I love the twist and turns of life, the journey is indeed what it’s all about! This book is one of most powerful thing to come into my life for so many incredible reasons, it’s opening up more about who and where I’ve been, and who I am today and where I’m heading.
Ava and Josh have arrived to the first village of their journey, Castelnau de Montmirail, and for the last few days, they’ve been sitting down to have lunch, while I wrestled to figure out what they would say to each other. Their initial conversation on the way there hit some deep topics, so I figured it was best to lighten up the mood…except I just couldn’t switch gear. Small talk just didn’t seem at all appropriate for intense, complex characters like Ava and Josh, as they are first getting to know each other.
Imagine how this plays out in my head, my two characters are sitting at an outdoor cafe in a dormant authentic medieval town with both of them carrying the wounds of imperfect childhoods, battle scars of fighting in multiple wars, and unexplainable feelings for each other. Just can’t see them chatting it up about the weather. I had to keep digging into the heavy burden they carry, and the things they share in common.
Ava once more became a barrier for me. I created Ava with the Marine Corps experiences and background I wanted for myself but never had. Now that it was time for her to share some of those experiences with Josh, I hit a wall. There is so much I didn’t get to do in the Marine Corps because I was a female and those opportunities didn’t exist for me. It’s so different now, and Ava found herself in Iraq as a young Corporal/Sergeant, not as a Captain who had to beg and threaten resignation to go. She was able to partake in the Lioness Program, and do things I only dreamt of doing. But in order to more realistically write about that, it was time for me to read more into them.
I’m proud of what Women Marines (and women in other services) have achieved over the past decade in combat and elsewhere, but I haven’t been fully following it. I’ve been too envious and jealous. Every time I see a headline like the one of PFCs. Katie Gorz, Julia Carroll, Christina Fuentes Montenegro making it through the School of Infantry (SOI), I want to badly turn back the clock, and get my shot at breaking the barriers waiting to be shattered. I never got to be the Marine I imagined in my head, and joined the Marine Corps to be. Ava gets to be that Marine. She’s once again messing with me, and revived these burning desires I thought I had finally put to bed.
At 38, with an already aching body, I have no illusions that I could grab a pack, rifle, and full combat load, and do any of the things I could have done 15 years ago, but I’m still stronger, faster, and more motivated than most women, and many men my age, and I can lead the way, in many ways. I have to accept the role I can now play. A supportive, encouraging and exemplary role.
My renewed love for the Marine Corps that was kindled the last two years, is on fire now, and I know I have to become more active in seeking out opportunities to make a difference, and I have to do whatever it takes to make getting Command a reality.
I downloaded Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq by Kirsten Holmstedt and Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on my kindle. I must fully immerse myself in the incredible achievements of women in combat across the different services so I can make Ava as realistic as possible. It’s hard to read, I keep having to swallow my jealousy, but absolutely worthwhile.
The times keep changing for women, especially in the military, and instead of wishing things had been different for me, I’m going to use this book to make a statement and share my beliefs.
My stepmom remembers being at event many years ago where I made a speech and spoke out about how it was crap females weren’t allowed in combat, I don’t remember this – but it definitely sounds like me!