Army 101 / Coping mechanisms / Deployment

A guide for goodbyes: moving advice for your nerves and your hair

I’m currently following Jonathan through that magical stage of his deployment when I know he should be coming home soon-ish, but the United States Army’s definition of “soon-ish” is more like “probably sometime before 2015; we’ll let you know soon but also maybe not lol ttyl.”

I became acquainted with this process towards the end of Jonathan’s last deployment, when the flight information for his return changed about a dozen times in 72 hours. I like to think they do this in a similar fashion to how the Order of the Phoenix moved Harry from Privet Drive at the beginning of Deathly Hallows; they fed some of his departure information to the Death Eaters, but failed to mention that there would be, like, six fake Harry Potters to throw them off the trail. …Which I guess makes me a Death Eater in this scenario, except I lack the ability to fly, or to perform the Cruciatus Curse, so why are they making this so difficult for me.

But since this is totally normal for the army and this is my life now, I’m combating my heart’s urge to leap wildly from my chest cavity by finalizing lease details for my new home in Tennessee. By which I mean I’ve been Google Mapping my new neighborhood’s distance from the nearest craft stores (pretty good) and Ruby Tuesday salad bars (very good). I’m gonna make it after all.

Goodbyes are a universally difficult process; my sister told me she’s been “ninja-ing” out of parties to avoid the smaller goodbyes lately. And while I’d like to ninja out of things like my job and my apartment, I’m unfortunately unskilled with nunchucks and am therefore trying to deal with my goodbyes more constructively. I’ve been waiting for this next chapter of my life to begin for quite a while now, so the excitement has helped ease the general anxiety I feel about change, and the sadness of leaving my family and friends. But, seeing as this is my first move of many in immediate years to come, I’m developing a routine of coping mechanisms to help get me through.

A guide for goodbyes as you prepare for your move. Ease your nerves in 10 simple steps:

  1. Listen to a lot of Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift works well because she’s got at least one song for every emotion a well-rounded basket case can feel during a time of change: excitement, anger, fear, fearlessness, faith, regret, sadness, love, longing, and 22. Twenty-two is an emotion now. That’s what happens when Taylor Swift writes a song.
  2. Color-code your Google Calendar. Make sure everything that relates to your move can be easily identified when trying to schedule time with movers, utility companies, and your toilet.

    Calendar color coding

    Orange and purple. Perfect for appointment reminders and vomiting.

  3. Walk around the city you’re about to leave while crying and ordering take-out kabobs.

    Afghan Kabab House

    Tears not pictured.

  4. Schedule. Schedule time to take care of your new lease and to tie up your old lease. Schedule time to pack. Schedule time to sleep. Schedule time to explore your new town. Schedule time to breathe. Schedule time to re-schedule all these scheduled things, because your schedule is going to change at least four times today.
  5. Dye your hair temporarily pink. You’ll find that it’s much easier to look at the bright side when the bright side is on top of your head.

    Effie Hunger Games costume

    Pink feather eyelashes recommended but not required.

  6. You already ruined your diet with those kabobs, so go ahead and eat some more food. Food that’s on fire. Food that’s proud of your accomplishments. And food that’s actually a tiny Jell-O shot covered in whipped cream. See step 7 for details.
    Coping mechanism food
  7. Go to a theme party where you can say goodbye to old friends and new friends while pretending you’re somebody else. This way, they can’t get mad at you for leaving; they can only get mad at Effie Trinket, because this is Gretchen’s Quarter Quell, and nobody will remember who you actually are after all the Jell-O shots anyway.

    Gretchens Quarter Quell

    I will miss Gretchen and Ai Rei only slightly more than I will miss those stained-glass Jell-O shots…and the cupcake Jell-O shots…and the strawberry champagne Jell-O shots…how did none of us throw up?

  8. Drink a lot of water. This is just general life advice, but there’s a bonus for staying ultra hydrated while preparing for a move: You’ll have to stop whatever you’re doing approximately once an hour to pee. All that walking back and forth to and from the bathroom means you’re really clocking in on your pedometer and can probably skip the gym today.
  9. Take a look at the job market for your profession in your new military town.

    Reasons to dye your hair pink

    Realize you’re going to be unemployed for a while, and remember the bright side: Now that you’re already unlikely to be hired, it might be time to go semi-permanent with that pink hair. Your soldier’s return is already opening up so many brilliant life opportunities. Lifeortunities. You just made up a new word, and you didn’t even have to schedule time to do it. You’re doing so well with your transition!

  10. Wash your hair. A lot. It takes a while to get the pink out.

Cherry blossom season in D.C. is a good time to say goodbye. The bouts of unseasonal snow and heat have confused the blossoms this year, so remaining buds are clinging confusedly to life; the sad, drippy branches on my commute are a good reminder that summers here are too humid to support human life anyway.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

How do you deal with the stress of an upcoming move? In what ways do you set a schedule and prioritize? How do you say ease the sadness of goodbyes?

0 thoughts on “A guide for goodbyes: moving advice for your nerves and your hair

  1. I’m a hugger and a crier right up until it’s time to go and then I just do it. I set my feet in motion and then just keep going. So.. *hugs/tears* good luck!! <3

  2. I wish I could give you some kind of helpful advice, but I don’t deal with emotions very well (as in, I prefer to just not feel them). Usually, I bombard my life with dozens of distractions until I can no longer stall and then proceed to do everything in one huge swoop. Said distractions often involve lack of sleep. After it’s all done, then it dawns on me and I run away to a far off place (although sometimes far off just means 8km). Hahaha! So I cope by keeping myself distracted and then running away… that doesn’t seem healthy.

    So to sum up, I have nothing to add to this because you’re already doing better than I am. I don’t even know why I bothered to write this comment.

  3. You don’t need to worry so much about having to say goodbye, since I have no intention of actually letting you leave. You and Jonathan will come live in our spare bedroom and I will feed you goat cheese Brie and chocolate-covered edamame. Also, there will be schnauzers. Sounds good? Okay, so no goodbyes ever, kthx.

  4. Hey Aileen! I came across your blog via Facebook and just wanted to drop a note to say that you have such a great sense of humor in your writings, in spite of the difficulties you face with your fiancé being deployed. Bravo! I look forward to reading more.

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