Saturday, August 26, 2006

All For Love

He has already sent me dozens of homes to look at.

You see, his duty now is to find us a home - me and the three cats. And he is taking it very seriously. He knows well what I enjoy in a home and what I can cast off as unimportant. Some people care about location and amenities but I care only that the light can come in, that my eyes have a vista to settle on, and that I've enough room for the books and us.

Okay - and two bathrooms. I hate to clean bathrooms.

So he sends a dozen links and I give 2/3's the boot, leaving just a choice few. How does one know from 1,000 miles what is worthwhile and not? I am like a bachelor in a singles bar, looking over the targets and casting them aside for the smallest flaw or lack of appearance. I've no time. Well, maybe make that a bachelor on his last day of life. Yes, it's that calculating.

Still, the fact that he hasn't even hinted at the "are you sure this won't do?" speaks well for him.

I tell you this - we don't fight. We may disagree and get angry but we don't take it to the button pushing level. We try to fight back the worst words and come up with the ones that honestly reflect our feelings so that an understanding can take place. It's almost more mathematical than emotional in that way - 2+2=4 so that's why I am angry about A+B. It's logic versus emotion. And so in this, when my arguments to and against a home can be quite superficial, there is no sighing or rebuttal. Just an acceptance and a moving on.

Now, I know there are people out there who simply cannot communicate with their spouse and that has to be horrid. We're not perfect and there are times that I have to back down my feminine bullshit and just accept that He Is A Man. No, he isn't going to notice your subtle clues. Sometimes you have to be quite clear. And that's alright because - because he IS a man - I can rely on him to be doing the right and best thing for us though we're miles apart.

Can I even begin to tell you how much relief I have in that knowledge? Sure! I know some of tou men are saying, "Yeah but the fucking pressure!" Suck it up. You're a man. You are supposed to work well under pressure. I am supposed to wring my hands and worry. That's the deal.

So I am able to sit here, plan the next boxes to pack and KNOW that he's getting his ass on the road this morning to scout out where we will be for at least the next year. It is one thing I don't have to think about.

And do you think he sometimes feels like its an uneven burden? Surely. He wouldn't say it but I know that he often thinks my life here quite easy while his own an interminable hell. But the key to it is - he doesn't say so. Or, if he does have to let it all out, it isn't with malice or blame, no finger pointing. Just simple "life here sucks and here's why". And this is because he was raised that way. Bless his grandpa. Life is hard. There are no shortcuts through hard times. And hard times will come to an end. Those are lessons he learned while still young. They have carried him through till this very day.

And do you think his "duck" nature irks me? Oh, yes...yes, I call it that because he can let so many things just roll off his back with a "does it matter? can I do anything about it?" decision process. I have to roll it around in my mouth, comprehend every aspect of the decision - if this then what? It's called worrying. I do it well and I do it a lot. He doesn't. So yes, we do have conflict when my worrying comes against his duckyness. But we move on. Often, I can impress upon him the issues and concerns via logic and the right argument but often he is right - all the worrying for naught. The matter concludes itself and it is done, over. So it goes.

So I guess that's the reason for the title. When you value the person and the relationship over being right, it's all about the love. Find a way there and your lives will be simple. Don't be a woman, pouting over every failed attempt to wheedle him into something. Don't be a spoiled brat of a man, poking at her until she flares up and out and you feel the satisfaction of an internal "I told you so". Just talk to each other. And it doesn't even have to be touchy feely "when you do this I feel like that" bullshit. Women, be more logical. Men operate on that level. Shove that whiny girly crap to the side and save it for your friends. And you men? Especially those raised by single women? Quit being whiners, too. You aren't a woman - you don't get to pout. You get to make decisions and be the problem solver.

So many men have been ruined by mothers wanting to turn them into these "feeling" little bastards (that can be literal as well as figurative). They want to make them into the man that wouldn't have left them. Which turns them into these conflicted little wimps that can't take on life head-on. Instead, they stumble and struggle and never quite manage to be men. Great gift, there, mom.

And dads - if you ever leave a child because you cannot bear the mother you are the greatest SOB born. Find a way. Man up, yourself, and give that child the influence, the courage it needs to live in this world. We've an entire generation of men coming into power, now, that haven't the moral courage to see a threat for what it is and deal with it. Instead, there is conciliation, fear, bargaining and delay. They make friends with the bully and give him their lunch money. And this will be the end of our civilization, our American experiment.

Oh, I know - you're thinking that's just fantastical reaching. But it's true. Do you think we started this great place with men who equivocated at every threat? We started with men willing to kiss goodbye their entire lives and take on a government in order to ensure they didn't have to lick the boots of another man. If we don't start raising more like them, the boots will come and we will all be on our knees, praying for relief. Already, we've plenty girding themselves with kneepads, happy to bow just as long as they can still surf the net for porn. Pale, weak creatures who haven't even the ability to look beyond their keyboard, willing to believe whatever illogical argument is given if it ensures they don't have to fight.

Pray that we've better men coming. Coming home from war and knowing now to look for those boots on the horizon. Knowing that sometimes it's necessary to fight.

All for love. For the love of the man beside you, for the woman at home and hoping, for the country that is nearly washing away on the tides of complacency.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Fix Is In

I wish I could make clear all the trials and tribulations that we've faced over the last 20+ weeks. I think that only those who have experienced the - er - trooper training experience can comprehend just how stressful it can be.

For us, it was doubly - trebly difficult since we were a good 14 hours and, what with airfares being what they are, about $600 apart. So. In the course of the spring and summer, we've been together twice.

All through Christmas last we talked of how we'd try for monthly visits and the holidays - there would be three of those after all - and I secretly dreamed of saying goodbye in the parking lot there and heading home. But none of that happened. Rather, I was told that surgery was necessary and immediately so and was scheduled 48 hours before he had to leave. In two days I had to be mobile enough to send him on his way.

So he spent those last few days of freedom at home alone, caring for the cats and packing his things and no doubt worrying like crazy about the trip to Texas and the coming academy. Of course, when I woke he was there just as he was all the day long and into the evening so that while the morphine was kicking and I was sleeping he kept watch. I am thankful, now, for the drugs that kept me from seeing too much - his fear, his worry, his sleeplessness. But the task in front of me was to get home - home by Saturday afternoon.

I'd made this clear on Thursday to the doctor. You do what you have to but I am to be released Saturday. Period. And so I stopped the meds, started moving and shifting even though I was sliced hip to hip and innards were readjusting. And there was the emotional healing, too...one can say that children are not desired but you hang onto that little snippet of an option. I could if I wanted. Well, not now. And there is a mourning associated with the loss. A farewell, unexpected.

And on Saturday, when he had to arrive late in the morning because he had to pack everything, he came in to find me dressed to go home. I'd intended it to shock him and so it had. The underling doctor came by and declared me fit to leave and I was out like a shot. He pulled the truck around, they wheeled me out and I swung myself up and in there to his smiling laughter. Get me home - that was my thought. Home before the strain shows.

I was installed in the upstairs bedroom but only after I showed that I could mount the stairs easily - slowly, but easily. A small fridge was stocked there for me and we had a scant hour of arranging things, ensuring he had all he needed...the time was slipping by and we tried to eke out the very last of it.

His motorcycle looked like a personal caravan, loaded with all its cases and tank bag. And he mounted up, in his proper gear. I took photos because I was trying to document the process - the acceptance, the leaving, the graduation...and then tears and kisses and reassurances. I would not burden him. I would not worry him. He made me say goodbye from the upstairs so he could be sure he'd left me there and not lying on the stairs. And all my wishes left with him.

And so....it was Easter before we saw each other again. I had my own routine, now, and he had his. And the calls in the evening were brief but reassuring. He could not come to me, he said. Sorry. And looked at a holiday alone there, everyone else taking that long weekend to be with their beloved - most of who were not so far away. Instead, I was driving at 4am, northward, to Nashville where a cheap Southwest flight would take me to him.

I am very paranoid of driving long distances, worrying about vehicle failure, hating not knowing my surroundings, afraid of missing roads and getting lost. But I got my nerves in order and just sailed off. It went off like clockwork, really. My sister took me to the academy, his truck still there. And then, she bade him meet her for his Easter gift. He came into the restaurant still in his uniform and I stepped out. He smiled and laughed but there was something in his eyes that I did not quite understand.

It was shock.

I had managed to give the man the biggest surprise ever and he actually had to sit down and gather his emotions. I could only laugh, having been certain he'd have seen through my lies and not be surprised. But all that day he would look over at me in his truck and just laugh. He knew the price I'd paid in nerves and travel. And the weekend flew by.

So that was really all the time we'd had, until the week off in the middle of summer. And even that sped by, what with family visits and trying to make everyone happy. And of course, the funeral leave...losing his grandpa was the worst. I will not even discuss it. Still too fresh a wound.

And now...now he and I rejoice in how lucky we are, how our goodness has been repaid. All along we've talked of what would be possible in terms of duty assignments. What we could manage and what would require that I lose my job and start anew. You see, it's a crap shoot. They ask you for a choice of region and there are 7 in Texas. It's a big state. A region could cover 8 or 9 counties. So we pinned down those 3 regions that we could perhaps make work.

And then comes the assignment of regions - you could get first choice or your worst choice. And a lot of things come to play in that. Your performance at academy, your networking skills, your prior abilities and experience and your familial obligations. They try to take all those into consideration when making the decisions. But you never know.

And do we were given our preferred region. As were a half dozen others. Now comes the city assignments - where would you actually work within that 8 county area? That information is given very much at the last, forcing fast decisions and mapping and consideration of everyone's needs. You don't want to shaft your buddy if you can help it but you also need to take care of your own.

He told me "Caldwell" and I knew the commute - 80 miles - would be a hard one. But it's just a year, I tried to tell myself. Still, I worried about it. (The paranoia, remember?) But I set to. Okay...so it is. We work with it. But a part of me was asking just how much more would be asked of me to make this dream come true. It isn't my dream though I have given a great deal. It is his dream and I am merely doing my best to support it and him. But there comes a point where you start wondering if there is a line being crossed between what you are willing to give and what it will cost. In love, though, one finds such boundaries to be sketchy at best and highly mobile. One day you cannot fathom agreeing to such and the next you think it do-able.

And the next day...they declare that the cities provided were wrong. All wrong. So all the negotiating and arguing among the recruits was for naught. And now they had scant minutes to consider the new options and come to an agreement. Except that they couldn't. There would be 90% happy and 10% not, no matter which way it was sliced. So the duties were assigned.

This is where everything you've done, all you've said and how you have performed comes into play. Did you do your best? Have you whined the whole time? Is your experience suited for that environment or are you a bit too slow witted and likely to be dead if placed there? One person is going to take all the parameters into consideration and make your decision for you. At least for a year.

The message on my phone just said, "We got Elgin". In those three words my world was set from spiky red frantic lines into a smooth blue ocean of calm. My God, I thought. It was our dream slot. The one best suited to my work, housing and his preference for terrain and work. It helped that he'd gone there and spoken with the other troopers, letting his experience level be known, ensuring they remembered him when the calls were made. Elgin. One word held all our future.

The price for a dream is sometimes high, though, and in this slot was the sour taste of someone else not getting their dream. And so it was that his buddy - to whom he'd tried to give the slot - was instead given a middle-of-utter-nowhere location. It hurt him deeply to know that. His joy at the slot was stifled by the thought of all his attempts to get him a decent slot had failed. But you could not know the reasons behind it - what the Lieutenants knew and used to make their choices. But I know the days to come will find us wondering what we could have done to help. What we can do now for them.

My friend, at the news, asked me to thank him for sleeping with the lieutenant. I laughed out loud. Indeed, could it have been any more advantageous? And so now we start the final process - a mad rush to find a home and get the last of the packing completed. And then the move. The struggle to get two people, a 24 foot truck, a towed SUV, a loaded down truck and 3 cats across 14 hours of road in one day. It will be a miracle if we manage it. And I think we can. After all, we got this far.

God, we got this far. And it is only just beginning.