The Arch, Between Villages, Part III
This wound is still raw, so please forgive my slowness in posting.
On August 2nd, 2015 we moved to the St. Louis area, Scott AFB to be exact. And that was a hard goodbye. My family had relocated to Oklahoma while we were there and we had to leave them, the tribe I made for myself, all of my friends and former co-workers from the military, I had to say goodbye to all of them and start all over again. Now some people would let this completely break them. A lot of people I know tend to push everyone away before they leave, or deliberately pick fights. Being mad when you say goodbye is a lot easier. That's not my way though, so I tried to go forward with a much better attitude and just add to my village. Burning bridges just means you can’t go back without swimming through some muck.
On August 4th we moved into our home on base. I don't know if you watch the news, goodness knows I don't, but lately one of the focuses of Congress has been the atrocities that occur during military moves. Let me break this down for you: the military hires private contractors to move their people’s stuff. These contractors come in and then hire temp workers to pack, load, ship, and often store goods. And the government, being what it is, always takes the lowest bid. Throughout any military tale, you will hear a variety of experiences. I am going to very briefly share ours.
We were one of the lucky one’s who had our stuff delivered the same day we got the keys to our house. This is very “not standard”. When the truck arrived, the driver hired temp workers to unload and unpack our shipment. Well these two people were driving on suspended drivers licenses and could not get on base. I had to go and get them myself, and then when it took more than a couple of hours to unload the truck and help me set-up my house, they almost had a fistfight in the front yard because one of the temp workers had a party to go to and needed me to drive him back off base. So let's just say we weren't starting off awesome. What was awesome though, was my new neighbor, who had also just moved in, marching across the street to meet and hang out with me in the front yard. I think he noticed the craziness that was going on and thought I could use some support. He and his then wife became great friends of ours. We helped with each other’s kids often. And that, has been pretty standard of military neighbors for me. The next day another neighbor came by with zucchini bread made with zucchini from her garden, and my neighbor right next door met my dog first. Things started to look up. Knowing your neighbors makes everything a little less lonely.
Like I did at Tinker, I joined all of the spouse pages on Facebook, and all of the local garage sale pages, and all of the interest pages I could find for the area. I got the kids enrolled in school and joined the school pages and groups. This is where your slow stalking begins. You start to look at what people say and if their comments are ones that you agree with regularly. Finding like-minded people through posts on Facebook is almost an art nowadays.
And that's how I met J. J always said what I was thinking in groups and I quickly learned that we could hang out. Bonus, she lived a side street down. I knew we were going to be forever friends at the community meeting. A young lieutenant was absolutely losing his mind because his garage door opener didn't work. He was so upset by this that he wanted the square footage of the garage deducted from his rent. We couldn’t keep straight faced. Trying to get through the community meeting without being a disruption was extremely difficult from that point forward. Our friendship bloomed into hilarity such as her coming over with a pirate sword to threaten my children back into bed (calm down, they loved it).
Shortly after meeting J, I met K. She and I were sizing each other up in the school pick-up line for a while. I believe I commented on her TOMS, which is still a staple in her wardrobe. J decided to throw a tea party. I'm not one to miss out on the chance to wear a ridiculous headpiece, so I went in a sparkly dress and a headpiece and everyone else dressed up like a tea party. And at that party I met M. She did not dress up like a tea party, she dressed up like a Jedi. Instant BFF. The four of us had more shenanigans over my three years at Scott, than any other group I had found. Girls night out in Bellevegas, wine walks, Pokemon Go excursions, and regular laughter over the neighborhood dynamics. We made crazy art, nearly got kicked out of the local thrift store, got tattoos, and made 5 gallons of fluffy slime. Great times and hard times. We stuck together when things got truly scary for M and she had to leave a bad relationship. I think that cemented us together in a different way, a stronger bond than anything else. If you can get through the absolute worst together you can get through anything together.
**A few things to take note of as you take a gander over the following images: 1) When you are using a straw to blow paint, make sure there is no paint on the straw part that you are putting in your mouth and 2) 5 gallons of fluffy slime was actually a terrible idea in hindsight. The house smelled like a barbershop for a week.
In three years time I had made a really close-knit village for myself. I never worried that I didn't have someone to pick my kids up from school, or if I needed something, someone wouldn't come help me. Not only these three other women, but neighbors and spouses of my husband's co-workers. I feel like I did more within the military community than I ever had before in just those three little years. I had tried. I had created a family.
And then… we got orders again. This time we were headed to Nebraska. WTF is in Nebraska? I’ll tell you next time.