Being a part of a Marine’s life is nothing if not the greatest adventure. For 22 years I have dutifully followed my man, toting three children and all of our things along for the ride. There’s been no shortage of physical and emotional upheaval, but it has been a small price to pay for some of the best experiences, opportunities, and friends life has to offer.
There is always a period of melancholy to be had, but this time I find myself especially despondent about the 13 moves we’ve made, this being our second international move and our retirement move, as well. As we approach the 100-day mark without our household goods, I once again look back* on our time spent in a given home even as I tout the wonders of the new place to my children in an effort to comfort their longing and motivate excitement.
In the military we say there are only two good duty stations: the one you’ve just left and the one you’re moving to. As if it weren’t enough that we’ve left what was indeed the best duty station ever (Marine Forces Europe, Stuttgart, Germany) and arrived at what is still, to me, a most dubious location (Oceanside, California), it is with much chagrin that I realize just how much I got out of it when touting a new place to the kids.
While I’ve found much wonder with each new area, I’ve always been ready to leave when it was time to go. This time, though, I was not ready to leave. I’d found familiarity and a sense of home; an odd sensation it was, given that I’d never set foot in Europe before we were stationed there. I left fingernail marks in the tarmac at Stuttgart’s Airport, and I cried without shame as I vowed to return.
With two kids now in college in another state, I have just one child left at home. Because Southern California’s year-round warm weather and sandy beaches are in stark contrast to Southern Germany’s long winter days and tepid summers, the child needed no convincing.
Now it’s a question of who will convince me. I miss so many things, places, and people. I don’t know where to start without sounding like an expatriate.
I know it’s my job to convince me. I’m not a child, but is it so bad to wish for someone to come along with milk and cookies and help me refocus? Where is the non-judgmental regard for me that I once provided, with tissue in one hand and the colorful imagery of the welcome packet in the other?
Things will work out as they always do. Hopefully the task of unwrapping, unboxing, and arranging 14,000 pounds of household goods will create enough of a diversion that I’ll be too exhausted to think about the friends I’ve left behind and the whimsical Christmases of Bavaria – if only for a moment.