Once upon a time there was a curly-haired Princess who didn’t meet her Prince Charming until she was 30 years old. Then, primarily because of a 15-month military deployment to Iraq, she and her Prince did not marry for three and a half more years. Soon after the couple did marry, The Prince was off to Afghanistan for another 13 months. “But don’t worry, baby doll,” he told the Princess. “When I get back we’ll build a castle in the clouds and have little Princelings and live happily ever after.”
“Yay!” she shouted, tossing her tiara into the air and doing cartwheels around the courtyard. “You go save the world. In the meantime, I’ll hitch my wagon to a star and subsist on images of us picking out paint colors and refrigerators together.”
When he finally returned, the now 35-year-old girl greeted him with open arms and joy in her heart. She could hardly wait for the arguments over furniture and feng shui to begin. The two locked arms and pranced into the sunset.
Probably you haven’t figured this out yet, but I am the Princess.
[Sarah \s(a)-rah\ as a girl's name is pronounced SARE-ah. It is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Sarah is "princess". Biblical: originally called Sarai, Sarah shared an adventurous nomadic life with her husband Abraham. She is described as being exceptionally beautiful even into her older years. The name became popular in the 16th century. (Source: baby names by Thinkbabynames.com)]
Anyway, that part about prancing into the sunset was a complete and total lie. T and I have had our share of reintegration issues, none of which have been life or divorce serious. They are your average, learning-to-live-together-again problems. Like figuring out who does what for housework, or why he wouldn’t drink out of an open glass for the first month he was home.
That kind of thing.
Then he went back to work. He took a rather large pay cut to return to a much less rewarding job where his skill set is almost entirely wasted. He went from working with groups like the Special Forces and the State Department; from having a tremendous amount of responsibility and autonomy; from working with Afghani locals to make their area more secure and their lives better. He went from all of that to sitting behind a desk and answering phone calls. In short, he went back to being like the rest of us poor working slobs who sit at computers all day long while our vertebra slowly fuse together and we get flat, fat asses, hypertension and Type II diabetes. He can now enjoy making money for someone else while barely taking home enough to cover expenses while saving for retirement.
What’s not to love?
And so, the proverbial sunset into which we were to ride, instead shattered and exploded into a quadrillion shiny, tropical pieces that rained down like lava droplets and seared the flesh off of our bones. We turned to each other in our skeletal nakedness and T said, “This stinks. I have to do something about it.”
That’s when he decided to go back to school to get his Master’s degree.
At first blush, this doesn’t seem like a bad plan. The GI Bill will likely cover most, if not all of his school expenses and in the end a lot more doors will be open to him and, consequently, to us.
However. There are a number of unknowns: Where will he go to school? Will we have to move? How long will it take? Will he go full-time?
Then there are these things to consider: Where will he work afterwards? Would he have mobility at his current company? Will we be able to stay in Maine?
Maine is not terribly notorious for job opportunities and high-paying positions. Commutes are long and the cost of living is very high. It doesn’t seem likely we would end up living in the state I love.
Of course, like a good wife, my first reaction was, “Sure, honey. If that’s what will make you happy and feel fulfilled, I’m behind you 110%.”
Hahaha! That was funny.
Actually, it was more like this:
“So, you want to put our house plans on hold for another three years? Do you really think you can handle a job, school, the military and having a family?” Which was pretty rich, considering I’m not pregnant. “When are we going to focus on our relationship instead of everything else under the sun? What about what I want? What about my dreams? This is going to mean a whole lot of extra work for me and I barely have time to focus on my writing now.”
I’m not proud of my bad attitude, but I’m not entirely remorseful yet, either. No one can say I haven’t done my fair share of sucky deployment waiting. I thought this was going to be the year. I really did.
I know T is looking at the big picture and I’m not good at that. I know that he wants to be able to support his family, especially in light of my dreams to stay home and write.
But I just got him back. I don’t want to share him with anything again. Not the military, not college, not anything. And we were so close. It feels like my house dream (and my dream house) is slipping through my fingers again.
It’s not been a pleasant few weeks. There have been tears and fights and silence and more tears.
Ultimately, though, I love and adore my husband. What I need to do is work on trusting him. I need to believe that everything will come out all right in the end. I need to enjoy what we have now and not worry so much that it isn’t my exact vision for us. Maybe we’ll get to that vision someday. Maybe we never will. I need to dust off my sense of adventure and all of that patience I used to survive the deployment. I need to wait and see what happens.
“But it won’t be easy,” the Princess said. She flung her tiara on the ground and stamped her feet in rage. Then she sighed, picked up her tiara, dusted it off and put it back on her head.
The End (not really)