One chapter in our lives has ended. My husband retired from the Air Force in February after 22 years of active service. Being an Air Force family was an adventure we wouldn’t trade for the world but I am glad that we will have my husband back full-time. We counted up the time he’d been gone and it turned out he spent just shy of eight years away from home. Eight of our eighteen years of marriage. It’s a little surreal to think we’ll never have to cycle through the emotions that come before, during, and after a deployment. We are all so proud of him.
His ceremony was in November 2012 and his last day on active duty was January 31, 2013. He had been looking for a job pretty much all over the southwest and decided to take a job-hunting trip in February back to his hometown area of Midland, Texas to meet with some people face-to-face. We thought he’d be gone a few weeks. But to our surprise and delight, he got a great offer less than an hour after he landed and in spite of taking other meetings, the first offer was the best. They asked, “Can you start Tuesday?” which really threw a wrench in the works because he thought he’d be back in California waiting to hear about a job. We had to decide fast and with the end of his active duty pay looming and the honestly awesome job offer, it seemed like the smartest thing to say yes.
His mom welcomed him home (temporarily) and he started his new job in mid-February. He started looking for houses and I started getting ready to move. We have put in a couple of offers on two different houses but for one reason or another (roof is shot, foundation is cracked, property title can’t be insured, etc) we haven’t finalized any permanent housing. The school year is ending soon so we went with plan B which was to rent a temporary apartment in Midland so we can reunite the family after what we hope will be our last separation and look for a house together.
I freely confess I’m not super-excited about moving back to west Texas but I am looking forward to being close to his family. My own parents are considering a retirement move to central Texas so we will be close enough to visit them often and my kids will get something I never had as a second-generation military brat: all their grandparents will be close enough to participate in their lives on a regular basis. I see this like any other assignment. It is what you make of it and you can choose to be happy and find things you like or you can choose to be miserable and grouse all the time. I’d rather bloom where I’m planted and be happy.
It is not going to be easy living out of my element culturally but I’m already looking for ways to find my own community. A friend of mine recommended I get involved with the UU congregation in Midland because she is quite certain that I’ll find an oasis of like-minded people where I won’t feel as disconnected as I did in Abilene. I’ve also gotten in touch with the Midland County Democrats and hope to stay active politically with them. They told me there aren’t enough of them to make a separate women’s group which is just fine. We will turn Texas blue sooner or later.
Moving day is a month away and I still have so much to do but I know it will get done. It always does. Besides prepping the house and our things for the move, I’ve got a list of things in the city that we haven’t done that I’m trying to squeeze in before we go. Russ is flying out here the day after the packers leave to load the little u-haul with what we’re taking to the apartment and we’ll spend the next few days driving back across country with a stop in Tucson to visit my co-workers whom I haven’t seen since 2007. I have a new boss and an old teammate I’ve never met in person, not to mention the whole company moved to an office I’ve never visited. I’m looking forward to seeing the people I knew and meeting the new folks face to face. Come July 1st I’ll be officially a transplanted Texan!