Keeping busy, I suppose. I'm still teaching at the community college, still living in Colorado Springs. And, for the second time since I've lived in this town, I'm saying goodbye to my husband so he can fight in a war I have never considered honorable or justified.
We spent the past few weeks prepping pounds of paperwork and setting up our own personal support networks. Most of you know I'm not a huge fan of the "army wife" social scene; I keep to myself or I'm glued to my phone so I can talk to my family in Washington state or my friends in Georgia or Texas or Oregon. That condition of never feeling quite at home follows me to every city I live in, but I remember feeling that way before I married Tom. As a teenager, I used to glamorize the idea of living in a new place every year, of never settling down. I was going to be an actress and live in New York at least once. As soon as I started studying literature, acting went out the window but my wanderlust just concealed itself in a quieter, less obnoxious costume. I started feeling the pangs of homesickness, the lack of familiarity, and the drawbacks of constant relocation. I became comfortable in Eagle River, Anchorage, Vancouver, Atlanta, Columbus - as soon as we packed up to leave. I left hard-earned friends, jobs, and writing groups behind to find myself in a new place with my books and pets to comfort me before Tom's next deployment began.
This morning, at 2am, Tom left for a month of training before his third tour in a combat zone. He'll return for a short break in March, then I'll see him again by Christmas, hopefully. This tour will be, I think, his most challenging.
We remain very different people who have created the only kind of successful marriage I can imagine. Tom's job is important to me only in that it makes him feel happy, needed, confident, and self-aware. Tom is, by himself, a role model and my closest confidant. My job and my writing have a tendency to become (sometimes not-so-fortunately) my identity while he is gone. I overschedule myself and doubt my own work as I practice much too late at night. I back into a safe routine of loneliness and quiet chaos. I clean. I read. I run. I go weeks without being touched or touching others. I sometimes wonder if I'd be in the same profession if I had a husband who was around more, at home for dinner every night and never shot at - my poetry, my second chapbook in fact, is grown from my experience as a sort of pacifist married to a soldier. What would I write about?
I've been working hard with my poetry students this semester on writing what is not created for publication but for exploration of the craft, what is experimental and part of understanding the text we read, what plays with personal experience and the capacity of the imagination. This spreads into my own writing practice, which continues to grapple with deployments and war.
I've missed you guys. You're such good listeners. : )