My dreams and prayers were finally answered at 11:11 on the dot, last November. My husband had received orders to DC. A big city, finally! After three years in 29 Palms, I was ecstatic about moving to a place where Target was closer than an hour away and I could find a hairstylist in my same zip code (you know … the important things in life). I was sad to be moving away from my closest friends, but I knew we would be all parting ways, off to separate B Billets. So I mourned the loss of my 29 Palms “cul-de-sac crew” but rejoiced in the idea of late night Chinese food deliveries.
Fast forward to January 14th, the day my husband checked in and went to work. The apartment was unpacked, we hadn’t set up cable yet, and I hadn’t scheduled any interviews. Um, now what! Who was I going to call? Not Ghostbusters! I was accustomed to calling my friends at any time and scheduling a coffee date or a random trip to the PX. Target is great, but after the 3rd trip alone in one week, you start to look a little strange.
It might be hard to believe, but when your husband deploys twice during a three year period of time, your friends become your family. And, I finally realized my family wasn’t there. We have now been in DC over the last five months, and I have found a way to adapt to this “Normal, Civilian” world around me. I have a full time job and go exploring this new city of mine every weekend. Below are some tips to help you survive the transition!
How to survive the beginning of a B Billet
Start an email chain with your close friends from your previous duty station
This is seriously the first thing to do when you move (besides finding a place to live). It’s hard to transition from seeing your friends almost every day to hearing from them via Facebook posts. Be the one to start a chain email. Fill them in on your new neighborhood, your new favorite recipe, or even something funny you saw on TV. More than likely, you’ve made lifelong friends during your first duty station, but to keep those friendships alive, it’s important to stay in contact and stay up to date! So don’t be embarrassed, start a debate about Pacey vs. Dawson or which girl you wish would get voted off the Bachelor. Your friends really will appreciate it!
Find an interest group to join
This could be a church group, a volunteer group, even an “I heart Pacey Whitter” fan club! Just find something that interests you and join in. Something that I have come to realize during these first few months is that “civilian” friendships seem to move a little slower. It’s not like the military world where you meet someone once with something in common and the next day you have a coffee date! So, be aggressive. Be, be aggressive! If you take your dog to the park, and you run into someone else with a mini dachshund, ask if there is a walking group you can join. If you find a local bookstore that you can’t pass up, talk to someone who works there. There might be a book club for you to join. The lesson here is that opportunity very rarely knocks; seek it out.
Don’t be afraid to be alone
Though we all cherish the time we spend with our nearest and dearest friends, we all like a little time to ourselves. When you have a close knit group, you might find yourself inviting people to tag along on all your errands. Now that you are more isolated, take yourself out on some solo trips. Schedule a mani /pedi, take advantage of a LivingSocial cooking class, and just go enjoy the city around you. It can be daunting at first to eat alone at a restaurant or visit a museum alone. Don’t you worry! We all have done it. You are awesome, so why wouldn’t you have a great time with yourself?
Rekindle your friendship with the hubby
Now that you are on a B Billet, there is less of a chance of him deploying. Think about it; that’s a few years where your husband will be home more often than not. It’s time to take advantage of what all those “civilian” girls have been talking about: Date nights! Weekend trips! Take advantage of him being at home. If you live in a big city now, meet him after work one day for drinks. Seriously, it’s fun! Over the years, your husband becomes your best friend. Take advantage of having him around.
Don’t be afraid to show your military pride
Over the years and many PX sales later, you tend to accumulate a lot of military shirts, shorts, water cups, and more. I could wear a different USMC themed outfit for 2 months straight and not repeat a thing. The idea of not wearing my USMC clothes with pride was something I never really thought of before moving away from my military surroundings. But there is something about wearing them and now standing out in a crowd. Don’t be afraid of the attention it may or may not draw. Your pride for your husband and the life you lead together is never a thing to hide!
This military life we lead is an ever changing roller coaster. We pack, move, leave friends, and make new ones with the drop of a hat. The important thing to remember is that you can do it. You are strong and a little thing like a new city can never tear you down. If all else fails, just take life with a grain of salt and a bucket of laughter.
Author’s Bio: Danielle Lander is a Marine wife living in D.C. while her husband is stationed at 8th and I. She can be found at any given time drinking Starbucks and exploring the big city! Her blog is Champagne and Sarcasm.