to know that he's there [safe].
Instead of doing what I should be [a tedious case study of a fictitious dental practice], I paused for a moment between marketing P's to google a mil-blogger [who I still haven't found]. In my brief search, I stumbled upon MilSpouse.com and while I've only just scanned the first post, I am ELATED to have just feasted my sleepy eyes on her words!
The bad thing is I am taking it out on my husband and it’s not his fault. And I know that if I’m doing this, I know that there are other spouses out there in the blogosphere who have felt and acted the same way as I am – which is like a spoiled three year-old having a tantrum when the parent says “no you can’t have that toy.” I really want to jump up and down screaming until my face turns red and steam comes out of my ears. But that behaviour is not cool coming from a thirty-five year-old woman. Which means I have to act like an adult even though I really, really want to throw that freaking tantrum.
While I try so very deliberately to channel any anger/frustration I ever feel toward The Army, the Universe, myself [on occasion], any body of mass or sheer notion - anything other than The Staff Sergeant - I do fail on occasion. But the tantrums...I'm tickled at the parallel! I'm certainly not celebrating her fitful desire to hurl herself into early childhood, nor am I glorifying my own temptation to revisit the terrible-two's. But oh!, to taste the flavor of normalcy!
I swore if the sun didn't soon return, a deep depression would suck me in like quicksand. I've been particularly glum these last few weeks and whether or not it's been a product of the never ending gray clouds and rain or a number of other posted possibilities, the weather has certainly been no help.
Today the sun finally arrived, burning off the seemingly impenetrable haze and warming the temperatures to the blissful low 70's. With the clouds went my recent heavy heart. I was up by 7:15am and told by a certain Staff Sergeant that it was far too early to rise on a weekend. At 8am my eyes again opened and I tossed and twisted the sheets until he too was awake. Keeping with trend, we lazed in bed laughing and quietly talking of an errand in need of attention. Eventually we pulled ourselves from the soft cotton layers to tackle the seamstress mission and a pizza lunch. The sewing shops, as it turns out, still adhere to the blue laws of bygone days. After scoping out every closed establishment in town we accepted a sorrowful defeat. Lunch, however, was a great success - Chicago style veggie pizza, de-lish.
Driving with the windows down to the timeless ballads of Johnny Cash was perfection. Noticing again the dark amber clarity of his eyes was my secret retreat. And when I finally found myself basking in a warm breeze on a Starbucks patio with my Nano set to shuffle, once again able to sport big, bug-eyed shades, with pen in hand and journal open, I couldn't imagine a more exquisite finale. Then late in the afternoon The Staff Sergeant stopped by on his way to work for just long enough to say hello, take a quick sip of my iced coffee, and steal a kiss. And at 4:30pm, a 2 hour coffee date with an army wife acquaintance offered an enormous amount of reassurance in my military induction.
On my way home I passed that hill, the one that was so dead with Winter. This evening as the low sun turned the sky golden yellow, I noticed it now brilliantly green with new grass. The skeletal trees are sprouting bright infant leaves and lumbering livestock grazed it's sloping incline. I sighed in relief, thankful for a necessary return to lightness. I hope it never rains again.