TEA WITH WIVES
Some of you know that I'm married to an infantry officer, and that his job sometimes requires me to spend time with women I wouldn't typically meet on my own. I want to make it clear, right now, that I don't think badly of these women. They lead unusual lives that the general public doesn't always understand, and the majority of them are incredibly strong-willed. However, I don't typically travel onto military bases unless I have to (Tom and I always live in the city) and I can't seem to help sudden bouts of shyness when I'm forced to attend pre-deployment (or mid-deployment, or post-deployment) meetings. The military lifestyle is not mine, but it does affect Tom, so I stay involved from a polite distance.
Well, Tom's getting ready to leave for Iraq in a couple weeks. I'm less than thrilled, but I'm hoping it will be tolerable this time around, considering it's not his first trip to a combat zone, and I definitely have enough going on here with my writing and teaching to keep me busy. Anyway, the get-togethers for us "army wives" are starting up again. I'm asked to familiarize myself with the other women I will need to stay in touch with during Tom's deployment in case of emergency.
One such meeting happened last night, when a group of about ten women gathered at a local bath & body shop to mix our own bath products and scents. It really was a creative, fun idea, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to do something besides talk about our husbands and their jobs. (I made three bottles of liquid handsoap: one in peppermint, one in Eternity for Women, and one in oatmeal, milk and honey. Wonderful!)
The night did involve lots of talking about the military though, and I felt lost and confused through most of it. I realized I'm not even a fraction as familiar with what Tom does all day compared to what these women know about their husbands. I know Tom is a captain and he goes to base every day. I have a vague idea of what he's responsible for. And I know he works out a lot. Other than that? I'm pretty content to float absently in the outer space that is my own life. I write and teach and read like crazy; I tune my violins and clean the house and go jogging and edit poems. I help Tom study for various tests (do YOU know the firing range for a Bradley Fighting Vehicle??), try not to wash his flame-retardant uniforms with the Downy ball, and help him do voice-overs for our pets.
Anyway. The point is, Tom's job is Tom's job and my job is mine. I'm much more familiar with who he is outside of the military than who he is within it. And the day he has to go to a departmental meeting for English adjuncts (with full knowledge of everything I do and every person I interact with) is the day Tom starts taking some serious notes.
I went to Montague's Tea Parlour today and wrote a poem, now that I've had some time to think about how last night went. (Many thanks to the waitress who brought me a few sheets of paper.) FYI: Look into how poets approach truth and beauty (and music) simultaneously. They don't always have to match up in order to communicate the right message. Not all circumstances are exact in poems like these because I don't write to offend. It's a sub-culture, basically, the "army lifestyle," and should be viewed only with an open mind.
(poem pulled for submission purposes!)