Come Hell or High Water

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When we were stationed at Rucker, a good friend of mine had a slight crisis of career.  She had one she wanted to keep, and it wasn’t helping matters that they were PCS’ing… again.  She asked when do we, as spouses, get to finally have something of our own, when do we get to decide our own lives.  My answer: at his retirement.  Crappy?  Yes.  Truth?  You bet.  In this house, we refer to it as “driving the train.”  So often, our careers are reactionary to theirs; they drive the train.  We move, and hopefully get picked up with another job, but who really wants just a job?  We as wives are just as entitled to career fulfillment as our husbands are, yet sometimes it’s just not possible unless we’re willing to live geographically separated from them.

Enter in the conference.

In August, Jason and I decided to take a plunge and send me to a writer’s conference.  When you add up conference charges, hotel room, airplane tickets and incidentals, the expense was cringe-worthy.  But what made that moment so special wasn’t the three days away, or even the chance to move forward with what I love, it was Jason’s response, the four simple words that stretched my wings and held my feet to the ground, “I believe in you.”  So I prepped, editing down my manuscript, researching the agents I wanted to book one-on-one critiques with, making sure I knew which agents wanted what so I didn’t waste their time, until the conference was a week and a half away.

Enter the U.S. Army.

Jason had been in and out of this house so often that I wasn’t sure he really lived here any more.  See previous post, Revolving Door, if you want to hear the frustrations of this fall…  Sigh.  Jason was supposed to be home, but due to a scheduling conundrum, he found himself home for only 36 hours before flying back out on TDY to Colorado Springs.  Nothing soothes a cranky, homesick wife like a husband hanging out at her parents house with his friends.  Seriously.  The scheduled return of Thursday (6 days pre-conference) turned into maybe late Sunday (3 days pre-conference).  Amid the promises that he would be back in time came weather delays, and broken air craft, and weather delays, and broken aircraft and…

Are you serious?  You cannot be serious.  The Army, I can handle.  I get it, this is the life we signed up for, and I’ve learned over the last decade or so that I cannot control the Government, I just have to roll with the flow.  However, at this point, I believe my exact, not-so-graceful words were, “If I can move all over the world with you for ten years and care for our kids during three deployments, then you can sure as heck get your (unlady-like expletive) home for three (unlady-like expletive) days so I can work on my career.”  Like I said, not-so-graceful.  But Jason understood, and when all else failed and the aircraft couldn’t make it due to weather, the man drove 14 hours to make it home on Monday morning (2 days pre-conference).  You see, none of the aircraft in the flight could make it.  

Enter Hurricane Sandy.

Oh, did I fail to mention what day I was flying into New York?  31 October.  Halloween.  Two days after New York City was hit with one of the worst natural disasters of our time.  Jason made it home on the 29th, but before our very eyes on the news, New York City was being flooded.  Laguardia, the airport I was ticketed to fly into, was underwater.  Naturally, my flight cancelled.  I was rebooked into JFK, only to have that one cancel an hour later.  This was not looking good.

Enter the most persistent husband EVER.

Jason said “we’re driving,” got us up at 5 a.m., put the boys into the car with their boxed costumes, and we drove to Scranton PA, to his family.  We dropped the boys off because we didn’t want them in the city when we weren’t sure what we were driving into.  A few hours later, he dropped me off at my hotel, which miraculously had power, and headed back to take the kids trick-or-treating.  If it weren’t for Jason, I wouldn’t have made it in.  I had a free afternoon, since the conference started the next day, so I spent it hanging out at a friend from Junior High, the Broadway Knitmaster’s, costume shop in Chelsea, just a few blocks from my hotel.  We’ve been friends since 7th grade, and it was fantastic to glimpse her now-native environment.

Enter the most amazing city.

Being in NYC during a crisis was stunning.  There was a line out the door of the hotel lobby, full of native New Yorkers looking for a place to stay.  We were only a block away from the power outage.  People desperate to use a cell phone because certain carriers (who shall remain nameless) weren’t doing so hot providing service.  Mine was flawless, thank goodness, since Jason in his beautiful protectiveness put a GPS tracker on my phone to make himself feel better about letting me stay when he was clearly worried.  At lunch, the restaurant had a “Sandy Charging Station” to allow people to get their phones charged.  The air was electric with a little bit of panic, but overwhelming resolution.  I’ve never seen a city adapt as fast as New York City does.  I have another friend since Junior High living in NYC, but I couldn’t see her.  As a doctor, she was up to her elbows evacuating her patients from Bellevue and chest-tubing patients by a freaking flashlight.  Ally, you are awe-inspiring.

NYC on November 1st, Day one of the Conference

When the conference began, only about half the agents were in attendance.  I was shocked any of them made it in.  They biked in, walked in, probably hijacked a horse to get in, most of them having no power at their own houses.  What a persistent bunch!  About 2/3 of the attendees made it in, which says about how serious we are about publishing.  Come Hell or high water.  When I received two full manuscript requests, I knew it had been worth it.

To the agents who made it, or phoned in when you couldn’t (like any of you are reading this, right?  If so I might pee my pants…), thank you for your perseverance.  You’re pretty much like Gods to us.  To my fellow Backspace Survivors, what a fantastic group of people to fall in with; thank you for bringing out your imaginary friends to play. To the city of New York, I am humbled and in awe of your resiliency.

To my husband, thank you for knowing what I needed and moving Heaven and Earth to make it happen.  Thank you for letting me drive the train for a few days.  

2 Comments on “Come Hell or High Water”

  1. Jen

    What a story–a true life adventure! I'm glad you made the conference. (Found you vis the Backspace forum–Karen linked to your blog.)

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