Military families often joke that we don’t really know where to call home because we move so much. But I don’t really think that is true. Perhaps at the beginning of a military career that is harder to define, yes. But I think as the years pass and you experience different parts of the country and the world… some place eventually starts feeling like home. For me, it is the South. Both of our families live in the South. We were both raised in the South. And for about 12 of the 14 years we have been married we lived in towns that were 30 minutes away from the beach. So anytime I am near the ocean… it feels like home. Anytime I can buy sweet tea and great barbeque on any corner, it feels like home. Anytime I am in the same part of the country as my parents… it feels like home. And when we are not there I feel out of sorts and out of place.
I know that part of it is a realization that we are all getting older. My girls are getting older and it is getting harder for my 12 year old to say goodbye to friends. I want her to at least be in the same time zone as her friends again. Our parents are getting older and I desperately want my one year old to have the same wonderful relationship with them that our oldest has… but they can’t travel as much as when she was younger. We need to be closer to them.
Retirement is actually a part of our planning for the near future now… we can see the end of military life on the horizon. Perhaps knowing that the end is near has made it harder. Kind of like when there is only one more month left of a deployment and you hit the wall. You feel like you just cannot take one more second. But you do. You get up the next day, and the next, and the next… and you make it to the end. And then there are new challenges to face. I know that this is very similar. On days like today (only back in Arizona for about 24 hours and aching to get back to the shore line) it feels like I can’t take one more second of this duty station. But I know that it is not forever (at least I keep repeating it over and over hoping it will stick) and that one day I will wonder what in the world I was so upset about.
But in the meantime I am going to allow myself to feel the loss and stop trying to put a silver lining on it. Maybe trying to put a positive spin on everything is not always healthy. Perhaps just acknowledging that you are not happy about something will allow you to focus on the things you are happy about until you can change the circumstances. If I wake up every morning and say “I hate the desert but it is not forever. Now, what CAN I change about today?” maybe I will be able to cope a little easier. What is it they say? Embrace the suck!? Well, I think I will embrace it… and I apologize if I ever suggested that you not do the same.