Children of Morning

Well, I thought it might be time to introduce the rest of the family – such as it is. Feline, fickle, and ferocious in turns, they are:
Princess Jonesy Buttercake
Ok, so we mostly call her Jonesy. She is the sweetest child. She lives for belly petting and treats. And meal times. And brushing. Otherwise, it’s just sleep and snore. She’s a Norwegian Forest Cat and was named Princess Di by the breeder due to her obvious crown. While she maintains her regal nature she never puts on airs.
Ah, sweet baby. Her belly is like the softest, deepest cashmere and I love to put my face in it.

This would be her adopted child, Smoky Doodlebug. She came from Slim Kitty who was a wild thing that lived near my previous residence. She came during an Easter ice storm and mom huddled up by the house with only the Doodle to suckle. I don’t know if she abandoned the others or if they’d frozen already. Against my better nature I made them both come inside the covered porch area, a box made with warm snuggly bits in it. Doodle was hardly a palm-full.
When a baby, Jonesy would steal her out of the box when mom wasn’t looking and play with her. I have a sweet photo of them that I shall post another day.
Now, she is finally filling out after a few years. Always slender and delicate like her mother, she can leap without disturbing a thing. Very finely carved feet, too. And the smartest cat I have ever known. Mind you, if you leave your paperboard nail file out, she will find it. And it will not be returned in its original state. She was always skittish until the Trooper moved in. Slowly but surely, he turned her fear aside and now she dotes on him. He says she’s a Ranger kitty. I tend to believe him…
Now then – where is Mr. Maximus Fatassimus? Ah…here he is.
This fellow came with the Trooper. When we first met he was about twice that size due to boredom and eating. Not that he was neglected but that he didn’t have other kitty friends so…he watched bad TV and ate. The thing about the Mouser (aka Mus) is that he is a hugger. He will put his front “pars” on your pants legs and beg to be lifted up and held like a child does. If you do, he will rub his face on yours and snuggle under your chin, his paws to either side of your neck like a big hug.
Trooper says that he’d gone to the pound for a dog, didn’t see one he liked and was headed out by way of the cat section when this fellow reached out a paw and snagged his uniform sleeve. He removed him from the cage, got that trademark hug and it was all over. He protected me when the Trooper was in academy, never leaving my side and sleeping nearby each night. Now, the bed is a bit more full so he is relegated to sleeping over my head on a pillow, poor beasty. Still, he’s my little man and I adore him.
And the other part of the morning and cats is this – the humble oatmeal bowl limned in the first light this part of Texas has seen in a month.
It was given to me as part of a floral arrangement – miniature red roses, it was – from my sister. I always loved the size and heft of it and the French language (which may be the only thing good about the French for another decade or so).
Me and my bowl, we greet each other every morning. It’s the long cook kind of oatmeal, too. Jeez, people, that nasty sugary crap you nuke cannot compare at all. A few blueberries and some honey (that whipped honey with lemon is fabu with the berries, BTW) and it is a fine way to start the day. It does get other things started, too, of course. Ahem.
So that’s about it. The light may have been brief but I actually got to enjoy it and I have to tell you – it was a beautiful thing. Thank you, Texas. I really did need that.

Where does the time go?

Dear me, but I have neglected this place, no? Cobwebs everywhere and garbled verbiage all over the floor. Sigh…well, it was holiday time and there was so much going on…eh, reasons but no excuses. I was taught that once by a fine elderly woman in a Chicago public school – perhaps the only thing I learned there.

There is a distinction between a reason and an excuse. Rarely is the latter actually excusable. We do things we know we ought not and then find a reason to substantiate it and move on, expecting the error to just fall away like a mote in the wind.

Right now, I have all manner of reasons for losing the shape that I was in at the start of my relationship. No excuses, though. And so I know it’s time to start again…to try yet again to force this…aging flesh into something more tolerable. Oh, yes…time…it is not touching me lightly now as it always had.

Once, I was insanely free from it – I looked 16 well into my late twenties. And even then the changes were subtle and slow. But loss…it was loss that started the process, I think. I grieved. One heartache was tossed upon another, a double blow, and I bent forward under the burden of it. But with time and effort I stood tall again and managed to recover. And it was then I met the Trooper. Still relatively radiant though the lines were showing. But once again I let go the rigidity of schedule and duty, went for pleasure like a child to candy and lost track of myself. It is a long climb back.

As for the Trooper – he, too, lost himself after being released from the torment of academy. He swore he would not but the fact is that the extreme nature of the training and diet could not be maintained. We shall not mention his rather drastic condition that will require surgery sooner rather than later that prevents his running – it is his one major weapon against the flesh and it has been put away. It was that or crippling himself. No, a few more months and he can have it seen to. Damn his stubborn hide. I’d told him… Ach – water under the bridge. Why bother?

Do you know what I miss? My Sunday hikes in the woods. It was Sweetwater Park every dawn. I knew the trails, I knew the flora and fauna. I knew the overlook and the trees. It was almost four miles rain or shine – hell, the canopy was so grand that rain became hardly a drizzle under it. But I’ve nothing like that here, now. It is…frighteningly broad, that horizon. Lovely, yes – the expansive view is tremendous. But sometimes it also feels almost too exposed. I feel quite small and weak under that sky.

I spent much of this week buried by that same sky in ice for 3 days. At least I was able to remain at home, not bothered with venturing out. We were wise enough to get foodstuffs to tide us over. Here – I shall show you what I battled.

That is nearly two inches thick at the wipers. I didn’t even bother to do battle with it. I waited for the Thursday thaw and only then chipped at it, sending large sheets rolling off the hood. I worried most for my already damaged windshield but it only had a wee bit longer crack for all that weight and cold. Thank goodness. I hadn’t budgeted for its replacement yet – trying to get it through perhaps May or June.

At any rate, it was a time of staying indoors and drinking a lot of tea to keep my hands warm. Damned body is failing me left and right. Yet another thing to make time for – exams and prodding, histories and histrionics. I file it under the “I don’t want to know” section and put it off again. Time later for all that…

I’ve a wedding to decide on, too. Full-blown affair or solitary and solemn? In TX or GA? Invite all or just a few? I’ve no idea, frankly. First one and then the other concept appeals. But I do know I have no stomach for the…oh what shall we call it? The frou frou bullshit. I am more and more tempted to make it local – to find a nice TX field and just have a barbecue (oh jeez – what is the colloquial spelling here?!) but then I think of his GA friends and how it would be for them to travel…we’ve not as many friends here. Hell, I’ve not many at all. LOL Oh, yes…THAT is simple enough. Who to stand up for me? The four gals I love most. There are no others.

Well…I suppose being away for so long has made me overstay my welcome here. Too much content, not enough contentedness. After all, there is a great deal awaiting me here – time enough to get the chores done if I were so inclined. I am most definitely not but I will do it anyway. And later, some puttanesca for dinner. Battle THAT, Febreze! You have met your equal!

Y’all be good. Be happy. Spring will come. It always does.

P.S. For the sweet Christina and family – hot damn but it’s good to be home, isn’t it? Congrats on making it through the impossible! Let the final decorating begin!

So I’m sitting here, taking a break from the addressing of the massive mess that is “home”, and listening to the weird/cool mix-CD when it occurs to me that I haven’t been back here in a long while.

Troopah asked about the blog – why, &c – and I had no answer, really, except that in my mind it is a place to keep exercised the writing muscles that atrophy so quickly. Once…lord, once my fingers flew daily, scribbled nightly, and my languid language flowed with ease. But now…silenced, more, with life…preoccupied and busy, really…but I do miss it.

I miss that easy rapport with the page and the release of the details, trivial and not. I miss a lot of things, actually, and they come to me more these days. I think of my Mom and his Grandpa…miss them terribly but like to think of them gardening some nice piece of heaven together. I miss my old garden and the pond and the roses. I miss the swing and the arbor. And I miss the long days at home, doing nothing but what I wanted to do for a year.

Oh, that’s not to say I spent money on whatever I wanted. No, it was more about…seeing a movie in the daytime in an empty theatre, going to Whole Foods and not worrying about the time, not rushing through a workout, or just swimming with grace and care lap after lap…

It was about slowing down and seeing the sunrise and the sunset both in a day. If I were to advise anyone of anything it would be that – to take a sabbatical. To stop the damned roller coaster of life, even if it’s only a couple weeks or just a long weekend. Whatever your budget allows. It cost me – ah – it cost me a great deal, indeed both monetarily and…otherwise. But I call it fair. And I think often of how if I could just settle these fingers into a tale and weave it tightly enough that I could perhaps have enough to do that again. To slow life down.

But there is a kitchen to gut and reorganize after the hasty unpacking to any open slot…there is laundy to care for and a desk to clear – again. I simply have to back things down to the simplest format possible – the least clutter, the least crap…because I can’t bear to have it around me anymore.

The ephemera of youth, that I must retain. Who can surrender those touchstones, after all? I’ve never quite understood people that can just let the past go. Who carry nothing with them from it. A lighter load, to be certain, but I am not sure its worth the loss.

Of course, it is also election eve. And all that it engenders. I like, generally, the take that Billy has on the entire matter. While I cannot quite get to his point of belief, I reckon my holdout is based on very few points. And dear sweet Melissa whom he spoke with this evening – I do hope she remembers this for a very long time. Or at least, when that crucial juncture is met, she will have a sharp intake of breath and a dusty memory of a slightly disturbing, one-sided conversation with a modern day oracle. And yet I have to wonder if perhaps his calm, clear language will spark in her a reason to look further, to consider another view. It would have if it’d been me.

Instead, I hang out in the fringes, hoping to go along unnoticed and unmolested. Just live and cause as little a ripple in the pond as I can. It’s a strange time we live in…education is no longer a matter of right and wrong answers nor even of exploring facts old and new. An entire generation has been dumbed down so very low that it ensures a future of…futility. I really cannot comprehend its impact. Even now, I shiver at the sight of the authorship put in plain view. And I am no genius. Far from it. But…just reading a book now and then would lead to better grammar, no? Sadly, no.

I’d told someone a couple decades ago that I had a sincere belief that the public schools were purposefully being used to create an electorate of imbeciles – sheeple, as it were. And I believe that more fervently than ever. And am trebly glad to not have a child to educate. I assure you they would not step one foot into such an institution. No, better to be home and learning than that.

It is madness that awaits us, you see. I firmly believe it. This country will have a Dark Age that will have it spiraling into utter ruin. But there will be patriots of a sort. There will be a small percentage of the populace that will be well-read, that will know their history, that will understand what must be done. And perhaps done quietly, slowly, invisibly. But one day, their grandchildren will step up and try again to return the country to its former glory.

Oh, I know – grandiose language and maudlin fluff. Sure, sure. And I do hope so. I haven’t given up that hope yet. But it loses its luster daily. No amount of spit and polish could make it shine again. Not in my lifetime. That hope will die with me. So all you young folks…forget the rubbish in the books today. Find the most torn up, linen covered and broken spined tomes in the History section and Philosophy and read them. I once did. Because that knowledge is what will save you. It is what will set you apart. You’ll be lonely and alone and those thoughts will batter inside you like caged birds. But you’ll know Truth. And that is better than anything. ANYTHING.

What a difference…

…a month makes…

Okay, so it’s not as lyrical as the original. So, here I am in our new home in TX, typing away on the laptop I received with which to work from home. It has been quite the banner day – my first day as a spoiled rotten work from home type (though said spoilment is only two days/week) and his as a Trooper.

We spent the first part of the morning trying to get the laptop to talk to the office (the solution being far too embarrassingly simple to relate to you, gentle reader) and the latter part of the day getting him ready for his first night out.

I’ve photographed nearly all of the process and hope to make a nice album and scrapbook. It has been quite the journey and today was the culmination – an arrival bracketed with his departure. Of course, he’s got the FTO for about 6 months so he won’t have his own car nor drive the FTO’s for some time. Still, it’s done. Now, I get to run out for assorted things since I am officially off the clock. And, soon, I shall sleep. For I am exhausted.

The details of the actual move remain relatively hazy in my mind. There was not enough time to do any of the work that needed doing so we wound up having to remain an extra day in town just to finish. Then, a very long trek…the very end of the road trip required that I drive while just barely awake – a thing of horror for me to even recall. I would never do something so foolish but it was 3am with no one else but he and I, following the broad rear of his vehicle, just 10 minutes from home. Of course, a trooper pulled in behind me and I saw two heads which made me think that maybe I was wrong. But I was not. Thankfully, they were also tired and merely took the turn off as soon as they could, leaving us to the last 4 miles alone.

Of course, I hadn’t packed the “overnight” gear so we slept in our clothes on the floor and didn’t care at all. The cats, too, must have slept for ages once they were released to the relative peace of the “safe room”.

I wonder, now, at how we managed it. He has taken so much abuse over the last few weeks as my last energy and nerves were depleted. I was trying to not make it personal, to couch the anger and frustration in terms that related their basis but at times there were nothing but tears to give voice to that exhaustion. I suppose he found in himself a strength to deal with all the same stresses as well as my own nonsense without retort or recrimination. He truly is that much of a man – and I could not do this without him.

So it was I watched with deep pride and happy tears as he tossed his gear in the trunk of the car and hopped into the passenger seat, on the way to his destiny. And someday…someday, it will be in his own car and it will be the badge of a Ranger on his pocket. We know this. We believe this.

The Misery of Others

Oh, I’ve been quite the lazy ho lately. There is so much needs doing and yet I’ve no will left to do it. I think the hustle of the prior week left me with little energy this week. I had to prep the house and yard for strangers – the house has to be leased again so I had to clear it of the valuables and the arsenal had to be sent to a friend’s house for safekeeping. I worked like a fiend but it was hardly sufficient. Still, it was better.

You see, in the south one mulches everything that stands still with pine needles. And it works well – cheap, easy, light to haul around. But they fade over time and disintegrate. Well, this place has quite a lot of it so I was hauling and spreading it over the course of a couple days. And removing assorted messes – you know that under the mailbox hell that comes with inattention? yes, that – and then tackling the house. How to make it presentable when you have a carefully arranged course through the stacked boxes? There is simply no way. So I surrendered to getting the kitchen clean and the litter box emptied. Beyond that, I can only do so much.

Anyway, I had a bad dream this morning and woke still groggy and scared. I knew getting my shit together and tackling this place is essential today – it’s the last weekend on my own and I don’t want my man having to do too much when he gets here. But I thought I’d just roll down the blog list, put off a time the inevitable.

As you know, one has…friends, of sorts. You may never have conversed nor met but you seek out their thoughts daily just to see how they are. I am one of those even more ethereal readers that rarely comments – I move about generally unknown to the blog owners but still taking interest in their words. I like to pride myself on having only the pick of the litter on my roll but there are so many others…

And then this morning – see, there is a meet-up in Helen, GA this weekend and if I had any time and courage, I’d have made the trip. But such is not my…character. I am far less eloquent in person – a watcher, not a talker. So I was just reading of the attendees, thinking of the fun they’ll have…and then the link to Christina…I’d skimmed the site in the past, but was then reminded that these people – these Texans – had lost all in a fire not long ago. It tickled in my brain, that memory. I recalled that I’d thought at the time how horrid that had to be with just a couple adults mourning the loss of all they had but then to have children to deal with, too? Jassus.

So this morning I had my coffee cup in hand, weary and bleary, and perused the site slowly. Yes, sensible people. Good people. Nice taste in decor though perhaps harkening too much to that siren monkey call that the Velocigod wields. And then it struck me that all my whiney-ass bullshit was just that. Here’s a gal tackling an already difficult situation – new home building and decor – with the additional troubles of children, work, and loss. I was reminded that what I have to deal with is really quite manageable, thankyouverymuch.

I figure I’ll get this posted, put on some clothes and get some boxes packed. I am at that stage, now, where deciding what to pack is crucial. We’ve a couple weeks left so one might need this or that item or bit of clothing. There is a sort of moving math going on – you have to decide what is ready for a box and what not. But at least we’ve decided on the date and the movers are ready. (Which, if you are ever in need in the southeast do call Carter Moving @ 770-891-9204 – used by us once and by half of the CCPD…)

The house is rented, the utilities in the works, and things are just moving right along. And soon…soon I shall stand in that lovely hall and watch as my man sits on the stage and is sworn in as a Texas State Trooper. I cannot tell you with what pride he shall sit there nor with such pride I will watch. My heart is fit to burst with it already. He sent me an official photo in uniform and hat and I just cried, laughing. We had both given so much for that moment in time…

And then, of course, there is a laughing relief that both Doh and Carter passed their TCLEOSE. Carter is Squirrel Boy – the unofficial mascot of the class. Country as turnip greens and a lovely, good man. Doh, a slight and spry Vietnamese gentleman whose language skills will be quite the asset to the force. My man would always update me on the two – how they were doing…He laughed as he told me how Doh would perform in defensive training, being trained in martial arts and never quitting, never stopping. It’s hard to explain the training but you can imagine a Texas high summer in a room with no air conditioning where you are running until exhausted and then set upon by three very large men intent on getting you on the ground. Some barfed, all collapsed after and some came away injured. But those two never quit and we both took such pleasure in their progress…

My man has had that training for years. He is not at all unfamiliar with it. But he said it was simply the toughest training he has ever had. We are talking beyond Marine Bootcamp and Ranger School tough. Physically, anyway. But here’s the thing. The disappointing thing. Political Correctness has infiltrated. He spoke of the “Magic Berm” at the range where some ladies who had not made the passing grade were taken and came out with a passing grade. My God, do they think they are doing them favors?! Someday they WILL have to shoot and they WILL have to be dead-on and they won’t be. Their families will mourn them but what of their LT? Will she take upon herself the blame for allowing them to skate by, unskilled?

Yes, an award will go to someone who hasn’t earned it based merely on her gender. And it pricks deeply their senses of propriety. There is a very high level of integrity and honor in the rolls and it is preached to them daily. But it appears that it isn’t necessarily maintained by a few there – when they are willing to do something merely to be PC – and when someone will accept that award, knowing they had betters even among their gender…well, it tarnishes the whole thing.

But we’ll try hard to ignore that aspect and just be pleased with the end of the torment, take on the coming madness and try to get our lives settled again. It won’t matter, in the end. It won’t matter at all. Just that we’re together, our family of animals is safe and happy, and we can continue chasing this dream. I tell you, Rangers. You’d better be ready. He’s going to roll through his Trooper 1 and into 2 and then right onto your shore. That day will come. Five years, we figure. Five more years.

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.

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.