Two days ago I bought my ticket home while on the phone with my mom. It was a great moment; I had found a great deal and I had been bold and simply took off eighteen days from work. My purpose in doing this was to merely "use up" the entire month of December so I could return home in the bright New Year; the year my husband comes home. (At least for a while; I always feel the need to add that, lest I forget he is very likely to go back out again at some point in the future, whether it be a year or two years later.)
The next night I was making an emergency stop at WalMart after my shift. We've been experiencing a cold snap here and the air was frosty, the roads mostly empty due to the late hour. My phone rang as I drove and I fumbled wildly to get it out of my pocket and free of the seat belt, knowing that it must be my husband at that late hour.
"Sweetie!" burst forth from me in joy. I waited, eager, to hear his beloved voice.
"Jenny!" he replied, his voice intense. I sat upright. He hardly ever calls me by my first name and his tone of voice was business like in the extreme. "Did you buy the ticket?" Oh, the agony of suspense in his voice, the impatience to hear. But what was the right answer? I didn't know, and anyway, it didn't matter, I had.
"Yes," I said. "Remain calm," I was telling myself, as I pulled into the parking lot at WalMart.
"The fucking bastards!" he growled and went on with more profanity and then, in a helpless and impatient tone of voice, explained, "They changed my date again; I'm leaving sometime early in December."
Oh, the relief! He was not angry at me, but for me! And who cared about the money? Suddenly, I was going to be seeing my husband in a matter of weeks and he had a date!! An actual date when he was leaving.
"I can't talk," he said abruptly. "We're leaving on a mission right now, we're rolling out now. Just...try and get the money refunded."
"Don't worry about it, I'll do whatever I can," I assured him.
I could hear in his voice that he was leaving on a mission, he was not using his personal voice. I could see him in that moment so clearly, wearing his hundred pounds of Kevlar, one weapon strapped to his thigh; the other I did not know where, but close about him.
Under the enervating florescent light of WalMart, I wandered the isles dreamily. I felt like going up to random employees and telling them, conversationally, that my husband was coming home very soon, and wasn't it marvelous?
I remembered the dog food, which was the main point of grocery need, and threw other random things into the cart as I went. How beautiful the bacon! How tasty would be the sour cream and onion potato chips! Why not organic oatmeal? Jambalaya red beans and rice? Why yes, thank you. Beans and rice are very healthy and on sale!
I paid for my things in a cloud of bliss and drove to my warm and welcoming home, only to find that a package that my husband had ordered had arrived! I lugged the box inside and left it, respectfully, alone.
Later in the night, the phone made its joyful noise and I groped about to find it in the dark. He had called me as soon as he returned from the mission, sounding tired but content. I was proud and happy to tell him that I had called Travelocity right back and they had given me a full refund, and so he had nothing to worry about. I also told him that his package had arrived.
"Bangin'!" he exclaimed happily. "What's in it?"
"I don't know," I replied, "I didn't open it."
"Go open it!" he said, excited.
I threw on my bathrobe and padded downstairs in the dark. I tore open the cardboard and found a camo patterned cooler that sits in back of the four wheeler in such a way that not only does it keep beverages cold, but provides a seat back for me.
"Whatcha' thinkin', woman?" he asked me, sensing something, even over the phone. I couldn't help it, I laughed.
"I'm thinking I married such a good ol' boy," I replied, grinning.
"I won't lie," he said, both grave and humble, in that adorable way he has, "it's going to be holding mostly beer. But water and stuff for you. And you can lean back on it when you get tired."
"That will come in very handy," I assured him.
We talked about Christmas decorations and he revealed that he would like a white Christmas tree.
"Oh dear," I said. "Exactly how badly do you want a white Christmas tree?"
"Um," he said, grinning now as well. "How much do you not want a white Christmas tree?" His voice was just a little hesitant, shy.
"Well, on a scale of one to ten, how important is it for you to have a white one?" I offered.
"Um..." He thought so seriously about it for a moment. "A seven...?" he replied, again so adorably shy to say.
"Oh to hell with it, we'll have a white Christmas tree," I exclaimed. How tiresome to be a Christmas tree snob anyway. White could be beautiful, I could offset it with shades of blue and silver, with white lights.
I told my boss today and she has already put in my vacation. I looked at the calender and my mind boggled at how soon I will be seeing him. I feel no more dread about him leaving again, I know that will happen and I don't care. I'll be in that moment when it comes; right now, I am in this moment and it is full of joy.
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