True to military life, this young spouse found out pretty quickly the lifestyle is full of surprises. Murphy's Law of Military Spouse Expectations... if you want A then you get B. My A was moving every three years and my B was his career spent at Camp Pendleton, California.
Almost 15 years spent on one base. 11 years with the same squadron. Luckily our one other duty station was Japan which pretty much trumps New River any day. Things could be worse, I guess. We could be in 29 Palms! Joking aside, our immobility just wasn't what I imagined for military life. We never really thought California was the right fit for us. We still don't. But we quit fighting against the Plan. We are suppose to be here. At this point, we are so far into his career it wouldn't make sense to try to leave. Of course, the Marine Corps always decides. Any day my husband could receive orders anywhere in the entire world, accompanied or unaccompanied. We pray that won't be the story.
How do you make the most of military life? You start with buying a house. Second, get a great job. Last, send your kids to a ginormous off-base school with a bigger student body than your hometown elementary, junior high, and high school combined. You lay down roots so when it's time to leave, you won't. Slow down. I don't honestly know if I recommend any of those things. What I do recommend is embracing whatever the military throws your way. You cannot control anything about this lifestyle, you just have to roll with it.
Most people who know me would probably guess I like living in California. People might even assume I prefer to live in this state. The honest answer is I don't. There are things I like. The weather. The location. The openness to differences among people. Other things. It's not my perfect but I am going to embrace California. I am going to see everything I want to see. I'm going to sit on the beach watching the waves roll in on a Friday night. Just because. I'm going to hike the mountains. Tour LA like I lived here my whole life. I'm going to enjoy these moments.
When his four years are finished, we will move on to a better fit. Perhaps, take some time to see the country since the Marine Corps didn't want to foot the bill. I imagine we will settle some place less polluted, less populated, and less developed. Do those places still exist? Any time I get lonesome for California, I will pull out my albums filled with pictures of our adventures. Get my little Marine Corps/ Cali fix and go back to breathing fresh air in small town America.
However, until the retirement ceremony we are going to keep checking off the Camp Pendleton Bucket List. The little things, big things, and even the repeats on the favorites all are getting checked off. Ehm...Disney. I think the best thing a military family can do is embrace the B, even when they really wanted the A. Just go with it and pretend it was your plan all along.