Guest Blogger: Creating a Sense of Community-Making Haste
Blogger Biography: I am a native Texan and a stay-at-home mom for my two rambunctious preschoolers (four and two). My family and I are in the beginning stages of our Army adventure, establishing roots at our first duty station, and getting ready to wrap up our first deployment. I am (mostly) loving the Army lifestyle and ready to see what lies on the road ahead!
When the Army moved us to our first duty station on Fort Bliss nearly three years ago, I was totally lost. Having lived my whole life in Texas, I thought that I would be able to adjust quickly. Boy was I wrong.
Here’s the quick breakdown of my story:
Moving day: Uncontrollable excitement.
Day 1 in El Paso: I am not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Day 2: What do you MEAN there are no houses available to rent?!
Day 3: Let’s take the extra-small house, honey. It’s just the three of us, and it’s the only thing available. Besides, if this is taken out from under us, we are in a world of hurt.
Day 4: Sign the lease.
Day 5: Find out I am expecting my second child. Um…where am I going to put the mountain of baby stuff in this tiny house?
Day 6: Discover what a “swamp cooler” is. Vow never to live in a house with a swamp cooler ever again.
Day 7: Movers arrive. Man, I hope we got all the boxes! Um…want to put your dresser in the closet, honey? It doesn’t fit in our tiny bedroom. (Oops.)
Day 10: Kiss husband good-bye for a month for Sapper school.
Day 11: Let panic ensue. If I die in this tiny house today, no one will find me because no one here knows who I am.
Day 12: Figure out who to put for emergency contacts for my daughter’s child care when I don’t know a single soul.
Day 14: Google my way to the Bliss Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) page. Sign up for all of the Army Community Service (ACS) classes in sight.
Day 15: Plug everything into my GPS. And I mean EVERYTHING! McDonald’s, grocery store, gas station, home address. (Oh man! Where do I live again?) Discover in this process that nothing on the installation is going to pull up on my GPS…but not before believing for about thirty minutes that almost everything on Fort Bliss is located on “Unnamed Road.”
Day 16: Try to figure out where in the world the hospital is to take care of my prenatal business. Realize that this is going to be WAY different than having a baby in a civilian hospital. (Why are you taking all of my blood, man?!)
Day 20: Begin ACS classes. I’m starting to get the hang of this now!
Day 21: Find a church. Make a friend.
Day 30: Fly in mom for moral support. (And to tell her you’re pregnant.)
Day 40: Welcome husband home. Laugh when you have to tell him where the nearest gate onto the installation is so he can report to his unit.
…the rest is history.
Three years later, after being shipped to somewhere completely foreign to me and left there right off the bat to fend for myself, I am happy to say that El Paso feels like home to me. No, it didn’t feel that way at first. But now the very real truth that we are getting ready to leave somewhere in the near future has me feeling very sad.
Am I scared about starting all over? Of course! And I have a feeling that this inkling of fear is going to happen with every PCS from here on out. But that won’t stop me from trying to turn every move into an adventure and every tiny house into a home.
How do you make it a home? You make yourself some roots, my friend. And however shallow your roots are buried, I promise when you commit your efforts to loving a place, you will take a piece of it with you wherever you go.
Milspouses do not have the luxury of time. We have to wear our hearts on our sleeves when we would normally prefer to be a bit guarded. Friendships are formed quickly, because most spouses are just as open. Of course, many of the friends I made at first were the first ones to leave me, but I never let that stop me from meeting new people. We all need to be a bit hasty when it comes to friendships with spouses, because those are the ladies you will use for your emergency contacts, to watch your kids when you get sick and need to go to the ER, or to hold your hand through the rough parts of a deployment. When it comes to learning the city, we just have to dive right in. Take on volunteer work, attend churches, and sign up for MWR supported classes and activities. You never know how much you will like something until you try it. And you’ll never know what you have been missing out on until you dedicate yourself to showing up for it.
So go ahead. Make a home for yourself; and make it snappy.