During deployment, I expect to wake up with the blues sometimes. But I am never ready to look up from my dinner and find that I am sitting with a case of the Mean Reds. In the classic Audrey Hepburn movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly explains the difference:
“The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of.”
This creeping red fear can happen to anyone who loves someone in uniform—whether the beloved is downrange or down home. I think the Mean Reds are just a feeling that comes along with military life.
The key is to pull on your DeployMentality and figure out what to do next with that feeling. Holly Golightly prescribes jumping in a cab and heading for Tiffany’s for “the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
She has a point. Some places we go are so reassuring when the Mean Reds have a hold of us. Some places remind us to think, I am OK right now. The reassurance of a place has nothing to do with buying anything. It is the atmosphere of the place that matters.
For me, that place is a great big Barnes and Noble store. Especially when I am alone on travel, I hunt down that green and white sign. There is something reassuring to me in all those answers caught between book covers. There is something promising in the gurgle of an espresso machine and the scent of new books. I feel instantly safe there. Reassured. Happy.
My mom used to get rid of her Mean Reds the same way when my dad was deployed to Vietnam. She would walk through the big oak doors of St. Cecelia and into all that stained glass and leave fear behind her. Even as a child I could feel the change come over her. Then I felt better too.
I guess that is why it is so important to step out of the stuff we do every day and seek a Tiffany’s when the Mean Reds come calling. Unnamed fears are catching. And we are the only ones who can send them on their way.
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Jacey Eckhart is an Air Force Brat and a Navy wife who is the Editor of SpouseBuzz. She is also the author of “I Married a Spartan: The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage.”