Monday, February 22, 2010
I was reading another blog written by a Navy wife today. She talked about a recent underway and the challenge of it. I was suddenly struck by a very odd feeling. We are technically in the Navy, but other than seeing the uniform Oliver puts on every day, we have almost nothing to do with typical Navy life. A weird sense of nostalgia hit me, and I'm completely surprised that something akin to longing accompanied my memories of our deployments.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not anxious for him to show up with word of another one. However, it does feel like we've fallen into this weird netherworld of not quite being either military or civilian. Our life here is very civilian. Oliver works a very standard five day work week. He has holidays and the occasional afternoon off, and duty days are only about every two weeks. When he does have duty, he is the duty officer for the day, and carries a radio around. He can come home and, barring any odd events around here, our day is pretty much the same as if he weren't on duty. When testing is going on, he can end up in shift work, but that's not bad, either. Seven days a week, but the hours are decent. Nothing like the 12 on/ 12 off days we endured in the shipyard. Most of the people here on base are civilians, too. The military contingent is a very small percentage of the people working here. So, we spend most of our time talking to people who live the same life here, yet haven't the background we do.
This base is not technically a base at all. We're kind of an outpost, which is why we don't have a NEX or anything else you would typically find on a Navy base. Recreation isn't funded by the Navy, either, which is why we have no library (although we do have a room full of random books you can borrow or add to right off the gym). The post office is staffed by Navy postal clerks, though, which surprised me since so much else is done by civilians.
I'm going to be doing a lot of uniform sewing the next few weeks, and it's kind of a welcome reminder that we are Navy, after all. There are many things, like a murderous schedule, that I don't miss from our sea tour. I'm grateful, though, to be reminded that there are good things, too. I think I got so bogged down with what wasn't going well that it was easy to forget the good things. It's weird to think we might never deal with a deployment again. If Oliver decides to say good-bye to this life when we're done here, that will be exactly what happens. In truth, I'm not sure anymore which side of the fence I lean on. I don't want to forget what was awful about our time in Washington, but it's very easy to do that when it isn't staring you in the face anymore. (Although, if the only orders available are to there, I will so not be happy!)
I think I'm no longer sure what I'm trying to say. Life here is so different. When I wanted to go overseas, I had this dream of travel and seeing the sites. Quite frankly, the next three years aren't going to be full of visiting fun, new spots. They are going to be years of learning something of what it is to go without. We live in a country that is very, very poor. While we have many more comforts than so many do here, I appreciate the opportunity to learn what it is to not have anything you want at your fingertips. It's enlightening, and not something I could ever have learned any other way. The most exciting thing that happened today was the green pepper Oliver found at the store today. I haven't seen one since I wrote the post about the rice and beans dish I'd tried a couple weeks ago. As you can see from the pic, it wasn't the greatest looking specimen, but it was a very nice thing to enjoy. Who knows when we will see another one.
This wasn't exactly the experience I was looking for when we picked this duty station, but it somehow feels right. I haven't let go of my traveling dreams, but sometimes the best things come from the things you get, not the things you long to have.