Tuesday, May 17, 2016

To Right Now

'Up in the Air' says a lot best. (via)
Shailene Woodley is known for living out of a suitcase. I loved this idea once. Carefree and limitless, more in the moment than blinded by the constant search for belongings to store in a huge space that meant hours of cleaning and unused food. The goal was to have next to nothing as we traveled the globe flying and writing.

Sometimes that makes me gag.

Maybe we'll get antsy again but right now, all I want is to have a bunch of room and stuff so I have everything I could possibly need to keep my kid happy and house cozy, give my dog the ability to stretch out. I want a big fat driveway and big fat food. Central air and people who look like me so I don't stick out.

I missed you, American comfort food. (via)
Paraphrasing, Woodley told Ellen and InStyle magazine that not having a house, a closet full of clothes, an apocalyptic stash of toiletries, means she feels more free to experience life to its fullest. She got caught in a downpour in London and asked to use someone's clothes dryer to dry her one shirt – an experience she wouldn't have had otherwise. I get the point, but really?

Who was I kidding... A year after being stationed overseas, our rental's cupboards were stuffed to the gills. Add another human being and gone were the days of meeting my husband at a port with just a light duffle.

Returning to the States, I was of course greeted by a corner of the world that didn't hit pause just because I left. A loved one lost, couplings broken. Family and friends had moved away or moved in. Construction shifted things. Issues had surfaced. People were making more money, had more kids, less pets, big yards. Was my hometown still my hometown? Was I already missing the people who knew what it was like to be all alone in another corner?

But the warmth of those ones who immediately love your kid – because they love you in that way time and effort lends – spread through my veins like the cure for cancer.

After a week in Washington we set out for a week in northern Nevada, to check in with our jobs and find a place to live. We rolled into Fallon during an early, gusty hour of the morning, after a night of driving in snow and me realizing that vertigo really does exist. Getting used to the dryness, I kept feeling a sore throat. And Cary pointed out how the water is so soft, showers feel slimy.

"Well how can we go about make it harder?"

He laughs.

"No but really."

We decided to go into Reno. We needed to figure out our cell phone situation and wanted to explore our nearby big little city surrounded by SURPRISE, I FORGOT! snowy mountains. That 60-mile jaunt resulted in seven hours in an Apple Store. At one point, Jules was face down on the Apple Watch display.

We flew to Florida for a month-long course Cary was taking. Well we tried. We got snowed in heading out. Bright side: a night at the Peppermill with a flash deal that got us a weirdly luxurious suite with columns and a jacuzzi, and access to a pool with a four-story waterfall we didn't frolic in since we all just wanted to lie down.

And of course Florida was all warm air, white beach, bayou bars and friendly faces once we got there. Coming back, there were significant delays due to storms again. At least Jules got to play on a giant plastic structure playground for an extra four hours. Just to make sure we all got sick.

There are no homes for rent in Fallon. Don't ask me why. So military families are being forced to either live in small base housing or buy. So we invested [insert petrified emoji] again in a place off "the loneliest road in America." The acre is ours so that's nice. But the house is mint green.

No second car yet. We don't have any energy left after voting and packing and unpacking and packing and unpacking and updating our giant password document. Plus, I'd rather spend that time catching up on AMC's The Night Manager and HBO NOW. Plus-plus, the rental car we have (thanks, Navy) in addition to our truck we drove south is really showing me I've been highly underestimating full-size sedans and need to reevaluate.

At least San Diego has happened. For nearly three months. Another beachfront base hotel and breakfast every day. A weird, tall water fountain toy for kids. A playground. Burritos every night. It's just a matter of time till I start feeling guilty or the family suite feels small.

We're here 'cause Cary's learning the MH-60 S(ierra). He was on the MH-60 R(omeo) before. All this means is there are less gadgets and computers, more room for riders and supplies. His humane work schedule will hopefully continue once he returns to his search-and-rescue team in Fallon, where he'll be the Longhorns' safety officer (thanks, Florida) and fly around mountainsides, rescuing hikers and ejected jet pilots.

I feel windblown and drained after that sea tour. I can't imagine how Cary feels. Where did this hard worker come from? In college, I could barely get him to do his part of our sociology project on time. Now all I want to do is somehow get the job designing Google's word art of the day. In my mind, that person is basically owner of the most impression-making art in the world and gets to doodle on random days throughout the year.


On the brink of this shore tour, I already miss Japan's clean, safe, tidy, techy, small life. I miss my old job, the guy that dyed my hair weird colors, our house, our tall teeny-weeny minivan. Sushi will never be the same. I have no deployment trump card anymore. Relationships back home are more complicated in a way different from overseas wives clubs and the solitary, mundane days of just Jules, Butters and I. But there's no geographical solution to your problems, said Tony Soprano.

I can feel my neck getting sunburnt again as I sit in my office, the Fashion Valley food court that isn't far from Jules' daycare, working remotely to barely pay that bill. None of the stores are open but Starbucks and Apple. Soon there will be shallow conversations and crying babies, outfits to admire when I look up. I will struggle to eat my bag of trail mix instead of buying a meal, to stay phone-interviewing and typing instead of seeing a movie or roaming Forever 21. I pull my hood up. It's too chilly in the shade.

Cary says I need routine more than Jules. Maybe that's because I can't count on anything in this life we created for ourselves. I'll take control where I can get it. But I was always like this, as well as lazy and apt to write things down.

This is a life, I have to keep pinching myself, that's a dream come true – even if it's not anyone else's. I checked some big typical boxes getting married young, taking in a yellow lab, having a kid and engaging in social media. But ta da, now we get to shake things up again as helicopter pilot and newspaper reporter – one whose on staff with a real desk and real live coworkers, as well as a self-proclaimed writer-in-residence in my own house that looks like a stick of spearmint gum lying lonely in a field. Such a strange American dream.

"To right now," he toasts on our first night in Fallon, in the basement of a nice Mexican restaurant on the refurbished downtown's Main Street. Jules munches on her chip and watches us. Feet pass by the windows overhead, and the sun is dipping, turning the warm desert day into its cold night. He's right. So aggravating.