Living on base has provided one of the most invaluable things in my life: a collection of friends. Throughout my Marine Corps journey, I’ve been lucky enough to find precious gems at every duty station. I will cherish these friendships the rest of my life and will continue feeding them through a journey of communication, watching their families grow on Facebook, visiting while traveling across the US, or meeting for a reunion vacation.
Four years into our first duty station, my entire network of friends moved before me or concluded their time in the corps altogether. I was devastated and felt like I would never experience such meaningful friendships with other military wives again. Now that time has passed, I’ve discovered that it’s never good-bye, it’s see you later.
It’s really difficult to see great neighbors and friends move on through the corps, but if you keep your heart open there is always the possibility to meet another gem, and perhaps welcome back an old one. One of my dearest friends just left, moving to the east coast — but another friend I was stationed with in 29 Palms with is moving into her home. I’m sad for the friend I lost, but I am also happy to reunite with my friend and her family.
There’s just something about base living that is uniquely special. It’s an amazing experience to walk along the street and say hello a friend or neighbor, chattin’ it up in the front yard. What other neighborhood can provide potential friends up and down the block, who haven’t started a family or who have children roughly the same age as yours, where everyone is experiencing similar lifestyle changes? I can’t imagine anywhere else where this is possible (unless you live in some creepy compound).
I have heard horror stories about dreadful, problematic neighbors living in base housing, but I’m delighted to say that I’ve never experienced that. Sure, there are the atypical neighbors whom many of us avoid and secretly think about toilet-papering, but the majority of us really like one another. The old adage, “why would you want to live next to the people you work with” hasn’t proven true for us either. In the ten years spent on base housing, the closest we’ve come to living next to a co-workers was three doors away and we’ve never lived on the same street as my husband’s superior. In fact, some of my best friends have been wives of Marines serving alongside my husband.
The journey continues now that summer is upon us and for many that means PCS’ing* to their next destination. The day after school let out, five moving trucks lined our streets, packing my neighbor’s homes. Of course, I knew that many of them were leaving, but reality hit home seeing the movers carting out their belongings. I was lucky enough to be entwined with their adventure for a moment in time and it’s these chapters that have brought me tremendous friends where we’ve laughed, cried, and joined together in shenanigans. I would have never met these ladies if it weren’t for the Marine Corps – for that I say to my husband and the Corps – thank you for the precious women in my life. They are cherished and will never be forgotten.
*PCS: Permanent Change of Station – when a military family is moved to another duty station.