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Not my favorite duty station?

Picture taken by April McTaggart

Every time we move, I end up missing our last duty station. I really miss our last duty station right now. I keep thinking, "This is not my favorite place to live." Before we moved, everyone kept telling me how awesome it is in South Carolina and how much I will love it here. Now that we are here, I feel like, "Well, we can't do this or that with two two-year olds..." or "In North Carolina, I took all three boys all over the place..."

I think it is totally natural to feel this way. However, I have to keep it in check!

I hated our first duty station. I moved from California to New Hampshire, right on the Maine border, in January. By myself. My husband's submarine was a month late. And I didn't have his boat email address at the time or any idea what an FRG or ombudsman was. I was alone and it was cold. There was an ice storm and our Jeep was encased in literally an inch of ice. There was so much snow and my winter shoes consisted of Converse and stiletto leather boots from Nine West. I wasn't prepared. By the time we moved, I was so over the Noreasters and decked out in Columbia and Ugg Boots. Being from Northern California, I didn't think the summers were "hot," as my local neighbors kept telling me they would be. I was over all of it and ready to get the heck out of there and on our way to Hawaii.

When we arrived in Hawaii, I realized I missed this great coffee shop in New Hampshire. And that the hospital I gave birth to our first son in was really, really nice. And that I loved my midwife. I missed walking along the New Hampshire coast. I missed a lot of really delicious local restaurants. Even more so, I realized I had a really bad attitude the entire time we lived in New Hampshire. I didn't like it there and I didn't want to like it there. Things that were so annoying there at the time were funny after we moved. For instance, our apartment complex plowed the parking lots really early in the morning. This meant that by the time I was ready to leave, there would be a snow drift up to the back of our Jeep's rear window that had somehow iced over. My pregnant self would have to knock on our next door neighbor's door to again ask to borrow their snow shovel ("When are you going to buy one of these, dearie?" "I don't know...") to chip the Jeep out so I could drive to my OB appointment. I hated doing that at the time, but it makes me laugh now thinking about it.

I vowed that I wouldn't be such a spoil sport at our next duty stations. They don't have to be my favorite places to live and maybe I wouldn't ever want to live there in "real life," you know, not sent-here-by-the-military life. I loved living in Hawaii, but that was easy. My family used to vacation there and I love the beach. I loved the food. I loved our house and where it was located. I loved my neighbors. I had a harder time when we first moved to North Carolina. I had a hard time making friends. We lived way out in the country when we first moved there and everything was a bit of a drive; we eventually outgrew our living arrangements and felt very cramped at home (read "Across town move"). Then we moved to a house with a great yard, a great playroom, and a great location. We thrived. We loved it there. We loved the grocery stores, how many things there were to do with the kids, how inexpensive everything was. We loved the food. We loved the friends we made and the playdates we had; I loved the twin group and their awesome twice yearly consignment sale. We talk about how we want to go back after my husband retires.

Then we moved to South Carolina. We had a rocky start here, a rough time unpacking. Perhaps that was the problem. But then we settled in and there are so many things that I keep comparing to North Carolina. The grocery store situation here is awful. Everything is a drive, like twenty or thirty minutes. I was nervous about moving our asthmatic toddler and the flu shot situation here really put a bad taste in my mouth (read "2013 flu shots"). There seems to be a lot of areas around here that you should avoid at night (not that we go out a lot at night, but we do like to go get ice cream after dinner). I miss our baby-sitters in North Carolina; we still don't have a regular baby-sitter here and I'm nervous leaving our asthmatic toddler with someone new (read "0-2 years old: twin must-haves").

When we moved here, people who had been stationed here before gave us a list of areas that we should move to. We debated for awhile what we wanted to do. Do we want to live out in town near things to do with our kids? Or do we want to live near my husband's work? Since we are living in South Carolina for an undetermined amount of time-- could be six months, could be two years-- we decided that living near my husband's work was the priority (read "STA-21 'officer's' program"). That has been the silver lining. He still hasn't classed up yet, but when he does go in for various jobs, he comes home at lunch, or pops in before his next brief. When he does start school, he'll be able to come home for dinner or to help put the kids to bed. I really like that. We have both agreed that if we were ever stationed here for a significant amount of time that we would want to choose a different area to live. For now, being here for my husband to go to through school and with such a young family, I do think we made the right the decision. (It doesn't hurt that we absolutely love our house and our neighborhood!)

So I'm going to hang in there. Maybe I'm just really missing our old friends and our old list of activities. I really liked the children's museum in North Carolina and the boys loved going there each week; our oldest loved the camps we sent him to there. Maybe I'm missing our grocery stores (we lived near a lot of awesome grocery stores). Maybe I'm still settling in here. Whatever it is, I'm going to give it some time and look for the best here. I don't want to say that I only have to make it work for two years, maximum, but it is true. We only have a little time here and I want to enjoy it to the fullest. I'm going to find activities for our kids and I'm going to make friends with my neighbors. I'm going to put my best foot forward and, when we move again, I'll have no regrets.


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