This is Reality

Growing up, my best friend and I loved to talk to each other in movie quotes. We would converse by stealing lines from the movies we had loved and seen together. I even remember gifting her a calendar of quotes as a present. I hope it was a daily calendar. Hope that I actually sat there and thought up 365 different quotes from movies we enjoyed together, but I can’t quite remember if I was that inspired.

To be sure, 365 quotes is certainly too many to share with you today, but I think even a handful could be entertaining.

“Mister! Mister! Get me outta here!” (Happy Gilmore, 1996)

A year ago, my husband starting calling his branch manager to see what might be coming up next for us. He was then told to wait until nine months out and call again. I can’t even tell you how many calls there were, or how many times he came home telling me what the possible options might be. I’m going to guess this process went on for about three months before he received an assignment.

Then some more time passed and he received official orders—for an Outside the Continental United States move to a destination that happened to be the second of my top two choices for anywhere overseas. So much excitement! This was going to be one amazing move. An incredible new adventure and a fabulous way to close out this current duty station.

Honestly, we were ready to go. It was time to move on. We made it to the end of our time here at this duty station. This duty station where my husband’s work is not lined up with his Military Occupational Specialty. We were so hopeful about a fresh new start in a fresh new place.

Still, there were six or seven more months to get ready for this big giant OCONUS PCS. We had time. We had a lot of processes to work through and figure out. To me though, six or seven months did not seem like much time to get it all done. After all, we still had to keep up with regular life during all of this getting ready hoopla. There were only thirty weekends squished in between busy work weeks!

“What day is it? October…?” (Billy Madison, 1995)

So, I made a countdown calendar on a big desk pad-sized yearly calendar. My husband had a countdown app on his phone. I had a notebook that I set up as my own personal PCS calendar timeline and I tracked EVERYTHING.

It’s all documented safe and sound—each detail.

Dates were recorded for all of the appointments to get our cats ready for import into a new country. The days and weeks and MONTHS of time went by while we were trying to accomplish getting my command sponsorship approval. I marked the days when I renewed my spouse ID card, obtained a military extension card for my driver’s license, and applied for my no-fee passport. Man—we did the things. All the things.

There was the sad day at the travel office when we learned there were no pet spaces on the flights we were scheduled to take.

There were the victory days of actually booking movers, obtaining feedback regarding housing in our soon-to-be location, and spending time with our parents before we’d be out of the country for three years!

All of the days came and went. One-hundred seventy-six days from the time we received that assignment until…

“This is reality, Greg.” (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 1982)

Our orders were delayed. Twelve short days before our movers were coming to get our unaccompanied baggage—my husband received official notice that his current orders were being extended. We were NOT going anywhere right now.

The reality of it all hit SO hard. Even though, yes, we knew this could happen, we were disappointed—to under describe it. The reality is, this is just the way it goes sometimes.

So, we canceled movers, plane tickets, and our notice to vacate that we had filed with our apartment complex.

My employer graciously agreed to keep me on staff even though I had already turned in my resignation letter.

My countdown calendar was shoved in the trash.

We worried about refunds and money. Refunds for things like the plane ticket I had chosen to purchase out of pocket for myself in order to secure travel for our cats. Luckily, it was a refundable ticket. We returned the approved-for-international-flights pet crates we had purchased…and paid almost half of their cost to return-ship them.

We bought little cloth bins to replace the dressers we had already given away. I actually kind of like that all of our clothes are now in our closet! Neatly hung or folded away into our new organizing bins.

We un-did all of the things that could be un-done, and now, here we are.

“I’m not even supposed to be here today!” (Clerks, 1994)

As hinted at above, disappointed doesn’t quite cover my emotional state. All of this is still really fresh, and I really do anticipate that someday (hopefully soon!) I’ll get over it and snap out of it.

But, for now, I feel like Dante Hicks all the way. He was supposed to have a day off? Hah. I was supposed to have a new adventure! On an actual island, by the way. We were going to celebrate the ever-loving daylights out of my husband returning to his MOS!

Instead, we’re stuck. We’re here—in this place we’ve been, doing these things we’ve done.

So, we’ll be working on my birthday instead of me being unemployed and him being on leave. So, we’ll be waking up when it’s 36 degrees instead of 76 degrees. So, we’ll be having a second Christmas because we already had ours in October thinking all of our belongings would be packed and gone come December.

So, on and on, I could tell you the things that I will contemplate…and let the “not supposed to be like” language creep in as I overthink it all.

I’m aware enough to know that’s just not going to fly though. This is what happened and this is what’s going on. Thinking it was supposed to go another way isn’t going to help my mindset or help me support my husband when he’s right here feeling it all too.

“But if we’re really honest with ourselves, most of our plans don’t work out as we’d hoped. So instead of asking our young people, ‘What are your plans? What do you plan to do with your life?’ Maybe we should tell them this: Plan…to be surprised.” (Dan in Real Life, 2007)

There it is—one of the best happy endings around and I’m quoting it, not just to you, but to me and my husband. We’re young enough, and we’re honest enough, to know that even though our plans didn’t work out, we have plenty more surprises coming during our life together—surprises the Army will throw us, and surprises life will throw us.

Even more than I hoped and dreamed for an amazing OCONUS experience, I will always be hoping and dreaming that we’ll be surprised by so many good things to come. Good things for our team, because…

“I’m going to Hollywood. BYE.” (Mindhorn, 2017) 

Just kidding—WE are still going OCONUS. Maybe. Someday.

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About Angie Andrews

Angie Andrews is a lucky lady. Lucky, and blessed to be a wife and an Army Wife to boot. She lives in Mississippi with her husband and two cats, Hunter and Matthews. Angie and her husband were married in 2013 and he began his military career in 2008. They met in Florida and Angie hopes they will live off the Gulf Coast within walking distance to the beach one day. Along with the beach, Angie loves to have a good laugh, a good friend, and a good read or write. She has some serious favorites: food – macaroni and cheese, music - Tom Petty, workout - elliptical miles. Angie graduated from UCF with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for seven years, five of those years as a first grade teacher, and the last two as a reading coach. She has a collection of other jobs before and after teaching as well. Presently, she works at a local university. Angie is thrilled to be a part of the Army Wife Network blog contributors and invites your thoughts and responses. You can reach out to her on Twitter @wifeitupwife.

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