The other day, I was commiserating with my friend, E, about PCS season. She was sad that she and her daughter had to say yet another “see you later,” to their best friends on base. As I listened to her words, I was reminded of my own recent military transition.
“It isn’t the same,” I had whined to my other friend, B, as we shared a mimosa over a Deborah Kerr-Cary Grant film and stared less at the television and more at the mounting pile of boxes stacked in the corner. I was making yet another PCS, and we were both struggling with the fact that we would no longer be able to walk five steps down to one another’s house to share a cup of coffee, tea, or let’s be honest, most of the time, wine. We both had our fair share of fears — finding people we’d really related to and then having to say goodbye — among them.
But at the time, I had recalled my friend E — how we both shared a military connection, but had never actually met in person. Oddly, it hadn’t mattered: we’d forged a friendship through similar interests, a sense of humor, children, the military life, what have you. In fact, I was closer to her than I was to most of my actual neighbors.
Technology certainly makes the world smaller: a criticism and a compliment. In no other point in history have we been able to form the type of strong relationships with our neighbors…even if they’re 2,000 miles away.
And so I got to thinking about military spouses and technology and how we really are in the midst of an affair to remember.
When my husband was deployed, I was fortunate to be able to see his face via Skype. No, it wasn’t every day, and it certainly can’t take the place of actual contact, but it was in so many ways, a blessing. When my father was deployed, my mother relied on sending and receiving notes–weeks upon weeks on no communication. Of course, there’s always something to a handwritten note, but I think I speak for most of us when I say, handwritten notes and getting to see your significant other make for an even better pair.
I’ve also been able to maintain close relationships with friends and family. I am able to see my nieces and nephew, and to watch the first steps of a best friend’s son. All those milestones that if I can’t be there for in person, I can at least experience them in some sort of secondary form.
But really, it’s so much more than that. As military spouses, we are now able to pursue advanced education regardless of where the school is located. Even if we, gasp, have to move across the country in the middle of our studies, the internet and your work will still come with you.
Once relegated to working jobs that were jobs and not careers, technology has now allowed us to telecommute in ways we never thought possible. I have a few offices now: one in my home, and one over 1,000 miles away. For generations of military spouses before us, this would seem a futuristic dream.
I have never been a fan of “see you later.” If it were up to me, I would have all of my nearest and dearest in some sort of compound and we would have luau parties every single night. (Hey! It’s my fantasy!) But second to that, I’ll take hundreds of tiny little luau parties– our voices traveling like a conga line across the electric wires.
The military changes and it stays the same, as do people. But now tagging along on a journey, and embarking on your own, isn’t so difficult.
As we slumped down in our chairs, registering the boxes and pretending not to see them, Cary Grant walked on the screen. “There must be something between us,” he said, “even if it is only an ocean.”
For this military spouse, that phrase never sounded so true.Subscribe to Millspouse: This Week