Monday, November 21, 2016

This Is Marriage: Days 437-441

I exit the plane and make my way into the terminal of Baltimore airport. Standing at the gate is a Seaman dressed in "Guacs," the Navy's green uniform. To say he is a sight for sore eyes is a vast understatement. As we embrace for the first time in 8 months, he says "You're my wife" and I laugh. It is true, yet I still find it unbelievable. I don't know how I got here. All I know is I want to stay.

It's almost midnight. We're in a rental car outside of the hotel on the Navy base. I've been awake since 4:45am (because I was too excited to sleep so I got up to run hill repeats under the supermoon). Pete has been awake for more than 24 hours. The Navy's hotel is full so we are calling local hotels from a list they have given Pete. This, I'm coming to realize, is the thing about the military. Sometimes you end up in some ridiculous situations. Welcome back, thanks for your service. You can't go home and you can't stay here! We are tired, we are scrambling to find somewhere to spend the night. We are laughing. It's moments like this where I fell in love with Pete. Moments when we're tired, moments when we're stressed, and we come together instead of falling apart. And we laugh. Because it's absurd. Because that's what we do.

I'm running through the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, after having dropped Pete off on base. Everything is sunny and beautiful. I don't know where I'm going, but I don't feel lost. I am exploring. I find lion statues and fountains and lakes. It is glorious. Later I am sitting in a coffee shop eating avocado toast and reading a book on happiness. I find it disappointing. Maybe it's because one of the chapters advises "Never retire" and I'm all like "Screw that, I'm retiring as soon as possible." Maybe it's because I already know my own personal happiness equation and it is this: People + Adventure + Effort = Happiness. Radiohead's "Everything In Its Right Place" is playing in the background. And I think this is happiness too: everything in its right place. Life is a crapshoot of sweetness and suckiness. The more I can be in my own "right" place, feeling at peace with myself, making the best of whatever happens, the happier I will be.

View from the Botanical Gardens

We are shopping at an outlet mall. We are eating wings and calzones (Pete) and pizza (me). We are going to the movies. We are having conversations about everything, from the mundane to the deep. We are holding hands and we are joking around. We are not the same people we were at the beginning of this year and yet we are still the same Pete and Jen, picking up our excellent adventures where we left off. We're still us, only better, stronger, individually and as a team.

I am running on the Cape Henry trail in First Landing State Park after dropping Pete off on base at Muster Time (The military calls it muster when they have to assemble, i.e. Muster at 0700 means to meet at 7am. I love saying this word. I say things like "Ketchup and Muster" and "Relish the Muster" and then laugh. This will never cease to be funny. To me at least). I stop to do the obstacles along the way - abs, chin-ups, tires, monkey bars. The woods are gorgeous, as always. And there are monkey bars along this trail! This is the best ever!

We're driving on a highway in Virginia. Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At" is playing on the radio.
Me: "This song is grammatically incorrect. You're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition."
Pete: "Can you end a sentence with a proposition?"
Me: (laughing) "Yes, always. It's recommended."

We're eating breakfast at Anchor Allie's in Virginia Beach. It's a sailor themed bar/restaurant. We are eating pumpkin french toast and I am doing a shot of milk (I asked for coffee with milk and the waitress brought the milk in a shot glass and I was all like "Now this is a shot I would actually do!" Pete is eating his breakfast plus half of mine after saying, when I was about to order my breakfast with no meat and only one egg, "Honey, never turn down food. I will eat it." and the waitress said "I'll just put her bacon and egg on your plate."

Milk shot. That's just how I roll.
We're walking on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach, talking and holding hands. I forget what we are talking about, something that I want to do but Pete doesn't. I say "How come when you suggest things I always say yes but you only say yes to like 50% of my things?" Pete says "Because you're off the wall, honey. Your things are like let's go to the moon." I cannot stop laughing. Then I see a sign pointing the way to Ben & Jerry's. This is one of my suggestions to which Pete agrees. It is an excellent choice. Obviously. Later we are talking about something else and Pete tells me I am "squared away," Navy slang for someone who is tidy and in good order, basically someone who has their shit together. That about sums me up: off the wall and squared away.

Virginia Beach

We are playing Pirate Mini-Golf. Half of the time I get a hole-in-two and half of the time I hit the ball in the water. Pete is a much better mini-golfer than I am, but he insists that I am winning. I say "There's no way I am winning." (We have already fished my ball out of the water at least 4 times). Pete says "You're having more fun so you're winning at adventuring."

We are back in the same country. Soon we will be back to living in the same house. But I have to leave soon to catch my flight back to Rochester. This is making me sad. I don't want to leave. I have a Pete in one hand and a waffle cone in the other and if there is a heaven, this is it. Pete says "You'll be back in 4 days and then we have 5 days together and then I'll be home 5 days after that." I am thinking of outlandish suggestions I can make so that more Ben & Jerry's seems tame in comparison. Mwahahahaha.

We are at Mount Trashmore Park. It doesn't look like a mountain, it looks more like a big hill. We wonder if it's just a mound of garbage with grass on it. Later Mr. Internet confirms that it is (it was made by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil). We walk up and across the "mountain" and around the lake. A man on a bicycle is yelling "Andy! Andy!" Or so we think. Turns out he is actually saying "Handy!" Then he says "Handy Pete!" He is talking to Pete, calling him some nickname from Afghanistan that apparently only a handful of people know. That is my husband, Handy Pete.

We're at the airport, saying goodbye again. Airports are my favorite when we're saying hello and my least favorite when we're saying goodbye. But all the days I get to be married to Pete, whether we're together or apart, whether we're doing things extreme or ordinary, are my favorite days.

Marriage is the privilege of being with the person who makes all the days your favorite days.

Rochester from the sky at night

Lyric of the moment: "So let's hang an anchor from the sun. There's a million city lights but you're number one. You're the reason I'm still up at dawn, just to see your face. We'll be going strong, with the vampires baby. We belong, we belong awake, swinging from the fire escape..." ~Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness "Fire Escape" (New suggestion: swing from fire escapes. Also Ben & Jerry's).

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