Tuesday, October 21

Like two ships passing in the night

If you'd asked just about anyone who knew me before Noah became a police officer if I'd do well as a police officer's wife, they probably would have laughed at you. I would have laughed at you.

In fact, I don't think I've ever told anyone this, but I once wrote a story about a woman going to the train station with her significant other and instead of valiantly sniffling and waving a handkerchief as the train slowly and romantically pulls away, she completely falls out on the platform and causes a huge scene. It was easy for me to imagine, because I was firmly convinced that in such a situation I myself would create a ruckus.

And rightfully so, because I have in fact caused quite a few scenes in my day. As evidenced here. However, on the whole I think I've handled Noah's profession surprisingly well, considering I'm a total homebody. Oh and also a scaredy-cat.

Living in Los Angeles as a kid definitely had its scaredy-cat inducing moments, such as drug-dealing neighbors and riot drills in school. (Which incidentally are similar in every way to earthquake and, as I discovered after moving to Chicago, tornado drills. Apparently getting under a desk and sticking your butt in the air protects against many evils. I wouldn't recommend trying it when the threat is emotional or financial, though. Not nearly as effective.)

Let's just say, hyperbolic though it was, the movie Crash resonated with me. That's why I appreciate our neighborhood so much.

And so it pains me to write that our quiet little patch of ex-horse-farm was rudely and violently intruded upon over the weekend. A known ... shield your eyes if you're easily offended ... douche bag who's been hanging around with some resident friends stabbed a down-the-street neighbor seven times this past Saturday night. Noah wasn't working, so we didn't know the details until today.

It was strange to be close to such a horrific display of (dare I say it?) man's inhumanity to man, wondering how many times we'd strolled past that house or if I'd ever given a smile and a nod to the guy who did it. It was also strange to watch everything unfold, with sheriff's deputies parked down the street, and be confronted with the unpleasant fact of what exactly it is that Noah does day in, day out. He sees things regularly that I have never seen. He sees things that many people will never see in their lifetimes. He witnesses an entirely different reality, a city within a city, people for whom daily violence is a fact of life. And in many ways, daily violence is now a fact of Noah's life.

The new chief of police was the guest speaker at the Behind the Blue Line (spouse's group) meeting last week. He talked about a lot of things, but one of them was his belief that we as wives should be able to not only ride along if we choose, but do a ride-along with our husbands. To see what they do, as they do it. To understand.

I am part of that group that hides under desks with asses in the air, afraid of things that will never happen. Noah is part of that group that walks toward danger, ready to deal with whatever may happen.

Understanding goes both ways, though. Just a few days ago when he was off, I pointed out that Noah didn't wipe down the high chair after Ethan ate. He said, "Sorry. I guess I'm not used to parenting at night."

This is definitely not what I had envisioned for my family life. Noah's job infringes on numerous aspects of our relationship, causing me to battle loneliness in everything from dinner to grocery shopping, taking care of the baby by myself after working all day, holidays without him, and going to sleep in a half-empty bed.

At the same time, I know he's out there helping other people feel safe. Noah's not a typical cop by any stretch; in fact, he hates the notion of "busting" unsuspecting citizens for stupid infractions. When I asked what he does like about the job, he thought for a moment, then said: Helping people.

So on days when we only see each other as our cars pass on Peters Creek Parkway, me coming home and him just leaving, at least I can know that although I might wish he was with me, so many people will benefit because he isn't.

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