My experiences three weeks post graduation have been a whirlwind to say the least. It’s still bizarre to think that after summer is over I won’t be going back to school for a new semester and that I’ll just… keep doing the same things I’ll be doing all summer… until I choose to do something else.
The first week and a half was filled with the stresses of not only moving several states away, but the first move as a married couple, AND the first experience I’ve ever had moving as someone who is attached to the military.
To say there was bickering in that first week and a half is an understatement. However, now that we actually have a couch and a real bed has improved the bickering tremendously. However, it has taken a little more than upgrading from an air mattress to a pillow top to stave off the arguments.
Once here, sitting on the cold living room floor all by myself with nothing but a book as my company Monday-Friday in the second week I learned something about myself. I learned that I need desperately to work. Making dinner every night, doing dishes, and going to the gym only kept me occupied until Wednesday of that second week post graduation.
By Friday night of the second week I was driving not only myself, but my poor husband crazy. This revelation was a little odd because I used to fantasize about how nice it would be to be a 50’s style house wife. I could picture myself in that role easily, too. Done up hair, an apple pie in the oven with an immaculate house. Note the word “fantasy,” in the previous sentence.
This is what prompts the Game of Thones reference: I know about as much about marriage as Jon Snow (and for those of you who are not GoT fans, Jon Snow knows nothing). I need to work because not only am I bored, but I need to feel like I’m contributing more to our household than home-cooked meals (this is not to belittle housewives in any way, I’m sure you do much more than make dinner–which is also quite the job).
My restlessness, boredom and anxiety about my dry job search are what began to drive me and my husband close to madness. More than once I found myself in tears staring Glassdoor’s website with very few job prospects. More than once my husband and my dad had to remind me that I only graduated a week and a half ago. It felt and still feels more like 6 months ago.
But then I actually got busy, even with the absence of 95% of mine and Alex’s belongings. I decided to paint two walls in the house, get acquainted with the base and the people on it. This not only kept me distracted, but relieved my mind.
Then suddenly it was Tuesday in week 3 post graduation. I got the call that our belongings would be delivered by Wednesday and I couldn’t have been more excited to finally not be sleeping on an air-mattress. Alex and I were awake at 7, and waited expectantly for the movers to arrive.
By noon we were hedging bets about the movers showing up at all. To our dismay, we went to bed that night again on the loathsome air-mattress. The next morning Alex was sick and I had the worst crick in my neck. I called the moving company after my first sip of coffee, eager but annoyed about still having no furnishings.
Approximately forty-five minutes later we had an answer:
“Not sure what happened but something messed up on the deliverers end.”
‘You don’t say,’ I said internally.
“But I am certain that your things will be there by tomorrow morning between 8 and 10 a.m..”
The majority of Thursday was spent bringing Alex chicken noodle and browsing the local dog shelter websites. At first, looking at pups on the internet was just something to do out of boredom.But also because the thought of spending the same amount on a puppy that one could also purchase a leather couch and love seat for is ludicrous.
Then, by accident, we fell in love with Navi and all plans of waiting until fall or Christmas to get a dog went out the window. Navi is a Vizsla-Beagle mix who is 6 months old and had been in the shelter for 5 days by the time we saw her photo. She was looking up at the camera with big, lost-looking brown eyes. I had to have her. I had to rescue her from the cold, white-washed, loud animal facility.
I immediately texted Bonnie (for privacy purposes I am changing all names but my husband’s name) and told her about Navi. Bonnie enthusiastically replied and said she would go with me to pick up Navi as soon as she got off work.
Before I go much further, let me tell you about Bonnie. She has a sweet, slightly mischievous smile and dark hair. She is taller than me and has a relaxed, floral sense of style. She also has an outgoing, ‘I dare you’ kind of personality. I liked her instantly not only because she has two adorable dogs and lets me use her washer and dryer, but because she is genuinely easy to like.
By Friday night Alex and I were done unpacking the boxes that had been delivered around 10 a.m. that morning and Navi had found a comfortable spot on the couch. We discovered Navi was potty trained and had the sweetest disposition–for all intents and purposes, a true diamond in the ruff.
By Saturday (today) at noon I had finished hanging photos and decorations and curtains and our house finally felt like home. We cooked a good dinner and ate at our kitchen table for the first time and celebrated the job offer I had received and accepted the day before (once I actually begin working in a few weeks, I will update). The dinner we made together tasted better than any food I had eaten since arriving here–mozzarella stuffed buffalo meat loaf, crab stuffed mushrooms and the most delicious caprese salad with fresh basil and cherry tomatoes.
After dinner I took Navi to the dog park on base. While walking up I saw two women there with a toddler and two smaller dogs. Once in the gate of “Pups Peak” dog park, I looked to the two women who were silhouetted in the setting sunlight. One of them called to me and asked, “Are you Brooke?”
This was certainly a surprise, considering I had only really spent time with Bonnie and her husband and not really anyone else in our community. I replied with a “yes,” and walked closer to the three figures and their dogs, still not really able to make out the details of their faces in the blinding light.
The same voice asked, “Are you creeped out yet?”
I replied with a confused, “Well…”
The two women laughed in response, and I kept walking closer. By this time their two dogs were at mine and Navi’s feet. Navi pulled at the leash, giving the two smaller dogs the sniff-down. The two women were closer now and I could make them out.
One was wearing a maxi dress and sports bra with her dark hair in a bun. She had a round face and long eye lashes. The other woman wore a black tank top and hot pink capri sweat pants. She also had dark hair but it fell to her shoulders in soft, small curls. She reminded me of Anne Hathaway, but with light colored freckles.
The woman in the sweat pants introduced herself as Gloria, and the toddler (her daughter) as Nora. The other woman introduced herself with her last name, Monroe. They were both much taller than me and made jokes about how they were akin with giraffes. The two were quick to laugh, and both had pleasing alto voices.
From the dog park, we could see the sun slowly meet the snowy tops of the far away mountains. It was warm with a pleasant breeze, and quiet aside from our conversation and laughter. The dogs Navi, Hagrid (a schnauzer mix) and Neville (a poodle mix) had a blast. Navi and Hagrid got along the best, given that both loved to run and chase each other from one end of the dog park to the other while completely ignoring our attempts at throwing tennis balls for them.
Eventually, 19-month-old Nora took to carrying around the fresh tennis ball I brought for Navi, and a worn, sun-bleached tennis ball that had been left behind. Nora was so cute with her short, strawberry blonde curls, big eyes that crinkled when she smiled around the binky in her mouth. For the most part Nora stuck to Hagrid and Neville, looking intimidated by Navi’s height.
Navi, bless her, never once ran at or attempted to jump on Nora. This is one of the things I love about Navi. She seems to have a naturally gentle and sweet spirit. She nuzzled Nora a few times and went back to playing chase with Hagrid until the pleasant breeze brought more of a chill. By this time, we had all decided to turn in and said our goodbyes with plans for a house warming party this up-coming weekend.
On our walk home I was struck once more by the mountains, and the community that I now live in. In between the houses on my left, there is a never-ending expanse of land because our base is so far away from everything. In between the houses on my right are mountains. Big, breath-taking mountains with snow dressing their peaks and the sun disappearing behind them.
I am constantly looking for them whenever I drive someplace, or when I’m at the pool and can see them from the lap lanes through the bay windows. This evening on my walk home was not the first time I felt slightly like Little Orphan Annie–in a good way. There’s a part in the movie once she has just been taken in by Daddy Warbucks, and she sings “I think I’m gonna like it here.”
While walking with Navi along the sidewalk I was looking at all the other houses like mine, with the fenced back yards. I could hear dogs barking and the sounds of kids playing in the evening, even a mom calling to her kids about dinner.
The abundance of kids and dogs everywhere also struck me. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t all of the kids playing outside constantly. I love it. I haven’t seen this many kids playing outdoors since summer camp. Little kids in strollers and dogs in tow. Older kids on bikes, skate boards and scooters. Kids running across front yards and crossing the neighborhood streets without a care in the world–sometimes with no parents in sight.
At first I thought it was really abnormal and wondered if there was some sort of event going on in the neighborhood to cause it. Then I realized that on a military base there is no reason to worry about your child being abducted or running off someplace they shouldn’t be with it’s constant patrolling of security forces and gated entry.
It’s not just the views of the mountain, my new dog, or living room furniture that make me like it here so much. It feels so good to be here, in such a safe place with such a friendly community that does so much together. I don’t know what twist of fate it was that launched me into this new life but I can already tell it will be really hard to leave it one day.