DSC_0420

Better for the bruises.

Let’s carve ourselves out of a hollow, make a new me, a new us. We can douse ourselves in renewal, call it some sort of self-immolation, and we can emerge, khaleesi-style, from the flames as a different sort of us, a new being, emerged from our rumble, this new thing. Soft wings, tender feet.

We are what we are, what we were, what we will be.

We burn each other every single day. Flame-tipped wings tapping against each other, leaving these scars that we’ll drag behind us forever.

It’s like an umbrella-soaked street, all of us vying for this space, some sort of dry in the chaos of a hurricane.

Me, I come with baggage. Blame the absent fathers. Blame the husband who left, blame me, blame you, the moon, the night, the music, the every-fucking-thing.

We can call it what we will, but we are crashing and crashing hard, always, against these things.

I want to believe. I want it with every bit of me, that love is the cup to drink from, the life-renewing thing that will sustain us and I am ever-angry that I approach that cup with hesitation, that I catch a shimmer over the shoulder and have to look, to see if it’s the foreboding, the screen falling to reveal it was never what I thought it was.

I want to trust. I want to know. I want to let it all go, to lose myself to love, to stop holding this and that back. I want to go all in, flip the switch, let the bottom give out and give zero fucks.

I wish we could all love – every time – like the first time, like the scars aren’t there.

It is an unfairness the way the past settles over us, the way it throws obstacles into our future, giving us so many things to overcome.

I want to give him a fresh me, show him the not-broken version of who I was once. I want to come to him unscarred and renewed, fresh from a fire or flood, burned or bathed of all the filth that came before. I want to give this man the best parts of me without brushing off the dust, without pulling the curtains over the broken bits.

I clamor for renewal, I beg for a reset, a process to smooth the sharpened edges of my hesitant heart, but I still can’t help to wonder, are we better for the bruises?

The week with all the Alabama & a settled sort of love.

On Friday  I flew to Atlanta, rented a car, and drove the 3.5 hours to Enterprise, Alabama where Andrew lives. I drove back to Atlanta and flew home Monday and then tomorrow I’m doing it all again, because Friday is family day, which means I get to see Andrew fly around and take photos with the aircraft he’s currently learning to fly on, and we didn’t know it was family day when we booked the original trip for this past weekend and, when I looked into changing my flight, we realized it would cost almost the same to change my flight as it would to just come the second weekend, so we said fuck it, like honey badgers, and booked the second trip and this became the week with ALL THE ALABAMA and ALL THE DRIVING.

Andrew’s lucky I really, really like him or I probably wouldn’t be up for spending the days surrounding two consecutive weekends speeding down Alabama byways, past cows and horses and broken down farmhouses.

2013-02-05

This trip was mostly uneventful. I got in Friday night, we went to sleep, we went to town on Saturday, where Andrew studied his flight school things and I read my book and blogs and googled my way around the internet and later we Red Boxed Pitch Perfect, ordered a pizza and snuggled on the couch. Sunday Andrew studied, I ran an exceptionally challenging 4 miles through his insanely hilly neighborhood, cooked Super Bowl food and we watched the game on the couch until bedtime. Monday I woke up early, drove back to Atlanta, and caught a noontime flight home.

the best

I told Andrew over and over before I arrived that I knew he had to study flight school things and that just being near him was enough, even if it meant being near each other and doing different things, but I was more than a little surprised to find out how satisfying it was to sit across a table from him outside a local coffee shop, each of us immersed in our own things, but still together and close. It felt, in those moments, like this was all normal, like this was how our weekends are always spent: together, close & simply.

Last Thursday, when discussing the merits of marriage and various relationship things, a close friend said, matter-of-factly, that Andrew and I are soul mates. It’s not something she would ever say lightly, but for us, it was the only words that worked and they came to her so easily when describing us that I was taken aback, in the best way, because no matter what nice things friends manage to say about our marriage or relationship, I’m always surprised by what they see, that even to people I don’t know well or even at all, we, me and him, are supposed to be, and I guess that’s just one more reason why I don’t mind driving back and forth from Atlanta to Enterprise a handful of times this week.2013-02-051

It also doesn’t hurt that he’s so damn adorable.

{5 Points} The 5 Year Anniversary Edition: Random Us Things

DSC_4871

Holy shit, you guys. Five years ago today Andrew and I said “I do” in the chapel at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. It seems insane, a little, that it’s been five years since we got married, all awkward and nervous and giggly-like, but there it is. Five years.

We’ve done a lot in five years. We’ve meowed to jazz songs in the car and gone on epic vacations to Europe, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and Alaska and we’ve sailed around the Caribbean a few times, hitting a handful of different islands each time. We’ve collected FOUR CRAZY CRITTERS, hosted friends for holidays and shenanigans and learned to love red wine. We’ve turned into adults, in technical and boring ways, and successfully maintained high levels of ridiculousness. It’s been a crazy, wonderful adventure.

This year has been the absolute hardest of the five, hands down. People who love and need each other aren’t supposed to live in different time zones or different states or sleep in different beds or live different lives, but we are, and even if it’s for the best sort of reason, it’s still stupid and awful. We’ve probably argued harder and louder and more fiercely this year than any other year before, but even in the middle of a fight, when I stop myself from yelling (and let’s be clear – I’m the yelling type – Andrew is the strong silent, hugging type) I look at him and realize that there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, that I value more than our marriage and the love we have for each other. He’s my dude, my best friend and the most important person to ever enter my life.

5 Random Us Things

 

1. There was never really an engagement. There’s a moment I remember clearly, toward the end of our time in Kosovo, once Andrew and I realized that we really, really, no shit were totally head over heels in love with other. We hadn’t been together for any long length of time but we knew. We were outside, standing on the porch outside my room, and I asked him what he wanted to do, about us, when we got home. He said he didn’t know where we were going to live or what we were going to do, but that he knew, without a doubt, that he wanted to marry me. And that was it. Marriage seemed terrifying for me, as I’d just gotten divorced, but this was Andrew, this was the guy who I swear I loved the first day I met him and so I said okay, yes, let’s do that. Let’s get married, because why the fuck not. I love you, you love me, we were always supposed to be together, so let’s.

2. We only fight about one thing. Everyone fights, and the couples who say they don’t are full of shit and totally doomed. Andrew and I don’t fight about a lot, or even often, at least not under usual circumstances, but what we do fight about is communication. I over-communicate and Andrew under-communicates and his lack of communication drives me crazy. And that’s it. We don’t fight about other things, at least not seriously. We snark at each other a lot, and I get snippy if I have to ask him to take out the trash more than once, but the only thing I actually yell about is the communication thing and really, it’s partly because I’m obnoxiously nosy (journalism suits me) and Andrew is decidedly mellow and doesn’t think to share the mundane bits of his life that I actually want to know about because I’m a crazy person.

3. Andrew enjoys and partakes in my weird. I’m really fucking weird, you guys. I was raised by wolves and a flock of asshole geese. Andrew is weird too, in his own deliciously awkward and hilarious way, but I take weird to a whole new level. I’ve named an actual herd of stray cats. I once sang a 12-minute song, completely improvised, about a kid named Timmy Twotoes. There are days when I communicate more with animal noises than with actual human speech and I can pick things up and throw them with my monkey toes. I am a weirdtacular festival of quirk, and Andrew seems to enjoy it, at least most days, and the best part is that he’ll actually participate in the ridiculous, he’ll actually meow along to songs with me, and he doesn’t swat me away, or even raise an eyebrow when I fluff his chest hair before napping on his chest. He doesn’t mind my fascination and love of comparing Biore pore strips, and it seems he’s learned to understand the majority of my squeaks and squawks.

4. We’re both really funny, but we’re at our most funny when we’re together and that’s how I know it’s true love. We take ridiculous to a whole new level. The conversations we have together, especially when we’re alone, are the actual silliest things ever. He’s hilarious and I spent last weekend accidentally almost getting spit-laughed on because I’m pretty hilarious myself and together we’re just god damn funny.

5. I really do love him more today than yesterday. It’s so cheesy, but I swear I love him more with each and every day that passes. He’s amazing and basically a super hero. He’s doing this incredible and ridiculous and difficult thing, this crazy flight school thing, and it’s amazing and I’m so proud and each step closer he gets to becoming a rated US Army Aviator, I become more and more amazed at what an incredible dude I get to call my husband. Plus, he opened bottles of champagne with a fucking saber on New Year’s Eve, while wearing a tux and looking dead sexy and when you add that and the whole flying helicopters thing together, you get one bad ass mother fucker I’m ridiculously in love with.

Cheers to five years, Snap. I love you, more today than yesterday.

Labor Day Weekend Adventures to ‘Bama & Beyond

The thing about having your husband live far away in the middle of actual nowhere is that when you do go to visit him, you want things to be special. If I only get 2-4 days with my husband each month, you can bet your ass I’m probably going to get a pedicure before I go and I’ll probably buy at least one new shirt before each visit, and an upcoming visit will probably encourage me to get that haircut I’ve been meaning to get for the past year or so and I’m going to fly to Alabama with the hope of doing fun shit that will make some magical memories and make me forget, at least for a few hours, how much being away from him sucks.

Last time I visited he graduated Warrant Officer Candidate School. This time we wandered around Alabama and got deliriously sunburnt on a Florida beach.

Magical Memory Making Day the First

I flew in Friday, we ate delicious hamburgers for lunch, which made me feel like I was dying for the rest of the day (NOTE TO SELF: MEAT MIGHT NOT BE YOUR FRIEND), his roommate let me put together a TV stand, which might sound like torture to some people, but which make my little heart happy to the point of near-explosion. Andrew told me about the potential pick-up of the thing and the need for it to be built and I immediately begged to do it. It was like bait. He knew I’d want to build that shit.

We were going to go see a movie, but then his roommate invited us to dinner at the Mellow Mushroom with another one of their classmates and since I love pizza and since they have a good beer selection there and since I really wanted to meet some of the people Andrew has been talking about and immerse myself in his life a little bit, I said yes, please to Mellow Mushroom with his friends and after all the pizza and a few of the beers we went back to Andrew’s house* where more shenanigans ensued until it was bedtime.

*We should talk about how fucking weird it is to say “Andrew’s house” because we’ve been married for four and a half years and before now it’s been “our house” and it still is, although now there’s “our house” and “his house” and it’s FUCKING WEIRD.

Magical Memory Making Day the Second.

Saturday we puttered around a lot because of the hangovers and because we were lazy and because we could and then we went into “town,” to Dothan, the closest town with a Target, and went to the Dothan Area Botanical Garden.

We had a picnic lunch of supermarket sushi next to a fence full of love locks, wandered through a rose garden and down a wooded trail where I was bitten by fire ants and saw approximately 18 million banana spiders, these giant monster spiders that build webs strong enough to catch sticks. Andrew claims it was a light stick, but still, IT WAS A STICK.

We hit up a giant antique store, contemplated purchasing a handful of decanters for Andrew’s growing whiskey collection and picked up a few decades-old postcards, including one from just after the construction of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

Saturday night was the first drive-in movie we’ve ever seen as a couple and probably the first time I’ve been to a drive-in movie theater in at least a decade. While there, we were accosted by a “native,” the name we’ve chosen to assign to the crazy backwoods locals. He commented on my cell phone case, said his girlfriend had the same one and then pulled up his t-shirt to wipe his nose, baring his belly and man boobs to us and the world.

Alabama is a strange place.

Magical Memory Making Day the Third.

We woke up early, grabbed Sonic for breakfast (AGAIN – NOTE TO SELF – MEAT HATES YOU), and headed south to Florida. Andrew had visited Destin with one of his roommates a few weeks before and, based on the suggestions I got from travel writer and possible soul twin Kristin of Camels & Chocolate, I declared we’d be heading to Grayton Beach State Park for the morning and afternoon because really, when someone who travels as much as Kristin does recommends a place, chances are she knows what she’s talking about.

 It was beautiful. White sand beaches and water so warm it felt like bathwater. Pelicans flew in v’s overhead, showing us their white bellies, and crabs peeked from their sandy dens to check out the scene, only to scurry back into their holes the moment I reached for my camera. Andrew had to study for the exams he has this week, I got caught up on my pile of months-old Time magazines and we both got deliriously sunburnt.

For lunch we headed to Seaside, also on Kristin’s suggestion, to check out the food trucks.

The food trucks are all housed in old Airstreams along 30A, Florida’s scenic highway, in Seaside, a picture perfect community so perfect the Truman Show was filmed there. There’s BBQ and grilled cheese and other delicious and tasty things and after a long morning and afternoon at the beach, it was a perfect lunch snack.

Then it was time to go home, or at least back to Andrew’s home, past cow pastures and a gorgeous sunset and half a hundred cotton fields.

Monday I flew home, after lunch and packing and an extended goodbye at the itty bitty Dothan airport. Saying goodbye was less awful this time than last time and I didn’t sob, just sprouted a few little baby tears before heading through security where the random set of pliers I had in my bag caused all sort of mayhem for the TSA agents who “don’t see that every day.”

Leaving continues to be my least favorite part of my Alabama adventures and while I don’t see that changing anytime soon, I’m hopeful I’ll at least cry less in public as we perfect this awful saying goodbye thing.

Did you do anything special to mark the end of summer?

Warrant Officers, love & 8,000 happy tears.

On Tuesday I flew from Richmond to Charlotte to Pensacola and then drove the two and a half hours to Fort Rucker, Alabama, where I waited, anxiously, to see my husband for the first time in 46 days. He was released, we texted, found a meeting point and when his car pulled up next to my rental (a Prius, natch), I burst into tears.

He climbed into my car and I stared at him, teary eyed and breathless and we hugged across the center console. I buried my face in his neck, breathing it all in, reveling in the first bits of physical contact I’d had with my husband and best friend in six and a half weeks and dripping tears onto his collar.

We’d only spoken four times in the past five and a half weeks, since he started Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS). He’d been forced to turn in his phone back at the end of June and it wasn’t until three and a half weeks later that he’d gotten his first phone call.There was so much to say, so much to catch up on, but in that moment – that first moment – all I could do was cry and nuzzle my face further into his neck.

That night there was a reception, a chance for family members to meet the Warrant Officers who had been responsible for our Candidates for the past several weeks. I got to meet Andrew’s roommates, his Training, Advising and Counseling (TAC) Officers and had an ample amount of time to stand around awkwardly in a dress and heels. For the first time in our four and a half years of marriage, I stood next to Andrew at a military event as his wife, not his fellow Soldier. I felt like I was incognito, undercover in my pearls and heels, disguised by my sock bun.

He got an overnight pass on Tuesday, but had to back at work my 5am on Wednesday in order to prepare for his 10am graduation.

I donned my dress uniform, the one I only wear once a year or so, and returned the more familiar role of wife and Soldier.

Andrew raised his right hand, again, and pledged allegiance to America and the state of Virginia, so help him God, and then his name was called and up I went to pin new rank on him, the rank of Warrant Officer, and just like that the Staff Sergeant I used to be married to turned into a Warrant Officer.

 I saluted him, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

I returned to my seat and looked at him, smiling as tears filled my eyes. I can’t express how proud of him I am, how in love with him I am, how lucky I feel to be able to call him my husband. He’s amazing, really. He’s capable of anything he puts his mind to. He’s wanted this for years and he’s doing it now and this accomplishment, this move to become a Warrant Officer, is a first in a whole list of accomplishments that I can’t wait to celebrate with him. I am so lucky, so, so, so incredibly lucky to have found him, to have had the sense to marry him and to have been able to call him mine for all of these years.

I looked at him as we drove back to the hotel to change and again, for maybe the one millionth time since we got married four and a half years ago, I fell in love with him.