“Flowers!” My front yard has flowers! I may have physically skipped a little when I saw that. Three tiny bunches of purple flowers. I leaned down a bit. Were they lavender? They looked like lavender. Where does lavender usually grow? How wonderful that we have flowers!
Then I felt it.
I don’t know how long they had been standing there or what they thought of me leaning over flowers I didn’t plant with a beaming smile on my face. Who knows, I could have been talking to myself because of how excited I was. But I looked up because I felt their eyes. Two ladies smiling and staring in front of the driveway next to the one that was now mine. I was already smiling (probably like a fool) so I waved back and started walking towards them as they began to walk towards me.
I guess I didn’t think I would feel it so quickly – the being watched feeling. We have always lived at least 20 minutes from post – at least. We like the separation. I could lie and say my husband is the only one who likes the separation but I don’t mind it either. I think it helps to find a balance – at least for our family. To live on post was a BIG decision for our small family but one that we both believe is best this time around. The benefits will greatly outweigh the rest.
As I talked to these two, very nice women, watched the interaction between people in our very busy and youthful village and really opened my eyes my chest felt heavy. My mind was starting to panic. I felt suffocated.
I was the new girl – and clearly very much the new girl – and I wasn’t used to it. To make it harder, nearly everyone on my street is with the same aviation unit and were also all together at their previous OCONUS location. They were all the first families into this village of new houses and some had been together for years – a lifetime in the military realm. All of their husbands were home. Talk about outsider. It just about knocked me over how out-of-place I felt.
Since I arrived here, I have experienced nothing but kindness from people. The guard gate who let me through when I didn’t know I needed a special pass. The ladies at CYS who walked me through the deployment benefits and told me the ins and outs of how to get things I needed. The patient women at the housing office who waited an hour for me to get in touch with my husband to have him walk through getting additional paperwork over the phone. The soldier at the main gate who saw my Louisiana Temporary Tag and talked with me a moment about his hometown which is the same as the one I love and just left. The two ladies who talked with me and told me why the satellite is better than the cable and why they don’t paint their houses and how silly I was to paint mine and where they have been before. Everyone has been so kind.
But I still feel like a fish in a fishbowl.
I know that this will be an adjustment – more than I probably realized – because right now I am the new girl in a place where everyone knows everyone and there really isn’t anyway around it.
And so tomorrow I will open my uncovered windows and climb my ladder and paint despite how “impractical” it is. Tomorrow I will buy a watering can and in a few days I will research care for lavender. I will buy a flagpole holder and ask permission to mount it on the column on my house because I believe it belongs there. I will continue to move forward while people smile and wave and watch.
And I will live in the fishbowl, one day at a time, and somehow I will make it home.