I'm caught in an eddy, a trap of sorts.
Milo and I married in February 2008, before I retired, and we moved to Ireland in June of that year. We were here for four months, blissfully happy but unemployed, before he took the job in Virginia and we had to move. Since he deploys frequently, and for extended periods of time, and since we're all three unhappy living in the States, Caoilte and I come back to Ireland when he's deployed so we can at least have the consolation of life in the place we call home while Milo is away earning the money to build us a permanent home here.
In the meantime, we have moved no fewer than nine times in the past two years (Doenrade NL to Brunssum NL to Ireland to Charlottesville to another place in Charlottesville to Ireland to yet another place in Ireland to Michigan to Charlottesville and now back again to Ireland), and, frankly, I'm exhausted and so is Caoilte. Our furniture has been in storage in Dublin since last December, and I will finally be able to sleep in my own bed again on the 20th, when it is scheduled to be delivered to the new house. My bed, yes...but I'll be sleeping in it alone for nearly the next two years.
I cannot help but reflect repeatedly on the four months we had together in Ireland, before October 2008. They were the happiest, most golden days of our lives and we desperately want to create more of them. The question is how. When Milo is in Afghanistan we don't see each other for six months at a time, over a period of a year to 18 months. The Army limits him to two weeks of leave every six months, which, given the fact that he has zero days off in theatre, is woefully (I think criminally) inadequate. So he works 180 days in a row, 14-17 hours a day (often more), and is allowed two weeks to recuperate and be with his family before returning to work another 180. Wash, rinse, repeat.
What bothers me about the whole thing is the cycle we find ourselves in. I know we're working toward a goal, our dream to build a home in Ireland mortgage-free, but I worry about the emotional and spiritual toll the whole thing takes.
When he's in Afghanistan and I'm here in Ireland, we must deal with the constant, nagging ache of separation. We've been in love for six years, together for three, and married for two and a half, and of the 32 months we've been married, we have spent 14 months apart. He deployed for 13 months last year and returned on 21 May, which was, ironically, the anniversary of the date I first enlisted in the US Air Force. In August he was told he'd be deploying again, in September. All told we had just four months together before he left again, and that's not easy for anyone.
And so I find myself circling a drain, of sorts. I can have my Milo, the man I love more than anything, the man with whom life and love are magical and the universe is a bubble of bliss we create and inhabit, but only at the expense of having to live in a place we both dislike (Virginia). On the flip side, I can have the home we chose in the most beautiful place on earth, with all of our friends just yards from our door and a warm, happy day to day existance, but only at the expense of having it all without my love.
I ponder it daily, live and breathe it, wonder how to remedy it, imagine how we might overcome it. Why is it that I can have home, but not my man to hold me close at night, or I can have my man but only in a place we refer to as the Ninth Circle of Hell?
Tell me, anyone -- how do you solve the unsolvable?