The remaining 25 of us on the program at GTE were notified on May 1st that we would be going to Northern Virginia on temporary assignment (TDY) on June 1, 1991. The TDY would last for 6 months and then the Government would decide whether they would transfer us permanently or not. I had never been apart from Karen and the kids for that long and that prospect didn’t seem all that appealing. I wasn’t the only one that was having second thoughts about it. The Government then said they would provide us with a $105/day per Diem (tax free expense reimbursement) in addition to our normal salary while we were there and we all signed up.
I wanted to do something special for Karen and the kids so I made reservations at the Mariner House in Nantucket. I told Karen that she needed to take Friday off and pack bags for everyone for a 3-day weekend. But that was all I told her. No sense in spoiling the surprise. I wanted something where we could boil some lobster, sit on the deck, and take in the ocean. It was mid-May and that cold air was still coming off the ocean but it was beautiful.
We took the ferry out of Hyannis. It was the first time the kids had been on a large boat. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend; blue skies, quick wind, and the chill that said that summer was coming soon. It was classic spring on the Cape. We decided to leave the car in Hyannis and rent bikes while we were in Nantucket. It was a great decision and the source of humor for many years to come.
The bikes each had seats in the back for toddlers so Karen had Patrick and I had Sarah whenever we would go somewhere. The first place was down to the fish market to get lobster for dinner. They just put them in plastic bags for us and that was it. The kids had never seen a live lobster before so we decided to have some fun with it. We had them crawling all over the place for a while. The kids were a little timid at first but they had fun.
The next day we decided to take the kids around the island. So we packed some food, got the kids in some warm clothes and their helmets, and off we went. We took the Polpis Road loop and came back on Milestone Road, stopping along the way to see the sights and play on the beach. The kids were so small then, especially Patrick, that their helmets just made us laugh and think of that cartoon character, Atom Ant. From that time on we always referred to this trip as the Atom Ant weekend in Nantucket. Since we didn’t have the car, we would always pack everything we needed on the bikes and off we went.
We didn’t want to leave Nantucket because we loved it there, but also because we knew that I would be leaving for Virginia soon. It turned out to be a good decision for us, but that 6- month TDY was difficult.
© J T Weaver