Thursday, August 1, 2013

The List

I probably shouldn't be blogging tonight. I am tired and emotional and I know the expression "even a spotted pig looks black at night" definitely applies here. But the way I see it I can either write about it here or lie awake for the next hour or so thinking about it, and I believe writing will be more productive. This gets filed under the venting/whining category; I share only in hopes that someone out there will tell me I'm not alone.

So. Coast Guard. I don't talk about it much, mainly because it has been rather good to us. Let me tell you a little about our CG journey, so you know where I'm coming from tonight; I don't think I've ever supplied many details:

Don and I talked about military service practically from our first date. After a few false starts exploring options with other branches of service, we started pursuing the CG shortly after we were married in 2005. Don's college degree and near-perfect ASVAB scores put him in good graces at the recruiter's and upon his enlistment we got a nice four-figure bonus and a guarantee of our first assignment being somewhere in New England. That first job ended up being a 175' buoy tender out of Newport, Rhode Island. Very cool. We happily loaded our goods in a 14' U-haul after boot camp graduation and drove a few short hours to start our new CG life, just about at our first anniversary.

We spent just short of two years in Newport, enjoyed every minute of it (the location, if not the job), and became a family of three there. Before graduating from A-school near the end of that time in RI, we were faced with The List of billets for our next station. Don was ranked number one in his class, so we knew we would get our first choice. We had a lot of good options but settled on a small-boat station in Southern Maryland, coincidentally where a couple of our good friends were already transferring to. We wanted to try the mid-Atlantic; everything about the choice was a good one for both career and family.

We moved to southern Maryland in the spring of 2008 and spent three and a half very happy years there. Our house was small but functional. We had an awesome neighborhood, best friends across the street, a very pleasant town and amenities, and were near enough to family to drive home every other month or so. We kinda hated Don's schedule, but for the most part, life was good, and a lot of happy memories were made there. We became a family of four, and a year after that learned of Don's acceptance to Officer Candidate School.  The four-month period of OCS wrapped up our Maryland chapter - the kids and I moved out halfway through to spend time with my family, in Connecticut, near where Don was at school.

Halfway through OCS we got The List again, and once again my amazing husband was in the enviable position of being ranked first in his class. Again, we knew we would get our first choice. This choice was a bit tougher, because it came down to two very different but equally appealing options. In the end we chose, and moved to, Charleston, South Carolina. Happy choice for me, to be near some family, and for us, to see what the south had to offer, and a solid choice for Don's first officer assignment. We live in a beautiful house and while I have some issues with our surrounding area it is in general a privilege to live so near such a vibrant southern city. Don's job and schedule have been challenging, but in general this has still been a happy assignment and one I was excited to get.

And now, here we are at the very start of what is actually our first "normal" PCS process. The List was published today. There are a few attractive options on it, but in the category of jobs that Don wants/needs, there are way more unpleasant options. This is the first time I have had to face the fact that we may be sent somewhere that I do not want to go.

This is the fist time I've had to face the fact that I might, in fact, be something of a spoiled brat in the realm of military wives. As we have been closing in on our last year here and starting to look toward our next assignment I have let my head fill with fantasies of getting to live in our next desired location, perhaps buying a house, being near friends or maybe even family, truly settling in for a change. I had hoped we might be able to eek out some stability as Amy gets rolling with school. I thought we might be lucky enough to get assigned to a place where I actually want to stay for more than two years. And we might yet, but based on The List, the odds are not in our favor.

I am grateful for the Coast Guard, I really am. We have had seven happy years of nice places to live, interesting work for Don, and a fairly respectable income. I love my husband for wanting to serve his country so faithfully, and I love him for doing his best to make me happy while doing it.

But I really, really, really don't want to live in Puerto Rico. Or Miami. Or California. I want to pound my fists and shout "you can't make me!" But what choice do I have, if it comes to that?  This is, as I often remind myself, What We Signed Up For. I've been happy to be the rolling stone and the cheerful Coastie Wife each time the CG has moved us to the next shiny place that I want to go. I feel that willingness completely leaving me as I think about the possibility of an odious duty station.

Again, this is all somewhat premature; we could very easily be blessed once more with one of our top picks, and I will read this in a year and laugh at my doubting self. Or we may not and I may read this in a year from my house in who-knows-where and laugh at my myopic and close-minded self.

I would like to be reading this in a year looking out the window of a house I own in a temperate East Coast town, thinking about where to plant my garden.

I am realizing that my most immediate dreams and goals do not quite match up with my job title of Military Wife.

Not sure where that leaves me other than to put on a happy face until we know, MONTHS from now, where we will be going. Will do my best to enjoy the moment and not dwell on the abstract future. I will try not to whine, or cry, or pout. I'll keep my little homesteading dreams close to my heart and maybe, maybe they will come true sooner rather than later. Anybody who knows this plight and wants to leave me an encouraging comment will make me quite happy indeed.  Thanks, all.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my dear sweet friend. We are heading to what I would consider an "odious" duty station later this year. It doesn't help that most times we mention said location people give us that "Oh, I'm SO SORRY" face or a flat-out negative comment.

    Facing that, I have had to come to terms with the fact that, as you say, this is What We Signed Up For.

    But think about this: the necessities of life can be found anywhere. We comfort ourselves knowing that, despite our lack of enthusiasm about our next destination, God will provide what we need. We will have a home, and food, and EACH OTHER, and we expect he will provide friends and a good church and a good option for schooling, even if it turns out to be homeschooling because the schools there are HORRIBLE.

    I have also recently started coming to terms with the idea that, because we finally will be doing the job we wanted to do, we will most likely be Lifers. A daunting thought, but there it is. In a way, it helps to think about looking to the future for those dreams that I have about setting up house and BELONGING somewhere. Even if it is not until our kids are in college, there will come a day that we WILL be able to choose just where we want to be and we will be able to stay there, Lord willing, and thrive.

    Until then, I choose to think of myself as a potted plant. I am deeply rooted in Christ, no matter where the Lord moves me in this world. I am not being violently uprooted each time we go and almost killed or thoroughly sickened. I am simply being lovingly picked up, roots intact, and placed somewhere else in My Father's World to beautify and reflect His glory and show His love.

    It WILL be okay, no matter where you end up. And I'll be here encouraging you as you go. xoxo