A clock that reads 12:02, the numbers are in different colors.

Learning To Live in Temporary

This year, my family has had a real taste of civilian life due to my husband’s assignment. Realizing how temporary our lives are is hard. As I’m getting older the desire to set roots down is more intense. I haven’t realized how often the word “temporary” has echoed through the chambers of my mind. When I’m at the vintage market and start considering an item to purchase, I think, “How hard will this be to move with? Will it last through the first purge? Is it worth curating my tastes inside a temporary house that will become a totally new house with different space, layouts and colors?” I never buy anything. Instead, I leave with a daydream and a sharper idea of design about a future that doesn’t include temporary living. A future I can’t quite see approaching.

There are a million scenarios where the temporary sentiment plays like a broken record in my head. It’s louder now and hard to ignore. Each time it burrows a little further down in my heart, a new layer of callus forms over the surface to mend the exposed portion.

Recently, roots are being planted all around us and, selfishly, it’s a reminder how far we have yet to go. Several friends decided to get out of the Army. And honestly, it stung. The reality is our friends decided this isn’t the best lifestyle for them and their families. I get it, I totally get it. And I can’t help but question, are they right? This life is very, very hard. It’s hard on spouses, hard on kids, hard on parents, hard on family.

We’ve been in long enough that the enthusiasm has run dry. Now, we face the reality of life in the military without rose-colored glasses, but through clear lenses. Our kids are growing up. My daughter is ten. We are halfway through to retirement. The sacrifice of it all hits a vulnerable spot in my heart that longs to be settled.

There are so many moments that feel like a timer slowly ticking down to the next hardship. When life in one place only lasts a couple years, the limited amount of time I have with new friends, new colleagues, new schools, a new church, a new hairdresser, a new park and a new library feels pressured. The rationed time I know I have with my spouse before he leaves again, tick, tick, ticks away. The intensity to make the most of this regulated time feels dense and heavy like a thick fog. A burden pushing me towards the door, out of the house, reminding me to make the best of it. Make a connection, a new friend to make new memories with, at least for a while.

Is there rest in this temporary space? Is it a constant merry-go-round? Can I find some solitude amongst the boxes and tape? Movers, new neighbors, new activities, new coffee shops, new post office, new life — repeat.

Is there an untouched piece of earth waiting for me? Will we build the home we’ve longed for? A spot to remain, to settle and be known? Will I be able to plant a tree and watch it grow?

The solace I find lies in the life lived, in the stories yet to be told. The places yet to be explored. The friends yet to be made. The strength yet to be called on in time of need. The doses of hardship my children will learn from. The choice he made. The commitment we make to each other. The gravity that holds our family together when the spinning and spiraling environments change and shift.

The requirement of service is vast. The places and experiences fleeting. I’ve learned that time itself is temporary. Maybe it’s a comfort knowing the stride of all our clocks are equal. No matter how deep our roots grow, or how many roots grow next to ours, we make a mark. The skies change day to day. No matter where our house is or how temporary your time there, the sky changes.

I know I’m not alone. I know a lot of spouses deal with temporary. Where do your future daydreams take you?

photo of Katelyn Nixon
Written By Katelyn Nixon
Army Spouse

Katelyn has been a military spouse for six years and enjoys the adventurous lifestyle. To share her experiences with other spouses, she started a blog in 2018.

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