Originally from Indianapolis, IN, I married my high school sweetheart, Jake, in October 2001 at his Army basic training graduation at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. We got married in the midst of the graduation festivities, surrounded by 800 people we didn't know. Unconventional, but unforgettable. The honeymoon was short-lived - one night in a hotel room in Oklahoma. The next day he was off to Texas for 3 more months of training. We moved to Ft. Stewart, GA a few months later to begin our married life in the army. A year later our son was born, and within 6 hours of his birth, Jake was on a plane to Iraq for a 6 month deployment. I stayed in Georgia with our newborn and figured out how to navigate life as a single mom, nearly 1,000 miles from home and family. It was a crash course in breaking in my "big girl panties." We spent over 4 years at Ft. Stewart, and 12 months of that included another deployment to Iraq.
In 2006, we got orders to Germany. We lived in Ansbach, which is a smallish city in Bavaria, just outside of Nuremberg. Germany is beautiful, and I'd love to go back as a tourist someday to visit. Living there, on the other hand, was more difficult for us. It wasn't due to terrible people or terrible culture or any one particular thing. It was just really different from living in the U.S., and we felt very isolated and lonely. It was kind of like island fever, only we were landlocked. In the spring of 2008, Jake deployed to Afghanistan for 15 months. Soon after he left, I moved home with our son to Indianapolis so we could be surrounded by family during the very difficult separation.
In the summer of 2009, Jake returned home from Afghanistan, and we moved to our next duty station at Rock Island Arsenal, IL. The Arsenal is located on a 2 mile x 1 mile island in the middle of the Mississippi. If you exited the island from one end, you were in Illinois. From the other, you were in Iowa. It wasn't the most awesome place we've lived, but it wasn't terrible, either. The best part was that it was only a 4 hour drive from Indianapolis, so we had plenty of chances to see family while we lived there. In the summer of 2010, I gave birth to our daughter. It was quite a different experience to have Jake home for her newborn phase, and I'm so thankful for that time together.
In the winter of 2011, we found out where our next duty station would be... Honolulu, HI! It was a dream come true for us. We'd miss our family, of course, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we were beyond excited. The difficult part was that, prior to the move, Jake would have to complete a 5 month course in Arizona, which meant I'd be responsible for coordinating the logistics of the move with the Army, and also for getting the kids and I to Hawaii. Jake would be joining up with us a few weeks after we arrived on island. The 5 month separation with two kids, and the stress of preparing for the move was very difficult, to say the least. I was lucky that my mom offered to travel with us to Hawaii, and to stay for a couple weeks so that I wouldn't be alone with the kids trying to get settled in a new place.
We've been in Hawaii a little over 9 months now. It's the most beautiful place we've ever seen, and I will feel forever lucky to have been given this opportunity. Jake's job here has him traveling to Asia a lot, but the trips are usually in the 10 day range, so I'm grateful for that. I haven't made any friends here yet. From our experience in the Army, I know it's pretty normal for it to take awhile to meet a kindred spirit. I've always been lucky to meet a fabulous girlfriend everywhere we've lived, but it usually goes that by the time you've become BFF's, it's time for one or both of you to move away. I'm glad to have things like Facebook to keep in touch with my far-off besties - it really does keep me sane to be able to talk with them so often.