Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pack your bags honey – I’ve got one more move left in me!

When I was little, growing up outside of D.C., I was fascinated by the military families who moved onto our street. A moving truck pulled up in front of their home and all their belongings were in these huge crates – neatly lined up, just waiting to be opened. Maybe I was intrigued by the thought of somehow everything one owns can be packed into a box. Or, perhaps it was the excitement and the buzz surrounding boxes being unloaded – like having your very own personal UPS driver pull up and deliver all your possessions. It seemed like fun, like an adventure – little did I know that one day I’d fall in love and marry a guy who was going to take me on a life long adventure of packing and unpacking many, many boxes.

Now tell me again, why are you in Japan?

I’ve had that question a lot and since it was a quiet week with no exciting road trips to report (thank God), I thought I’d bring everyone up to speed – especially since I’m such a Christmas Card Slacker (CCS) and haven’t bothered to send one out in 5 years, some folks totally missed the whole Maryland/Johns Hopkins fellowship stint (email me if you want to know about that one).

Change is Good

For those of you that have been with us since the beginning, that gave up on writing our names in your address book and just started putting our info down on little yellow stickies – in pencil - here’s the stats: this would be move number 12 - San Diego; Alameda, CA; San Diego; Rhode Island; Arlington, VA; Bethesda, MD; Norfolk, VA; Jacksonville, NC; Camp Lejeune, NC; Severna Park, MD; Norfolk, VA; Yokosuka, Japan. 25 years of marriage and 12 moves and sadly for me the party is not over yet. There used to be something exciting about moving – I actually enjoyed it. Someone comes in and packs up all your belongings, you move to a new area – a chance to see a different part of the country and make new friends, expand your horizons. An opportunity to purge, a time to reevaluate, reorder your world – think of it like a New Year’s Resolution in overdrive. Maybe it’s because I’m older and I don’t want to have to say good bye to yet another set of friends; maybe it’s because with kids, moving becomes much more complicated; maybe exciting isn’t what floats my boat anymore – comfortable does. Let’s just say I was happy in Norfolk, content to let things just be, totally good with having Jeff serve out the remaining years of his payback (5 years of med school + 3 years of fellowship) … until one day in March 2008 when Jeff came home and handed me an email and said “this just came across my desk - what do you think?” It was an email message asking for Navy Pediatric Specialists to volunteer for Overseas General Pediatric Billets. As a Pediatric Specialist Jeff would not have the opportunity to be assigned an overseas tour because in theory if you need a specialist then you won’t pass the overseas physical so therefore there is no need for Peds Specialists overseas – everyone follow? This was our only chance to live abroad. A chance to give our kids an amazing gift to experience a different culture. What did I think? Well, it took about 10 seconds - maybe (for all my brain cells to connect) and then I think I started jumping up and down and thinking this will be soooo cooool. Was I excited? You bet. Had I already forgotten how much moving bites? Obviously. Pack your bags honey – I’ve got one more move left in me!

Really, What was I thinking?

Maybe moving is a lot like childbirth … you go through the pain, the sweat and tears and then you have this beautiful little baby (or in our case babies). Then the baby gets older, becomes a toddler and you think “ooooo maybe I’ll have another baby, I miss that baby smell, I miss the nurturing, I miss having someone who doesn’t have a vocabulary of “no” and “poopy” – oh, wait, babies don’t have a vocabulary yet – wow, I think the baby circle of life just became very clear to me - they don’t talk back” and you forget about the pain, the sweat, the tears. Moving is definitely like childbirth. It’s the excitement of learning all about where you are moving to, it’s the challenge of information gathering (Jeff will say that’s one skill I have fine tuned over 12 moves – now what can I market that into to pay for tandem college tuitions?), it’s the smell of a freshly opened can of paint, it’s the nurturing of turning a house into a home, it’s the … would one of my dear friends please just slap me the next time I mention anything about moving? Because it’s a lot about pain (dealing with the Navy Personal Property office), sweat (sweating it out on many different fronts – like finding out you don’t have the right passport and so you can’t get your plane tickets to fly to be with your husband who is already IN ANOTHER COUNTRY – but more on that later, actually that just may have to be a completely different blog entry, when I’ve had several very large glasses of wine) and tears – really, I don’t think I want to share the tears part with you all because then, even my closest friends will think “psycho.”

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I really dislike that saying – probably because so many people said that to me in the beginning of our marriage, when Jeff was at sea more than he was home. Or maybe it’s because I think the people who say it have never really experienced a long separation and they are just clueless. Having any family member separated from the rest of the familial nuclei is just plain and simple hard. And so it was not an easy decision but in the end we decided it was the best one for our family – Jeff would go ahead of us to Japan and we would catch up with him later, after school, after summer camps, after the dog completed the 6 months of preemptive quarantine measures.

It will all work out

We heard this A LOT – especially from the friends who had survived an overseas move, some of which actually signed up for another one. Well, I’m out of time and I know I’m already late with my entry for the week - so you all will have to tune back in to find out just how did it all work out. I’m off to do the soccer mom job and get Wrenn to a scrimmage. So consider this part one of a several part entry on the trials and tribulations of getting a military family overseas.

Thanks for all the positive feedback everyone! Really, I am amazed everyone keeps reading and I love hearing from our friends and family. I’ll try to wrap up the moving saga this week so that I can fill everyone in on the Bazaar that’s coming to the base this weekend. 6 floors of a parking garage here packed with goods from Asia – all for me! Well, not really but it sure will be fun to do lots of window-shopping and hopefully pick up some Christmas gifts. Strangely Jeff wants to actually go shopping with me … I wonder why?

Till next time. Sayonara.

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