Phew. Labor Day weekend has come and gone, but I totally have to fill you in.
If you don’t know who Running Woman is, you might need a crash course to understand this little entry. I met her at the perfect time when we had just moved here prior to our third deployment, and she was my rock. She helped me hang up my posters when we lost Layla (our first English Bulldog). She brought me cupcakes when Brody was initially diagnosed. She helped paint my new house when we bought it later during that deployment (along with the Mad Painter, of course), and whenever things went wrong, she just always seems to know, and show up. She’s also one of the only people who can get away with just showing up at my house unannounced, folded laundry on the couch and all, without me arching the eyebrow of disapproval. Simply speaking, she’s my best army-wife friend. She’s kind, and thoughtful, and a much better judge of character than I am. She’s also a lady to her core and has more class than I’ll ever muster. And she’s like… my person. Like:
Yup. Ok, love fest over.
Because then she had the nerve to up and PCS, leaving me here at Drum while she got to move to my home town of Colorado Springs, which prompted me to write one of my favorite blog posts ever: Bloom Where You’re Planted.
Lucky for me, I’ve seen her a few times since she ran off and left me in the North Country. That’s the perk of her living in my home town. So, when Jason deployed, she told me she was coming to see me, but had to figure out when. Truthfully, I started out the deployment strong, and in May, she said, “You know, I’m not going to worry about when. I figure that when you need me, I’ll know. I’ll come then.”
But in May, my support-ship kinda sank, and when she happened to call that day, I hadn’t even told her what had happened when she said, “I think I’ll come labor day weekend, and we can run the color vibe 5K!”
1. Running Woman has always had this creepy 6th sense of exquisite timing. Just knowing she’d be coming in a few months kept my head above water.
2. This was the same day I’d been cleared by my doctor to begin running, so, my first thought of her 5K plan was kinda like:
But I think, “sure. You can do that.” And I feel this sense of… well, purpose. I’d been eating paleo for a couple weeks, and it was time to jump into running. Because up until this point in my life, if you ever saw me running, it was because:
An angry bear or a clown with a knife chasing me were probably the only two things that would inspire me to move at that kind of pace. But this was about my health, so I began running.
Okay, that’s a lie. It was more like:
to start with. Yup. Why? Because up until now, my attitude of running was:
Right. But my whole awful day? I was determined to channel it. I threw on some Florence + The Machine and somehow found my #2 deployment theme, Shake it out.
If you haven’t heard this song? You’re totally missing out.
And just like that… I became a runner. Well, like…. jogger. My treadmill became my haven, my therapy, my moment of sanity and naughty music. It has become the place I center myself. Why the treadmill? Because I have 4 kids and if I leave them alone, well, they’d probably set the house on fire, and CPS frowns on that. Joke, people.
So the week Running Woman flies in, I’ve been running 5K’s on the treadmill without stopping for about 3 weeks. (Yeah, it shocked me too). I have NO reservations about this race. I’m like… ready to freaking rock.
So we pull up to Watertown airport, and I’m dancing around like an anxious preschooler, waiting for my favorite toy to be all mine for the weekend! I see her coming through security (because our airport is literally smaller than my house), and I’m ready to shove people over like:
Because She’s here! Running woman is HERE!!!! And there’s this moment like:
And just like that, Fort Drum feels like home again. I toss her into the car without her luggage, since you know, it didn’t make it… and I hand her the cake pops I’d made just that morning for her, and before she goes to get a bite, Aaron responds with “I think Diesel got to it before you did,” which earned THIS look from Running Woman.
Why? Because THIS
Is Diesel. Aaron’s kidding, folks. I promise D didn’t get to the cake pops. Muwahahahaaa! So we stop, grab her some new running gear since hers didn’t make it and the race is bright and early the next day, and head home. Once the kids are all in bed, we’re kind of like:
And we’re up way too late and loving every minute of it. Of course, we’re paying for it at 6 a.m., when it’s time to leave for the Color Vibe.
We get to Syracuse, sign in to the race, and I’m feeling like:
Yeah, baby. We’re about to rock this thing.
Nice and clean, right?
So the race starts, and we’re off. Uphill.
Right. Because I’ve been treadmill running at a level 1 incline for three months, and sure, I can go the distance, but WTF are these hills? I make it up the first hill, and we’re still rocking it like:
Down the first hill, and still going strong. But then the second hill comes, and I feel like:
but I look over, and of course Running Woman is like:
And she’s like…. smiling. Come on, there’s a reason I’ve designated her “Running Woman.” And for just that moment, I’m kind of like:
Right. We’re about half-way through when I look over and tell her I have to walk some of it. Because it has finally dawned on me: road-running is NOT like treadmill running. Oh no, I’ve been training ALL WRONG.
And I’m telling her:
Right. Okay. She sprints ahead, all oxygenized from coming down from altitude and whatever, and I kinda toddle, fight off some crazy nausea and run again until I meet up with her and finish!
She enjoys flinging color at me. Seriously. All freaking morning.
I heart this girl!
And the nausea? Um… yeah. I forgot to eat breakfast. I usually run at night, so the morning threw me all off. Rookie Mistake, I know. A little food, and life is good to go.
The next morning, grabbing some Tin Pan Galley, otherwise, the trip doesn’t really count, and drinking Mimosas at 9 am, while Miss Stepford (one of my Drum friends) keeps my boys, feels like we’re being scandalous like:
Yet, soooooooo good.
Now after a fabulous brunch, the real world kind of intrudes a little bit, and on the way home from snagging my kids from Miss Stepford’s, Running Woman is kind of getting the hang of how things are going here. Not… um… well.
I’m like trapped in this movie right now.
And basically I tell her:
Yeah, that about covers it. Totally. It’s basically me yelping things like:
And the thing is, she doesn’t. Since the moment three years ago she declared we were going to be friends (which honestly freaked me out a wee bit), she’s had my back and been in my corner. So she lets me rant about why I feel like I’m failing this deployment, and listens, and understands. I know it was hard on her to watch Jason deploy when her husband didn’t. I know it’s been heartbreaking for her to watch us do this again, this time without her, and in a heartbeat, she’d walk into deployment hell with me like:
And when it’s come to the crap that’s come with this deployment, she’s been all:
And there’s something about just having her here, and being able to fully let go of everything that’s been building up for months, dropping the pretense of being fine, that – for this moment – makes everything okay.
And she lets me whine. For a minute. Then she’s basically like:
Because she’s not a “sit-around and whine” kinda girl. So I get my comforting like:
And then she kinda puts that in its place with:
She makes up a pitcher of Sangria and basically says:
But that’s the thing about letting it all out, and letting it go to one of your best friends. When you share what’s weighing you down, it suddenly becomes so much lighter!
But the woman is an energizer bunny and doesn’t freaking stop. Oh no, now it’s Monday morning, and she’s flying out that evening, but not before the woman MAKES ME RUN AGAIN.
No, I’m not kidding.
I’m just thinking, “you’re one of my BEST friends, but at this moment…”
Right. Now running has become something I really adore, but after the 5K two days ago, and the harsh realization that I’m not quite as badass as I thought, because roads aren’t treadmills… well, I’m kind of feeling:
But she’s determined to take me road-running again because she swears my “body will adjust,” which makes me want to say:
And honestly, once we head to the Black River Trail, and I get out of the car, I just kind of want to:
But I don’t. And we run the trail, and this time I make it further than two days prior before I need a walking breather and start up again. She was right, my body adjusts faster this time without the gerbil-wheel.
We get home and the chick just won’t stop. She takes a look at the To-Do list on my desk and starts like…. fixing stuff. All weekend she’s sending me out the door to go to the store alone (which is like a vacation during deployment), and when the boys fight, and I go to intervene, she’s all:
She’s determined not just to visit, but to leave me better than she found me. She’s changing light-bulbs, because she’s way taller than I am, and when I try it’s like:
She’s drilling the flower boxes into my porch rail, tossing my kids in the tub, grilling steaks, and did I mention making sangria? Oh I did? Well let me help you visualize:
But you see, then it’s time for her to go. All I can say is that I don’t know how I’m going to do it now, make it through the rest of this deployment without having her here, and she’s like:
And she tells me to branch out, but when it comes to new people, well lately I’m a little…
Sad, yet true at the moment. But she always knows what to say when I feel obstinate and a little disheartened:
And I know what she’s been doing all weekend. She’s trying to give me that boost we won’t get from mid-tour. She’s trying to push me up a little higher, give me the room I know I’ll need to fly through the rest of this deployment when she heads back to Colorado. She’s basically helping me find the super-mom cape I feel like I’ve lost like:
We pull up to the airport, and I want to be hugely irrational like:
I just want her to stay. So I tell her the only thing I can at the moment before I get all girly and cry, “I’m just so much happier with you here.” And she says, “I’m happier with me here too!”
Problem is, she moved 18 months ago, and neither of us bothered to replace the other for a battle-buddy.
And the truth is – That’s okay.
So she gets on her flight, and I’m just… lost and crying, and I’m trying to hide it from the kids, but they’re looking at me until I feel like:
Right. Suck it up. Get it under control.
What I learned this weekend is that it doesn’t matter how many acquaintances you have, or how close they are for a drive. What matters isn’t the distance between you, or the number of times you get together in the week. What matters is knowing that even from across the country, someone has your back, and your best interest at heart.
This deployment has been rough on me, that’s for sure, but having her go the extra mile… ahem, extra 1800 miles, just to be here sent one message above all others: I’m not alone, no matter how much so I might feel sometimes.
So to my Running Woman, I say thank you.
Perfect timing as always. I know we’re 1/2 a country apart, but you know what? Nothing has changed. Not in the teeniest bit.
1/2 way point of this deployment is over peeps, it’s time to put the hammer down and ride this coaster home.
Yeah. I got this.
We got this.