Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The going gets weird, again...

It's been hard, the past year or so, to really think of myself as married to a Naval officer. In January, when we came home to Norfolk from holidays spent in the Midwest, Ruth's ship had already entered a drydock. The next 11 months, there was no activity with the spouse club, no days without email or weeks without telephone and no emergency underways. Sure, she came home late many nights and a few times not at all, but that's true of any job with responsibilities.

Meanwhile, Theo played at the park, made friends with the neighbors, hung out with me at the local pool club and started preschool. I took up running, was pretty good at it for never training in my life and took the logical step of joining the insanely active local running club, in addition to working around the house and being involved in everything Theo was doing. I started talking to local folks on Twitter.

In short, I more or less threw myself into our geographic community, rather than a work or military or online community. It felt comfortable. Suddenly I was thinking in terms of years, rather than months; thinking about spending next summer at the pool, but also about Theo growing up with the kids on the block. Thinking about running races with my local friends and entering a marathon with a good friend and how much I could see my results improve over the next few years.

[Do I sound like a moron to anyone else? Because in hindsight, I sound like a moron to me.]

It's the first time I've done it, and it was so much fun that the motivation to write about anything related to our military life kinda vanished. And in retrospect, I didn't realize that's what I was doing, or how dangerous it could be. I knew I didn't feel like writing, especially not about the military life we weren't really living; but I chalked it up to a need to define myself as something other than "Navy Spouse" or "Stay-at-home-dad" or by any other outside influence.

[Anyone see where this is going yet? Who am i kidding, 90% of my readers already know where this is ending.]

Comfortable is all well and good, but I'd forgotten "comfortable" isn't the life we've chosen.

My wife put in her duty preferences for her next job back in October and as always, I told her to go with the jobs that she really wanted, rather than trying to stay here in Norfolk. I did this in part because her work is a major part of who she is, and I want her to be happy. The other reason I told her to ignore geography is that I really didn't think the Navy would move us out of Norfolk at this point, for a variety of reasons that were all PERFECTLY LOGICAL at the time.

[This is getting more predictable than a horror movie, right?]

The day before Thanksgiving, the detailers released the slate ... and hey, whaddya know, she got her dream department head job, the one she said years and years ago she'd love to have at this point in her career ...

... but instead of on a ship in Norfolk, it's on a ship out of SASEBO, JAPAN. Which just goes to show you, I know jack about the Navy after all these years.

Before some random reader assumes otherwise, Japan has ALWAYS been on our list as the first country outside the USA we'd like to live. We'd asked for jobs in Sasebo several times prior, they just hadn't been available. A month prior to this news, as Ruth was filling out her duty preferences, she told me of a couple perfect jobs available in Sasebo. I told her, at the time, "Heck yeah, Sasebo! Put that down right after the Norfolk jobs you like!" (like I said, I didn't believe this had any chance of happening.)

So of course, since she got exactly what she wanted and we're going to a place we've wanted to be for years, I promptly FREAKED THE FUCK OUT for a few days. Was completely in shock for the first few hours, which made Thanksgiving prep tougher, but I got it all done.

What went through my head?

Theo isn't going to this preschool next year -- in fact, he probably won't finish the current year. sigh. I'll be declining the pool club membership for next summer. No spring marathon for me, can't commit to that training schedule. The cats? Oh hell, the cats are going to end up in quarantine because their shots aren't up to date. THE HOUSE. We just bought this house and now we have to rent it or sell it. Just bought? SHIT. We have a WEEK OLD car that can't go with us ...

So I've spent the past couple weeks working, planning, purging and talking to people who know a thing or two about Sasebo. The cats are getting their shots, the house is going up for sale (single tear) and the car has a home while we're gone. I've come to realize that there will be a cute little preschool full of Japanese kids for Theo to attend ... if we're not too busy riding bullet trains to places I've only dreamed of visiting.

More than anything, based on my initial reaction to this utterly predictable news, I've realized that I let my priorities get seriously out of whack the past year. We're not the stable semi-urban family of my imagination. I can go ahead and define myself however I'd like, but we ARE a military family, and there are going to be many more moves and separations after this one. I'd best get used to it.


jalbertbowdenii said...

coming from an Army brat, yeah dude, get used to it. Japan is tight though! And you're stoked! My boss loves it there, is near fluent and prolly could answer random questions if ya got em.

Manda said...

Japan would be an awesome place to live. I keep hoping for Iwakuni *sigh* probably never get there. Good luck with the move and everything that goes along with it and congratulations to your wife!

Carolie said...

Sasebo ROCKS! I'm glad you are headed this way. Although all the Japan bases are good, Sasebo is the best (in my opinion) due to the beauty of the area, the friendliness of the "southern Japanese" people and the small-town feel with big-city amenities. You're going to love it!

LindaWright said...

Oh, John. I'm both sorry to hear this news and delighted to hear this news. I'm sure it is bittersweet for you.

What an awesome opportunity for all of you though. And, Theo, is really still too young to remember this particular pre-school and young enough to learn Japanese with the proper accent so the language can be a magnificient tool in his arsensal later in his life.

I'm sure the Japanese run, too, and your legs are longer so you could get some wins under your belt! LOL

Congrats to your lovely wife on attaining one of her dreams!

I've missed your posts but understand that life goes on. Prayers are being said for all of you - go with God.

Michael @badassdadblog said...

Found your blog through dailymile (we're both friends with Steve S) and just read this latest entry. It's hard for me to imagine this level of uncertainty. And the fact you knew deep down it was possible probably doesn't help. Of course I made different choices for the sake of stability, then ended up getting laid off after 12 years last June. Just goes to show, ya never know. It sounds like an amazing adventure you're about to embark on, and I look forward to reading you posts from Japan!