March 14, 2011 by Amanda Zahn
I make it no secret that I hate Florida. I do not appreciate the heat… that is a lie. I love the heat. I am a New Mexican and heat is not something new to me. What I really hate about Florida, besides the bad drivers, the poorly timed traffic lights, and the pollen, is the humidity. There is nothing fun or nice about walking out of a morning shower and having to cut your way through the wall of humidity to get out of your apartment.
This is the point where many people would scream at me. They love the humidity, the “tropical” feel to it. Look, I am in Florida. There is plenty of “tropical” here and I should not have to hold my breath because of another thing definitive to “tropical”. If that was the sort of thing I was into, I would pay the absurdly high cost of living and move to Hawaii or some other place equally as… “tropical”.
One thing that is a weird adjustment for me if having a cold in a place as humid as Orlando. The climate lately has been tolerable. It is not to the point of uncomfortable humidity, although the rain, when it happens, is typically at an inopportune time. Truth be told, the weather and temperature has been amazing lately and, if it were to stay exactly as it has been, I would chain myself to Florida and never leave. Knowing what the summer will bring in regards to humidity and temperature, however, it is not to be.
So yeah, I brought up the cold. I have not been sick, like really sick, in quite a while. In the grand scheme of things, I am sure karma dictates that it was my turn this week. It started with the usual: sinus pressure, runny nose, sore throat, and then my signature fever. I say “signature” because my family has been unable to use a fever as a sure sign of illness for me for most of my life. I get feverish with little provocation and it just gets worse if there might be an actual illness involved.
After a day or two without decent sleep of sinus fun and sniffles, I woke up with a completely migrated bug. The sniffles were still there, sure, but the majority of discomfort moved into my throat and chest. Coughing is not fun, and a complete lack of voice sucks, although I am sure people around me might have appreciated it. It felt so out of character to be reduced to only listening. Do not get me wrong, I am an excellent listener, but my character usually places me in a more vocal position then that.
So here I am today: sniffling with the occasional cough, but feeling much better than I did nearly a week ago. It seems like such a contradiction, especially when considering other people’s opinion of living in Florida. Here I was in “paradise”, but I felt awful. That was really hard for some of my friends to grasp. Either that or they would be willing to be in “paradise”, and ill, than to not be here at all. I think I would rather be healthy because it allows me to complain more wholeheartedly about not liking Florida.
There is not a whole lot going on in my life right now. School is still my number one priority and I am pleased to say that I am rocking it. I have passed a milestone and am looking at less than a year of class left. I am constantly on the move and, as such, never really settle. I do not settle in one place and I do not settle on one… life? Yes, I think that covers it best. I started young with the wanderlust, or “itchy feet”, and have gone out of my way to see as much as the world is willing to offer me. The Army was extremely accommodating with my desire to see different regions and cultures.
This is the first time in my life I have a true, and uncharacteristic, light at the end of the tunnel. The question that I need to ask is where I am driving. I have, however, asked that question before and will not proceed to beat that dead horse today. I am marveling at the feeling I have of truly completing something. If my life were a video game, and I do often compare it to one, I would be at the final stretch of completing a level. This is the end of World 5 in Super Mario Brothers 3, and I am at the door to the castle. I do not think I am as nervous about the encounter as I should be. Bowser kid #5, bring it on.
My stress levels are at an all-time low, although there are plenty of people who would still disagree with me here. I have taken the steps to reorganize my life, my priorities especially, and am living with an amazing amount of focus. It is a little disorienting to go so quickly, although not necessarily smoothly, from stress and emotional discomfort to clear and dedicated focus. I could not ask for anything better than this.
Well, I could, but I think I have had more than my share of good luck lately.
I was watching Solitary 4.0 with a friend yesterday and a particular phone conversation between one contestant and her parent reminded me of a situation very similar between my mother and me. The memory might be a little fuzzy, but I know I have a strong recollection of the feelings I was going through at the time.
Airborne school was extremely hard for me. It was not totally the physical aspect of it, but that was a large chunk of the troubles I was having. I went from Fort Lee, and the Airborne Orientation Course, to Fort Benning with stress fractures, fallen arches, and a stubbornness that rivals any I have ever seen. I wanted the wings, sure, but a big motivator for me was not wanting to be in Airborne school, and Georgia, for a day longer than I had to be.
Fort Benning is two hours ahead of Albuquerque in time zones. The 4am wake up was easy enough for me, but the cadre at the school made it so easy to consider quitting. Every morning we were greeted with “Sick call, quitters, fall out.” There were no questions or judgements. They knew that not everyone was made to be an Airborne soldier.
Every step I took was agony. Running made considering cutting off my own legs seem like a normal avenue to escape that pain. Walking up the stairs to my bunk demanded calling reserves of motivation I did not know I possessed. The hardest thing, however, was standing in formation every morning and not taking that step back, that easy way out. A big help here was my 4am phone call to my mom.
They were often short and not very verbose. I had called her at 2am her time, after all, and I could not expect her to have a whole lot to say. She typically just let me talk, and there were often tears, even though I tried to hide them. The conversations always ended the same way though. She’d tell me she was proud of me and I would ask if she would be disappointed with me if I quit. It was a simple question and I knew the answer to it. I mean, she was my mother. I could go on a killing spree and she’d still find a reason to be proud of me.
She always said she’d be proud of me no matter what. She usually left it at that as I hung up the phone and trudged my way into my personal hell. Sometimes, though, she would return another question: “Could you live with yourself if you quit today?”
I knew I never could and, while it would have solved my immediate issues with pain and tiredness, a year later, two years later, five years later, I would have hated myself for my decision. She knew that. When she responded with that question, she took a gamble that I would figure that out for myself… before it was too late, before I made a decision I would regret.
Thanks, momma. I know I do not say it often enough, and I do not express it like I should, but there is so much I have accomplished that I could not have done without you. I have a slew of stories I had intended to tell here that really expressed my devotion to you, but this seemed to be the one that a simple television show drew from me yesterday.
Oh well, I guess I have to start somewhere.