The Reservist’s Wife and Deeper Questions

PlusOne is in the reserves, which means that occasionally, he goes away for a week or two or three at a time and does reserves stuff. I think it has something to do with carving off a piece of meat from an animal they killed with their bare hands, skewering the meat on a stick, cooking it over the camp fire, and showing off their manly beards are and hairy chests.

Pardon me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard. Because beards. Manly beards. Big fuck-off beards.




While he’s been away this week doing manly things, I’ve been doing things of my own, like staving off loneliness (bar a night out for a literary trivia quiz).

He knows that I get lonely and I’m pretty sure he gets lonely, but he’s a guy and emotions aren’t really his forte, just like every other Kiwi bloke. Not that I mind; I’ve had enough emotional outbursts and meltdowns for the two of us.

We’ve talked about it and while it sounds like I’m complaining, I am and I’m not. His reservist training gives him meaning and purpose. I can see the changes this secret masculine training imparts. I can see the confidence increase. I can see the pride in his eye, my eyes, and in the eyes of all those who know him. It gives me a certain satisfaction to see him learning things about the wider world through this training.

Who the hell am I to tell him he can’t go? These bouts of loneliness are expected. I can only relate what it’s like on my side. I don’t have kids, but I have pets; I have nothing to keep me busy, other than my martial arts classes and my writing.

He was on shift when we were first married and the nights were a bit lonely. Okay, really lonely. I was a young woman on her own with no family (except her in-laws) and no friends in a foreign country. I wasn’t coping well. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten over that, but really, no.

Loneliness is an emotion and state of being that leaves my head dry and my body hollow; it’s like being in that time between autumn and winter: the leaves are dying, the branches break, and the Southerly wind chills to the bone. It’s like being autumn.

Loneliness has dulled my senses. The pizza I had for dinner, despite having about an inch of cheese on it, had no flavour. The chicken I had the night before smelled amazing when I got home from Auckland, but I don’t remember the taste. However, the hot and spicy ribs PlusOne and I shared the other week left my mouth tingling a little while later. I haven’t been able to get warm at night (despite the autumn chill in the air), nor do I feel like there’s something or someone protecting me, keeping me safe. I’m a feminist, but deep down I need PlusOne’s presence. I can absolutely protect myself, but it’s just that other presence that’s soothing.

And I’ll tell you, that presence feels like the finest silk on my soul.

The evenings this week have stretched out like black holes: time and space seem to stretch and stop, never fully reaching that event horizon and yet, they still cross it. Night comes, sleep not so much, and then the alarm goes off quietly. Another day. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

The dog (a Mama’s boy, apparently—I’m not sure what I did to deserve that) has been sitting near Dad’s desk, his nose on the floor, his front feet spread out, and his ears perking up at every noise. The cats just go on their daily lives, as long as they get fed and have a bowl of water, then no dramas.

I have wondered what it would be like if I was widowed. The grief would always be there, but how long would the loneliness last? Until I found someone? Does that hole ever go away? And how connected and inter-connected are grief and loneliness? Humans are social creatures and, despite the differences between introverts and extroverts, we all want and need contact. Which makes me wonder—what happens when we crave the interaction and not receive it? How much do we revert to primal instinct to just survive? Or do we push past it and into insanity, or into some other state of being?

But I’m only on my own for a few days this week. PlusOne will be home later today. I’m looking forward to feeling warm and whole, like summer, and snuggling into his presence like a warm blanket.


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