It has been way too long since I have written, anything. I am sitting here counting on my fingers to see how many actual days it has ben since coming back the US; 2 months and a few days. The time seems to be moving by so fast that I can not seem to catch up. I have learned to rely on Dunkin donuts coffee to give me the needed push and move faster mentality that seems to dominate the New England area. I was reminded that New Englanders are full of coffee and sarcasm and they live up to that comment.
There have been so many changes and new things to learn but on the other hand we have been trying to get use to things that never seem to change. I know, crazy, a little bit of seeing new places, stores, malls, and learning where things are but there also a feeling of, “Oh yeah, I remember that” and may favorite, “Really, I can only write a check.” I have not written a check in 3 1/2 years and I do not even have any.
So, the confusion of trying to find a house, try to get use to a new way a living and all the things that come along with that process I am finally feeling comfortable.
With that said, I wish that there were a few things that I could explain to those that live among me in my new area. Do you really have to tailgate me, even in the slow lane? I mean seriously, I am going 65 mph and you seem to either want to join me in my car and have a conversation with me or you really need to get off the exit to go to the bathroom. Later, I learned that neither was the right answer. Going 65 mph was too slow and they wanted to get there before someone else did. I thought maybe they just wanted to read my plates as they were the same ones I used overseas and looked funny among the Patriot frame license plates of Massachusetts. Some people did want to read my plates and they were the ones I would just slow down so they could see them. I found in my rearview mirror one too many drivers leaning way over the steering wheel just trying to catch a glimpse of my plate. Then there were the stalkers, those that would follow me into the parking lot and park near by. As I would get out of my car, they would shout over to me, ” Hey, where are you from, those plates look weird.” It always amazed me how much space they would have between the two of us. It just reminded me that they really must feel safer in the car and not meeting face to face an actual person.
I considered making up stories like, I am from the royal family on vacation but when it came right down to it, they really did not care. They just wanted to know why the plates looked different.
That brings me to the point of everything is different now and we need to adjust to the changes in people, places and things that go on around us. None of it is easy but much of it has been amusing.
One thing is for sure, Coffee is very important, Dunkin Donuts truly has a presence and there are very few people who do not “Run on Dunkins”
I guess the phrase I was given that New Englanders run on 2 things Coffee and sarcasm, they were right on.
Which reminds me, I need to go out and get another cup of coffee, I am all out.
My absence from writing comes from how much time and energy I have been spending on trying to figure out our exist from the military world. Yep, we are heading home and my time here in Germany seems to be coming to a close. But not only is our time-serving our Country coming to a close but we are leaving the military life to go home to the “real world”. On one hand I am very sad to be leaving but on the other hand I am excited to be “going home” to a world I knew before we started this adventure.
Home, now that is a question I really can not answer, Where is home? Each time I hear the question from someone I am not sure how to answer. We have moved so many times over the years that I am not sure what to say. I guess, I could say that the United States is my home. Though that seems a bit too cliché. I guess home is where the heart is but that too seems a bit predictable and I can already see your eyes rolling. We have been asking the question over and over again, where should we call home?
Naples, Florida, now that would be a perfect home after all these years of clouds, rain, fog, a little sun, despite what Fox News think about Germany, the sun rarely comes out. Naples would be nice but I am not sure that we want to be among the retired people as that is who lives there. I mean, most are playing golf and swimming in their private pools. I think we will need something a little bit more exciting but I must confess, feeling the sun upon my face would feel fantastic. I just know that I will not want to work and to the best of my knowledge I need to work.
Maybe we should go to New England. Yes, now that would be fun since they have the New England Patriots, Boston and the Red Soxs! New England has a lot to offer us. It seems that would be a good place to go. But….I complain so much about the snow, the cold, and fog. I love the four seasons and the ocean. Naples or New England, which do we choose?
We have not been home to the United States in 3 plus years and the only news we get from home is from the news; good and the bad. I am so wanting to go home to a place that we left and pick up where we left off but that is not the way it will be; I know it can not be that way. We have all grown up and as much I want that feeling we had when we left I am convinced that too much as changed for it to be the same.
So, really, how does one define home? Maybe it is not a place that is on the map like Florida or New England but space that one occupies and tries to make better not only for themselves but for those around them.
So, to say the least the thought of where to live and going home has caused complicated thoughts that leave me wondering ….does it really matter just as long as I can read the signs, speak my mind and be able to live the way I want to live?
No matter how cliché it may be…the United States is my home.
See ya real soon!
They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street. But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news.
The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did. But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike. I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that.
“Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”
To Whomever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. He knew something was different. So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads.
Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones —“sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.” He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand. He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you…His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name.
But if someone is reading this … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive. I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.
You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with .. and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.
Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me. If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love.
I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades. All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank.
Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.
Thank you, Paul Mallory
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies.
Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly. The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months.
“Tank,” I whispered.
His tail swished. I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him.
I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
“So whatdaya say we play some ball?” His ears perked again. “Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room.
And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.
You: (pointing at me and making a face) “She is exaggerating about how long it has been since the sun has shown its face in Germany.”
Me: (defiant) “No, it has been clearly 6 weeks since I saw the sun shine on my pale face.”
You: (correcting me) “No way, you saw it for ten minutes on Thanksgiving.”
Me: (with conviction) “Yep! And that is why I leaped from the dinner table to just run outside and feel its warmth upon my face.”
You: (a confession) “That’s when I ate some of your turkey off your plate.”
Me: (desperate) “When will the sun shine again?”
You: “Told you we need to move back to Florida!”
Florida…..I can feel the warmth of the breeze, hear the birds sing, watch the alligator meander in the lake, feel the sun glisten upon the water. Oh, the sparkles that it makes upon the water….but then I am quickly back to reality, pop open the vitamin D bottle and run to the window for a small glimpse of sunshine.
When I sat down to write I had so many stories to write about and I could not figure out which one would be the best. Being true to myself, I always try to think about what would be most interesting for someone to read. I recognize that many of you who read my blog are not affiliated with the military and fewer have had the benefit of living overseas. As I collected my thoughts, I knew that there would be one topic everyone, including me, was thinking about; the drama surrounding General Petraeus.
I have been reading many different articles about what has happened and have heard more about this story on AFN (Armed Forces Network). I will confess, I wish in some small way that I could have written a book about these events. I would not be sitting here in Military on post housing if I had. With each twist and turn I hold my breath like I am turning the pages of a newly released novel.
Then it got me wondering, how could this happen? Now a days we are addicted to our computers with not much emphasis on the power our computer holds over us because we use them without thinking. That is the problem, we do not think about what we say. How many times do we log in, give an opinion on the article, picture, email or whatever without thinking about who will see it. Those words are forever connected to us and sometimes we even cringe at the content of those posts after we have calmed down. We can delete the content but it never truly goes away.
I can recall the daily discussions I have with my teenage daughter to not write anything on Facebook or in messages that could be perceived in a different matter than what the words were intended. I know that she is tired of hearing this from her over protective mother who sounds more like a drill sergeant at times than a Mom.
It may be just a coincidence but in the last few days I have found quite a few re-posts starting with, “I am sorry about the last post, I was not thinking.”
Lately it feels like there are a few too many things going on.
I guess you could say there have been too many interruptions and not enough closure on things I think are important.
Here are a few things I hope will end soon.
1) The election. I really hope that it ends soon. I, like I think most of you, want to just be done with this election as it feels like it has been going on forever. Just put someone in office and let’s deal with what will happen next!
2) Wondering about where we will be living in a few months. I guess that one will take a few more months to decide where we will be landing once home in the US.
3) Will my sister call me. Ever since Hurricane Sandy she has been without power and no power means no phone lines. I know she is okay because she has spoken to other family members but not me….makes me wonder .
So, with these things on my mind along with the other important things like, will there be a turkey at the Commissary for me to buy I have not been able to think clearly and without interruption.
Now I hope with a new week on hand, those interruptions will start to go away and time will be easier to manage…then again…the big decision to decorate or not for the Holidays seems to be creeping into my mind.
Excuse me, I need to….
There is so much that needs to happen before we can come home to the United States. The list goes on and on but as we prepare we realize that we will need to adjust to a new culture, again.
I did not give this much thought until I was talking with my teenage daughter who has been living overseas for the past 3 years. She has gotten use to traveling here and that means that when you cross a border to a new country you need to make sure you have your passport with you. To her, it is natural to carry a passport and present it to border patrols, if needed. Though, I will admit, with open borders one generally does not need to show it. One has it for the ” just in case” moments. Her daily routine though of presenting identification to be on Post is that you need to show ID. These checkpoints provide security to the Post. She has learned that you need an ID to go somewhere. Without it, can cause major issues.
We got talking about moving back to the States. We are considering moving to the New England area. Moving between States is normal and I was explaining to her how close Rhode Island is to Massachusetts, that going back and forth between the States is a normal everyday event.
“One minute you will be traveling down the highway and be in Rhode Island then the next exit will be Massachusetts.” I was explaining to her.
Her startled look made me stop and pause. She looked a little confused and I asked her. “What seems to be the matter?”
“How many checkpoints do we need to travel through each day to get to the next State?” She stated quite calmly.
Here’s the Thing….her innocent question made me realize that she has learned a lot by living here in Europe. She has not traveled across State lines and not be checked for a passport or not have to stop to show an ID before entering a new area. I suddenly realized why she had a puzzled look. I was not thinking about things from her point of view. She only knows about carrying identification and that has become her world.
It has made me realize how many things that are taken for granted in the States. That being able to just freely move among States will be a new concept.
“None”, I replied to her. “We will not have to show ID to cross State lines. That’s one of many freedoms we have as being Americans. We can travel freely among the States.”