Most of you know now that Greer will leave in early January for a six to twelve month deployment to Afghanistan. We've known about this for quite some time, which has cast our time here in an interesting light; our first few months together have all been geared toward an impending departure, and we knew our time at Fort Drum would fly by. And it has. We only have about a month left in this apartment, punctuated by two trips home for a family wedding and for Thanksgiving. It's time to start sorting and packing, even though I just unpacked my last box from New Haven about a month ago.
Although the deployment has colored our entire marriage so far, it didn't seem real until today. Today, a big trunk of Greer's personal items and an Army-issue duffel bag full of gear were boxed up and sent on a C-130 to Afghanistan, or some sort of staging ground, to await his arrival.
He set out 26 hardcover books and couldn't really think of anything else he would need except shaving cream. Cute Greer.
As I spent the day running between Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Target, and the PX, the reality of this deployment hit me. Let's see, a whole year. Afghanistan is freezing in January. He'll need warm sheets. What size will his mattress be? Does he have to spend the whole year in a sleeping bag? Do they have American power outlets there? Will he need sunblock? Layers to wear underneath his uniform? What if he gets a cold? Do they have tissues and soap there? I went through his every possible physical need playing a guessing (and a Googling) game as I imagined the landscape on the foreign post.
It suddenly felt scary. Greer's physical safety is just about as secure as it can be on a deployment, as he'll spend almost all of his time in a climate controlled building in the center of our largest and most permanent installation. I think there's a Taco Bell under the same roof. And yet, it could not be more unknown to me. In the months I have been here, I've grown much braver when I walk around giant packs of men in uniform who all know a protocol that I don't. I no longer want to duck and cover when I see a convoy of MRAPs cruising down our street. And yet I'm so far out on the fringes of military life, the best I can do is read the Army wife blogs and ask Greer lots of questions.
Greer and I have so far loved the feeling of stability that has come with our new marriage. We love talking about buying a house and moving back home to be near our family and friends, really digging into a great church, good schools, finding fun jobs. And yet here we are again, both of us on the edge of huge new adventures and total life changes when that feels like something from the past. I had my travels around Europe and the Middle East, he did all that work in Africa and went to special military combat schools. We were going to be done, but here we are again.
It feels a lot like tacking the high dive at the pool. It has a scary reputation, but when you stand on the ground and look at it it seems like no big deal. You watch a bunch of big kids take the leap with no problem. So you line up, climb the ladder, and then the view from the top is terrifying. It's ten times higher than it looks from the ground. It's going to take way more courage than you thought, but another kid is already halfway up the ladder and there is no turning back.
It turns out this is going to take a lot more courage than we thought, but that seems always to be the case. I packed Greer's trunk with the puffiest linens I could find, stuffed every empty space with sour candy and autumn scented candles (Greer's travel must-haves), and sent it all out the door to greet him on a foreign shore.