Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From Humble Abode to Desert Domicile: Moving Part 2

This morning I sent the Pilot off for his first day of "school"– i.e. B-Course– i.e. F-16 training. The dreams and hard work of years and years are shimmering like mirages behind this sunny day. Deep down swells a wish that I had been there for more of it, like my friend who has known her husband almost her whole life and has walked with him every step of the long journey to this desert-land where the jets streak across the sky and our men's footsteps lead towards the flight-line. I have to remind myself that my story is different, and that the collision of the Pilot's life and mine, two years, four months, and thirteen days ago was no accident: guided by an unseen hand of the One who writes the story.

My dear friend Sarah, who was my maid of honor and a crucial player in that intersection of the Pilot's life and mine, said to me not long ago, "If I had told you five years ago that you would be married to an Air Force pilot, living in Texas, running, and doing yoga, you would be very offended." The move from Texas to Arizona notwithstanding, she is right. Thank God that I don't write my own story, since He writes them much better!

Three and a half weeks in, Arizona is quite new enough to be exciting, to make us remark upon the number of grocery stores and coffee shops and new places to go, and yet it is undoubtedly already Home. Perhaps this has less to do with the place itself (though being surrounded by mountains certainly helps!) and more to do with the fact that "Home is Wherever the Air Force Sends Us" as a picture in my friend Ashley's house so eloquently reminded me. We have a house, which we have named the Desert Domicile. At first I thought we should name it the Adobe Domicile, but it is not made of adobe, and the alliteration was too appealing. We rented Sebastian, our piano, even before all of our furniture and boxes arrived (because I refuse to be like Mrs. Elton in Emma and neglect my music any longer) and after everything did arrive we unpacked till we were drowning in brown paper and cardboard boxes. (I wished that I was small again so that I could make a series of tunnels and forts out of the huge boxes. I hope our future children do that!) Nothing was broken, nothing was lost– we had a brief concern about our Apple TV, which we thought the packers had misplaced (and I wondered if it was a divine sign to be interpreted that we ought to read more books) but was found in the bottom of our laundry hamper, along with the garden hose. I have three or four different supermarkets all within a couple miles of our house to choose from, and three novels I've never read before with my new library card, and a dentist appointment on Friday. Abundance upon blessing: the cup runneth over.

What am I to make of it? One thing I realized when the Pilot and I first moved into the Desert Domicile, before the movers brought our things and we had only what we'd brought with us in our vehicles, was how relatively little one needs to get along. It was inconvenient, yes, but we hardly suffered from the lack of the multitude of material possessions that the movers brought on their truck. I recalled all the pioneer stories I read growing up, and how packing up and moving your life from one place to another was a matter of choosing what things would fit into a wagon and leaving all the rest behind, forever! Materialism didn't have much place in the early days of America. Not that I have anything against possessions: I like glancing over at my tea-set on top of the bookshelf, and the books very carefully and meaningfully arranged (all Jane Austen together; same with Dorothy Sayers; small paperback classics on the bottom shelf). But where are my affections? Is there anything, materially speaking, that I can't live without? Many people say that the worst thing about military life is the constant moving, but if it helps me to re-evaluate constantly what is really important and what isn't, that is a blessing and not a bane.

A quote that I have adopted as a kind of motto for our military life is something G.K. Chesterton said: An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. This past move has contained its fair share of adventures, mostly small ones: I failed quite miserably at considering the broken air conditioner in our lodging the first night in Phoenix as anything but a quite intolerable inconvenience. But the Pilot and I found a house in two days, and moved into it two days later, and that was an adventure, and we enjoyed it. The next year will, I'm sure, contain all kinds of inconveniences of all shapes and sizes, and my hope is that I make the choice to see through the disguise into the adventure-blessings behind them. 

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