Wednesday, March 21, 2012
They put a sign up in front of my house today, and I started to cry. Don't get me wrong...I signed up for it. It's time to sell our house, but I'm struggling with it more than I expected. I'm not sure if it's this way for everyone in the military, but for me, I've never really been attached to places or stuff. I figure, every few years the Army moves us away from the place, and every few years they lose or break some of the stuff, so I attach myself to the people I meet wherever we go, and I let go of the rest. It's not hard to avoid getting attached to a rental house or government housing unit, and I truly believe IKEA was made for military familes (why buy really nice furniture just to have it fall off a truck or a boat somewhere en route?). But this time was different. We bought this house--our first ever home purchase--and we truly made it our own. The paint on the walls is my taste, the kitchen is my style. We've poured our blood, sweat, and tears into this house, and I'm finding it a little hard to let go this time. We make memories everywhere we live, but I have so many memories tied into the very walls of this house. My husband and I (after watching ENTIRELY too much HGTV), decided to completely renovate the 1962 kitchen right after we moved in...all by ourselves. I got to design every aspect of the kitchen. I tell you, you have never experienced IKEA until you've done an IKEA kitchen. The clerks all know me by name now, as I think I made 372 trips to the store in the three months it took us to complete. It was definitely a test of our marriage, and I still owe my hubby big time for the hundreds of hours of work he poured in to that room. But the end result felt like it had my fingerprints and my soul all over it. The same is true of the master bath, a battleship gray, cramped hole when we moved in. Now, it is a very tiny version of my dream bathroom, with gleaming marble and sparkling glass tiles. It was another test of marital fortitude--when you put two people in a 5x8 room and give them a task they've never attempted (tiling) and throw in slightly unrealistic expectations (mine), it can be a recipe for disaster. I still laugh every time I look in the bathroom mirror. We argued more over which stupid mirror to buy than anything else in our entire house! I love the one we compromised on...it reminds me what a good team we are together.
As I scrub and shine our house to get it ready to go on the market, and think about who might live here next, I get a catch in my throat. I try to see my house through a buyer's eyes, to spot areas where I need to rearrange furniture or touch up paint. But what rushes over me are MY memories here. My son Noah's birthday party, with friends and family relaxing on the deck, and the kids playing on a bounce house in the yard. Caleb on the tire swing, sitting there yelling for someone to push him when we all got distracted. Tuesday night dinners, with our friends from church gathered around the kitchen. My husband balancing precariously on the roof, hanging Christmas lights. My band practicing for hours in the basement, fine-tuning a medly of bar-crowd-pleasing songs. The Japanese maple tree in the front yard, the perfect climbing tree, where Caleb would perch between branches with a good book on a sunny day. And my neighbors, young and old, whom I've grown to love fiercely. I wish I could pack them up and take them with me.
In this transient military life, it is tempting to keep things superficial and temporary, for you never know when the next move may come. And putting down roots is not only hard work, it hurts when it comes time to rip them up and move on. But we do it anyway, if only to be able to say that when we lived somewhere, we really lived there. I hope whoever ends up buying our house loves it as much as we do. As for us, we will move on to the next adventure, and slowly, we will put down new roots.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I think deployments are like long-distance races. You prepare for them the best you can, mentally, emotionally, financially. Then race day comes and he leaves. And at first, you're feeling good (well, after the tearful goodbye, anyway). You're thinking to yourself, "I can do this! I am strong!" And other people cheer you on, saying "We will help you! We will be with you through this!" The first few months you settle into the new rhythm, and you think "I AM doing this! And I'm pretty badass at it! I can do a year standing on my head!" And other people tell you "I don't know how you do this...you're amazing!" And then, maybe halfway through, maybe two-thirds through, you hit that wall that runners face, when your legs start to feel numb and leaden, and your lungs are burning, and you're looking up at a long, upward stretch of road. That's where I'm at in this deployment. Nearly ten months into a thirteen month stretch, and still four weeks until he comes home on leave, and I've hit that wall. I'm so tired. And I feel anything but amazing. My patience is thin. I yell at my kids too much. I'm not sleeping well. My older son, who can't verbalize his stress, has begun beating himself in the face, despite my best efforts to calm and entertain him. What I want to do more than anything is run away, and be alone with no responsibilities, preferably somewhere warm, with a book (OK, a LOT of books). I know when people say that what they probably mean is, "I think it's amazing you haven't completely lost it and started eating paper!" Or something like that. I know that, between caring for a severely disabled child, helping out with my brother (wounded in Afghanistan), dealing with building a house 1500 miles away, and trying to get our house here ready to sell, by myself, it probably is a miracle that I'm not crouched in a corner, mumbling lines from Tarantino movies and eating my fingernails. That I'm surviving. But, I'll be honest with you...that sucks! Surviving is not living, and it's not fair to my kids. So here's where the hardest part of the race begins. The uphill climb before the finish line is even in sight. I can't give up, not just because I don't want to but because it is not an option. Although I have fantasized about calling someone and saying, "Hi, Army? Yeah, so this deployment is really sucking way more than the others and I'm just ready to punch out, so can you go ahead and send Hubby home now? Thanks!" (Don't worry. After fourteen years in, I know better than to try any version of that little scenario.) Instead, I will plant my burning legs one in front of the other and make it up the hill. No advice from onlookers is necessary, but a little cheering on would sure help.