Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Other Side of a Deployment

"Now set the Special Sea Detail, set the Special Sea Detail."

"Now all visitors lay ashore."

"Fantail. Conn. Strike the brow."

"Now, stand clear of all mooring lines while the OOD rocks the shafts."

"Foc'sle. Conn. Take in Line One."

(one prolonged blast)

"Focsle, Fantail. Conn. Strike all lines below."

"Now, secure from Special Sea Detail. Set the at-sea watch, 0800 to 1200s on deck."

That's how most all of my deployments have started. Or at least that's the simplified version...god knows, there's a lot of other steps before and in between all those. But I'm the one standing on the bridge wing waving briefly at friends and family land-bound on shore, smack in the middle of all the excitement, chomping at the bit to go off and do great things for our nation, have grand adventures out in harm's way...

...not the one left behind to continue on with my daily routine, to muddle through bills and chores, waiting for messages, calls or emails. Trepidatiously listening to the radio for news of explosions, suicide bombers, coordinated attacks half-a-world away. Trying my damndest not to count the days until the deployment is over, and the Rocket Scientist is on his way home.

It's a different view of the world.

Sure, I'll get wrapped up in budgetary drama, program mischief and personnel foibles, and forget for a little while that he is far, far away, in very close proximity to people who want him and all his compatriots dead, dead, dead. There's always dinner, or lunch, or a snack to think about. A to-do list calling my name and enticing me to plan how to get it all done most efficiently...I still haven't gotten a replacement battery for The Old Man. Maybe I can get one at the local auto parts store, or do I need to go to the dealership? Really need to do that if I want to ride again anytime soon. Hopefully, it's just a dead battery, and not something more serious like a starter problem...but when I do get the bike fixed, I'll head out for a ride, doesn't matter where or how far. I mean, I know it won't be as long or as fun as the one the Rocket Scientist and I are gonna take when he gets back...and there I go again, wondering how he's doing, mixed with a low-grade level of worry that he's okay.

And that's how I expect it will go for the next three or four months. Thankfully, his deployment is not constrained by limited bandwidth or severe operational demands that preclude his regular access to the internet. Somehow he's allowed, omg, *Facebook* on his work computer, and wireless in his office which means he can take his tablet with him, and we can Skype throughout the day.  The constant and readily accessible communications mean that we get to continue our re-acquaintance despite the distance...which wouldn't necessarily be the case if I was underway. If I was the one who was deployed,  we'd be restricted to emails throughout the day and the occasional phone conversation during a port call, maybe a Skype call if I was lucky enough to find a hotel room with wi-fi.

Though even with that, communications are a lot easier now than when I was going out on my first deployments on BOUTWELL. Underway connectivity has come a long way in the last twelve years. No more TCs printing out hard copies of messages from the morale email account, and leaving them, folded in half to peek out of a mailbox accessible to anybody on the boat.

So things could be worse. But this other side of a deployment requires a different kind of strength, faith and ability to mentally compartmentalize than I realized. By strength, I mean the personal strength to not let the low-grade worries spiral out of control into a crippling angst that denies me the ability to go through days by myself. Faith...faith in this nascent but overdue and *exactly right* relationship that it can withstand the demands of time, distance and communication frustrations (like when the internet connection is bad on his end because he's on the same network as 600 other soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines all trying to talk to their sweeties waiting at home and the audio of our conversation gets all garbled and warped so that I can't understand a word he's saying and have to ask him to repeat himself half a dozen times before I realize he's asked me how dinner was...for example). And the ability to mentally compartmentalize the worries and fears away, separate from everyday stuff so that I can carry on a decent conversation with him without badgering him about conditions on the ground, when he's coming home, what the bad guys are doing, or if he's safe.

And, as I sit here in my backyard, feeding a companionable little fire piece by piece of the brush from the pile that needs to go away, watching the first fireflies of the season (at least the first to me...I haven't been out in the backyard at this time of the evening for about three weeks) wink on and off, I realize that my discomfit is not simply worry for the Rocket Scientist's safety. I just plain miss him. I would like to share my evening with him, listen to him laugh, talk story and relax together into an easy comfortable place like we did while he was on R&R.

I didn't know about all that before. "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." I'm going with daring adventure...as usual :)

1 comment:

Azulao said...

I have never heard you sound this certain about anything. There is not a trace of doubt that this is the right thing to do.

So, there's not a trace of doubt that you will ride this wave standing all the way!

RS is a lucky, lucky man.