Write On!

Just a Few Miles

In Responses on February 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm

by Tara Wiley

Driving back into town, late at night, I feel a bit like a teenager sneaking in after curfew. The city lights rise up from the prairie, a greenish glow against the low clouds, and this place suddenly seems foreign. I glance at my cell phone for the umpteenth time. Still no calls. I had been gone for two weeks, and no one from here called me.

My husband is behind the wheel, talking on his bluetooth to his friends. He’s been dialing one after another to keep himself awake. With each connection he so easily makes, I feel even smaller and more lost in my little introverted world. I want to be home already. I want to be among my familiar things. I want to hold my children close, to feel the familiar pulse of their breath and luscious weight of their sleeping bodies settled against me, but they are latched securely into their car seats behind me, and we have 40 more miles to pass through yet. I lace my arm through Roy’s, letting my fingers rest on top of his hand on the steering wheel, and gratitude for this gift overwhelms me: wherever the Air Force sends us, we have each other. We have this family unit, with all its quirks and all its glory, a gift to take us from one place to the next. We are in this together.

This is our tenth home in fifteen years. I have come to learn the pattern of assimilation. I can easily explain it to my friends who have children. It mirrors pregnancy: the first trimester is all peaks and valleys, lurching emotions and nausea. Loss of friends and fear of the unknown intermingles with excitement and anticipation and the thrill of knowing something new is just around the bend. After a few months, though, the newness wears off and the second trimester arrives. Familiarity is there as routines settle into place – and then wham! That last trimester hits you out of nowhere. You physically ache with longing for this new place to actually be home. You know people, but you don’t feel known. You labor and long for everything to be settled, for this season to be finished.

It is officially the third trimester. I sigh audibly and my husband squeezes my hand as he finishes his call.

“Just a few more miles, hon,” he encourages, thinking my sigh was travel-related. It is, in a way. I am weary of traveling, of potted-plant roots that are easily transferred when I’d rather have the deep stretching, solid structures of the oak tree rippling beneath our front lawn.

Just a few more miles.

At home the next morning, we are all a bit hung over from twelve hours in the car, cranky and creaky and hungry. I reach into the pantry, pull out the box of Cheerios, check the date on the milk in the fridge – still good, get the coffee going. Absentmindedly, I reach into the box to eat a handful of o’s as I gaze out the window into the back yard. A snowy blanket covers everything. The first snow of the season struck while we were gone. The change makes even the known unfamiliar again.

I spit the stale cardboard-flavored cereal into the sink. Blech. Tears unexpectedly fill my eyes. I’m no cryer. What the heck? It’s just cereal! But it’s not just cereal. It’s the fact that I can’t run across the street to my old friend from the last place we lived, giggle over my daring jaunt in a bathrobe barely concealed by my coat, and grab a fresh box of cereal. How long, Lord? I want to feel home. I want to BE home. I want…

A flicker of red catches my eye out the window, and I am startled to find a cardinal on the deck, brilliant and bold against the white snow. We had a family of cardinals that frequented our deck two assignments ago. I always loved to watch them out at the bird feeder – yes, the same bird feeder where this cardinal was now busily scavenging.

The phone rings. Someone from the church, asking to schedule a playdate. I pull out the empty calendar and fill in a spot. I scramble eggs. I refill the bird feeder. I sigh, audibly. Hope flutters in to refill my lungs.

Advertisements
  1. I love how wrapped longing in a cloak of simplicity. It is beautiful. It reminded me of the Emily Dickinson poem:
    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: