A year ago this month, my husband completed Tech School for the military and we left California behind. I had never lived anywhere else in my entire 24 years of life, and leaving my friends and loved ones hurt like I had never experienced before. I still have an empty void where my best friends usually are, but it helps to get to talk to them online. I miss my “wifey”, my cousin, and my bestie the most. It’s hard to get through things without them being just a ten-minute drive away, but I’ve learned to cope with phone calls and emergency Skype sessions.
That being said, I have also really grown a lot as a person during this past year. I have had new experiences that I would never have otherwise had, and I have learned some incredible life lessons. I thought I would share five of those major lessons and experiences with you. Moving to Washington has been hard, but I am not sure that I would say I regret it. (Not that I had much choice in the matter.)
I have made some absolutely incredible friends.
When I moved, and my husband talked about how I would befriend all the other military wives and I would meet so many new people, I was completely opposed to the idea. I closed my self off, and didn’t talk to anyone new for months. In fact, I flew back home after only a week of being here. I just couldn’t stand being apart from the people I’d been around for the majority of my life. These friends and my city had just always been there, and I couldn’t stand for them to not be.
Eventually, I did let myself open up. I went shooting with some other military members and their wives. I made friends that way. I got a job at a restaurant, and made my friend Amethyst. Now, we have Girls’ Night Out almost every weekend, and I couldn’t imagine life without her. She’s become one of my closest friends, and she’s taught me a lot about life – especially life in this area.
I gathered up the courage to approach one of the bloggers I follow on Tumblr, and that’s how I became friends with Paige and Sean. They have since moved further away, so I don’t get to see them, but I still talk to them regularly. They’ve helped me through some really rough times, and I like to think I was able to help them as well.
I’ve met some fellow nerds as well, which is always a great thing. Now, I know someone with a PS4. That’s one of my new life lessons – My heart may always belong to PC, but sometimes Console can be fun to play with.
I have found the perfect coffee shop.
Honestly, I highly doubted I would ever find a shop that I loved more than Ryan Bros. back home in California. I learned how wrong I was in the first month I was here. Northern Pacific Coffee Co. has the BEST Chai lattes I’ve ever had, an incredible staff of friendly nerds with similar interests as myself, and a great atmosphere that I’ve never encountered anywhere else. It’s a great blend of hipster-meets-nerdy, but without any of the pretentiousness that statement implies. They serve beer on tap, have impeccable coffee and other drinks, live music, open mic nights, and free WiFi. There are board games, comfy seating, and plenty of books and comics to read at your leisure. Oh, and the owner is AWESOME.
I was finally able to visit a national park.
This past weekend, my husband and I walked around the base of Mount Rainier, in Rainier National Park. It was an absolutely incredible experience, and the expanse of it all was almost surreal. It was a beautiful day, and the air smelled crisp and clean.
The mountain was stunning, and some of the ice and snow looked blue with the angle that the light was reflecting off it. I kept thinking I needed to harvest the flowers, though, because they looked like the purple flowers from Skyrim.
He told me it is an active volcano with a good amount of dead bodies on it. It’s sad, but my creepy self was enthralled. I’m pretty sure that was not a good reason to be smiling up at such a stunning mountain, but I gave up any hope of being normal years ago.
I learned what military life is REALLY like. . .
And I’m not entirely sure I like it. I’m very grateful for the free and (otherwise) affordable healthcare. I’m grateful for the myriad opportunities and services that are available to me as a spouse, and to us as couple. I’m grateful for all the opportunities that will be available to us when we have children. I’m also SO incredibly proud of my husband and of how well he is doing in his career.
That being said…Deployment is worse than I thought it would be. It was a horrible three months, and I hated not having my usual friends around me. Being in a new state, without my old friends, and without my husband was horrible. Yes, I understand that other branches have longer deployments. This is not about that. This is about the fact that deployment was much worse than I thought it would be. I did learn a lot from it, but it was hard. It was the first time being alone for more than 24 hours in my ENTIRE life. I hated it so, so much. I was miserable for all but the last month of it, when I made some new friends who provided a fairly decent distraction. Even then, coming back home to an empty home each night was hard. I missed my husband’s laugh, and his absence made the place feel even bigger than it actually is. It felt big, and empty, and just all-around hollow. It was like all of his stuff was mocking me.
Stupid, I know, but it’s how I felt.
I did learn that the military wives I have met since moving here are strong as nails and deserve medals of their own. This is especially true for the woman who had to raise two toddlers on her own while her husband was deployed. That woman is strong as hell.
I also learned how to cook. I needed to learn, and deployment made it entirely necessary. I don’t cook anywhere near as well as my husband, but I’m learning. At least I didn’t starve. I still have trouble with big spiders, though.
Finally, I had a major paradigm shift.
My biological mother and stepfather are alcoholics and users. I grew up around them and their addict friends. The addicts that I met later in life only further added to the bias that I was developing. I told myself I would never, ever befriend or trust another addict – even one in recovery. I just couldn’t deal with any of that again, and I refused to do so.
That is when I learned one of my new friends is a recovering addict. I have since made several new friends who are also recovering addicts, and have gone with them to meetings. I’ve listened to others share their personal stories and the impact that using has had on their lives. I teared up as I listened to how they lost everything to the bottle or to their drug of choice. I wanted to hug all of them as they poured their hearts out during meetings, or during some of our talks.
They are, at their very core, such good people with big hearts. I want only the best for them, and want to do everything in my power to help them. They should not be judged for what they have done, or for the years their addiction took from them
My entire viewpoint was changed, and I am so grateful for it. I wouldn’t have some of the friends that I do, had I not had this experience.
From these five experiences, and more, packing up everything and leaving my state of 24 years behind has made me grow as a person. I’ve had invaluable experiences, learned some priceless life lessons, and consider myself to be a better, stronger person because of it all. I don’t know if I would say that I would stay in California if I was given the chance, but I no longer regret having to move. I love Washington, and I love everything this opportunity has granted me.