This is my favorite time of deployment. Just like the first whiff of a fresh pack of Sharpie, or the first red velvet bow at the mall at Christmas, the signs the deployment will end are starting to come out. The beginning of our homecoming season is always my husband’s spreadsheet.
Yeah, the man writes love letters by spreadsheet. This morning he sent me a spreadsheet of all the house projects he intends to do the minute he gets home. He asked me to check it. “Did I miss anything?”
When I looked at the list, I saw that he was replacing our fireplace insert. Removing the wallpaper in our bedroom. Powerwashing our house. Repairing a bedframe. Resurfacing our drive. In all there are 67 items on his To Do list.
Please don’t think this means our house is falling apart. It isn’t. This kind of planning is just one of the signs the deployment will end. This kind of planning is the way he lets me know he is coming home.
Other military people have their own way of turning themselves toward home. Other sailors and Coasties send plans home for how they want to revamp the entire household budget. Other Marines and airmen have ideas have ideas about how we can all go gluten free and run a marathon. Soldiers seem to have plans to sell every vehicle they own and start over. My guy spreadsheets our house.
When he first deployed, I took his house To Do lists as insults. I thought he was implying that I wasn’t doing a good enough job on the homefrontI used to take his oing a good enough job on the homefront. Flame on.
But somewhere around his fourth deployment I noticed the level of detail that went into his lists. Brad was thinking and planning for his life with us for hours at a time. In his imagination, he was walking up our front steps and seeing the nailhead that always snags your flipflop. He was mentally strolling up our drive and remembering how the roots of the black walnut tree had cracked the surface.
Best of all he was pretending to wake up in bed with me. He was thinking of that same flowered wallpaper and channeling Oscar Wilde’s alleged last words: “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.”
He was imagining himself home.
I’ve read a lot about how much time military members used to have to prepare for their homecoming during the World War II era. All these experts say that it was an advantage to have those weeks on a troop transport to decompress from the demands of war and prepare for home.
That could be. But every generation has to deal with the tasks they are given with the tools they have at hand.
I think my husband uses an Excel spreadsheet as his tool of choice. In no way does his spreadsheet accurately predict what our life will be like when he gets home. He isn’t thinking of the demands of family. He isn’t really paying attention to what all those projects will cost.
This is just the way he practices coming home. And I love that. I love that sign that there will be a breaking away from his all-encompassing love of that ship and all her sailors and Marines.
I love this sign that soon he will let himself start counting down the days until he comes home. I love him doing whatever it takes to plan for our future—because this means he knows we have one.
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