By Amber James | firstname.lastname@example.org
Passing or failing, friends and the next alcoholic beverage–these are some of the things most kids my age are thinking of. Don’t get me wrong, these are concerns that occupy my mind as well. But I also have some unique concerns, like how to deal with military deployments, managing financial accounts for two and what to make my husband for dinner. Yes, I said husband.
I might have jumped the gun, being married earlier than most, but one defining factor pushed us in that direction, the military.
When you’re part of a military family, there is no such thing as planning. Rules are constantly being altered and locations are always changing. My husband, Trey, and I dated for three years prior to our marriage, and I was no stranger to the military lifestyle. Six months after we met, he went to boot camp. After that he was shipped to A School, then trained with the Marines in Quantico, Va. and finally made it to Jacksonville. By then I was already at Flagler.
We said goodbye once again three weeks ago when he left on deployment to Cuba for 18 months, which could possibly extend to a full two years. I can’t live with him and must remain in the states.
Now, a slew of challenges lay before me, and once again I get to find out what I’m made of.
For starters, buckle up! I’m learning to drive stick shift, which is the only car we have. Drivers in St Augustine beware. You’ve probably already seen me stall out at a light or jerk to a bumpy start from a stop sign. But I just keep driving, keep pushing on.
Even before I was married, I had been balancing finances, from rent and utilities to tuition and extra luxuries. But now, I’m balancing two accounts and it’s a bit trickier. And things can get even trickier with the military, especially when waiting for housing pay to be activated, or when they mess up pay altogether.
Fortunately, my husband can take leave and come visit me. And I can come visit him. Christmas in Cuba- Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Well, for me it’s a reality. The temperature won’t dip past 60 degrees when I’m there. While everyone is wearing boots and singing Fa La La La La, I’ll be walking barefoot on an island in the sun and drinking rum.
Many servicemembers stationed at Guantanamo Bay get island fever, confined to a 45 square mile base. But, they are allowed to harvest and eat one lobster a day that washes up on the rocky shore and on weekends they can go diving for conch. Giant banana rats the size of a small dog and iguanas with fierce attitudes rummage around the barracks. And there are many activities for them to do, like flag football.
That all sounds like more of a vacation and less of a duty station.
Although I’m looking forward to visiting Cuba and am happy my husband is able to have the experiences he’s having, I look forward to the day he comes home, like so many other military families look forward to their loved ones safe return.