It’s a typical Saturday night in Monterey, California.
Which means it’s been raining for a week and a half straight. I saw the sun briefly on Wednesday, as it was setting through the clouds, and I quickly went into Vitamin D shock. After consulting WebMD, I decided the best recovery route was to sit on my couch in near-complete darkness and watch at least 25 episodes of “South Park” without moving or blinking, but with occasional drooling.
A typical Saturday night for a DLI wife also means that her DLI husband is practicing language immersion with a group of same-rank classmates somewhere on the peninsula. Which typically leaves me, the DLI wife, alone in our new home wearing oversized pink sweatpants that are so covered in dog hair I’m afraid the neighbors might call animal control if I walk outside.
Saturday nights are really exciting here.
On nights like these, when Jonathan doesn’t come home until late, I don’t like to waste time in the kitchen with cooking; there’s another “South Park” marathon on, and I’m still in recovery. So for dinner tonight I had half a bag of microwave popcorn and two servings of almond milk. I did take the time to pour the milk into a glass instead of drinking it straight from the carton, though, because I’m worth it.
For the past month I’ve been consumed with transitioning my new business from Tennessee to California, and looking for local growth opportunities. The side effect is that I haven’t really been participating in normal human activities–like making friends. Instead, I’m forming concerning fictional relationships with three of the polygamist wives from TLC’s “Sister Wives.” Not with the fourth one, though, because I couldn’t handle following her on Twitter for more than a few days. It’s not you, sister wife; it’s your hashtags.
As for real-life interactions, those are pretty much limited to the cashiers at Target. And my dog. I’ve already been to Target three times this week, so I went the other route and spent the last 30 minutes chasing my dog up and down the stairs, growling and barking back at him, until I was so sweaty that I had to change out of my pink sweatpants.
Which was probably for the best.
When Jonathan first mentioned the prospect of moving to California, it came with an immediate caveat; though we’d be surrounded by ocean breezes and Trader Joe’s, the time we’d have to spend together would be limited. The purpose of our time here is for Jonathan to become proficient in a foreign language at the Defense Language Institute. And language proficiency in under two years doesn’t just mean all day in class. It means all day in class, mandatory after-hours study hall, nightly homework, weekly exams, constant studying, and completing his usual military busywork in his “free time.”
I went to a liberal arts college where I spent four years getting a degree in theater and creative writing, so my post-high-school educational experience involved much less stress and much more Shakespearean drinking games (my personal favorite is called “drink every time Hamlet is a little bitch,” which also explains why I don’t remember chunks of college).
I knew that life as a DLI wife would be lonely. I knew that it would put strain on a new marriage. I knew that, even after braving deployments and distances, the challenges in Monterey would be uncharted for us.
All of that has proven to be correct after roughly two months.
Being a military wife (or girlfriend, or husband or boyfriend) means something different to each person who goes through it. To me, it means learning how to be independent, then forgetting for a little while, and then relearning again. Lather, rinse, repeat with every deployment and PCS. Lather, rinse, repeat sometimes once a week. Sometimes every day. Sometimes twice in the same day, like when you convince yourself you can totally reach the smoke detector to change the beeping battery, find out conclusively that you cannot, wallow, then remember you have a 24-hour maintenance number that exists for this problem. (Then you move onto the next problem, which is an ant infestation you discovered when two hundred of them came scurrying out of the electrical socket in the master bathroom.)
To prevent the anxiety from melting me into a puddle of uselessness, I’m in a solid attempt to slow things down. When the sun comes out (even if briefly), I go outside. When the idea of trying to sustain a knitwear business through the summer, in California, gets too overwhelming, I put down the crochet hook. When it starts to feel too lonely, I’m Skyping with my friends back home. If anything, maybe my friends will have friends who want bulk orders of camo mug cozies. And all my problems are solved.
How do you combat anxiety or loneliness in a new environment?