Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I sort of feel like I've been ignoring some things. Important things, at least to me. In the midst of all the recent problems, ranging from the heavy storms and food shortages to zombie attacks and discontent within the compound, I've let some things that really mean something slip by without speaking about them.

Becky, for one. I can't describe to you the feeling I get seeing her every day. I know that sounds strange given how much I've talked about my wife, Jess, and how devoted I am to her. I guess the difference lies in my relationship with each of them. Jess is my best friend as much as Pat or Becky, and I'm so head over heels in love with her that sometimes it literally hurts my chest.

It's just that Becky sort of predates that. Granted, I've known Jess longer, but I got to really know Becky first. Having her living in the house with us is awesome. While my wife and I share the same dark sense of humor and sardonic view on most things, Becky and I share the interests that Jess and I lack. Jess and I are gamers, or at least we were. Becky's last video game might have been Tetris. Becky and I are both science nerds, whereas Jess enjoys the practical application of what she knows rather than murky theories.

It's like that in a lot of ways. All of us spend a lot of time together, and we all learn new things from and about each other on a daily basis. Kind of amazing that we all get along so well. It's even more amazing that Becky seems to have begun moving on from the fragile state she was in when she showed up here.

She's not a fragile person by nature. She's bubbly in personality, this little blonde thing that you might expect to be pretty stereotypically girlie. Contrast that with her service in Iraq, having survived two IED explosions and still going back out to save lives every day. Think about the hell she's gone through to get here. I can't imagine how many zombies she had to have killed to make it from the east coast to Kentucky. She's honed fighting skills she didn't even have two years ago, learned to survive on nothing but determination and cleverness, and most important--stayed alive.

It took a toll on her. I've said it before, but having her around is like realizing I was missing a finger and having it grow back. The things she's seen and done aren't easily forgotten. The horrors we all face on a regular basis are bad enough, but she's had more than her share.

But since Becky has been here, that has slowly been changing. The distant look she gets in her eyes when she isn't occupied with something is showing up less and less. The frown lines at the corners of her mouth aren't so deep. The wounds inside her aren't going away. That's impossible as long as memory remains. But they do seem to be scarring over. She's moving on.

What is really satisfying to me on a deeply personal level is seeing how she has affected people around the compound in the short time she's been here. Hell, she's even impressing folks that don't live here. I got a few emails from some survivors in the other groups we keep in touch with, expressing doubt that I was telling the truth when she showed up. What were the chances that yet another person I know managed to survive. Not only that, but to make it here from the other side of the planet?

It should say something about the kind of people I choose to associate with. Really.

I come from a family of smart, tough, pragmatic people. That is how so many of my family survived (though not all that many when you think about the dozens who didn't...) when The Fall happened. I warned as many of them as I could, and some of them listened. I love my family, and I choose my friends with similar traits in mind.

Hence, Becky. Part of why I feel so jazzed about her being here is because she's such an amazing person. I'm not at all surprised that someone who can comprehend the harder parts of theoretical physics, stitch a person back together, run a country mile in six minutes, and have the toughness to survive as a combat medic who is also female in the boys' club that is the military, would live to make it here.

People who seem surprised that some folks have managed to overcome extreme odds apparently haven't taken too hard a look at human beings. We hear and see stories that seem amazing and epic, soldiers who drag twenty men to safety in the middle of a firefight or something similar, and we forget that those stories are about people. Ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Not because they are special in the traditional sense.

It's because each of them recognized that all of us are capable of such things. Every damn person. That is one of our best defining characteristics. Adaptability, cleverness, and the powerful urge to survive. Combine that with human intelligence, and I'm shocked that more people didn't make it through The Fall.

It's that capacity to overcome that really gets me. In the obvious ways, it amazes--acts of heroism and skill, odds defied and enemies defeated. Right now, I'm equally floored by the more subtle aspect right in front of me...

...Becky is feeling better. All things considered, that's pretty fucking epic.

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