I’ll never forget, even after over two years have passed, the moment that I realized my entire life was about to change. It wasn’t when Justin picked orders for Gaeta, it wasn’t when when said “I do” or even when he proposed. The moment my world started shifting was during a phone call with him. I was standing in the side dining room at 12 West, just minutes away from clocking in for the dinner shift, when Justin called to tell me that he was put up for a transfer to the USS Donald Cook. The Cook, he told me, was set to move ports from Norfolk to Rota, Spain. Spain! I’m not sure if in that moment I fully accepted that he was handing me an invitation of sorts, but I knew that I loved him and that whether I went or stayed, I wasn’t going to be the same person anymore.
Fast forward, and the first scenarios played out. Justin proposed weeks later with a travel guide to Spain in hand, asking me to see the world with him. Sometime soon after our marriage, he picked his next orders to Gaeta, Italy, where we’re currently residing. Nothing about myself seems to be the same as it was that moment before I picked up my phone at the restaurant—and trust me, I’ve had a lot of time to think about who I am and where I’m headed and who I used to be. That’s what I’m choosing to take away from 2015…that no matter what happened or didn’t pan out, I’m different, my life is different, my marriage is different. I choose to see that despite any disappointments this year, change is good, because it means I’m moving forward.
I’ve had to say “goodbye” a lot in life for forever, I’m sure a lot of us have; for me, to several friends who have disappeared way before their time, or to family members who have lived a full and happy life. However, once you have attached yourself to the military—be it signing on the blue line or on the marriage certificate—you begin to see goodbyes a little bit differently. Commands usually have a two to three year commitment, so depending on when you show up to your new command and when you leave, you will have to say “see you next time” to more people than you care to keep track of. Some of it becomes routine, but other times it takes a piece of you with them.
I recently visited The States to see my baby brother and sister graduate from high school. No, they aren’t twins, so that’s out of the way. My brother is going on to run track at Bethany College in Kansas majoring in who knows what. My sister, who graduated as class president and valedictorian, is going to College of the Ozarks “down south” to be a biology teacher…honorable, but ambitious? Eh. Then again, who am I to decide if a dream is too big or too small? Am I following any of my “dreams?” Are you?
People think it’s so cool when I tell them my last job was being a radio personality for a country music station. I try not to be “that person” who cannot take a compliment, so I usually say something along the lines of “Yeah, it was neat” instead of throwing the bundle of complaints that flashed through my skull at the mention of my previous employment. Not that it didn’t have its upsides, but now, being far away from it, I can officially say that radio has ruined my life.