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  • 07/17/2002
  • WildlandFire.com Team
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PT

Even before I got into fire, I had a job that would take me out of the country for often months at a stretch. One thing I found that made it easier on my SO at the time was doing my best to be “present-in-absence”. I’d leave notes in places where I figured he’d find them (favorite books, the cereal box, his line pack, inside CD cases)…I’d write whole piles of letters to him or keep a journal, written to him, while I was gone and give it to him when I got back, so he’d know I was thinking about him. I’d try to include him in trip planning, get him fired up about the assignment too (hard to do on unpredictable fire assignments).

In all fairness, though, I have to say it didn’t work; the relationship cratered after one particularly out-of-touch three-month absence. And it wasn’t because he didn’t support me, or wasn’t proud of me or didn’t love me or didn’t trust me; he’d just signed up to have a girlfriend, not a 4×6 photograph on the shelf and the occasional e-mail. I think it’s harder for guys too because when it’s the girl who’s gone, they feel kind of stranded or displaced…like it somehow diminishes their manhood that it’s the female who’s out having “adventures”. No matter how liberated or progressive or caring or understanding a person is, or either gender, it’s hard to cope with bucking the traditional gender roles. I had one boyfriend who was incredibly proud of everything I did until the day one of his buddies told him I was a better man than he was; that was the day before he dumped me.

It takes a special person to be a “firespouse”…most of the folks I know on fire are either single, divorced, on the verge of divorce after every assignment, or married to another poor pyro with “flames in their eyes”. Firecookie’s totally right…it’s all in the mind.

Good luck to your son,

Nerd on the Fireline

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