When they ask
I try very hard to be an organized person. From my house to my work, to my life. I even had a “Life Checklist.” You know, graduate college, get engaged, move in together, get a “big girl job”, get married, have kids, etc. Little did I know that meeting my husband would throw that way off and require many rewrites.
We moved in together while he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. We got engaged, lived together for a while, got married, added a puppy, and then another, moved to a bigger house, he re-enlisted and picked up rank, I graduated college and I got my “big girl job”, and we decided it was time to take that big step and add another little life to our family.
During my pregnancy, we were planning where we’d go next. It was looking like Georgia. I was even looking into transfer options with my job. We had friends in that area. I got a little excited. Then hubby comes home and asks if I want the good or bad news. Isn’t that the way it always goes? Good news was that he got orders and we were moving to California. Bad news x2 was that we were going to 29 Palms, not Pendleton, and we had to move with a newborn. Fun right? Embrace the craziness and roll with it I told myself.
I immediately started the process of researching, sorting out housing, and figuring out what to do with work. We immediately decided that base housing was our best option. I was able to fill out the housing application and fax it in to get us on the waiting list. They gave us an estimate of 2-4 months after hubby checks into his new unit and updates DEERS. So, I also started looking into short term rentals for that time frame. I had little luck though and decided we would just have to figure it out in person. That was all a process with time differences and POA all mixed in with work and field ops. Yes, I was way ahead of the game too. That’s me.
I, unfortunately, was not going to be able to transfer my job. I had to take the steps to inform them as well as set them up for my absence. Hubby and I had to have the discussion about whether not I was going to be a SAHM or if I needed to start looking online for job opportunities. We agreed it would be what was best for us for now, for me to stay home, until we were settled at least and knew the area well enough to select another career.
Another part of the decision making was whether or not we would move ourselves. Remember, I was going to have a tiny little human to care for while doing all of this. Because of that, because we were going to be first time parents with a baby that would be less than a month old, we didn’t know what we would need and what we wouldn’t. Therefore, I set aside everything I anticipated us needing for the two of us, the baby, and our dogs for the cross country move, for temporary housing until we were placed, and for that period of time before the rest of our belongings would make it to us. Needless to say, I packed for any possible scenario. That’s when we decided to do a partial dity move.
After the baby arrived, we arranged everything through TMO to have them take all of our other belongings. I remember the chaos of trying to figure out breastfeeding, nap schedules, and diaper changes with our little guy while the movers swarmed around us packing and loading our things. They were very kind and professional which made the process so much easier. While I held down the fort, Hubby took our vehicles to the scales on base to weigh them empty. When it was time to head out, we took everything I had packed with us which ended up filling my car to the brim and stuffing the bed of my husband’s truck, we weighed them both now that they were full, we cleaned every inch of our house and handed over our keys, picked up our u-hail dolly, and said “see you later” to all the friends we had made. Finally, we hit the road.
Surprisingly, the road trip wasn’t bad. We had good weather, the baby slept, and the pups were excited to go on a ride. We made good time too. We may have used way too much data between GPS, social media, games, and google.
We were warned ahead of time about how much people hated 29. It was the middle of no where. It was dirty. We were even asked “What did he do wrong to be sent there?” I did my research ahead of time and even more on the road. I asked questions. I was trying to keep an open mind since I know everyone takes what they will from each duty station.
I remember coming into town at night. Hubby joked that he planned it that way on purpose so I couldn’t see it, hate it, and tell him to turn around. We checked into the Sleepy Tortoise on base. I was pleasantly surprised with the room and the staff was super friendly. Come morning, we ran our errands and I got to take my first look around and I remember the first thing I thought to myself was “where is the green?!”
Housing ended up getting us placed 10 days from check-in which took a huge weight off my shoulders. We received our household goods from storage four days after that. I told myself “New area. New house. New adventure.” Boy, was that the truth.
To say those few months were a blur is an understatement. We explored new places. We found a new groove for our family. We improvised left and right. We made the most of it and made it work. Looking back now, 3+ years and another duty station later, I am able to see that we were the green in the middle of that brown, dusty desert. We grew so much as individuals and as a family while we were there. We made amazing new friendships. We added another little boy to our family. We didn’t just survive, we thrived.
It’s always an adventure and it’s always what you make of it.