I'm about to get all deep up in here. You've been forewarned.
I never grew up around the military. I was born in the same house that I graduated from high school from. Indiana was home, and the only home I could ever fathom myself living in. When circumstances brought me over to Germany, where I worked for the U.S. Army, I become involved in a world that seemed foreign to me. I think I had a romanticized view of the military. Getting stationed exotic places, having get togethers and being friends with all of your neighbors, and living in this sort of secret society that few know about. I learned quickly that's not what the military life was like. I saw heartache after heartache due to long separations, moves far away from any family support in sometimes undesirable locations (North Dakota, anyone?), gossipy support groups rather than supportive ones, deployments that took away best friends and spouses, sometimes forever. I will never forget the day that a friend's husband, one who I had over to my house for football games and holidays, etc., died in Iraq. I vowed that while I loved and supported our men and women in uniform, I was happy to just support them, and not ever become a part of a military family.
Well, obviously plans changed. While I was minding my own business dreaming of where the army would take me next, Joel happened. He changed my view on lots of things: men, commitment, life. I couldn't help but fall for him, even though I knew what that meant. I was in a good place in life. A college graduate with a pretty good job, great friends, living over in Europe, and comfortable. That all changed, of course, after I said "I do." I love Joel with all of my heart, but this post isn't about him. While I will never ever regret becoming his wife, I wish that we had found each other a different way. Of course, with me being from Indiana and him from Oregon, that kind of a situation would be unlikely. So, I'll take what I can get.
I thought even better things were falling into place when we received orders for our next assignment: Scott AFB, IL. I'm a Midwestern girl through and through, and I thought, finally! A place that feels like home. Although I would have loved to stay in Germany or move somewhere else overseas, that wasn't what was best for Joel's career. He spent his entire career up to that point overseas, and needed to get some stateside experience. I thought that going back (ish) to my roots would be great! I'd fit right in, love the area, and things would resume to my normal like they had when I moved from Indiana to Germany.
I learned a few things very quickly. Southeastern Illinois (right outside of St, Louis) is not Indiana. People aren't near as friendly, the drivers are terrible, and all Midwestern towns are not the same. Although I really enjoy St. Louis, we chose to live on the Illinois side in order to live closer to base, since we both were going to work there. We bought a house that I love, but you know...I have only met one neighbor. There are hardly any waves back to me as I'm out and kids stare at you like you have two heads. This was not the neighborhood I grew up in. And for the record, I also learned that I hate the suburbs. I grew up a whopping 7 minutes from downtown Indy, and I loved the convenience of everything and the diversity of what was around me. I am a true urban dweller, although I learned that this time a little too late.
And as far as work, well...let's just say that even though there are a gazillion hiring promotions for hiring military spouses (thanks, but no thanks, Michelle and Jill), they are mostly for minimum wage jobs, and not anything that matches my experience or education. And on base, there's even a stigma that we are going to start work and then either get pregnant or move (again). I've had employers straight up tell me that they didn't really want to hire military spouses. I am very thankful of the job that I have. I like the people I work with and do decent work, but I am just capable of so much more. I'm having a hard time growing professionally here.
And that awesome group of friends that I was hoping to meet? echo, echo... I'll let you know when I find them. I've met a couple of great gals, only to be dropped like a bad habit when someone better came along. Most military spouses don't work for various reasons, and I can't compete with the girl that can drop everything and meet for a 9am coffee. I have one good friend here that I think I could count on, but that's it. I don't know what it is, because I have never had any issues meeting and making new friends. Is it because I'm older (a whopping 28)? Is it because most of my peers have kids and I don't? Do I suck as a friend? I don't know. But it's lonely. I couldn't even find one person that wanted to go out and watch the Notre Dame game with me last night. Makes me feel like such a loser.
And home? Where is that again? For the next 12-ish years, I will be moving every 2-3 years and having to play this same game all over again. I can't even truly feel at home because I know we will most likely get orders and be off again next year. To where? Who knows. I am such a planner, and feel so much anxiousness on not being able to plan for the future. Hell, Joel and I have tickets to see a show next month, and more than likely he's going to be gone doing an Air Force something or another.
It's frustrating. It's lonely. I miss my old life. Joel is a great support for me. He is encouraging and sweet, and does everything he can to make things easier on me. The problem is, there are things that are out of control. He can't always be here. And while I pride myself on my self sufficiency, it's hard to be married and still be alone so much in life.
If you got this far, thanks for listening. I know there are some people that thrive with this lifestyle, and maybe I need to be more adaptable and open. But, sometimes, it just sucks.