Those who have experienced a deployment know what I am talking about. For those blissfully unaware of the implications of the title of this blog ... well, your time is coming, and this is your heads-up.
There's a little juju magic that always comes with deployments: good and bad. The good juju is kind of like a pro-athlete's rituals on a winning streak -- not washing his socks, wearing his underwear inside out, eating only Taco Bell, etc. It's those little oddities that comfort us and give us something to distract ourselves from the bad juju magic looming over the horizon as soon as the deployment ceremony concludes.
Oh? You can't see it or feel it? Trust me: it's there. And it's laughing at you as you think to yourself, "I can TOTALLY handle everything on my own. I was single before, right? Piece o' cake!"
This is what the typical deployment good juju magic consists of for my family. The last clothes worn (usually pajamas) aren't washed again until mid-tour. They're tucked away at the bottom of the laundry basket and every time I see them, I say hello, and leave them right where they are huddled and wishing to smell April fresh again. It's silly and totally grosses my husband out, but it makes me feel better. It's worked so far and that's all that matters.
Then there are the sheets. Sheets aren't washed until he lands in theater and I get the email saying so. That's taken seven days at the longest, and compared to college, that's not even a wash-worthy amount of time.
Then I have the tokens that he must carry on his person to his destination. One is a very special watch worn by a very heroic man who wore it every day during his service in WWII, where he was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses for his leadership of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He also wore it through Korea and Vietnam and made it home safe each time, and now it's entrusted to my husband to carry on the tradition of "war-time wear and return home safe."
Now: The bad juju magic. The funny thing is the bad juju seems to just curse the spouse, not the service member, which kind of makes the good juju magic effort not really equitable. But that's another story...
You just cannot be prepared for the craziness the universe throws at you when you've been left to hold the fort down. Let's just focus on THIS deployment so far as an example, commencing approximately four weeks after his arrival in Afghanistan last November:
1. Purse stolen, requires police report, lock changes, new IDs, etc.
2. Heater breaks, the day out of town guests arrive for two weeks and it is 62 degrees in the house when they arrive. On a Sunday.
3. Locked out of house: on a second-story balcony. In the rain. In my pajamas. At 11:30 p.m. With no cell phone.
4. Car battery dies, requiring a tow
5. 2x4 flies up on expressway and hits windshield. Of husband's beloved car. The ONE day I had taken out of the garage in two months to drive it.
6. Hot water heater and A/C go out at the same time. In 90 degree heat. Different repair people. Chaos ensues. Nine days, and multiple screaming matches between repair people and landlord, until I can take a shower that's not ice cold, and sleep in my bed and not the man cave couch on the bottom floor.
7. Smoke alarm goes off. At 10 p.m. in bedroom with 17-foot cathedral ceilings and a city code that states they must be positioned two feet from the ceiling. I'm 5' 5 "n -- you do the math of how easy that is to accomplish quickly while avoiding temptation to just burn the whole house down on purpose in an effort to appease the screeching piece of plastic for going off for NO REASON!
8. Cat gets sick. And almost dies. I'm terrified of needles and now must give a cat subcutaneous fluid every day. I am a wreck for 10 minutes a day stabbing at the cat with one eye shut while she purrs and could care less she's being stuck by a needle. Oh, the irony.
9. Herniated disc. From rolling over in bed. Literally -- I rolled over, stood up and fell on the floor. Then I couldn't get up for a while. I felt like Bridget Jones and the scene about her dying alone and eaten by wild dogs in her apartment. At one point I think I actually wished for that to happen if it ended the searing pain in my back happening, you know, from the clearly strenuous act of ROLLING OVER in bed.
So, that brings us up to date. Still more than a month to go and still so much that could spell disaster during the craziness of the holidays.
It's the Deployment Curse -- it's the bad juju magic of the military spouse. But, like childbirth, you blissfully forget these experiences as soon as your servicemember walks in the door because having them home again is just that awesome to block the memories and banish the Curse.
“Ansley” is an Army spouse and resides in Alexandria, Virginia