Sunday, April 17, 2011

The World Spins Madly On

I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head for funny posts: the, uh, alternative picket fence I drove past in weirder-than-weird Maine (you'll love it); the "trading post" a few towns over with more taxidermied animals than you've ever seen in your whole life, combined; the time I accidentally ordered - & ate - a whole, deep-fried crab... Yes, there are lots of things to say, but today, I'm not feeling funny.

Nathan deployed yesterday. He never calls it "deployment," but it's the easiest word for me to use, because others understand it. In the Coast Guard, they call it "getting underway," & it means he's on a boat for the next two months, floating down the Atlantic & toward South America, where he'll help intercept drug boats.

I was a military girlfriend once before, in college. My boyfriend at the time, Scott, was in the army, & he left college after our freshman year to be full-time military. I wrote him a letter every day he was gone, & I attended his boot camp graduation in South Carolina with his family, swelling with pride & feeling somewhat smug that my boyfriend was a defender of freedom. When you're 19, these things feel very cool, I guess.

Nathan's job is cool - but now that I'm a real, bona fide adult (EEK!), his job feels a lot less like a novelty & a lot more, well, real. I'm relieved that he never deploys to Afghanistan or Iraq, like some of my friends & my friends' significant others. He's never gone for longer than two months, & he's never in the line of fire, per se, though the idea of pissing off Colombian drug lords makes me a liiiiittle nervous. He looks hot in uniform, & most importantly, he really loves his job. He's takes college classes while he's underway, which he likes, too, & he's trying to get his degree despite the fact that he'll likely reenlist when his initial six years are up next spring.

Don't get me wrong: There's still a great amount of pride - he is a defender of freedom, after all. But it's difficult. It's difficult to date someone who's gone every two months for two months; it makes it nearly impossible to establish any sort of a reliable routine. It means that when he's here, we spend as much time as possible together - and when he's gone, we spend none at all together. All or nothing, every two months, from one extreme to the other.

And this time, its even more difficult than before. I live in New Hampshire now, in his apartment. I left everything I knew - and everyone I knew - to move to the city where he's stationed, in a part of the country I'd never even visited, much less lived in. In the last two months, we put together a life here, a life that includes our new cat & geocaching & many a dinner at Sake, my new favorite Japanese restaurant. We decorated our place & bought a Keurig & watched an entire season of "Top Chef."

And now he's gone. It's just me & the cat, who pooped on the couch today in protest of Nathan's absence, I suspect. I drove him to the base at 8:30 yesterday morning, donning my Coast Guard sweatshirt (see photo), & then I returned home & shopped my melancholy away at the local outlet mall. Today, I woke up sort of confused - what do I do now? I miss him. And I miss the company, too, in a related but separate sort of way. I haven't made enough effort to meet people here - I've made no effort at all, in fact - and as a result, I don't know a soul in town, save maybe the sort-of-douchey guy across the hall who plays his guitar all the livelong day. If I wanted to go grab dinner with a friend, I would have no one to call. If something were to happen to me, I would have no one to call. In fact, I could be dead on the living room floor with my cat picking at my innards & no one would ever know.

Today, I'm sitting at a Starbucks downtown, facing the window & watching everyone else's lives. A car that drives by leaves a trail of bubbles in its wake. A group of high school girls giggles & points at a group of older boys on the opposite corner. A woman walking a bear-sized dog (no, really - see photo) can hardly get down the block without being mobbed by curious & adoring animal-lovers. And me? I've spoken to three people today - two baristas & the woman sitting next to me, who I asked to keep an eye on my things while I made a phone call.

I miss my boyfriend. But perhaps just as importantly, I miss my friends. And I miss my old lives. I don't want them back, necessarily, but I'd like to be able to recreate aspects of them here - for example, the part where I have friends. The part where I don't devolve into a lonely, devastated cat lady when my boyfriend leaves town. The part where I don't have to drive an hour into Boston & pay $12 to park my car just for to have a meaningful interaction with a friend.

Maybe it would help if I got off my arse & out of this Starbucks...?
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