The Ugly Side

This is the ugly side of Veterans Day, of deployment, of Army life in general. This, my day so far. I woke up to lovely, inspiring posts on face book about heroes and gratitude, and it made me smile as I brewed my coffee (a rare occurrence,  believe me). The last couple months have been busy, too busy, with growing, canning, dehydrating, volunteering, home improving, hosting the incredible loved ones who have visited to help me pass the time. It has also been busy just surviving, I realize. A friend called me a while back, and said that it just hit her how, before the spouse of a deployed soldier even wakes up in the morning, whether it is a busy chaotic day or a restful sabbath day, the absence and the undercurrent of fear is there just waiting for you. And she’s right. Before it even has a chance to be a great day you have to pray that away and put your game face on and some days, that first obstacle is insurmountable. And some days it’s like one of those American Gladiators obstacles that keeps swinging for you over and over. Today has been one of those days.

Coffee in hand, I checked email, and was thrilled to hear from DH. It’s rough for him right now, for any number of reasons, and he tries so hard to be positive and encouraging but we both feel the undercurrent. Sometimes it’s just a fact, to be acknowledged and ignored. It hums “thissucksthissucksthissucksthissucksthissucksthissucks” quietly in the background. Other days it is an undertow ready to suck you under or the moving obstacle that will, the moment you let your guard down, whack you in the solar plexus.

Today’s email was mostly about honeymoon plans, which should be a source of ecstatic daydreams, and yet it sucked the wind out of my sails. The suite we want may not be available much longer at the warm weather destination of our choice. Communication is spotty, redeployment is fraught with uncertainties, and the flights, oh dear Lord, the flight options are abysmal. It is a 5.5 hour flight, yet almost all our options are 21-24 hours with multiple overnight layovers just to GET there. I want to cry. I am crying, just thinking about it. I hate planning travel. I hate having to weigh the relative merits of quiet and private versus well situated, luxury versus cost, this view or that amenity and then comb through flights, weigh different airports or different dates to find a flight that isn’t a total ripoff, figure out how we’re getting to the airport, if the option to take a shuttle is even available given our tentative flight times, arrange care for our dogs (in a military community where most people take vacation at the exact same time, boarding space for pets is a nightmare). Travel plans are the kryptonite of my otherwise very competent can-do attitude.

I want my husband to deal with this. Isn’t planning the honeymoon the grooms job? He was, admittedly, busy preparing to go to war in the weeks leading up to our wedding. And now he rarely has internet and bigger priorities when he gets to a computer. But still, this should be his problem. If Dante was going to create a special circle of hell for me, it would be called multi-city flights from regional airports and once I think I find a good flight the server cuts the connection and every airport code and date and time disappears. I’d rather we up to my waist in ice.

My husband goes to a travel metacrawler, clicks a few buttons, decisively announces the best flight he can find for my approval, and whips out his credit card. What a schmuck. He has the best luck with hotels, transportation and restaurants. He does it effortlessly in the way that makes other people either slack jawed with admiration or really quite insane (can you tell which camp I’m in?). Our first Valentines day was a Saturday night in New York City, and I asked a couple weeks out, if he had thought to make reservations for dinner. He said he had it under control (read: nope). The day before, I asked if we had dinner reservations and he said he had it under control (read: nope). I informed him at that point who would be sleeping where if we ate at McDonalds for dinner…it’s a Saturday Valentines in NYC for goodness sake! All dressed up, we arrive in Little Korea and he walks into a packed restaurant and asks how long it would be for a table. They said 5 minutes. We were seated in 3. He didn’t wipe the smug satisfaction off his face for a week. What a schmuck.

So why shouldn’t HE be the one booking our honeymoon instead of me crying over my coffee after two hours with 6 browser tabs open, connections timing out, an oppressive number of decisions weighing down my RAM (mine, not the laptop’s, although it’s definitely getting slower too). DH would have had it done an hour and 45 minutes ago, and we would also get bumped to first class or bumped to a suite on arrival because he has the magic touch. One time, after booking the cheapest little european piece of crap available in Germany, he asked to rent a GPS unit at the desk and they upgraded us for free to a brand new cream audi convertible (the next available rental with in-dash GPS because they were out of the plug in units)! I mean, we had to peel the protective film off the trim, we were the first ones to drive it. I love being the gal on his arm when we go on adventures HE plans, things work out spectacularly well for us that way. But this is deployment and the gnome has pretty much made me his bitch since the halfway point, so I get to do travel plans.

Today was ready to suck me under from the start, and under I went. On the last day of a beautiful, unseasonably warm 4 day weekend that I keep wishing we could be enjoying together, and I keep fighting to pray away my ungratefulness. It’s a beautiful day. I don’t have to work. I heard from DH. We’re getting to go on our long awaited honeymoon. Yet I’m exhausted and it isn’t even noon. My patriotic feelings for the day have fizzled and I just want him home. Now. Yesterday. Pity party complete, it’s time to get back to what I do best: work long and hard so there isn’t space to think too much. Operation organize the garage is in full swing.

Today, thank a veteran, and buy his wife a box of wine (or her husband a bottle of his poison of choice). I am proud, grateful beyond words for the sacrifices our veterans make, but today I really don’t have the mental capacity for anything more than wanting mine home. Happy Veterans Day/ Armistice Day!