It was the same juvenile giddiness that follows that first call to your home line, asking for you - that first taste of what "love" must be like. Remember when you were certain that it was, in whole, the prepubescent boy-child who fancied you enough to chase you down on the playground until you were rosy-cheeked and out of breath?
There I dawdled in the retail lull of early morning, catching up on an order that needed processing, filing some paperwork from the day before. I neatened up my corner of the shop and was grabbing for my keys to retrieve something from my car when my phone began to dance across the glass counter top. I haphazardly reached for it expecting a wrong number [or my mother]. Instead, it was my surfacing soldier two weeks later! Stomach spinning and heart startling into a feverish pulse, I fumbled to find a simple construct of "hello." It's awfully hard to push words through the strain of a grin like that, but I managed to partake in 15 blissful minutes of conversation before his calling beckoned his return.
The strangest phenomenon in this process is the way that perspective is so slyly rearranged. Before him, a quarter of an hour would have been an insufficient pinprick of time. I never would have settled for something so slight to sustain such an unbalanced proportion of time apart. He melts and reconfigures me before I am even aware and I hang happily on those sparse words exchanged in the otherwise barren wait for his return.
As I battled a bought of usual frustration one night, I joked with him that he should have handed over a manual when he finally confessed his profession. I heard his smirk convey through the sound waves of yet another phone call as he explained that he was under the impression I was writing it. In rare moments like today, I feel that I have proven maybe an ounce of compliance to the military life. I feel a hair closer to being malleable in the way that the army needs its wives and girlfriends to be. If we never become able to bend, the nature of this would be crushing. Looking back it seems not that I am writing a definitive how-to, but that I am in some manner, recording my slow and awkward success.