Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "Shouldn't a "Year In Review" post be saved for the end of the year?" Well this is a different. July 9th, 2014 marked one year since we moved back to the U.S. after a two-year tour in Riga, Latvia. And although Chris officially retired from the Marine Corps last November, I kind of consider July 9 as his non-official retirement date, too. Between trying to use up his last bit of leave, going through mandatory military separation classes and terminal leave, he really didn't have a job to report to on a daily basis upon our return to the States. So in my head he retired July 9th, even though on paper it was November. If you are a military spouse who has gone through this whole retirement process, you totally know where I'm coming from.
I feel the selfish need to use this space and just write (or vent–depending on how you look at it) about what this past year of being separated from the military has been like. I've been pounding my head for days as how to organize my thoughts about this topic and have come to the conclusion that I can't cover it all in one post. I believe there are three areas of our lives that have been greatly affected from this separation, each deserving of its own blog entry. I hope these rambling words and thoughts makes sense to someone who isn't from a military family and pray there are some military spouses out there that may read this and totally get it.
(I've written a few other posts about our move back to the States and how we ended up in Florida. You can read those here, and here. They will give you somewhat of a back story to this particular post.)
A Place To Call Home | For 26 years the Marine Corps told us where we were going to live. And no matter where that location was, we always put down roots to make it our home. But this move was different. We were in the unique situation where we didn't have to worry about getting the boys into a great school system or consider how close our home was to a base. We sold our house in Virginia and we could move anywhere we wanted. Anywhere.
And throughout this whole retirement process, I think this decision was the easiest one we had to make. Being close to the water, well away from the DC metro area and its traffic was important to us. We also needed to consider the cost of living, knowing it could be months before either one of us were working and we'd be living on his pension. Florida seemed the obvious choice.
An internet search led us to a lovely waterfront community on the Gulf Coast of Florida and last December we signed a year lease on a little villa there. We didn't want to purchase a home right away–we just wanted to test the waters first to see if we would like the area. A few days later our household goods arrived from Latvia as well as what had been in storage for 2 years.
Did I mention the size of the villa? It is a little over 1900 square feet. Our home in Virginia was almost 4000 square feet. You do the math. Is all of our stuff going to fit in this place? Oh hell no. We thought we did a pretty good job of downsizing before we moved overseas. Boy were we ever wrong. We needed to get rid of more stuff and rent a storage unit.
Although it was exciting to be moving into a new place, things started to get a little stressful. Turns out I was able to land a job before Chris (more on that in tomorrow's post) and went back to work just as we were moving into our place. We had over 16,000 lbs of stuff to go through...and it was just a few weeks before Christmas...and Dustin & Becca were coming for the holidays. It was a far cry from the "Norman Rockwell-esque" Christmases we've had in the past. I vowed never to move around the holidays again. Never, ever, ever.
Chris did an awesome job getting boxes unpacked. I worked on organizing things over the weekends. We ended up having to rent a 10x10 storage unit for items that just wouldn't fit into this place. It's filled from floor to ceiling. How did we end up with so much crap?
We've been in this place for almost 9 months now (we're still trying to get rid of stuff). And while it is home, I still feel as though we are in transition. Maybe it's because I didn't do the majority of the unpacking this time. Or maybe it's the fact that I know this isn't our forever home. Whatever the reason, only recently have I had that "nesting" instinct to "do stuff" to this place to make it not feel like a rental. I'll share some recent events that happened to get me to that point in the final post of this four-part "Year In Review" series.
If you are a military spouse that has gone through this military retirement process how did you handle your final move? We're you already living in your home? Did you relocate? We're you empty nesters when you left the service? Leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you.
Tomorrow's post: Military Retirement and the Job Hunt (ugh).