I am a Scout

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I did not realize it until yesterday, but I have become a scout. Like a find-out-what's-over-yonder-and-make-sure-its-safe kind of scout. Let me tell you how I discovered this.

I was in a crisis safety training for work yesterday. I work in downtown Seattle, and this particular training was in the Smith Tower, which if I am correct, is the second tallest building in Seattle, and just happens to be a block down from the Columbia tower, which is actually the tallest building in Seattle. For this training, we had a room with an epic view. 



When it started to hail, we all took a minute to enjoy the ping ping ping against the slanted windows of our conference room. It was a wonderful moment to share in with my colleagues. 

Back to being a scout, though. 

So, when we broke for lunch, one of my colleagues from my team and I sat in an empty room to eat our respective meals, and chat, and we toyed with the idea of going out into the freezing rain (it was slushing the windows at this point) and taking the elevator up to the highest point in Seattle, which, I might add, also contain a Starbucks. Seattlites and their coffee...a whole other story. 



As we talked, I will admit my mind wandered a little. I found myself wondering if I should wait to take Jeff, because I don't like to experience many new things without him. Don't get me wrong, I am pretty darn independent for being considered a "dependent" by military standards, but I like to share in new experiences with my husband. It's a measure of my love to wait for him, I suppose, as well as a measure of my youth and introversion. As I mulled this over, I also realized that I should probably go, just so I could find out if it is wheelchair friendly. 

It occurred to me that this is one of those new hardships I have personally had to face since the fall. My routine of sharing in novel experiences with my husband has been significantly reduced, because we always need to know ahead of time if it is a handicap accessible activity. For example, when my former college roommate came to visit this past month, many of the activities we had planned to do with her prior to the fall had to be canceled. She was forced to do many of them alone because the time I had scheduled to be off of work was eaten up by the days spent at his bedside in the hospital. We learned throuh her that the Space Needle would not be big enough for his gigantic wheelchair and that our little jaunt to Port Townsend (not previously scouted) was a very bad idea because Victorian villages feature cobblestone walkways and no ramps or elevators, all crucial environmental features for someone who is recently post-op in a non - electric wheelchair.

It's a strange conundrum to find myself in this scouting position, because I am so used to scouting in pairs with my husband, in other words, exploring as an able-bodied couple. He is my battle buddy for the world, always prepared and willing - albeit sometimes grudgingly - to explore and try new things with me. Now I am having to do these things alone, just to see if they are accessible for him. The re-experiencing, if I can even call that a true word, subtracts room the would-be experience of newness for both of us when I experience something a second time. The novelty of the first encounter for me is not witnessed by my favorite person in the world. There are no words to describe this breakdown in our routine in its entirety, but suffice it tomday, there is something left to be desired in having to meet one another on these new planes or levels of experience. 

To add to that, there is a part of me, that part that is still resistant to this change and the new role I have taken on, that sometimes flakes out or breaks down. It goes back to my previous post about routine, because part of what shapes our routine is my willingness to be brave and selfless. Scouts have to be courageous and willing to venture out into the unknown to determine if it is safe and accessible for their teammates. It can be highly stessful even while it is exhilirating. 

It's a hard pill to swallow, being pushed ever not so gently into a new persona, a new relationship even, than either of us has experienced before. 

In the end, I did not take that fancy elevator into the wispy, rainy clouds. I concocted loads of rationalizations about punctuality, finances, and inclement weather in order to deter myself. I am more cognizant now of that duality, however, and by that I mean the dichotomy of should I or shouldn't I. It's an ambivalence that is hard to shake, because we need normalcy as much as we need adventure, but all the time I feel that tether of the old life and of fear of the unknown pulling on that part of me that is so easy to convince to stay home or not forge forward and scout the path. 

It is a struggle, and one I hope that one day won't be as difficult, but I won't fool myself into thinking it will never be there. It is one thing to be on your own while your spouse is away at boot camp, underways, deployments, and/or TDYs,  but it is entirely another thing to be a scout for a wounded warrior because in some ways, we are always alone in our journey even while our WW is ever present.

Stay strong and steadfast, scouts.

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