February 2012 was my first month as a civilian wife. From the day I got married till that February, almost eight years in total, I was a military wife. I adapted. I constantly heard the motto “Flexibility is the key to Air Power” and fitted it to my domestic environment. Flexibility is the key to life as a military family. Bloom where you’re planted.
Changing jobs, moving, saying good-bye, frustration over the fact that the window coverings from the last house NEVER fit the windows at the new house. These are all absolutes in the life of a military wife.
Civilian life, the way I pictured it in my head, would have its own set of absolutes. You find a good home, a good school district, a good church and stay put. Staying put was at the top of my set of absolutes about civilian life.
When I posted the first pictures of our home in the Bay Area last March, I got lots of comments from my military friends about how envious they were. We were civilians now and could stay put in our “forever” home. So, I know I’m not the only person who equates civilian life with staying put. To celebrate our new staying-put-ed-ness a friend of mine even gave me a stamp with our new address on it.
But by the time I got that address stamp, in August of last year, I was already filled with discontent. It didn’t even take six months of civilian life for my husband and I to realize that this home wasn’t our forever home. In the short-term everything was great. This house worked for us for now, but looking at the future the house and the schools didn’t look good. And after trying every Catholic church within a 25 minute drive of our house I still didn’t feel like I’d found a spiritual community.
My heart hurt that we hadn’t gotten it just right. This was supposed to be our time to stay put and all I wanted to do was go. I felt stuck and discontent.
And every time I sat down to write all I could think to write about was how stuck and discontent I felt. But I couldn’t write those words. I couldn’t say it. I felt ungrateful. Because a year ago this was better than I hoped for. My husband switched careers, we moved, we changed health plans and we’d come out better than okay. How could I complain about where we landed?
And since I couldn’t write it down, that discontent, I couldn’t write anything.
I retreated and tried to understand if my wanting for a different community was a problem with the community or a problem with me. Was the grass always greener on the other side or was our Bay Area jigsaw puzzle really missing a piece necessary for our happiness? Was I feeling envy or manifest destiny?
Before I’d really made up my mind, an opportunity came up. A chance to move to the foothills of Sacramento, back to where I’m from. So much closer to family. So much closer to friends. Back to a place where I feel home, with all the good words that attach to that word, like peace and room to breathe.
My discontentment turned into me holding my breath. And yet I still didn’t feel free to write. The one thing I wanted to write about was this opportunity, but I couldn’t. I was afraid to jinx it. So we waited and waited and waited throughout the holiday season, hoping we’d maneuvered ourselves just the right way for opportunity to fall into our laps.
And it did.
It fell right into our laps.
Less than a year after buying this house and feeling that we might finally be ready to put down roots into a house, we won’t own this house anymore. 51 weeks is all the time I’ll be able to say that this house was our home.
And I’m content with that.