Note: I had started this post back in April or May of 2015 and saved it as a draft, with full intention of completing it. It’s now December 2015 and I’m just trying to tie up loose ends. Please bare with me, it’s a really long post. Also, these are just my thoughts and some generalizations about military life. To the civilian families of military members, you mean the world to us. You are our rocks. Our foundations. Our homes. You are with us through every step of the way. We miss you. We comfort our children when they miss you. You miss your child dearly. Your child, the child that signed on the dotted line and told Uncle Sam “I’m yours”. Because of that, you can most likely relate to much of this. This is just me talking milspouse to milspouse.
So here it is…..
For anyone who knows anything about me, they would know that one of my favorite bands is Modest Mouse. They are actually a fan favorite for many people so it’s not like only I can own that. They are about to release their latest album in like 7 years or something heinous like that. Far too long, if you ask me. Each week since the middle of January they have been releasing a new song….so far, it’s well worth the wait. Update: It really was worth the wait and so was seeing them live!
However, for almost everyone who knows me, I’m also a military wife. It’s not uncommon for me to find connections in songs with the feelings and emotions that are all very common in every military family. For example, one particular night (of many) while my husband was deployed, I was washing the dishes and listening to music, as per usual. Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” came on. At this particular point in the deployment, my husband was soon to return. I was actually paying attention to the words and assimilated the chorus with feelings of a returning soldier…. However, the words were very specific to my husband’s situation as he was in a Cavalry unit at the time and to understand the correlation of Florence’s words to the military, one would have had to experience basically any ceremony on Fort Hood. Here’s the short story: Horses, wagons, guns! So just bare with me…. but here, I’ll show you, in parenthesis is the military relation:
Happiness hit her like a train on a track (Oh my gosh! My man is finally coming home!)
Coming towards her stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds (This is for when you’re so excited to see your husband but you’re also nervous. There is a bit of “reintegration” into having your husband physically in your life again.)
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled (“I love you, but you’re kinda smothering me. But please, don’t leave again.”)
With every bubble she sank with her drink (We all know we’ve had those nights when we just need. some. damn. wine.)
And washed it away down the kitchen sink (This one is quite literal, I’ve spent far too many hours in front of that sink.)
The dog days are over the dog days are done (Thank God this thing is over! When is the next one?)
The horses are coming (Here is the Cavalry bit…..)
So you better run (Yes, you better run towards your…. [see below])
Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father (That person walking across the field, fresh off of those white busses, dusty, and unshowered is someone’s mother, their father…..
Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers (someone’s child, sister, brother)
Leave all your love and your longing behind (Love them in that moment, forget about the pain you’ve felt over the last year or however long it’s been, LOVE THEM in that moment and wrap your arms around them and hold tight)
You can’t carry it with you if you want to survive (In order to do this over and over, year after year, you have to let go of the pain, the sadness, the Murphey’s Law moments…you have a life time ahead of you filled with these emotions. You, my dear……are married to the military)
So, as you can see, that song spoke to me in that moment and still speaks to me. Now, not every time a soldier is gone is awful. I actually have very fond memories over the times that my husband as been gone. Friendships were forged and they have lasted over the years. I can’t be sad about that. No one can.
Now on to the Modest Mouse hullabaloo:
“The World At Large” is hands down, my favorite MM song. There are so many amazing ones but TWAL is the one. It spoke to me, always has, and always will.
It wasn’t until my family and I got word that we would need to be moving….ASAP…..and that move happened to be in the spring. That was the first time that we found out about moving in springtime. We always found out and moved in late summer or early fall. That being said, most military families seem to move in the spring or in the winter. Of course it can vary but let’s not get into details.
Just like above, I’ll put the song lyrics in bold and what it means to me in parenthesis.
Ice-age heat wave, can’t complain. (Remember what I said about moving in spring/summer or winter? Yeah, you also can’t guarantee where you will be moving…. could be Alaska, could be the desert, I dunno, anything can happen.)
If the world’s at large, why should I remain? (Everyone else moves, now it’s my turn.)
Walked away to another plan. (Branch says, “You’ll definitely get one of your top 5, maybe even top 3”. Reality says, “Hey! Good news! You got your 5th choice!”)
Gonna find another place, maybe one I can stand. (It is what you make of it. Ev.er.y. place you move is what you make of it. You can be a stick in the mud and hate it or you can bloom what you are planted!)
I move on to another day, to a whole new town with a whole new way (This one’s pretty obvious. Let’s not even get started on adjusting to your new locale…. even stateside, but especially OCONUS.)
Went to the porch to have a thought. (Don’t tell me that you other military wives have not stood on your front porch and said a silent good bye to your neighborhood. You know you have. Don’t lie.)
Got to the door and again, I couldn’t stop. (You can’t linger. You can’t linger in your thoughts and you can’t physically linger. It’s time to go. Go. And depending on what you made of it, cherish the memories and remember, it’s not “Good-bye”, it’s “See you later”.)
You don’t know where and you don’t know when. (This is so true. You seriously never know when or where you will see your friends…or when or where you will move, for that matter.)
But you still got your words and you got your friends. (Yes. Always.)
Walk along to another day.
Work a little harder, work another way. (Our husbands. Our poor, dedicated husbands. Every time they move, it’s an adjustment for them too. They have to learn a new job, learn how different units do things, then learn it quickly and do it right. Usually leading to your husband working harder, and longer.)
Well uh-uh baby I ain’t got no plan. (Everyone: “Are you going to go back to work when you move????”. Military spouse: “Well, I don’t think so. I have to transfer my license and if there isn’t reciprocity I’ll have to apply for a new license and it takes 3-4 months to process and we’re only going to be there for 8 months so it’s almost not worth it. Plus, I just had the baby a couple of months ago, and my hubby will be in school so he won’t be able to help out at night when I’m getting off of work.”)
We’ll float on maybe would you understand?
Gonna float on maybe would you understand?
Well float on maybe would you understand? (Please. Be in my shoes. Please tell me you understand without me having to explain it? It’s so hard to explain it.)
The days get shorter and the nights get cold.
I like the autumn but this place is getting old. (“Oh dear Lord, we’ve been here for 26 months and it. is. time. to. go! I gotta get outta this place. I’m tried of staring at these same walls. I’ve rearranged my furniture in every possible configuration. I just need a change of scenery”, says every military spouse ever.)
I pack up my belongings and I head for the coast. (Milspouse: “We got California?! That’s awesooo…..Oh….NTC…..umm….well, I’ll see you when I see you, right? Maybe I can make some friends while you’re out training people all the time.)
It might not be a lot but I feel like I’m making the most. (Yes, because you HAVE TO!)
The days get longer and the nights smell green.
I guess it’s not surprising but it’s spring and I should leave. (See what I did there? Full. Circle).
I like songs about drifters – books about the same. (Let’s be honest: We’re all drifters.)
They both seem to make me feel a little less insane. (No, you’re insane. But you know what helps? Women in the same boat as you…..who like wine, too).
Walked on off to another spot.
I still haven’t gotten anywhere that I want. (This is true. In 4 moves in the last 5 years, we have technically not gotten “what ‘we’ wanted”. Though we’ve been in some amazing places and made incredible friendships, it was always God’s plan and the needs of the military that put us where we were. And I’m ok with that.)
Did I want love? Did I need to know? (Yes. Always. Loved the people. Loved the memory. Did I need to know those people? Always, yes.)
Why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow? (Sometimes, I get overwhelmed when I’m saying good bye, and saying hello for that matter. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. You do the same thing every time you move. Find a house. Unpack your stuff. Meet your neighbors. Find a church. Meet your church family. Find out who the good pediatricians are. Find a new dentist. Find the best grocery store. The small talk when getting to know someone new. And guess what???? You, yes YOU, get to be that person for someone new. You get to tell them everything you figured out. Then you get to say good bye. Find a new house in a new town. Move your stuff. Say good bye to your neighbors. Say good bye to your church family. Say good bye and “Thank you” to the pediatrician for not killing your child. Leave your FAVORITE grocery store……Wash. Rinse. Repeat.)
The moths beat themselves to death against the lights.
Adding their breeze to the summer nights. (This. These two lines had me at hello. So descriptive that I can feel it. I can see it. I can hear it. I am in the midst of summer….and now I must move).
Outside, water like air was great.
I didn’t know what I had that day.
Walk a little farther to another plan. (We are almost to our next duty station….so close, yet so far away. “We’ve been driving for 22 hours, we only have 5 more to go. Stop touching your brother. Here, want a snack? Let’s watch “Frozen” for the 58th time…oh, you’re sick of it…me too”.)
You said that you did, but you didn’t understand. (Unfortunately, this is true and you know what I’m talking about).
I know that starting over is not what life’s about. (It’s true….so painfully true. Moving every 2-3 years (or sooner) is NOT normal. Repeat: It is NOT NORMAL TO MOVE THAT MUCH! When you think about your family, they have likely lived in the same place for most of your life. Think about that: The SAME PLACE! I don’t even know what that is like anymore. I don’t even know if I want that anymore….and that’s the hard-to-swallow truth about it. Though I know I would be fine without the military, I also know that I can’t picture my life any other way. Not now.)
But my thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth. (This has to do with saying bye. One million thoughts run through my head that I never pay attention to what I’m saying….nothing I say will ever express how I feel. My voice can never speak what I feel in my head and in my heart. It hurts too much to say what is in those places…. To say good bye to people who were in the proverbial trenches of deployment with you or who raised you up so high you could touch the sky is so, so hard).
My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud.
The world at large is much smaller than you think.