Letter from a Military Wife
Updated: Sep 29, 2020
We are in the cottage. Walls are freshly painted, curtains are hung and we have Alexa back in our lives. (We missed her far more than we should.) My daily decorating checklist is getting shorter and shorter which satiates my "Type A" brain. However, my heart, my heart, hasn't gotten the memo that I moved.
This is the plight of all military wives. It's a vicious cycle. You move to a new place, spend six to nine months finding your normal, you meet friends fast and they become your life-line when military life slaps you in the face. In your last year, life couldn't be sweeter because everything is clicking. THEN, you get new orders and you start over. After the move to a foreign place, you try to live two lives for a time. You call your old tribe to ask what they are up to, but you already know. Because you had the same routine a hot second ago. It makes you both happy and homesick all in the same swoop. You wake up in the morning, and try to push it all down while you keep swimming forward, because there is no going back.
I am currently in that weird "between stage," that is equal parts exciting and depressing. I try to focus on all the travel that lay ahead, but thoughts creep in throughout my day. I miss my old kitchen and the way I could cook dinner so quickly because it was the dance I did every night. I miss hearing the neighbor kids sneaking snacks out of my pantry as if I could not see them. I miss cruising down the interstate in my old car Sally, blaring Fleetwood Mac and CCR. But most of all, I miss my house, my routine and my tribe. Those smiling faces I saw everyday like clockwork. I miss going on runs that turned into walks, that morphed into dinner and drinks and by nights end, we'd all be sore from gut splitting laughter. I long to hear a knock at my door for a chat, or a grocery drop or a cocktail. Our house always had a revolving door for kids and friends. Zac says he always knows when it is time to move because our doorbell never stops ringing and his dedicated private robe time is non-existent. (He is not the immodest hippie that I am.) Community is so important to a military wife, it is THE number one perk of being married to a service member. Wives can come from every nook and cranny of the world, but we all bear a common thread which is this lifestyle. Therefore, we build relationships fast, but we build them to last.
We build relationships fast, but we build them to last.
My first few weeks in my old house, at our last duty station was pretty unforgettable. I had met my neighbor who I immediately clicked with and she introduced me to every family member and neighbor she knew. This made me feel hopeful that I would make friends quickly in our new place. I was sleeping in one morning, after staying up incredibly late setting up our house. I hear Zac shuffle down the hallway in his beloved brown robe. I then overhear a muffled conversation that I assume is with our kids. He does the "slipper shuffle" back down the hallway. "Babe," he says, "There is a naked kid sitting on our couch." I sit up wide eyed, because I know I could not have heard him correctly. There he is, in all his brown fluffy glory staring at me for answers. I say, "Huh?" He says, "There is a big naked kid on our white couch and he is watching our tv, I don't know the rules with kids that are naked on my couch. Can you please get up and handle this?" After I process it again, I know exactly who it is. It is my new neighbor's son who is currently going through that little boy naked stage. Don't you dare judge. This little boy is smart. He knows my door stays unlocked and my tv remote stays in the same place. I get up and hobble down the hallway to a mental image that is forever emblazoned in my memory. There is my new neighbor's son, naked and watching Daniel Tiger. I coax him to tell me how long he has been there and ask him to go home to get on clothes so he and Asher can play when he wakes up. To some, this story sounds absolutely nuts and you are wondering how this happened. To me, it sounds like the start of community. My house is your house, I'll look after your kids like they are my kids. It's a really beautiful thing when everyone commits. (They usually do, we have no choice.)
A few days ago, as I was unpacking boxes in the new cottage, I had a comforting thought. While my husband may spend his time completing missions, building his professional reputation and collecting awards, I, as a military wife, have the great pleasure of collecting people. It was really unpacking mundane items from my old life, that I was pinged with images of those smiling faces that will always remain in my tribe. From a cactus and Mignon Faget glasses, to a shell vase and canvas print that will make every move from here, until we are done with the Marine Corps. They may be physical items, but they represent people that left an emotional impression on my heart. It makes me feel like I am the lucky one.
So, here I am, at square one again. It's funny how I forgot how much this sucks in the very beginning. I am very glad I am writing this all down because Zac swears this is the pattern EVERY SINGLE TIME. I think I may set an alarm to read this three years from now when I am living who knows where, doing who knows what but for certain feeling like I'm walking in the dark. But for today, I am going to keep it moving. There have not been any naked butts for now and it makes me sad. Instead, my new neighbors hold a virtual trivia night every Friday evening. They have all popped in with flowers and wine and cards with kind messages. I know I will like it here, but if I am truthful, I am still missing it back there. In the spirit of change, and letting go like a lady, here is my open letter to all my tribe....
Thank you for being a part of both mine and my family's life for a season. You were a comfort, companion and supporter when things were happy and often hard. I enjoyed the candid times we had together, and the way you accepted me for who I am. I not only learned from you, I grew alongside you which is the ultimate gift of a real relationship. I am choosing never to forget our loving friendship and the times we shared such an authentic closeness. It was a beautiful time and will remain a beautiful memory.
As I see you experiencing the old day-to-day, it makes me both sad and happy. I am sad I cannot be there with you anymore, but I am so happy that you remain in the loving and supportive group we built. I wish you so much love and happiness. I know that our paths may never cross again and things will never be the same, but I also know they don't have to, because our sisterhood is so much deeper than any distance.
You are my friend for a season, a reason and for my lifetime. We share an indelible bond and I am here always.
- Love, Me
So, if you can get to your tribe today, take a deep breath and give them a big giant hug despite Covid. (YOLO!) As for me, I am taking big deep breaths and preparing myself for my next leap. Here I go again...
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