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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Fort Useless

On Wednesday of this week, I end the day sneezing and with a sore throat. On Thursday, I have a cold. By Friday, I sign off of work early and am convinced I have COVID. The thought of having dodged COVID while traveling and working in assisted living during the height of the outbreak outrages me. I get a rapid test at CVS and am pleasantly surprised and relieved that it isn’t COVID after all. It’s my body putting me in a time out. It tried to warn me but I kept going because really, who else is going to set this house up?


We have gotten a lot done - ourselves and with professional help that I’m incredibly grateful that we can afford. Essential help - like an electrician so we don’t burn the old girl of a home down.


And today we’re headed to Norfolk, Virginia to spend time on the beach. I wish I could tell you that every box was unpacked and we’re going to celebrate by collapsing but this isn’t the case. Honestly, it’s probably better that way. This break. We can return home re-energized for the final push. We are so close.


We had booked vacation back when the U.S. was still in the grip of COVID. A beach house billed as “rustic” in Norfolk, which, after the move was a 2-hour drive from our home. I’m surprised to realize that I now live so close to Ft. Eustis. I was sent there for an ALSE (aviation life support equipment course) in 1994 before heading to Korea. The course was a month long and I spent that month in a tidy motel room near the base that soldiers referred to as “Fort Useless.” I never used any of what I learned in that ALSE course so perhaps it was an apt nickname. Last week, while unpacking, I found a collection of post cards I’d purchased in Korea. Photos of a Korean palace - each photo a different season. It seems impossibl long ago.


Today Andrea remarks, “It’s as though your life has these very distinct chapters.” I feel that way too but it’s somehow different to hear someone else share this observation.





At dinner, Andrea says of the beach cottage, “And by rustic they mean they’ve never done anything to update it. Ever.”


This is true but it’s fine in a non-fussy sort of way you want a beach house to have - sand permanently ground into the floorboards. We both have some meetings this week but that’s fine too as it’s the only thing that will save us from ourselves as we aren’t smart enough to reapply sunscreen as frequently as one should.


I’ve been trying to get open enrollment off the ground at work. Which isn’t as easy as you might think. We’re not small (in terms of health insurance) and we’re not large either. Stuck in the middle.

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