October

I wrote this one a few years ago then stashed it in my Drafts folder. Now seems like a good time to finally post it.

October is for falling in love, over and over again.

The seasons change, warm spices come back into regular use, kids young and old get to dress up at Halloween, the trees turn colors, jackets and layers enter into rotation, and the temperatures drop just enough for snuggling. In addition to all the things this month already has going for it, October also possesses a certain magic for me.

The first notable October happened six years ago, when, through a series of unexpected and highly improbable events, I went on a first date with him. By the next October we were excitedly (and distractedly) planning our marriage.

Fast forward to the following October, when I was anxiously awaiting his return. As I stood there breathing the (ocean-scented) October air, he came back to me at the end of a first deployment. That October was exciting because of all the new things it brought to our lives as we reaped the benefits of all the hard work we’d been putting into fast-forwarding ourselves into adulthood. Never mind that as soon as we were together again the countdown to the next separation began; we were happy to have that October together, and we lived fully in each moment.

Jump to the next October and yet another homecoming. I was a real military wife by this point, having endured a deployment while living on my own, working full-time, and dealing with all the bizarre–sometimes crippling–challenges that life decided to throw at me that summer. My excitement was just as great as it had been the October before, and as soon as we found one another again it felt as though my world shrank back down to fit only us. The clock still raced on, but we enjoyed every minute together.

Another year, another October, and our final military homecoming was upon us. By this time the scent of October in the air was enough to make me giddy. Those last few weeks before homecoming passed in a blur, at times moving quickly and at times inching along at a maddeningly slow pace. I was filled with an energy unlike those I’d known previously. Not only was B coming home to me, but this time he was coming home for good. There were no deadlines or countdowns; this time it was real, and our lives were no longer in the holding pattern we’d so impatiently endured. I loved every minute of that October because of the freedom and relief I felt.

Our first post-deployment October was just as exciting as all the others had been, but mixed into all the good things in our lives was a strong bitter note. With B’s military separation fast-approaching, we entered a phase of uncertainty in our marriage. As we finally had to make life choices together, we struggled through trying to figure out how to live in the same space and make our relationship work without the stop-start pattern it had previously followed. We weighed our options, fought over outcomes, and finally just sucked it up and decided to keep moving. I made the decision to quit my job to follow B as he began a new career, and B set his jaw in determination as he dove headfirst into anything that didn’t require him to deploy for seven months out of every year. It wasn’t the best October of my life, but it was certainly notable.

This October we’ve settled in a new city, we’ve just finished spending the first half of the year forming solid secondary careers, I’ve been in my new job for several months, and this week B began his new full-time job. We’re reconnecting with old friends and forging new relationships, exploring our new city, and enjoying being together. We’re also celebrating as our young friends begin down the same path we started on five years ago when we chose to get married; as she finishes college in Texas, in a few weeks he will deploy from California for the first time in his Marine Corps career. While most of the conversations focus on how difficult separation can be for a young couple, I think I’ve raised some eyebrows by exclaiming how excited and happy I am for this young couple, for the fact that this separation increases the significance of things like Octobers. Anything that these two might have taken for granted before is about to be brought to the forefront for them.

That’s why Octobers are special for me: they’re always a reminder.

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