This last PCS for us was a rollercoaster from the very beginning. We spent 7 months preparing for a move to Japan, and in November 2012, found out that wasn’t happening anymore. We then scrambled to submit another preference list to the monitor, and by that point had decided we desperately wanted to stay in New Bern, while my husband did a FAC tour out of LeJeune. It wasn’t ideal, but we liked the continuity and comfort for our little guy, who was not even 3 at the time. I also had amazing friends and a fantastic support system, and we were within driving distance from home (KY). From November until right after Christmas, we thought we were staying in New Bern. We came home from a party celebrating Addison’s homecoming (he had been deployed through all of this), and received a text message informing us that we were instead moving to the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on Oahu. Originally, they tried to move us in 3 weeks time. CRAZY! My husband was able to convince them to give us more than that, so we packed up and moved out on February 26th. I guess it’s true what they say in the military– don’t believe anything you are told until it’s in writing…and even then, don’t believe it until you’re physically “on the move” and headed towards your destination.
Leaving New Bern was by far the hardest thing I’ve had to go through, even more so than the deployments. It was our first home (we owned), where we started our little family, and where we truly embarked on the insane journey that is the military. After experiencing two lengthy deployments and countless trainings/detachments there, I had made such an incredible network of close friends and neighbors. They showed up with dinner at least once a week, brought wine over on lonely nights, babysat Owen, and kept me so busy with play dates and girls’ nights out. The bonds I had (and still have) with those amazing people made New Bern the first place I’d felt at home since leaving the town in which I spent my childhood. I knew that we would make friends in Hawaii, but I didn’t realize that even a year later, I’d still be mourning the loss of those day-to-day interactions with those amazing people. I also was scared about how Owen would handle the transition, and whether or not he would be able to make friends.
We decided to make the move an adventure, and drive across the country, stopping along the way in various locations. Owen has always loved road trips (weird for a toddler, I know), and he did great. The best decision we made was to make sure that every hotel we stayed in had a pool, so that after a long day of driving, Owen could get out a lot of energy (we moved in February, so we needed INDOOR activities to wear him out). At the end of the road trip, we stayed at the Navy Lodge on Coronado, and spent 3 days exploring San Diego. The 12-day trip holds a lot of wonderful memories for us, and I’m so glad we did it that way.
Arriving in Hawaii was surreal, to say the least. You feel like you’re supposed to be on vacation, but are immediately thrown into the process of trying to find a place to live, which is incredibly difficult here. Good places are snapped up in a matter of minutes, literally. We spent the first week in a hotel room, with our iPads and iPhones duct-taped to our heads, checking craigslist and all other rental websites every 10 minutes, dropping everything and rushing over to look at properties. It was chaos, and emotionally we were drained. After the first week, we still hadn’t found anything, so we moved into the villas on MCBH. There we continued the process of searching, and after 2 weeks, still hadn’t found anything. We then moved AGAIN, into a month-long vacation rental. We only had our express shipment, which was a blessing because of all the moves, but a curse because I could tell my little guy was starting to struggle with the lack of routine and consistency. He had been used to a 5-day preschool program from 9-12, and lots of time with his friends. I decided that the only thing I could control for him, was preschool. I quickly found an amazing Montessori school for him, and stuck my hand out to every single mom I saw there, hoping to make a connection. I feel very strongly that the sooner you connect with your environment and plant some seeds, the sooner you will find peace and start to settle down internally. I gave out my number and in no time, Owen and I were out with friends almost daily at playgrounds, signing up for soccer together, and immersing ourselves in socialization. He cheered up immediately, and so did I.
We finally found a place to live for a year, and moved in about a week before I found out I was pregnant with our second child. I felt so lucky to be settled for that, and to know we’d be in a home when the baby was due. Soon after we got our stuff and unpacked, everything fell into place. Although I am still not as connected to Kailua as I was to New Bern, I can definitely say that we have found our peace with it and are enjoying it as it is, while we are here. Owen is happy, has made some amazing friends, and I have too. That’s the beautiful thing about this lifestyle…the unknown is scary, but it forces us to step outside our comfort zone, be courageous, and often discover that every situation can be so much more than we originally anticipate. It keeps me hopeful, optimistic, and feeling very lucky. I wouldn’t trade the people on this journey for anything, and I feel very confident my now 4.5 year old would say the same thing (in his own little kid logic, of course). I’ve also learned to focus on what I actually can control, and roll with the punches of what I can’t. I know the dust always settles in the end.