Last week, while Neal was showering for work and I was lying in bed trying to adjust to daylight and drink coffee while horizontal, I saw a story on The Today Show about a couple who had narrowly escaped death in a scuba diving accident. The couple were experienced divers who had decided to go for a dive alone, without informing anyone of their plans (they obviously did not grow up with my mother). They jumped in the water and headed for the reef while their boat drifted away. Far, far away. When they emerged from the water, the boat had drifted too far for them to swim (and apparently upstream, although logic would tell me otherwise). There they stayed in the water all night, until a father and his 2 sons arrived for a dive the next day and found them. When Meredith asked them what happened, the husband said "we became complacent." And the congregation said "amen". Complacency will kill you (if the sharks don't).
Neal and I got very lucky. We were able to live a year as a married couple, then be apart for a year, then be back together again. While deployments are never ideal and can be so stressful that you begin drinking boxed wine, we have been able to make limoncello with our lemons. Even as a newlywed, I had become complacent about our relationship - assuming all sorts of crazy things. I assumed that he would fix the lawn mower when it broke or dig up a tree when it died. I assumed he would empty the dishwasher every morning and make dinner when I was running late from work. I assumed that he would come get me off the side of the road when the Mustang broke down. I never assumed he would be deployed again. So, in celebration of breaking the streak of complacency that had built up over a year of marriage, I made a list of everything that is easier since he came home. I no longer take for granted that I live in this house with these 2 cats and 2 cars and that what he provides is easily provided.
10. vacuuming the floor. This would be easy except that due to the creation of another cat in the hose of the vacuum, apparently I haven't really cleaned the floors in probably 6 months. After Neal had his hands on the hose for 10 minutes (that sounds so much dirtier than it really is) that baby really, really sucked - like the day I bought it!
9. mowing the grass. I can appreciate his willingness to do this because he doesn't just mow. He also weed-eats and blows the grass clippings off of the sidewalk. That's entirely too much manual labor for me. I say grass clippings are my gift to the neighborhood.
8. having car work done. If you can successfully leave your car at the repair shop and drive yourself back home, call me - I want your cloning technology. Why do llamas get to have all the fun?
7. knowing where everything is in the house. A lot of calls from Kuwait went like this:
A: I can't find the stovetop cleaning detergent. Where is it in the house?
N: I can't remember. It's been so long. Look in the...(and then he would name a place that was so random I never even bothered to look there...like the hall closet).
6. operating a pressure cooker. Although I could probably have figured this one out, I decided that pressure cooker + cabernet = kitchen disaster. He drinks water when he cooks...much safer.
5. noticing when things are broken/not working properly/missing/dying. Examples would include irrigation sprinkler heads, rosebushes, ice machines and computers.
4. fixing things that are broken/not working properly/missing/dying. Examples include replacing the head, spraying the landscaping and digging up trees. None of this ever occurs to me.
3. the preparation and clean-up that goes into a meal. I now understand why I needed a nap every time I cooked a meal for 1 and then cleaned the dishes. Even with a dishwasher. I also understand why I lived on boxed mac and cheese and ham sandwiches my entire college career.
2. moving furniture. When I got the wild hair a couple of weeks ago to swap the furniture in the 2 front bedrooms, it took all of about 15 minutes to complete. It would have been much more disasterous without him (most likely involving words that shouldn't come from a lady followed by a trip to the Urgent Treatment Center).
1. planning the future. When a spouse is deployed, it's sort of like being suspended in jello. Nothing moves forward, nothing gets planned. There's just the wait. Now we can plan a trip to the beach or plan a picnic or plan to have dinner with friends. And as we all know, Virgos are BIG planners. We keep Daytimer in business. A day without planning is like a pen with no tip. There's just no point.
This is just a short list of 10 examples, it's probably not even the top 10. Everyday I am reminded of something that's 400% easier now that he's home. I may be complacent about a lot (the august heat and chipped toenails) but I am now appropriately grateful for everyday that I have with Neal at home.