my superpowers are singing and language. i've been singing since before i could talk. it's always just been easy. my mom taught me to sing in a round with her when i was just learning to make words. i have always been able to pick out harmonies and find pitch. when i took voice lessons, everything clicked, breath techniques, projecting, etc. music brings me a great deal of joy and i'm always grateful i was born with this talent.
my other superpower has always been in words. my mom tells the story of when i was a baby learning to talk and how my understanding of english grammar was very advanced. my parents were enjoying my parroting of what they would say, so they decided to challenge me with a long word.
"say, Yugoslavia!" they prompted.
"I go slavia!" i replied.
i was that kid who knew how to read before starting school. i was writing my name in cursive before kindergarten. that geeky kid with giant glasses and her nose in a book was always me. i was reading on a college level by third grade. not only have i always been a great reader, but i'm a fast reader, something that has really come in handy for college. my mom read to me from the time i was born and always made reading a huge priority, and i'm thankful to her for nurturing this ability.
i'm not saying all this to brag. i'm terrible at a lot of things, like anyone else. math. racquetball. reading charts and graphs. understanding the NFL. keeping score in games. driving. oh, reading a map, kills me. like i stay home sometimes rather than go out and find the address of events. i'm ashamed to admit this, but i don't completely understand how to use street names and numbers to find places. having a gps on my smart phone has changed my life.
ok, but i'm rambling here. the point to all this thinking was that i have been considering the word 'wife' the past few weeks. what i really want to write about is what it's like being a fireman's wife and what i have learned from this. but i just hate the word 'wife'. ever since i was a little kid playing house, i have hated this word. i used to say, "and this is my husband" in pretend play rather than introduce myself as someone's wife. the reason i got to rambling about talents is because i was thinking about how even as a kid i used to think about words a lot. i'm sure many of you were the same way, but for those of you who aren't, that's why i can remember hating that word even as a 7 year old.
now that i technically am someone's wife, i have been in plenty of situations where i had to introduce myself as such. "hi, i'm travis's wife." at fire department get-togethers. but it still bothers me and i'm not sure why. even as a kid, i wasn't so sure about the idea of "belonging" to someone else. i didn't know if i really ever would get married and as you know i kept my last name. because i am and always have been collette charles. just because it's a western custom for the woman to take the man's last name, doesn't mean it's the only right, moral choice to make. in many places in africa, each member of the family is given their own last name. when travis asked me why i didn't want to change my name, i asked him, do you want to take my last name? of course he didn't. i asked why. he replied that he was a bodtcher, not a charles. i told him the same principle applied to me. it's a hassle and people are always confused about why my name is different from his, but it's important to me. i have always been a little funny about my name. once in 5th grade, i changed the spelling of my name to "kollette" and insisted that everyone else respect it, including my teacher.
again with the rambling.
so awhile ago i was pondering different blogs i could write that would gather large audiences and possibly make me some money. i considered a mormon feminist mommy blog, since that combines a lot of things that seem contrary to each other on the surface. obviously this would be later if i ever get the courage to be a mommy. another blog i thought about was a fire wife blog. people are always interested in firemen. firemen are universally loved, like puppies or you know, some other thing that only does good for other people. people are interested in what it's like to be married to a fireman, too, because their hours are strange and their job is more of a lifestyle. but writing a blog about what it's like being the wife of a fireman turned me off completely. because being a wife to a fireman is only a very tiny piece of who i am. being married to travis is obviously a giant part of my life. but to write an entire blog about being his wife wouldn't be honest at all.
but i thought, i could write a post or two about it. plus, he's at work now and i'm a tidtch bored and lonely. might as well make a list of why i feel that way, right? and i know that once we have kids, being a fire wife will be completely different and much more difficult, but these are things i have learned in the year and a half that i have been a fire wife.
* being married to a fireman gives you something interesting to talk about to other people.
* you instantly have a connection to the entire fire community. doesn't matter what department they work for or if you even know them at all, you're family.
* travis works 48 hours on and then has 4 days off. this means i will spend 1/3 of my life sleeping alone. unless i take another fireman husband, as my brother zane has suggested.
* i don't think of weeks as having 7 days. i am always counting down from four, from the day travis comes home until the day travis goes back to work. the two days he is gone are almost not even counted as weekdays for me, as strange as that sounds.
* i know that for the next thirty years, travis will work his share of valentine's days, thanksgivings, christmases, and 4th of julys. being a person who values holiday traditions, this bothers me immensely.
* 9/11 has taken on a new meaning for me. it could just be that i'm getting older and starting to appreciate the gravity of the terrorist attack, but watching the footage this year of those firemen at ground zero brought me to tears in a much more personal way than ever before.
* although i lived on my own for four years before marrying travis, i am adjusting to living alone in a completely different way than when i had roommates. i know that for two to three days a week, i will be killing my own spiders, taking out the trash, and checking the house for intruders alone. sometimes, this is awful.
* men in uniform are attractive. my man in his uniform is a turn on.
* being married to a fireman means that at any given moment during his shift, he can get a call. it doesn't matter if you're there visiting him. it doesn't matter if you're telling him an amazing story over the phone. the tones go off, and he has to put you second. that was really hard to get used to.
* being married to a fireman means that you worry about him. you pray that when he goes on a freeway call, no one slams into his ambulance. you pray that no one gets violent or that might get to sleep the entire night through so he won't be exhausted on his four off. you pray that people will stop drinking and driving so that he won't be in danger when he's on the roads late at night. you worry about him all the time.
* you think about having children and you worry that you won't be able to handle being a single parent 1/3 of the time.
* sometimes you feel jealous that he gets to be the hero all the time while you're home alone.
* you go to family events, or to hang out with friends, and feel like a widow. people ask where your husband is and you are always saying, oh he's at work.
* sometimes i make the effort to go out and have a good time when he's working. then i feel sad that i have had adventures without him and slightly bitter that he missed the good times.
* i feel extreme pride in him.
* i love getting to know the men he works with and feeling their acceptance.
so there you have it. the life of the fire wife. or as i would rather say, my fireman husband's effect on my life.
travis standing in the rubble after a big structure fire last winter.
photo courtesy of kslnews.com
pinning travis's badge after he was officially sworn in as a murry firefighter/paramedic.
doing what a fire wife does best...
remember that time i had an identity crisis
and dyed my hair blonde...
remember that time i had an identity crisis
and dyed my hair blonde...
visiting travis on his birthday while we were still dating. pretty enamored with the uniform.