Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Familiar Landscapes

"I'm on my way, to a coast
where I know the roads like the back of my hand
familiar landscapes"

One of my all time favorite bands is New Found Glory. I have listened to them since high school and have seen them probably around 8 times. Gearing up for the trip home, I decided to load all of our music onto a "community ipod" one that Josh and I both share that has common music we both like. I of course added my entire NFG library and this particular song, Familiar Landscapes, really hit home for me. Of course being a die hard fan, this isn't my first time hearing it, but this was the first time that it really applied to me. After 10 years (almost 6 years for me) we were finally moving home and we were getting back to our familiar landscapes. I feel like in this blog I will be doing a lot of back tracking as time has passed since all this has happened. In order to keep it going with "monthly" post (which I will try to get back to do more often!) I will have to go back to January and start from the beginning. 

Like with any change of duty station, you have to check out of the current duty station before you can progress with your move. It's a lengthy process and often times really annoying. Now, we had to do that, but also incorporating Josh retiring. Talk about a HUGE headache. Surprisingly we were able to complete the entire check out in about a month and a half. Once our check out was done, we finalized appointments and made sure that Josh had a hefty supply of anti-seizure medication to get him through the time between being activity duty and receiving treatment once retired. Once that was all finalized we had to work on getting the U-haul, packing up the entire apartment and planning our trip down from Maryland to Florida. We also had to say our final goodbyes to all that helped us while we were in Maryland. From friends we made, the doctors we had and the military personal we had to thank them all. In one way shape or form, they all played a part in our journey. Some were harder to say goodbye to and I often found myself second guessing our decision to leave. But, in the end, we did it. On January 23rd we drove off base for the very last time. We had a U-haul, our car, and my parents in tow and we were head to Florida...with a minor detour to Atlanta so Josh could go to their aquarium!

Months prior to making this drive, I kept saying I'm not looking forward to it. We had originally planned to drive until we couldn't anymore, spend the night, and drive some more. It's actually a 15 hr drive and I have never driven that long let alone wanted to do it in one straight shot. As we got closer to us making the move, Josh mentioned that he really wanted to go to the Georgia aquarium. For those that don't know, there are only two aquariums in the world that have whale sharks, one is in Japan and the other one is in, you guessed it, Georgia. So he was really (and I mean REALLY) anxious to see it. I asked my parents and we all know they would move mountains for Josh so it was a no brainier decision and we added stopping in Atlanta to our trip. We drove from Maryland to Charlotte North Carolina, which was only six hours. We spent the night and drove to Atlanta, which was three hours and hung out at the hotel the rest of the night. The next morning we took an Uber (something I have never done but was super convenient!) to the Georgia aquarium. We have become slight aquarium snobs as we have been to a bunch of them over the past couple years. The New Orleans aquarium is one of our favorites as well as the one in Baltimore. But the New Jersey aquarium and the Virginia one were not up to par for us. We went with low expectations, but it's really hard to not impress Josh he loves everything with fish. We walked around to every single one of their exhibits and loved every single one. Our only complaint was that there was no African Cicilids, lol. We hung out at the whale shark tank a little bit longer than normal, it was just that amazing. The picture next to this paragraph is from that tank. It was massive, probably one of the biggest tanks in an aquarium that we have seen. Josh just sat there in amazement. He was so happy the entire day and it made our little detour so worth it. The next day we packed up the car and finished out our trip home. It was the longest leg of our drive, 8 hours. But Josh cranked up the music and we played our word game to make the time go by faster. That night we arrived to our house, unloaded the U-haul and literally fell into bed. I think that was the best sleep I had the entire month of January. 

On January 28th, Josh officially retired. Being that we had just drove down and my house was a complete wreck, we didn't have a party. We did have a small dinner at his favorite place with his aunt, my parents, and a family friend (Hi, Dawn!) and it was perfect. Of course I went over board and a little extra with balloons, a drinking chalice and everyone wore retirement beads but I thought, who cares, you only retire from the military once! Once life settles down, I do plan on giving him a proper retirement party. I do think it's something that should be celebrated. He did 10 years, I think he needs to properly say goodbye to that chapter in his life. It's been almost a month now and that still hasn't really sunk in yet. I joke around with Josh when we pass retirement homes or senior citizen community halls that he needs to go and be around "his people" and yesterday at lunch we were literally the youngest people in the restaurant, I kept telling him that he fits in so well with the retirement crowd. Joking aside, it really has been a huge adjustment for the both of us. I'm prepping for a our garage sale and I found all of my Navy wife shirts I had packed away in storage. I got rid of a majority of them because I kept saying to myself, that's no longer my title. I no longer refer to myself as a Navy wife, a title I have held for almost seven years. When we first got married, that was the title I wanted. I was so proud of him and I loved telling people that my husband was in the Navy. Now, I look at it and I am proud of all that we have done. I'm proud that I was able to stand among the strongest women (and men) I know. I am thankful for it as it brought me so many memories and allowed me to meet so many amazing people.

The next week we spent unpacking and putting things away. We also got the phone call that our stuff was FINALLY being released from storage. Out of everything we had to do for the move, that was the biggest annoyance. We found out in the middle of the entire process that they actually had moved our stuff from Norfolk VA to Suffolk so the company that we had been working with on submitting our paper work actually kicked it back because our stuff wasn't actually in their possession anymore! After going round and round and making a ton of phone calls we finally had it delivered. It was like Christmas in February when our stuff finally arrived. If you all remember, we didn't pack up our house in Italy. We had to immediately get off the island and head to Maryland. Because of this, we had really forgotten all that we owned in Italy and duty stations prior. Every box we opened we were like "OMG! Do you remember this!?" It has been so much fun reconnecting with our stuff and it all fits so perfectly in our house. Since delivery, we have spent day and night unpacking our stuff. We have officially finished unpacking all of the boxes and this weekend we will be having a huge garage sale to sell everything. 

Right now, treatment is on hold. We were told by our doctors that we had some wiggle room with starting chemotherapy. I personally think it's good for Josh, he gets to settle into his house and take some "me"time before starting treatment. We are waiting for his DD 214 and once that comes in, we will start connecting him with doctors and getting him back in for his treatment. For now, he's happy just hanging out with his dog and spending time in his house. As for us, we are loving being home. When we left so many years ago, we were anxious to get out and see the world. Now that we have done that, we are ready to be back home. It isn't until you have been in some scary situations that you realize how much you miss it.

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