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Entry date: 5-16-2022 - I Hate Days Like Today - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I’m going to take a quick break from the army story to get a bit more current in my life. Rhondi leaves for Maine today. I hate these days for several reasons, as you can probably surmise.

For much of the last week, I have been reminding myself (thank you subconscious) of how difficult it was last year when Rhondi and the kids left. On one hand, the house was quiet, and I could just focus on finishing the school year strong for my students. I was still in grad school, too, and I knew I would need to work ahead a bit to make up for the time I was going to be on the road heading to Maine with my dad and Bailey, our dog. But it was still hard.

I am very fortunate to have a wife I enjoy spending time with even if she doesn’t always feel that way. We spend a lot of time in separate rooms as she likes to relax in our bedroom and when I do that, I just fall asleep. We also don’t always agree on what to watch, so it is easier, especially during basketball season, for me to man the couch and she can have her comfort zone. Even though we are divided by a wall, it’s so nice to know she is right there.

This time around, we will be apart for almost a month at first. I’ll call her in the mornings and after work, but we will be separated after today by almost 3000 miles. I will have Liam and Teresa and Ashton at home, which will help, but it is still not the same. I count on Rhondi for so much and some of it she might not even know (until I guilt her into reading this). She is my rock.

I’m not sure this is advice anyone could use but putting a little distance between yourself and your spouse can sometimes be a good thing. I think Rhondi and I learned to communicate better after being apart for the five of six months she was in Maine with her dad. It won’t be quite as long this year, but let me tell you, even a month seems like a long time.

Flying home last year to our basically empty house was sobering after having about five weeks in Maine. Starting a new job and doing my student teaching allowed me to not really dwell too much on it, but I counted down the days. My students thought I was counting down the school year, but for me, I was counting down the time to go back in October and get the car, the dog, and kiss my wife.

This year might be harder, really, even though they are coming back a little sooner and I’ll be there longer. I’m working from home for the upcoming school year, and I’ll have even more time at home alone. Ashton is not really much company as she hangs out in her room, works, and does her own thing as someone her age should.

Last year I had this running thought about Rhondi living her best life, enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery, doing her hikes, and just taking care of herself. I was jealous of Maine and the hold it has on her. I wanted to be there and living my best life next to her.

I know it’s tough on the kids, too. Rhondi and I have created a pretty good balance in how we parent. We are on the same page but have different styles. As much as she wouldn’t like to admit because she thinks I’m the one who goes easy on them, she’s a bit of a softy, as well. The kids feel the void as she is their strong-willed, devout protector. Not that I am not fierce when it comes to them, but they know who the real sheriff is in our town. I love her even more for this.

I have lots to do to prepare for Liam, Teresa, and my trip to Maine, so that’ll keep me busy. The dog will be bummed for a while, true, but I think she’ll be a bit happier this time around with Liam and Teresa still home. I also think she will travel a bit better, too, since it will be our third trip across the country in a little over 12 months.

I’m excited to take this trip with the kids. I hope they appreciate it as much as I do. We’ve got some audio books lined up and we’ll listen to podcasts, too, and music. I’m tempted to make our own podcast on the way. I have to think they will have something to say about what they are seeing, and I think they are at good ages for this type of trip. Maybe I won’t tell them I’m recording it.

I’m also reluctantly beginning to accept that this is just part of our life right now. One day, I will get to spend the whole summer in Maine like Rhondi does and I can do my share at home for the time being until that is a reality. Who knows? Maybe one day we just won’t come back.

There is that weird feeling about being gone so long. Ashton is a great kid and will take good care of the animals and house, for sure, and the other kids will help her, too, but I will miss a few things and my friends. This will be the longest I’ve been away from Phoenix since I moved to Berkeley in 1991.

For now, though, I must focus on the good. No sense in stressing about what it will be like when I get home and have almost three months without being able to reach out and touch my love. There will be lots for us to talk about, I’m sure, with the kids starting a new school year and me going back online and teaching music again. I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to stay busy, too, as I always do. I’ll just start counting the days again and checking them off until I get to see her beautiful face.

Safe travels, my love.

See you tomorrow.

A recent date night selfie that Rhondi took. I could never make a selfie look this good.

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