CONTRIBUTED BY MEREDITH NOVARIO
Joe is back from faraway lands. Weeks have passed and the boys still can’t get enough of Dada what with all his wrestling and tackling and rolling on the floor. Mama is hardly that cool. Mama does dishes and frantically points out all the potential danger in every which way they move. And by pointing out I mean raising my voice and wagging my finger. As if that works. But there is much less of that with Joe around because the team of us is back in action and I love the rhythm of us.
But deployment is a beast, ya’ll.
It’s not just the days he is gone. Deployment is also the days before he leaves where I anticipate his absence, where I unintentionally distance myself from him because he’s totally not going to care that they had cilantro at the commissary today or that Henry broke the zero button on my cell-phone. His head is swarming with his important details. Not OUR important details. So we are quiet-ish. I get anxious for him to actually go so we can be free to live separately because living separately in the same house makes my throat clench. Yet at the same time I want to maintain the happyhappyjoyjoy of us so that he can carry that in his heart and know that we will be fine. Or fine enough.
Then he leaves and we struggle at times and are okay at times and miss him throughout. And I grow to love how the distance makes me appreciate him and who he is to me and our boys. And then I have a day of endless tantrums and no naps and I get angry at him for being faraway. Angry that he is traveling and seeing the world. Angry that he gets validation for his hard work from every direction. Angry that I am alone. Then my friends peel me off the floor and feed me dinner and watch my boys. Then I’m fine and I even enjoy my nights and the groove we’ve managed to carve out for ourselves despite Joe’s absence.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Finally, after eight lifetimes, he comes home. And we each have to manage our expectations and fears. And each time we try. And each time we do better. There’s the initial onslaught of homecoming fireworks followed promptly by reality. This time, I accused him of not asking me enough questions about the ins and outs of my life without him. He accused me of making him feel inadequate because I doubted his technological savvy.
We put our grievances out there in our best adult voices and somehow, magically, fantastically, we are ourselves again. And right then, after that calm, the deployment is officially over.
It was in that afterglow that Buddha came out of his hermetically sealed tube full of Hong Kong air. He is orange, friends! And I love orange in the most juvenile way. I am loyal to orange. I will never betray orange no matter what anyone says about orange. Orange is worth way more than five hundred dollars. So peace has prevailed. Buddha would want it that way.