Yesterday I had to delete a text message from my cell phone; my inbox was full. It was painful to decide which one had to go. Reading through them brought back so many memories.
"Goodnight sweety, sorry so late, the tank just don't want to work"
That was sent last year, on May 11th. I was lying awake in my bed, the street light from the parking lot outside shining in through the blinds, the glowing numbers on the alarm clock telling me that I needed to fall asleep or else work would be hell. My dog Lynn was curled up at my feet.
I held the phone in my hand and for the millionth time tried to imagine what it would be like to meet him in person. What I imagined was not even close.
On July 2nd, he wrote simply "I miss my noun."
That was when I was in my parent's house the summer before it was renovated; the floors still sloped in conflicted directions, so that walking through the kitchen was reminiscent of walking on a wooden ship at sea. It creaked in the same way too, and the quality of the light was bright and clear, the old glass of the kitchen windows slightly flawed, blurring the view of the back yard.
I had forgotten how damp the air was on the East Coast; I gave up using face cream while I was there. Every morning I sat outside on the porch in the rocking chair, my bare feet up, reading books I hadn't read in years. Opposite me was the library where I had been a volunteer and as such, privy to their secret stash of chocolate.
While I was with my family, Keith was still with his in Indiana and not a day after I left him he had bought a brand new ATV and not a day after that he promptly ruined it by riding it into a lake, badly bruising his ribs in the process. (When he got home, he got all the water out of it by hanging it in the air, from the rafters of the garage, as though it were a gutted deer.)
Before I had left him, we had had a semi serious discussion about how he shouldn't treat me like an object. I can no longer remember what triggered this discussion, but I do remember that he ended it by saying solemnly, "No, I shouldn't; because you're a noun."
"A proper noun, in fact," I corrected him.
"My noun," he stated definitively, and that was that. And that also conveniently illustrates how successful the entire discussion was, actually. Oh well.
Two months into deployment, he sent me this one, "Here kitty kitty kitty." That one is self explanatory.
Three months in, at eleven thirty at night he sent me this one, "Wont be able to talk for a few days i love you so very much. I have a new mission."
I remember the fear and disquiet that washed over me and lasted for forty eight hours, until he called back. I remember sitting on the back porch in the late afternoon light, watching the newly bare tree branches being shaken by the wind. The light was dying away, day by day. There was left over Halloween candy on the kitchen counter.
"Honey I love you too please just relax you are working to hard. Everything will be great. I just love you," was sent in early December, after I had admitted to him that I was stressing out about getting everything perfect for his leave.
I had tried steam cleaning the downstairs with unexpected results and had spent more money that I ever would have guessed on a Christmas tree and assorted decorations. I was only days away from seeing him again. Now all those things are packed away in boxes, ready for next year.
The day he flew back to the sandbox, he sent me this: "You are such a little kitten.I love you so much. Have fun with your family you deserve it. You are my perfect wife i love you."
I was in the back seat of my car when I got this, my parents were driving and we were on a mission to find Hobby Lobby. I remember the hot sun and feeling of slight numbness, due from lack of sleep and having seen him off at the airport only that morning. We had lunch at Perkins after Hobby Lobby and then went and spent an ungodly amount of money at Target. I then went home and collapsed in my brand new bedroom.
"Kitty, I am really missing you right now. And I am tired." was the one that required another of its fellows to be deleted.
I was at work when I got that text, standing at the corner of my desk. It was in the evening and I was up to my eyebrows with updating things, as I always am. I read that and I wanted to beat against the bars of deployment with abandon, to wax poetic. If I could have packaged up my heart neatly with twine and brown paper packaging and mailed it, posthaste, I would have.
There will be more to come, so I have saved all of them on a file on the computer, to make room. That way, years from now, I can read them again and smile, remembering our crazy, wonderful, exhausting first year.
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