{September 7, 2015}   Yep it’s official… I’m a military spouse

I must say that for the most part I enjoy military life, if for no other reason than its somewhat familiar. Still, when it came to my new life, transitioning from former military brat to military wife came with a bit of a culture shock. In particular, this is my first time living in an area that is still technically at war. So while I’m familiar with the military there are some things that are unfamiliar. Further, since I was school- and career-focused before marrying into the military sometimes it just hits me out of nowhere how dramatically my life has changed from a couple years ago.

I’ve seen a lot a posts online about you know you’re a military wife when…

I wrote a letter to my former self warning her sharing my current experience in contrast to my former life:

Hey girl,

How’s life? Nothing new? Well that’ll soon change. You’ll soon get a call from a man in uniform. You’ll agree to talk on occasion thinking you’ve got everything under control and that it is all casual. But beware. Those phone calls will change your life forever. Here are just a few thoughts from the last week, so imagine what the last year has been like.

You’ve never shied away from adventure and you never wanted to be the dumb American, but your ideals are about to be tested in a real way. Your future husband always says that ‘it’s not an adventure if there isn’t an element of uncertainty and there’s no real uncertainty if there isn’t an element of danger; so adventure equals a little danger.’ Well get ready for adventure!

But wait! I came here for you…

Right now you dream of living abroad with the love of your life. Congrats you’re doing that! But there’s always a twist: Two weeks after you move 6,000 miles to your new duty station; where your husband and you can “finally be together.” Where you no longer have to suffer through months of seperation because now he is at a non-deployable post. You’ll get word that your husband is deploying…

You know that part of us that plans for everything? Well she is going to die a very quick and painful death in the first few months of military wife life. You still make a list everyday but it s more out of futile habit than actual utility.

Permission to be with my husband, Sir!

Of course the deployment isn’t the first unexpected gift bestowed by the military. That comes after you find out that your husband must leave for the new base 3 days after your wedding (that was probably the first major blow in the planner’s ultimate demise).  But you can’t follow until he receives a letter from his command giving you permission to stay in his dorm while you apartment hunt and later for him permission to live in said apartment.  Lest you be accused of trespassing and he be accused of being absent without leave (AWOL).

I’m sorry but it’s hot — 

Eventually you will get into the swing of things but you will be reduced to humiliating moments out of necessity. Such as miming with a bus driver to get directions. Drawing pictures at restaurants.  And stopping the movers from completing there task of moving your boxes until they translate the devices in you apartment for your; especially the air conditioner. This also required miming.

I got this…

After a while you may even gain a little confidence. Enough to take your adventure beyond the English speaking (I use that term loosely) taxi drivers and English signed subways to the ally isn’t t Korean buses. Remember every time you moved to a new city in American you’d ride public transportation getting the lay of the land? Remember how everyone said you were so brave, and so you believed it? There are some distinct differences. When everyone speaks your language, very little courage is required. When you are actually at risk of not finding your way home; that’s when you have to summon your courage.

You’ll ride with your head held high proud of your accomplishment and adventurous spirit until you realize you’ve committed a social faux pas and sat in a seat reserved for the revered elderly … Stupid American. And then when you get kicked off the bus, not due to this faux pas, but because you’ve hopped on a bus headed to the farmlands (you think, based on miming) you’ll realize that you have so much to learn… Like how to get home when you can’t read the signs.

I’ve left the Dark Ages and Entered the Age of Enlightenment… And I want to go back!

If you think you are informed now wait until your news sources are international outlets. American stations should really hang their heads in shame for how little of the world news they report. With that being said, why is the world so sad? The worst part is I’m the one who informs my friends, which means there is an entire group of people who are clueless about the world right now.

Ready and Waiting

Because you are a deep thinker (i.e. introvert) there were periods of time where you simply let your phone battery die. You unplugged from the world, read a good book and wouldn’t even think of looking at Facebook. Now you keep a charged cell phone on you at all times just in case your husband has a moment to talk, you need to Facebook your family and let them know you are ok after the news reported escalated security threats, or you get lost (this one more than any of the others). And your only regret will be the days when you forgot your charger at home. While you love being unplugged.  You can’t afford to be so now days.

At least I’m not like THAT girl 

We have always prided ourselves on our independence. We have no problem being with a man, but we’ve never been in a position of helplessness without a man. The military puts you in a unique position of almost forced dependence (you’re almost completely defined by your husband’s rank and title) and requiring you to be uncannily independent (since he’s always gone). What will shock you is when you become “that girl.” You know the one who hangs up when he walks through the door because who knows when he’ll walk back out, who tries to be available for his calls because they are sporadic, who tries to make sure he has little to worry about at home because he spends so little time there. But you’ll really put your independent feminist self to shame as you become “that girl” who meal plans and blows her grocery budget at the overpriced commissary so you can make all his favorites when he returns for a short R&R (rest and relaxation). Seriously you just spent a whole day prepping for a man’s arrival?! I judge myself…

Friday Night, Date Night

Remember how you used to imagine date night every Friday night with your husband? How you made him promise that whenever he was in town you two would do a once a week date night? Well, good news, you married a keeper: He actually keeps his promise. Big or small every week he’s in town you all have some form of a date night. You just may want to get a little more specific about what constitutes a date. For instance, while it was great spending time together and the lesson was valuable, learning how to use your gas mask is a little in the grey area of date night activities.

Just Another Day Around Town…

It’ll strike you one day all of a sudden at how strange it is that your todo list reads:

  • Get cash from the bank
  • Get won from money exchange
  • Yoga
  • Have patches put on BDUs
  • Town Hall meeting
  • Pick up Gas Mask
  • Grocery store

No joke this was my list for Monday:

The deep blue green sea:

There is a strange feeling when witnessing a recall. Your life continues, and yet there is a sea of men and women in BDUs (battle dress uniform/ fatigues) rushing towards any gate that leads to the military base. They come by bike, scooter, hitch hiking, and car. The gates are backed up as far as the eye can see with cars and uniforms. Yet, you’re not afraid, the scene before you speaks to preparedness. Your not completely calm, obviously there is a heightened alert. Still, know its not time to panic yet. It feels a little unpatriotic how your life continues, I was headed to yoga, and you know they could be up all night. You feel prepared for the call telling you to pack up and go. There’s no funny quip with this moment, just a “oh shit, I really am married to the military.”

It’s official I’m a military spouse now:

You’ll realize with pride and a little sadness that you no longer cry when he receives that 7 am call, the morning after his 8 pm arrival on R&R, that he has been recalled. Or the fact that he doesn’t know when he will call or be back doesn’t outwardly phase you. Or that you have already packed his go bag and can have the rest of his stuff ready to go with breakfast, a smile, and a kiss goodbye by the time he’s done calling his troops. You realize that’s it’s official you’re in a military marriage with all the stress, adventure, danger, uncertainty, loneliness. And sure some of the pride but very little of the fairy tale. You realize that you must really love this guy because the independent feminist isn’t seeing a fair trade off and yet… You wouldn’t trade it.

So enjoy the adventure. More of it than you think will be alone but imagine the stories you will have and the life you will live all because you said I do to a guy who where’s dress blues (yep, I know I’ve drunk the Kool Aid).


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