Update: Some New Friends

A lot has happened since my last post lamenting the scarcity of friends and opportunities to make them. Namely what has happened is that I have made some. Knowing my husband would be leaving for a few months, I had to decide to set myself up for success and put myself out there to make friends. I realized that after I’ve written an essay about having no friends, I couldn’t get away very well pass up opportunities and decided I would need to say yes to everything.

  1. PWOC

First of all, I went back to Protestant Women of the Chapel. PWOC is a biblestudy that is held on almost every military base in the world. I went last semester until I started working. I had been lukewarm about going this fall, but I decided to go. The leader of my biblestudy small group took pity on me immediately and invited me to two other groups she leads including WOW, Wives of Warriors. Even though I like to go to Crossfit on Saturday mornings, I decided I could make it to the WOW meetings every 2nd and 4th Saturdays. A couple days later I received an email from Jessica from WOW, whom Diana had asked to reach out to me. She invited me to another group, and then sent an additional email to suggest we hang out because she had found my blog and subsequently felt sorry for me. She invited me to lunch the following week, which I was very appreciative of.

  1. Meetup.com
    The Girls

Several people also suggested meetup.com, which I was signed up for but had not used. Lo, I received an email about a new group forming called “Young Black Professionals.” Sounded like me. I joined the group and RSVP’d to the first meetup, which was seeing “Maze Runner: Scorched Earth Trials” despite the fact I had no interest in the movie. Since then, this meetup group has become one of my primary sources of socialization. The group of about 10 usually meets up twice a week, often in the group host’s home (often for food), which feels welcoming and intimate.

  1. Crossfit

I did not mention previously that I attend Crossfit five days a week. I usually go in the mornings and the same people. I usually arrive around 8:55 and leave at about 11, because I’m talking to the other women or the coach. I’m getting my workouts in, but often also the only socialization I may get in a day so I tend to linger.

Crossfit Friends

  1. Yes Man

Apart from these regular activities, I have said ‘yes’ to just about every other event I have been invited to. I go without knowing if anyone else I know is going, and often when no one else I know is going. That takes energy and courage, because it is so easy to stay home or be shy, but I have to be courageous enough to put myself out there to create new relationships.

I have been to a Resiliency Event for military spouses, PWOC Game Night, PWOC Military Spouse of the Year night, meetup for women networking, H20 at Home ‘Party,’ Essential Oils Class, and next week I am going to a cookie exchange even though the last thing I want is 48 cookies sitting around my house.

I find that I am sometimes aloof at events, including my main meetup group events, if I go when I don’t really feel like it. It takes me an extra second to respond, and I wonder if people think I’m weird. Even I’m not excited about the event, getting to go through the motions is valuable, and I have appreciated making acquaintances I can build on later.

My Efforts

One thing Diana, my leader at PWOC, has encouraged me to do is invest in other women. After I wrote that initial post, I had decided my purpose would be to be a friend to women without friends, but those women have ruined that for me.

In a shocking turn of events, Neighbor A—20, no kids, no job, no friends—knocked on my door to see if I had found a job. We took them cookies when they moved in. The two of us met Neighbor B, 21, no kids, no job, and 1 friend FOUR hours away—and she basically told us she was lonely.

I planned a perfect, Pinterest brunch for the girls and Neighbor B’s friend. Naturally Neighbor B canceled, and didn’t tell me until I texted her the night before. I figured she needed extra help not sabotaging herself and tried to reschedule. She suggested a date that would work and then didn’t respond. Neighbor A and I eventually had breakfast at my house by ourselves.

Table Setting
I was so proud of this table setting.

I have met Neighbor C once when she had one of my packages. I have literally never seen her or her husband since, and they share the duplex with us. Neighbor D just moved in and has already invited me for brownies. She is also 20 with no job or kids, (also only been with her husband for 3 months, ALTOGETHER.)

I also tried to invite people to enjoy my birthday ice cream cake with me and was turned down 3 times. I was even turned down by a friend from Crossfit that lives close by, and who has complained to me several times about having no friends or life. Instead of eating it with me, he only wanted to come get it and go. For the record, my cousin came. I also agreed to host an H2O at Home get-together and no one on post wanted to come. I’ve made other attempts to connect with people whose husbands were gone with no success.

Basically, I can’t with people. I want to save people from themselves, but I don’t know that I am resilient enough. Being rejected by helpless people hurts my feelings. I don’t think people at PWOC are much better because most of the women act like making a new friend (with me anyway) is the furthest thing from their minds. Once again, I am so used to it, when someone actually asks me to do something I don’t know how to respond.

Ashley's House
Moms for days.

Neighbor A asked how I coped with meeting new people. I told her those skills come with experience.  These girls are young. I assume most enlisted people in the army and their spouses have never been to college. Many never have professional work experience before the Army. College is a huge exercise in socializing. Then working in a professional environment turns interpersonal relationship building into a skill. Many women, or people in this environment have not had those experiences, those monumental experiences, which I think is why this culture is hard to navigate socially.

I will say that I have made at least two actual friends; ones that I want to hug when I see them, and text if I haven’t seen them in a while.

Even though people can be terrible and I am not sure which of the people I have met I can actually call on, I appreciate having so many additional opportunities to go through the motions of friendship even if it isn’t really that. Making real friends takes time. In the meantime, I enjoy each time I have a conversation or a laugh with someone. Those experiences alone are valuable and much better than sitting home for hours. Eventually I’ll make a reliable friend, but until then I’m still happy with my husband being it.

Here Comes the Bride Part II

IMG_6162A year ago I announced my wedding, which was 3 days away with this post. It was Part I, but I never successfully wrote Part II. The fact that I was having a wedding wasn’t what begged a part II, but it was the fact that I planned said wedding in 20 days. Why? Because the Army.

Several awesome things happened in the process of planning my wedding. First of all, we were able to find a photographer the night we decided to move the wedding up. I had seen an “Elopement Package” on Craigslist so that was the first thing I checked on, it came with a photographer, officiant, bouquet, and cake for $250. I just used the photographer. We also found that getting a marriage license and marrying the next day was possible in St. Louis City. Some places require you to wait a couple weeks.

After we decided not to elope, and I got past trying to be as cheap and practical as possible, we actually found a venue! Two weeks out we found a nice, quaint spot with a rustic feel and an affordable price. This is a miracle because most venues are booked well in advance and cost no less than one million dollars. This place was gorgeous, in town, and $200 an hour.

What is probably more important than where we were getting married was what we were wearing. I was able to pick out and order Spencer’s suit without him, and I won some drawing at a Bridal Show and received a discount, and then also a military discount totaling $90 off and a free garter!

Wedding from Andrea 037Before the wedding had a date, my homegirl Catherine sent me a link for a Bridal Gown Giveaway. I had already bought a basic dress but she figured I could sell the free one. The catch was that the dresses wouldn’t be distributed until Veteran’s Day which was only 11 days before my wedding. I didn’t have any faith there would be more than leftover, reject dresses, but I ended up finding a version of my Pinterest dreams! When I walked out of my dressing room in the long sleeve, fitted, lace embroidered dress people truly came from across the store to admire it. Strangers tried to convince me to take it, but it wasn’t until the attendant secured the veil that I finally wiped away tears and decided it was for me. It needed no alterations. That in itself was a miracle.

One my way home with the dress, I received confirmation that I could have s’mores instead of cake and at a discount!

In Other News

After I decided we wouldn’t elope, I thought we would just have our best friends and family. Then I decided I should actually invite friends. This was the unfortunate part of the having such a short amount of time. I told one of my friends she wouldn’t be included, then two days later told her they would, and our friendship has never been the same.

Also, a DIAMOND fell out of my ring the week before the wedding. The afternoon before the wedding, the ring was not returned to the store! The jewelers were able to rush it over, though. I didn’t even have Spencer’s ring and ended up rush ordering an $18 tungsten band from Amazon Thursday before (which is good because he has lost that already.)

And last, but certainly not least, Spencer was not cleared to come to the wedding until Tuesday before the wedding. Since it was his first time putting in a request for leave, we had no way of knowing the likelihood of his request being granted. Consider writing a deposit check for $1,700 for a wedding you don’t even know can happen. I couldn’t relax until I knew for sure he was coming. Then I couldn’t be happy because my wedding was in 4 days…

I appreciate the people that helped me out. Number one was Catherine Rains, who was my ‘round the clock consultant. She helped me make a lot of decisions that frankly I didn’t have the time to pore over myself. I was also able to delegate a few other tasks. Elizabeth designed the program, Allison worked on invitations I didn’t end up using, I asked Amber to host the second reception, and Lindsey worked on the Pinterest Thumbprint Guest Tree. Auntie Helen appointed herself the coordinator and helped me make judgement calls on the plans and ran the event.

Wedding from Andrea 114

 

The Event

The wedding turned out beautifully! Elizabeth said it might have been the nicest wedding she had ever been to. Before anything began or anyone arrived, Anyah showed up with a bag of goodies. When I was getting dressed she produced a glass of moscato on ice with a straw, which was the turning point for my day.

The wedding lasted from 12-3 pm: ceremony, cocktails, then lunch. Afterward, Spencer and I went to a hotel and rested, and ordered room service. At 7pm, we arrived at Lucas Park Grille to be received by our friends, clients, and coworkers. We served hors d’ouevres and sheet cake. The ambiance was excellent.

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My Regrets

If I could do anything differently, I would have made the photography a higher priority. The photographer I had was sufficient, but her pictures leave me wanting. If it weren’t for me being creative and bossy, all the pictures would have been mediocre. It took 11 months for me to finish my digital album because I was so regretful about how the pictures came out. The photos last a lifetime. I should have spent more than $150 on them.

Other than that, I think having pie and ice cream would have been a better choice than the s’mores we served at the wedding in lieu of cake.

Honestly, I think I would have been happy with the same event even if I had more time. It just would have been nice for all of our family to have been able to make it.

Epilogue

I have written this story several times since my wedding. The problem is that what always came through was my hurt and disappointment rather than the success of the event. Despite its majesty, I actually consider my wedding to be a traumatic event in my life for a few reasons.

First of all, I don’t feel the large majority of my immediate friends and family were there for me the way it seems reasonable to expect. (I will be doing some generalizing here.) With only 3 weeks to be engaged in my wedding planning, who of my closest friends asked how I was doing or what they could do? A few good friends were able to do this, but most of my closest were not. More people asked me what they should wear than asked me what I needed. I admit that being a bride can make a girl crazy and sensitive, but I do not feel anyone appreciated the stress of planning a wedding and preparing to become someone’s wife in such a short amount of time. Afterward I really questioned the kind of relationships I had formed if those people were not there when I needed them most. I don’t feel anyone had any grace for me during that time, as in no one was understanding when I didn’t act how exactly how I should have. It was like no one could put my needs before their own. I felt that if they couldn’t do this for my wedding, when would they ever be able to support me in excess? The morning of my wedding basically everyone majorly involved showed up late, including the photographer. I cried. I assume everyone thought I was emotional about getting married, but in reality I was convinced no one cared about my wedding, and it was going to be terrible.

I reconcile this now by accepting that people don’t always do the right things and they won’t always realize they were wrong and they won’t always be sorry, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good and that doesn’t mean I should take it personal; they just didn’t act the way I wanted in that moment. It took me a full 10 months to have peace about all parties in this situation. I actually talked about this in counseling. Also, let’s be real: 3 weeks is a short amount of time for some people to even conceive the idea of stepping up.

Maybe the most significant detriment to my wedding experience was the fact that I was very uncomfortable with the whole state of public attention. Being engaged felt pretentious to me because what is more pregnant than the term ‘fiance’ (other than the term ‘pregnant’)? Looking at wedding options was overwhelming to me, not just because of the money, but the idea of having people travel to be at my self-important event and potentially having them wish they hadn’t spent the time. Nor did I want to be the center of attention for the whole day and feel responsible for making their time worthwhile, which I was not sure I could do.

Wedding from Andrea 024

Almost a year later I realize the problem was my self-image. I did not think I was worthy of a large wedding. I didn’t think I was worth people’s time for something so rote and universal as wedding. My self-consciousness was not humility, but rather a lack of self-worth. I don’t mean that any person that chooses to have a small wedding thinks they are worthless, but the fact that I had a small wedding and hoped people said they couldn’t come means I didn’t think I was enough. In some ways I think I’m right that a lot of people at a wedding don’t actually want to spend 7 hours there, but it’s a rite for every woman, so why not me? Before the wedding, I didn’t know I had such a low self-image because I come off very confident, but now I realize that behavior is both an assertion and a defense mechanism so that by having high standards, I distance myself from people who may hurt me.

In the moment where I sat alone at the venue before those who were supposed to have been there early arrived, my fears were realized. To me, people were proving to me that I wasn’t worth it. Not saying that’s true, but that’s what was impressed on me at that moment. That’s why I cried.

In Conclusion

I’m glad we got the wedding out of the way because the important thing was getting married and getting on with our lives. Even if I didn’t have a complex, I’m still glad I had a small wedding. Weddings are stressful and expensive; I was able to keep both at a minimum with a wedding of only 40 people. I wanted to keep it about our nuptials and not about entertainment. But all that really mattered was that I stepped into my calling as Mrs. Weldon almost as soon as I possibly could.

Wedding from Andrea 156

Other military spouses completely understand why I had to do this and how it could have been traumatic. My neighbor doesn’t even keep pictures of her wedding in her house or on her phone! She had to marry by a certain date and everyone wasn’t on board with that. The military puts us in awkward predicaments and unfortunately our weddings tend to be one of them. I know I am not alone but I encourage women who might be entering a situation like this to be true to themselves and just try to be happy despite whatever the circumstances might be. While the activity around my wedding was stressful, I did enjoy my wedding day, and that eternal memory is what one has to protect.

The State of Hope

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I wasn’t going to post anything this week because I’m feeling so hopeless right now, but the prospect of missing a post was making me feel worse about myself. More importantly, I bet this place I am is a typical experience of being a military spouse.

Here’s what is going on: I haven’t lost any weight, still no job, yet another side hustle opportunity has evaporated, and Bae is gone. I can deal with anything when my husband is here because he makes me happy and he gives me purpose, but what is my purpose right now? I don’t need to clean or cook. I decided to take my fitness more seriously, but honestly have felt smoked ever since the competition I did 3 weeks ago. I’ve changed my diet to aid in recovery, but still find that I’m showing up to the gym at about 80%. I applied to Sephora in JCPenney the other day, because why not? I got a call the next day, but they are looking to hire seasonally; we won’t be here for the holiday. I can bet most places are likely waiting until January to start interviews, too. After applying to over 30 jobs this year, I just simply do not have any faith. It’s like 30 no’s. 30 instances of not being good enough or doing it right.

What is really happening here is this experience is wearing on my self-image. Since college I have been a very ambitious person with high expectations for myself. Honestly I was also sad last year because I wanted so badly to move forward in my career, but didn’t know what I wanted to do. I still don’t, but what makes the frustration more detrimental is that my choices are limited. I question, did I really trade reaching my potential for marrying this military man? I was the one who was ambitious and he wasn’t, yet I’m the one sitting at home for days on end with nothing really to do and few friends or family anywhere to be found. I have to believe I didn’t make a mistake. The feeling still is what it is. It’s big to think that I might not have a career. It’s probably kind of ignorant to think that too, after only 8 months of this. But the truth is, I’m only 27. I have no frame of reference for what could happen next or how things like this usually resolve.

I’m scared that I won’t self-actualize. I think I have a lot of potential. I want to work. I want to be productive. It scares me to think that I might just end up having to take whatever job I can find. I was very cognizant about the limitations the military can put on a spouses career, but after I got over the initial disappointment and accepted being a wife, I didn’t actually think it would happen to me. I’m special, I have a college degree, ambition, work ethic- not me! But here I am. And then I haven’t met many women who are defying this phenomenon. The spouses I know of that are gainfully employed are like doctors, nurses, teachers, some sort of therapists, or in the army. The trade I have is personal training. I can do other health-related things, which I like, but most jobs are looking for nurses to do those things. I didn’t go to school to be a trainer, but that’s the only real trade I came out with. No, I don’t want to be a nurse. Ask Lindsey why I would hate it.

And that leads to another level of troubles. I have moments of feeling badly about choosing that degree or the fact I didn’t go to grad school already. But to be honest, I’m not interested in anything enough to get a masters. I have an interest in being a counselor, but is feeling lukewarm about something enough to dish out $40,000 on another degree? Will my desire to be employed elevation my desire to do that job? I don’t know. These questions stress me out.

I look at the people who graduated high school with me who were kind of the upper class and look at the careers they chose. I saw a guy today is a NEUROSURGEON RESIDENT. Others are dentists, optometrists, musicians in California, lawyers, et cetera. I never had the notion to pursue one of those jobs, and I wonder if it’s because no one in our community was anything like that. My brother is the first person in my family that is really something. He just graduated Pharmacy School. I went to college on a Track and Field Scholarship, and I went out for Track in 8th grade because he had. So I wonder if he were enough older than me for me to see where he had ended up while I was still in school, would it have put me in a different state of mind? So now I think well maybe I should pursue something like that now, but I’m running out of time and have no real desire for anything specific. If I even had a dream, would I really be able to move somewhere and go to school? Or should I just go ahead and have a child?…

I spent a few days thinking about cleaning this. Represents my state in life. (I cleaned it)
I spent a few days thinking about cleaning this. Represents my state in life. (I cleaned it.)

Since my husband is gone, I really don’t feel I have a purpose. A couple months ago I decided I would have my purpose be to befriend the lonely, but they ruined that for me for the moment. I’m not resilient enough to deal with people that don’t appreciate me. I have signed up to volunteer with the Red Cross and am waiting for my second orientation two weeks from now. I know some will say I need to find my purpose and worth in Christ. I understand that. I’m a Christian and I grew up in church. I’ve been in a weird place since my ministry experience in college. I believe in The Cross, but still reconciling my belief in Christian Culture. That’s another post.

The other day I made a list of things to do so that I can just focus on the list and not life itself, and so that accomplishing something from it can make me feel better. At least feeling sorry for myself is keeping me from missing my husband or worrying about him, which are things I cannot change. What I don’t need is pity or suggestions of places to apply. I think I need to get through this and figure some things out. I think everything that is distressing me can be attributed to lack of life experience. This has to be learning experience. I’m sharing it because I want people to know what someone you love might be going through. This is part of the sacrifice.

Why is He Even Here?

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Almost exactly two years ago, I talked to Spencer on the phone about the interview he had that day. I had interviewed for the same job the previous day and immediately went to brief him, because he was the one that really needed a new job. He was also interviewing for another position. “I think if this doesn’t work out, it’s a sign that I need to do something completely different.”

Needless to say he didn’t get the job. Nor did I. I’ve been not getting jobs for years. In that same conversation Spencer mentioned joining the Army. I utilized my usual tactic, which was not engaging in a conversation about it.

At some point, it actually became a conversation, and next thing I know, the guy has an appointment at the MEPS office! That’s where people initiate their military engagement.
Spencer had always wanted to be in the military. His dad was in the Air Force for a couple years, and both his grandfathers served. Also, if you know Spencer, you can imagine that the military is where he’s supposed to be. He was one signature away from joining out of high school, but his parents told him they would pay for his college. Then he was still interested out of college, but was offered a PRN position at the gym at which I met him. Since only like 5 other graduates in America got jobs, and he liked the gym, he decided to take the position. When he finally joined, he was kind of at an impasse. There aren’t many full-time positions in the field of Health Promotion, which is the degree both of us have. (A person can find themselves working over 40 hours a week with not a single vacation day to their name). Since you can only be on your mom’s health insurance for so long, he was really interested in earning benefits. When no doors opened, Spencer felt it was a good time to pursue his dream of military service. He joined because he didn’t want to be 40 and wish he had given it a shot. Basically, he is pursuing his dream.

That’s the beauty of failing, sometimes that other idea becomes your only option and it can lead to good things.

Despite having a Bachelor’s Degree, Spencer went in Enlisted instead of as an Officer. He did this because he wanted to try for Special Forces, he wanted to earn street cred for having started from da bottom, and his interest was not paperwork and responsibility, but rather being the agent of defense.

When I first got here and realized Officers make enough money that their wives don’t usually work, I would have fleeting annoyance toward Spencer for not choosing that, but that was just me being greedy. They make more money, but they also make it home late all the time, and are responsible for other people’s mess. If you know Spencer, you know he has not interest in being bothered with other people’s business. Being enlisted was the best choice for Spencer and for us as newlyweds.

He began the debacle, I mean–process at the beginning of November 2013. Spencer’s excitement to embark on the rest of his life was palpable, much to my dismay. After some tumult with his medical testing and my hysterics, he left for Basic Training in Georgia on April 7, 2014.

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Despite the disappointments of this experience, Spencer is happy with his choice. The Army definitely has it’s ups and downs, which keep him from exploding with joy, but I can’t imagine him anywhere else. I am glad he followed his dream. Even though I knew this is where he belonged, it was hard for me to imagine myself here with him, but that’s a post for another day.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

cupsThe first day my husband leaves is usually a tough day. It is gloomy and boring and I usuall y plan on eating a lot of carbohydrates that day and watching “The Office” on a loop. I usually don’t cry, but if I felt like it, I would. After I adjust to his absence, I revert back to “single” mode and start taking my clothes off in the living room and letting dishes pile up in the sink. I stop really cooking and just go buy a rotisserie chicken and frozen vegetables. There are days I miss him in a very real and physical way. When I feel like that, Netflix is there.

When he’s gone I spend a little longer at the gym. I don’t actually exercise more, I’m just there. A few friends text and check on me and I appreciate it. These are the times my friendlessness is more apparent because I go stretches of day without speaking to anyone and not being able to come up with someone I could invite to lunch. I take to sleeping in the spare room, in the bed I used when I was single, because it was only meant for me.

Then one day my husband shows up at the door with body bags of stuff and covered head to toe in poison ivy. I am ready for this. The house is clean, the fridge is stocked, and my entire body is epilated– that is, hair-free. We embrace.

I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a transient spouse. In college, I didn’t want to date this guy who was going to Medical School, because presumptively, he would become a doctor and be gone too much for me; only to find myself with a husband who will be gone for months on a regular basis.

One consolation for me is that our home is his home. I am his home. I comfort him and make him comfortable. Nothing can replace that. The fact that my husband leaves makes that all the more special. If my husband was never leaving, I would never savor him in an endless hug in the kitchen. I would rarely spend a week focused on what he wants to eat and do. If my husband never left, my thoughts would never be consumed with the next moment I will see him or how it feels to have him all on my side of the bed. If he never came home, I would seldom obsess about any little thing I could do to make him happy. Many wives say “the honeymoon never ends” because those tender moments happen again and again. I don’t think those things happen if your husband only ever leaves you to go to a few conferences for work each year.

But while I am consumed by him, he is consumed by his endeavor. When he comes home he seeks respite and I provide that, but then after I have spent weeks sleepless, bored, lonely who is giving me respite emotionally? I meet his needs as best I can, but the best he can do for me is be present, on the couch mindlessly looking at sports. No one makes me dinner or brings me gifts. No one praises me for my sacrifice or sees to my security. My soldier does not have that left to give.

I’ve only had brief moments of these feelings, but I’m only on the front end of this and I don’t have kids. I know wives grow bitter because they basically end up raising their children alone. Sometimes a wife even has to move to a new duty station alone, and they are there with no job or family besides their 5-year old and a wobbly baby on the hip, and she’s worried about her husband’s safety. I think this woman has something to be upset about.

I don’t want to be bitter so I’m never going to have kids–just kidding! (However, I don’t plan on having a bunch of kids and making it harder on myself.) I don’t feel neglected by my husband, just neglected by this situation. The best I can do to help it is to let Spencer know my feelings and specific ways he can help. If I have learned one thing about marriage it is that my husband is not going to figure anything like this out on his own.

I'll just sit here while you sleep because before I know it, you'll be gone.
I’ll just sit here while you sleep because before I know it, you’ll be gone.

Does basically being single for extended periods of time sort of suck? Yes. To have a life that goes on without him and a life that can be stopped for him is a balancing act. At times they seem mutually exclusive. Nurturing one inhibits the other. But honestly, what would life be like if I never had a reason to get all sentimental about this guy? Each time he leaves, the counter is reset. When he returns I have forgotten about how he he seems to go out of his way to pass gas in the room I am in, or how he can’t listen. I forget about those things and just remember how funny he is and how much better I sleep with him around. Maybe being with your husband every day evens out to or outweighs repeated honeymoons, but the honeymoons are all I have, and for them I will be grateful.

We’ll see if I feel the same after our first deployment…

A Day in the Life

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All Smiles!

The alarm goes off at 5:30. I usually don’t hear it, but my husband eventually gets up and gets his little PT outfit on– black Army shorts and black t-shirt, girded with a yellow, reflective belt– and reports to wherever it is they are meant to work out, by 0600. They work out and Spencer makes it back home around 7:30 or 7:45. He eats cereal, showers, and gets back in bed. I used to wake up to cook him a hot, nutritious meal, but my husband prefers cereal. He prefers cereal.

Similar to PT outfit. Soldiers are not allowed to wear ankle socks. lol
Similar to PT outfit. Soldiers are not allowed to wear ankle socks. lol

I usually get up around the time he gets back in bed and head to Crossfit at about 20 ’till 9. Spencer has to report back to his cof, Company Operations Facility, by 9:30 am, but it varies.

Depending on how long I procrastinate at the gym or visit with the other people since they are the only other people I usually talk to in a day, I make it home between 10:30 and 11:00. Somewhere around 11:30 I get a text saying “omw,” which is my cue to start fixing lunch.

Spencer comes in and removes his boots and jacket and sits down in front of the TV. We eat and he chills out, sometimes naps, until he has to report back at 1 pm. I may or may not have my eyebrows drawn in at this point. Ideally, I’m dressed and have the dishwasher unloaded by lunch, but I can get distracted easily.

I spend the rest of the afternoon doing chores, including looking for jobs. My goal

My favorite chore!
My favorite chore!

is to have the house clean by the time Spencer comes home between 4:30 and 5:30. I get a text for that, too. (In the spring he was home by 4 or earlier almost every day!) Honestly, sometimes I’ll lie around for like 3 hours and then get up and start cleaning at about 4 pm. For some reason, those seem to be the days I get “the house looks good, babe.”

When Spencer gets in, he takes his boots off at the door, and takes a shower, because he usually smells like “outside.” I usually try to have dinner ready between 5:30 and 6, so by the time he’s cleaned up and sits down, it’s time to eat. We generally spend the rest of the evening straight chillin’. And yes we go to bed at the same time, but I might iPhone for an hour on a night where I’m not that tired. We all know Pinterest and Facebook are 20 times more interesting when you need to go to sleep, so I’m not complaining.

straight chilln', B
chilln’, B

Spencer shaves every night and gets his hair cut every other weekend (when it isn’t buzzed.) I told him to let me learn to do it to save the $13, but he doesn’t want to trust me.
Before I got involved in this lifestyle. I had no real idea what it meant to be in the Army beyond going overseas and narrowly escaping death. Since a solider is not deployed at all times, they obviously have an everyday life as a soldier, but we don’t usually think about that. It’s like how we never thought of teachers having lives outside school until we saw them in jeans at Schnucks (grocery store). There are other variables and elements than what I wrote about as well, but day-to-day it is fundamentally like any job. In fact, we call it “going to work” as opposed to something like, I don’t know, “reporting for duty.” This has surprisingly been regular experience.

Isn't he precious?
Isn’t he precious?

When I was in Missouri, people were asking me how we were doing and all of my responses started out with “I mean…” Because we are happy in terms of being married to each other, but the Army isn’t really a thrilling experience, but it’s not bad either. It’s like those SourPatch Kids. First it’s sour, then it’s sweet… then it’s sour…

There is plenty I like about being in the Army. Yes, I consider myself in the Army. I wouldn’t tell someone those words, but I definitely say WE are in the Army because the Army influences almost all aspects of my/our life. I like that Spencer is still accessible during the day, and can take care of important errands if need be. Of course I like the benefits, discounts, resources, health insurance, but I also take pride in being a part of something important. I’m not serving, but I am serving a man that is serving THE NATION.

What is crazy about the Army, from my perspective, is the fact that the Army owns my husband. If he is required to stay at the cof until midnight because someone lost something, there’s nothing anyone can do about that. Or, with only a few days notice, my husband may be going out “in the field” for a whole week. On the positive side, we always get extra days off for holidays, but if we want to travel more than three hours away, we have to secure a pass.

Schools and exercises are the middle ground between daily life on base and deployments. Spencer is about to go to Ranger School in Fort Benning, GA for a minimum of 2 months. We won’t have phone contact and he only asked me for 5 postage stamps. Don’t worry, I’m not feeling sad. The wives all cope.

Extensive packing list for Ranger School
Extensive packing list for Ranger School

I don’t have kids to deal with on my own, so I really can’t complain. Our husbands also go out for field exercises for weeks with their units to get hands on experience and training. That is either on the outskirts of the post or at another station in the country. We can usually communicate by phone. Soldiers also attend schools where they usually go to a different station to go through some sort of course to increase their skills and bragging rights.

All families expect deployments. I haven’t been through it yet, but it is not as scary as it seemed 12 months ago because I have been around so many women going through it. I have never met a woman who whines about it, and no one seems to offer pity, but rather sympathy. It’s also important to know that most soldiers want to deploy! That is why they became soldiers. In spite of that, I know it’s hard for spouses to see their soldiers excited about leaving when all they want is to be a family.

At this point, I’m very pleased with how things have turned out. I was actually forlorn about my future when we became engaged. I expected Spencer to be gone a lot and berated by his work and oppressive superiors.  I know things are different in other companies and stages of the military career, but right now Spencer’s responsibility level is such that he still has something to give to me at the end of the day, and I’m grateful for that. (He is also in a specialty unit, which seem to operate better than larger units.) Some women have their wedding and their husbands deploy a week later. I feel very blessed I did not have to go through that, but if I did, I know it would only have made me stronger.