In teaching the material to Jenn, I asked Katherine to provide some inside-the-work insight. She said, "It's actually related a lot to what we've been talking about in Left Behind.... It's a lot about mattering, but about the work of the military family mattering in a way that we don't see or talk about."
Bookmarked and The Protected are two solos based on my own experiences as a military wife.
More on the process of Bookmarked
But within the past few weeks, I've been reading more and more about the "matter-ing" of the military family.
I shouldn't need to mention the Khan family or other Gold Star Families and veterans who have been humiliated and insulted in the past few weeks.(.. not to mention years and decades.)
I shouldn't need to mention that military spouses are overlooked and un- or underempolyed in the job market. (A giant shout out to R.Riveter - as seen on Shark Tank - who employs military spouses and allows them to work from any deployment station! Please check them out for super cute and meaningful apparel and accessories!)
But I just did. (mic drop. Keyboard drop? I really just drop my hands onto my lap and stare blankly at the screen as my brain works on overdrive.)
I remember being an undergraduate and freaking out about a paper due in the morning when a friend who had seen combat called. I had a moment of clarity - this f*#$ing paper didn't mean $#!t when real lives were at stake. What normalcy was I experiencing in this abnormal world? What was his normalcy overseas and back "home"?
As a military wife, I've continued to ask the same question.
Unspoken: Everyday Hope is one reflection.
|Unspoken - photo by Bill Hebert|
In another conversation, one of my family members inquired - tell me about this process, because I really didn't get the piece.
Honestly, that's okay. Because I don't get the idea of this normalcy.
In one part of the piece, the dancers do a series of "high knees". High knees are a crazy cardio workout move that are basically running in place. I use a lot of repetition in the work. The repetition and the crazy cardio moves are metaphors for the going-through-of-the-motions-to-maintain-normalcy. But in combat, nothing is normal. As a military family, nothing is normal.
In military life, nothing is normal. There's a rhythm that becomes a sense of normalcy. But war and isolation are not normal. Both for the military personnel and his/her family. The world they/we have created is abnormal and we're trying to define what normalcy looks, acts, responds, and dances like.
So, "Can you chop these carrots?" the wife asks her husband after he discloses a memory to her.
How else can she respond? She knows the need to provide for her family (stateside). He knows the need to provide for his family (in a war zone). The ways are different but the intention and drive is the same. How do we - veterans, civilizations, families - come together in an abnormal world?
How do we, as civilians and citizens respond? I hope, with support, not condemnation. With patience, not impulse. With listening, not judging. I hope we try to welcome home and support those who have protected and supported us - the military members AND their families.
And, I hope that when we - the ones on the HomeFrontLines - ask "Can you chop these carrots?" or "Could you get the cereal?", you understand that we're also trying to figure out this abnormal world. (Do we really need 1000 kinds of cereal? Isn't that kinda abnormal in and of itself?)
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