I forgot to write about the build-up, but I think I'll record the aftermath.
Toward the end of September, Spike left to go back to Afghanistan...again. He was home for his two weeks of R&R leave, which he received because his unit is scheduled for a 12-month deployment. Spike may not be gone for a full year since he was thrown into the deploying unit last-minute and had to stay behind to catch up on training, but he will still be gone longer than nine months...and I'm certainly not complaining that I got the time with him.
In a nutshell, our R&R "outing" was a four-day trip to Chicago, two of which were shared with Spike's parents. Mostly, though, at Spike's request we stayed home in Kansas. There were a couple day trips to Topeka and Kansas City, but it was surprising (to me, anyway) how nice the everyday, non-exotic things were: going to the grocery store together. Watching a movie. Smoking a cigar on the front porch (okay, maybe that one isn't normal for most people...). Driving into town and walking through mall. Washing the car in the driveway. Cooking dinner. I hadn't realized until Spike was home how much I missed doing those things as a couple; how lonely they could be as only one-half of a team.
I did notice myself trying to cling to the age-old coping mechanism of distancing myself to lessen the pain of separation, which I knew was coming. It didn't work. Dropping Spike off at the airport was still heartbreaking, but I managed to make it back home before I lost it. Small victories.
So now I'm preparing to drive back to North Carolina, where I intend to spend the remainder of the deployment. There, I'll be able to go into the office every day, which is helpful professionally and personally. (Working from home--aka being alone in the house all day, every day--is a recipe for depression, at least in my case.) Being able to interact with my co-workers in person has definitely been a silver lining of this deployment. Another silver lining is the fact that I get to see old, dear friends who still live in NC!
I'm hoping that the holiday rush (and fingers crossed--more violin lessons) makes the rest of the year go by quickly. And once 2013 hits, I think I'll be able to say that we're on the downhill slope of the deployment.