I don’t remember how long ago, I’ll guess close to a year, I already knew I would be marrying my then boyfriend and moving to the states. Mind you, I hadn’t seen him in 7 months and wedding discussion was done online, but that’s neither here nor there. A friend was giving me advice on a couple of things (she, too, had lived several places in the US with her military husband) I should probably know about moving to a place like the one that would become my home for two years. Of all the advice she gave me, she closed with this: “Be careful with the military wives. Those women are crazy.” Mind you, she technically was one, and now I am as well, but the warning always stuck in my head.
Cut to a year later. My husband left in the middle of the week on a boat op. Originally he thought he would leave on Tuesday, but the day before he was told he’d leave Saturday morning. Then he called me at 9:17am on Thursday.
Him: “Hey, what time do you work today?”
Me: “(Slightly annoyed*) 10:45am, same as every day.
Him: “I’m leaving today. Crap, there’s no way you can pick me up and take me back in time. Don’t worry about it, I’ll find a ride.”
Me: “Wait, what? You’re leaving now? You can’t!**”
*I’m not quite sure the reason I responded annoyed. Being woken up (I sleep til the very last minute), him not knowing my schedule in spite of it being written on our dry-erase vynil chalkboard sticker.
**The conversation went on. Mostly I panicked that I had kissed him that morning as I dropped him off on base without knowing it would be weeks before I kissed him again. Eventually he got a ride home and scrambled everywhere for his gear and I got to give him another kiss before heading off to work while he continued getting his stuff.
The next day at work one of my managers asked me something about my husband which led me to respond that he was away on his boat op. This manager served in the Marines for 23 years and is one of those highly motivated men who loved every minute of it. He asked me if he had left me a shirt with his cologne so I could smell it.
Me: “He didn’t know he was leaving! All I can do is smell his pillow. Which I have.”
Manager: “Well, what are you gonna do these next few weeks?”
Me: “Nothing. Catch up on my reading, I guess.”
Manager: “Don’t you know anybody? Have any friends here?”
Me: “Not really. The closest friend I had here moved back to Michigan.”
Manager: “You need to get involved with the Marine Wives. They’ll help you out. It’s not good for you to be all by yourself. I used to get calls from women like you who had nobody.”
Me: “I’ll be fine. I’ll do a lot of cleaning.”
Manager: “There’s only so much cleaning you can do.”
As he said that I could only think of two things; the first was that he seriously underestimates the clutter Tony and I have in our lives. When you don’t have bedroom furniture, stuff piles up. The second was what my friend said, “military wives are crazy”. That’s probably the main deterrent to me getting involved in anything marine-family related. I saw Marine Wives as a singular entity. They married young and had kids fast. They loved their guns and hated Obama. They watched Fox News and loved Nicholas Sparks. Mind you, this is all me being judge-y. Every day at work I would see women who were younger than me with one or two kids in tow. And I usually see them at their worst, when they’re tired or hungry, throwing Mac n’ cheese on the floor. They feel so foreign to me, so impossible to relate to. It should be mentioned right now that my closest friend here is 21 years old and pregnant with her third child. We probably couldn’t be more different, but there’s nobody I can relate to as much. I love her dearly, as I love her two sweet children, and as I will love the one that pops out of her next. But I digress.
I didn’t think I’d be married before 30. At 26, I was the first of my best friends to marry. I never dreamed of a big wedding where I’d dance the whole night then jet off somewhere fabulous for our honeymoon. My dreams and goals were all professional and personal; they all involved NYC and being single, and dating around. Marrying young was never in my plans, I still think it’s an anomaly that it happened. The most perfect, wonderful, beautiful anomaly. I remember Aziz Ansari once said he was baffled by people who married their high school sweethearts because it meant being sixteen years old and basically saying “I’m done. No need to look any further. This is the best I’ll ever do.” But maybe these women didn’t settle, maybe they just found what they needed to find earlier. Now that I think about it, maybe I’m not so much like them as I am a variation of my mother. I married a man who makes me laugh every day, who hates scary movies but is a tough mother in real life, and who tells me he loves me almost as often as he breathes. And it may have taken longer, and the road to where we are is wildly different to the one my mom and dad took, but I still married the boy who I met and liked at 13.