I used to paint. I spent the better half of my high school days painting and purging all of the angst of adolescence on recycled canvas and old boxes and pretty much anything shy of my own skin. When time became less and high school lent itself to the responsibilities of college, I packed away the boxes of paint and old scraps and pencils. Cutting that part of expression from my life quickly proved unsuccessful. I'll spare you the year and a half of emotional unrest that followed...
I've always journaled, yet another outlet as they say, but blogging seemed more purposeful, more communal, more like a support group linking us all together. In the end this is my little plot, my own acreage for whatever I choose to cultivate, where behind the guise of a silly pen-name I can bear my soul and bleed my heart and spend every entry raging against life's lack of regard for fairness [if I like]. Luckily, I don't. [I don't think, anyway.]
Consider that your hands-on-hips-I-write-what-I-want disclaimer. If the appeal of throwing yourself into oncoming traffic seems more than that of poring over my momentary devastation, please take whatever measures are necessary to stop reading [now].
When he left, it seemed that his scheduled number of weeks away were mountainous in size. He kissed me in the dark kitchen and pulled the door of my apartment shut behind him. I watched as the glowing beams of his truck redirected toward the road and his brake lights vanished eventually into the night. He was gone. Start the countdown. Deep breath. Tomorrow will be one day closer to the [figurative] end.
...how fucking naive.
Weeks passed with unusual calm. I can count on one hand how many nights I wept for vainly mustered desires of closeness. Finally the visit was afforded, and even that return was handled well. I didn't backslide, I was smiling by Monday, the threat of The Army seemed so benign. I would not be deterred [I probably scoffed]. I might have even thought it would be
I watch and listen to my comrades, my other, other-halves who standby while their boyfriends/husbands deploy for 15 months at a time, plus training. It felt that if they could do it then my experience, guaranteed to be less in length, would be something similar to the simple act of eating ice cream in July.
[Yes, in July...]
Last week came with news of another month-long bought of training. I'd get him for a number of days before an additional month of distance wedged between us. In my normal fashion, I cursed The Army, voodoo hexed Uncle Sam, shed a tear or two but found myself coping the following morning. I commended the grace it seemed I was [slowly] adopting. I probably even canceled the hexes.
Down to only a few more weeks, my thoughts had begun venturing to welcome-home dinner menus, movies soon to be showing, the thought of kisses and smiles and hearing him breathe again. I was definitely on board with the glass half full approach. Even one more month would put him back home for graduation* and an eventful May wedding [...not mine], and the delight of early spring, and...ok, I'll stop. I was excited enough to look past the extension.
I. was. proud.
Y'know that instantaneous burst of over-confidence you find when a true challenge is seemingly conquered? For example, those first gliding 50 yards on the bicycle Dad just stripped of training wheels. You manage without error only to peer behind long enough to realize he's let go...and inevitably the episode ends in bloody knees and Barbie band-aids, and probably loose gravel in your nose. Tonight that was me, minus the bike and band-aids. Their understudies: an aching heart, public tears, discount retail therapy, the urge to throw my phone to the vinyl floor and jump and stomp it with my moccasined feet until either they or my phone met defeat. I wanted to snap shut my metallic messenger and rewind life's audio. I wanted to graphically peel back my ears to remove the newly embedded information.
"...another 2 months."
"...back sometime in July"
[cling to lasting threads of calm.]
"...sorry to drop the bomb."
I have to go. I'll...um...call you back later, k?
I went into this thing anticipating the deployment...the pinnacle trial, the Iraqi Everest, if you will. A little training trip here, a slightly longer one there, I saw them as previews not piling obstacles. I wasn't ready to hear that the initial two months had turned into five and would then lead to some months of pre-deployment training before The War again consumed him. By the time July arrives in all of her humid, blistering glory, well over half of our relationship will have been sustained by phone.** That's long before the long stretch of fear, worry and cross-continental separation.
I question my true capabilities of endurance. Can we survive on relatively brief exchanges coaxed by what meals were consumed or the chronology of a day? Rather, can I ? Can we grow over a phone or is this a purgatorial stale-mate until he's back for some substantial amount of time? Will the envy of "normal" couples make me bitter? Or the envy of his mistress weaponry? How emotionally available will the focus of his travels allow him to be? Might the strain of separate lives lead us down different paths?
Maybe at the end of the day none of these worries will be validated. If it's meant to be, it will thrive even in the face of adversity, even when pulled by the literal ends of the earth.
And I wonder, "is love really all you need?"
*read as BIG, fucking deal [as in 6 years in the making]