Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ship to shore stories

Brian finished his tour aboard USCGC Sherman on 08/08/08. He'd been stationed on the Sherman for over two years and the only relationship I'd ever known with him was tied implicitly to the schedule of the ship. I had grown used to the phases of farewells and homecomings, and patrols didn't seem too bad after all. Brian reported to his new unit in District 11 shortly after his return, and we settled into what I thought would be a blissful period of reacquaintance.

[Before my eyes took on that maniacal, crazed quality...]

I don't necessarily think that not being married disqualifies us from feeling the same growing pains and minor disagreements that plague most newlywed couples. We moved into a newly renovated home, began buying new furniture after two years of damaged college hand-me-downs, and began the "nesting" period that happens for most civilian couples, aside from the fact that he goes to work in a uniform every day. That's kind of how it all started...

The Honeymoon

With new "stuff" and a new work schedule, we welcomed the sense of refreshed enthusiasm that came with putting a house together. I felt inclined to leap into his arms every day when he came home from work, and he did romantic little things that I won't mention here for the sake of his reputation at work ;) Suffice it to say, we were corn syrupy-sweet. But the growing sense that we were spending a LOT of time together began to creep into my consciousness when I found myself saying out loud, "Man I can't wait until we have a housewarming party." At that point I hadn't had human contact outside of Brian or coworkers in months and had taken up the unusual habit of talking to our dogs while I telecommuted from my home office.

Speaking of Dogs...

Brian came home one day and gave me a look that made me instantly suspicious. I scowled like Ebenezer Scrooge when his said, "Sherman is going on patrol again and Ashlee was hoping we'd watch Howie..." Howie is a Beagle puppy with very little sense of self-control and a whole boatload of enthusiasm. While I welcomed the idea of helping a shipmate in need, the thought of 3 dogs in our small house made me cringe. Despite my reservations, I agreed.

Today I noticed Howie perched in the backyard, nose pressed to the sliding glass door, with his paws held in a prayer pose that he normally does when he's begging for treats. Realizing that a dog sitting on his hind legs for no reason is not right, I opened the door and let his wet, wiggly, muddy body inside. He immediately opened his mouth and let out the saddest howling whine I'd ever heard, leaving his mouth open after he was done. I peered in, gasped, and stuck my hand in his mouth.

You know it's love when you're willing to stick your hands in a strange dog's mouth to dislodge a twig wedged firmly between his back molars. After my impromptu lesson in dog dental surgery, I was thanked with noisy wet kisses and a friendly wagging tail. Along with the knowledge that I could pretty much guilt trip Brian into doing anything as repayment ;)

Kitchen Chaos

Brian loves to cook. He bounces through the front door when he comes home from work, kisses me and pats the dogs, then immediately declares that he will be preparing dinner for the evening. Since I'm inevitably tied up in homework or one of the many social networking sites I'm addicted to, I usually grunt a sound of approval and drift into the kitchen around the time the smell floats into my office. I momentarily wince at the sight of two sinkloads of dishes (did I mention Brian uses every pot and pan in the house for one meal?) but that thought is immediately put on hold by the sight of a handsome man with a plate of food and a bottle of wine waiting for me.

Big toys, big noise

I telecommute from home on weekends, and have a full course load of grad school homework throughout the work week. Suffice it to say, my eyes are always glued to a computer screen or a convoluted textbook extolling the virtues of such philosophical thoughts as "planning for planning" and "meetings for meetings." In case you couldn't guess, I'm earning my Master of Public Administration. I'll be part of the next wave of underpaid, overeducated government service employees.

Brian is a typical American guy in all his oversized flat screen, big pickup truck, country music loving glory. He also happens to be a kid at heart, so we own Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Wii, PS3, and a multitude of games, attachments and doodads. If Brian were a kid I might seriously consider having him tested for ADD, and I mean that in the most loving way possible. The guy loves his toys.

The problem with his newfound land job schedule is that we don't work on the same schedule. I often find myself fending him off or locking him out of my home office because he likes to wander in good-naturedly with an offer to come play a quick game or watch an episode of one of our hundreds of DVD collections. Occasionally he'll busy himself playing Wii in the living room, but that brand spankin' new TV has speakers capable of blowing a small aircraft out of the sky from the sheer strength of its sound waves. Working on the weekends is a lesson in patience and self-restraint: both from taking up his offer to leave work and go play for a few minutes, or to literally kick Brian's butt out of my personal space.

Despite my tongue-in-cheek observations about the adjustments and compromise that go into learning how to live with each other full time, I have to point out that I've never been happier or more content with my life. I've got an incredibly supportive boyfriend who cheers me on as I navigate the rough waters of grad school, and a warm home to lay my head in. I've never been more thankful or more happy with the life the Coast Guard has given Brian, and in turn, me.


Amber said...

So glad you're getting to experience Flo and Brian in a different way, Flo. I've missed your posts around here. It's nice to see ya back!

John Willis said...

Using every pot and pan in the house when cooking is a requirement. It's in the Man Rules book.