It’s been a full year since we left Ft. Carson.
It has been very long and….full of challenges. Both anticipated and unanticipated
It’s a strange place we are in right now.
Separated from all our military friends.
In a world where no one wears a uniform. Or goes to PT. Or salutes the flag. Or deploys.
Going to school, shopping, living and socializing only with what military folk commonly refer to as “civilians”. And for me, this has been really very hard. Not because civilians are better or worse than military (I LOVE MY CIVI FRIENDS TOO!), but because we operate in very different modes. But right now I’m an Army wife living a civilian life, and It’s confusing.
When people ask where we moved from, if I say Ft. Carson no one knows what that means. So then I say Colorado. When I say my husband is in the Army, a lot of people look at me cross-eyed. When I explain we are only going to be here for another year, most people quickly move on to a conversation with someone else. I have made one really good friend here, and I absolutely adore her (and her shopping-saavy!) But besides her…..Well. It’s kinda lonely.
I feel a lot like a tree, living in a pot. A tiny, little pot. You can’t grow roots, because there is no where for them to go. You can’t really thrive that way either. You just survive.
It was different when we moved from Ft. Benning to Ft. Carson. We were in a community full of transplants. The Army Community has it’s own set of rules about how a person grows roots. None of us will have our kids and raise them in the same house, none of us will reminisce about that funny story when the new neighbors first moved in five years ago, none of us will say “I’ve worked in this office for ten years now”. We won’t be attending birthday parties and dance class and graduation with the same people. We know this going in. And we are ok with it.
That’s not how our roots grow.
Our roots grow in our relationships with each other. Because in this military life, that is the only thing we can make permanent.
We know that every awesome military wife we come across will move away. We know that a PCS, deployment, or school is just around the corner. We know that every new friend we make will leave, unless we leave them first. We know it is not “if”, it is “when.” I’ve got friends in more states than I can remember, and several in different countries at the moment. People we were stationed with, once upon a time, scattered to the four corners of the earth.
So when you move to a new place, you get down to the business of making friends very quickly. You’ve got to get to know that awesome new wife before she up and moves away. You feel driven to make those new relationships bloom and grow, to put your roots out there quickly because Time Is Limited. And don’t misunderstand, this is not superficial. You get to the bottom of who people really are and how you relate to one another very quickly as well. And you discover these fascinating, great, strong women from all walks of life thrown in to this big melting-pot called “Being An Army Wife”.
I have missed that, this past year.
Feeling out of touch with a community that gets you, that lives how you live, is hard.
Being back in Colorado in June, going to a Change of Command ceremony with my friend Allison, felt like being home.
Not because it was Colorado, I realized. I spent most of this year thinking it was Colorado that I missed so very much. I was wrong.
It felt like home because it was the community to which we belong. Camoflauge. Salutes. Flags. Formalities. A field full of soldiers, standing at attention. Tears at the national anthem. Speeches about a deployment honorably completed. Cake and handshakes to welcome in a new commander.
It’s where my life makes sense, it’s where our stresses and worries, experiences and history, values and sacrifices all have context. It is where I can connect, and be connected with. Spending time with my friend Allison, connecting with my Team 19 friends, it was like military-wife-soul-food.
I miss those friends. I miss their support, their wisdom, their strength and their understanding. I miss their awesomeness in my every day life more than I could have imagined.
Being separated from them makes me realize (even more) just how special they really are and how much they mean to me. I am lucky that one military wife-friend is living in my area for the next 6 months and I hope we get to spend some time together. Then six months later I will be reunited with a couple of super-great military wives at West Point .
When I’m feeling a little lonely and out of touch, I try to remember no matter how far apart we are now…We are all still army wives. And I wouldn’t trade the friendships I’ve made through living this military life for anything!
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross