A girl can wish, can’t she?
….it would just unpack itself.
A girl can wish, can’t she?
The official part of every single move starts with the same things: the arrival of the cardboard with it’s own unique smell infusing the air, the sound of packing tape being ripped off the roll emanating from every room, little numbered stickers marking the furniture, the massive truck pulling up in front of the house.
After 25 military moves this was our first civilian move. The physical aspects of moving were the same, the cardboard, the packing tape, the little colored stickers, the arrival of the truck…but the rest of it was radically different.
In the past, because we were a military family, our path was pretty much determined for us. We got orders, for the past handful of moves we were assigned a home, and we moved. Done. We worked with what we were given and the house always became home.
This time we’re on a different path. I was living in South Dakota when my husband bought the only home we’ve ever owned and the market back then in DC was completely different. Competition for homes was fierce and he pretty much pounced on the first “For Sale by Owner” home he found, almost as soon as the man had finished putting the sign in the ground.
I’m part of the process in this current house-hunting adventure and the market is a buyer’s market. For four days we traveled down many literal paths leading to many front doors.
This afternoon we have it narrowed down to two very different houses and while my feet know one of the front paths leads to the front door I’ll end up entering every single day, it’s the emotional path that house will put me on that I wonder the most about. The battle that is ensuing is the practical end of this in my mind….the comparisons of cost, the work that needs to be done, the way rooms will be used, versus the unseen variables….who will my neighbors be, which house feels like it fits, which structure will enfold us and embrace our friends and family?
So I leave you with images of paths I’ve pulled out of my archives which convey that sense of the unknown.
I can’t help but be curious and excited about what lies at the end of this particular house path.
Oh, the irony of this week’s photo challenge!
My house has been on the market since September. For those of you who have been through this, you know just how many times I’ve vacuumed the carpets, blown leaves out of the yard, put away every single vestige of real people actually living in the home, then cleared out myself and the dog for a realtor to bring in a potential buyer.
It’s the Christmas season with all the preparations that entails.
I have a move scheduled for the beginning of January. Which means it would be nice to buy a house in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
And oh yeah, my son is getting married in two days. Which means I’m currently in a rental home in another state with 14 family members under the same roof and many good friends who begin to arrive in town tomorrow…….yep, a whole lot of fun and celebration going on in my life these days but….relaxation….not so much!
Check back with me in a few months.
In the meantime you might occasionally find me with my faithful sidekick, in my winter woods, the one place where I know I’ll find moments of peace in the midst of an in-between life.
This too, shall pass.
It’s often quoted that our military makes up less than 2% of the American population. I can’t recall ever seeing the statistics on military spouse numbers but I would guess that we make up less than 1% of the population.
My husband is fond of saying that the military member volunteers for his service but that the military spouse is drafted through their wedding vows. Some of us had an idea of what to expect if we grew up in a military family but most of us had no idea that our vows would entail “through better or worse, in sickness or in health, with the full understanding that the military will come first in this marriage most of the time because the job is 24/7.”
We are male and female. We are your sons and daughters, your sisters and brothers, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, and your grandparents.
If you are a civilian you might know us as your “once upon a time” friend who moved in next door for a few years. After the moving van pulled away, until the recent emergence of social media, you only saw us once a year in a Christmas card photo. Our children are frozen in your memory at the ages they were when our lives intersected.
We understand each other. We have been the recipients of baby showers from people who only knew us for a few months and who we’d never be able to reciprocate for because we’ll have moved on. We understand why you sit on the bleachers at a baseball game for nights on end by yourself because your husband is either working late or TDY. We know what TDY is. We know that a deployment is something totally different from a spouse being gone on a business trip.
We’ve experienced the fear while carrying on our lives as if nothing is amiss because we don’t want our children to worry.
A military spouse is there with a welcome meal or basket of homemade cookies when you move in, even though they’ve never met you. A military spouse calls you up and offers to take you to that first spouse meeting because she knows how hard it is to walk into a room full of people, alone, not knowing anyone. A military spouse becomes closer to you than your own sisters because there is so much about your life that she has a unique understanding of; she has lived it.
Military spouses understand that the definition of family doesn’t always include blood lines but rather, shared experiences.
Another military spouse worries about your children, checks up on you and offers company during a deployment, sits in an ER waiting room with you when your child is hurt, knows about that unique smell of cardboard boxes in your home and that although this move might be your 4th, 14th, or 24th, it never gets any easier. Their friendships can pick up exactly where they left off despite the 10, or perhaps even 20 years that may have gone by since you were last stationed together. We step into, and out of, each others lives on a continual basis but that doesn’t keep us from forming bonds even if an assignment is only for a year.
One of my very closest military friendships came about because we had a mutual friend who “blessed” the friendship before we ever met each other. I had known Mary Ann since the early 80’s and in 1999 I was moving in next door to one of her friends from another base. Her words to me were “I love Bev and I love you so the two of you will love each other.” With those words Bev and I skipped the first six months of getting to know each other and to this day the three of us remain close even though the military has never stationed all three of our husbands at the same base, at the same time. We’ve shared laughter and tears, vacationed together, attended our children’s weddings, rejoiced over the births of grandchildren, cried over the deaths of our mothers, and now Mary Ann has led the way through the retirement transition.
Military spouses don’t belong to communities with boundaries or elected officials or school zones. Our community is a community of the heart and for the past 34 years that community has supported, sustained and loved me. I will be forever thankful.
Today’s pictures aren’t new. They don’t even begin to show you the hundreds of military spouse that have loved and sustained me over the years. They are simply the photographs I currently have on my computer from the last several months as we transitioned to yet another assignment. Somewhere along the way this photo challenge got away from me and became more about expressing my thoughts through words than pictures.
This next picture includes a few of the community leaders from our last base. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the military community relies heavily on our local communities, who support us year after year, despite the fact that we come into their physical lives for just a short time. They make all the difference in how we adjust to yet another move and because of them we gain a stability of sorts. Because of them our actual roots might be shallow but the roots in our hearts grow deep.
And darn it, even though all these words and thoughts are mine and so, not new to me, as I’m proofreading this, tears are threatening to form, while I remember all the amazing spouses, both military and civilian who have made up my community since I joined Jim at his first assignment in Del Rio, Texas back in 1980.
When I think back on that trip to Laughlin Air Force Base I also have to smile through my tears when I recall the young, completely clueless military spouse that was me!
Short and sweet this week.
These are the layers I’ve been buried under since Monday a week ago.
Another military spouse and longtime friend said it perfectly….
“Strange how packing materials just explode out of the box,
then continue to ooze their way through the house!”
We had our first dinner party at our new home tonight, so at least the first floor is presentable and freed of the layers of paper.
It felt good to be back in the groove again with great food, incredible company, and amazing conversation going on around our dining room table. The people we cross paths with as we move around the country make all the packing and unpacking worth it. I wouldn’t trade my military spouse status for anything.
The thing about horizons is that no matter how far you travel to get to them, they remain elusive and just out of reach.
Today a move is on my horizon. And just like a horizon it remains “out there” and impossible to obtain. The more I do to prepare and go forward, the more there is to do. On the other end it will be the same way….once the unpacking starts the chaos of trying to bring all the parts and pieces together into a home is laborious and for days on end it seems insurmountable.
Then, suddenly, it all works and the new address becomes not just a number on a street but home.
My secret for a successful move lies in Ziplocs. I buy them by the hundreds and before the packers arrive I methodically go through the house and gather “like” things into them. As I go through the junk drawers those Ziplocs are with me, gathering the pens, the pencils, the office supplies…. the flotsam and jetsam of life that gets scattered around the house as the weeks go by.
All my cooking utensils and silverware end up in a Ziploc. My socks, my bras, my underwear, it all goes into one, mainly because I have this issue with a random packer touching all that stuff. I’ll Ziploc the contents of my bathrooms. My craft room alone will require an entire box.
Not only does this process force me to organize and throw things away but it also makes boxing it up so much easier for the packers and eliminates the prospect of small pieces and parts being thrown away with all the packing paper at the other end.
It all sounds a bit compulsive but after 23 moves I know it works. It gives me a starting point for this moving process.
So for now, before I get in the car next week and travel towards my new horizon, this is the one that greets me today….
As an aside, I also gather all the things that have found their way onto my refrigerator into a Ziploc and over the years those bags have become time capsules of each place we’ve lived. The only things that make it back onto the next fridge are my favorite magnets. Somewhere up in the attic there’s a collection of those bags from refrigerators in Texas, South Dakota, Virginia, Kansas, Rhode Island and many other states. Each one of them tells a story.
A story of what life was like for the year or perhaps 18 months we lived at that address. This time it’s been two years, nine months in this house. It might take two Ziplocs to hold this story.
I’ve traveled towards a lot of new horizons in my years as an Air Force spouse.
Here’s to the next one; and to the Ziplocs that get me there!