Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Military, Moving and Matters of the Heart

I remember the very first time I drove over the Coronado bridge. I was fresh off a plane from Virginia, with our 4 year old and 5 week old in tow, sitting in the passenger seat while my husband drove so I could gawk out the window, giddy with excitement as I just kept saying, “I can’t believe we get to live here!”

We had scored some pretty sweet military orders. Big time. Having lived in Virginia Beach for 10 years and never having PCSd, we were ready for a change. It wasn’t entirely easy though – leaving jobs, family, friends and everything we’d known since we first met was a little scary. I knew who we were and how we fit in in Virginia. What would the California us be like?

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As we started to get settled in and make new friends and explore new places, it didn’t take long for me to get acclimated to our new home. Because let’s be honest, living in San Diego, especially Coronado, is about as close to perfection as you’re ever going to get. But still, every now and then, I’d hear this little voice inside saying “Don’t fall in love. This won’t be forever.” A periodic reminder that this military life we live comes with an expiration date.

But I liked the California me. I’d hung up my hat (for the time being) as a full-time working mom and traded my business casual attire for yoga pants (Score!). I got to spend more time with my kids and try my hand at being a stay-at-home mom. I volunteered in my son’s classroom. Started cooking more. Got into the best shape of my life. We found a church and I grew in my faith. Our boys made friends, played sports and grew before our very eyes. Our marriage only continued to grow stronger and we have never been closer as a couple. And our friends, oh our friends…

About a year after we moved here, I wrote this article offering my perspective on what it was like to make friends at a new duty station. To watch our children develop their own relationships and then be tasked with having to say goodbye when someone moves. It is such a bittersweet process to watch. Knowing that these sweet days are numbered until someone – them or us – is launched into a new, different adventure.

Being a military family sometimes feels like you’ve been invited to a really fun party only you know you shouldn’t get too comfortable because you can’t stay for long. But in this life, we have a choice. We can embrace it with our whole heart and make the most of the time we’re given, or we can choose to simply stand in the doorway, observing the party from a distance and completely miss out on the joy that surrounds us.

I’d rather go to the party.

Three years goes by in a flash when you’re having the time of your life. And as a few of us from the eCoronado team prepare for our next adventure, we know that while we may be separated by distance, we’re connected together forever because of a shared experience. When I look back on these days, I will surely remember them as among the best of my life. San Diego is sure going to be one hard act to follow.

I remember thinking when we moved the first time that I understood a little better what it must feel like to leave for a deployment. You feel stuck between where you know you are going while trying to hang on to the last bit of where you are. I think about what it will be like, to drive across that bridge one last time, closing the door on one adventure while the door for the next one opens. And while I dread how much I know that is going to hurt, I also realize what a gift that is. To have been able to experience something that has touched your heart so deeply, you can’t bear to let it go. To know that you went to that party, and you had a really great time. But if you look ahead, you know from your experience that more adventures are waiting for you. And when you get to where you’re going, you’ll be home.

Mary Douglas

Staff Writer

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