Saturday, March 29, 2014

Making B Your A

One of my most favorite things about military life is the chance to see the world. Many many years ago when I was a naive gal freshly transplanted from small town Iowa to big city California, I thought we would spend our life moving. Knowing my life would be full of adventures and three year stints in every region of the country made me excited! I couldn't wait until our three years was up and we would be off to the East Coast.

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.



  1. When I married my husband, my thought was the same as yours: Great! We get to see a ton of places and change locations every few years. I quickly learned that there really aren't as many MC bases out there as there are for other branches. And even still ... after almost 5 years, they put us out on medical retirement, and we never left Lejeune. We moved back to his home town, only two hours away ... and now, we both want to move BACK to Lejeune, and have made it our goal for the next two years. Its funny how life works!

  2. So, so very true! I think the best thing a military spouse can do is to be able to make the best out of every situation and every place you are stationed!

  3. I love this post! As a Texas girl, my heart belongs there but Cali became my second home after being stationed there for 10 years. After moving to Mass, I realize more every day just how much I love Cali.

  4. I love this!!! I think in any circumstance, you just have to make the best of what life gives you. Sounds like you are doing just that.

  5. You summed up my thoughts on California. It wasn't my choice to move here, but I'm trying to make the most of it and see/do everything while I'm here.

  6. Very well written! This lifestyle constantly surprises me so I can't wait to see what the future holds. Good for you for having such a great perspective! :)

  7. Ah, the military has such a way to give us exactly what we don't expect. Kev and I get serious nostalgia for all the places we have lived, but still haven't decided where 'home' is/will be.