The first time I visited my hometown where all of my family and friends live, was 7 months after my husband, myself, and our son left Florida, drove 45 hours, for 7 days, and 12 states later arrived across the country to our new home – Washington State.
Now to have to travel back and forth to family takes a whole day of multiple flights, that are expensive and exhausting. So to say us visiting is a big deal – is no exaggeration.
When we said our goodbyes to so many people last year, we felt we were separating ourselves from one life to the next. And for 7 months I didn’t consider Washington our home. I thought of it as temporary. I thought home is where all my loved ones are. Where all our memories are.
I was wrong. I was so, so wrong.
Seven months after our journey, our new lifestyle in the Air Force, our new normal, and our new home, we were able to visit family back in Marianna, Florida. Our hometown. A place I had considered “home” in the back of my mind for 7 months.
But the things that I didn’t consider was how much people had moved on without us. Given a Category 5 Hurricane Micheal barreled through, destroying a high percentage of people’s belongings and livelihoods in and near Marianna, people we had waited to see were in no rush to see us.
(Disclaimer: this is about no one in particular and especially excludes my immediate family).
I am not writing this to blast anyone in particular, I am actually writing it to share my story because I know so many military families that have felt similar. Let me just say, I’m sure we seemed wrapped in our own world too, however, I wanted to share what I learned and grew from visiting my hometown for the first time since leaving.
I didn’t think that I would only see some of my closest friends or family (that lived within 30 minutes or less) once or twice or not at all.
I didn’t think that people would want us to come to them or be on their schedule for us to meet up. (Especially considering we have no vehicle here unless we use my parents).
I didn’t think that people would use so many excuses to not see us, most of all just being “busy”.
I didn’t think that I would be so ready to get back home to our routine and our new way of life in Washington State.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
I THOUGHT: People would offer to come and see us, just to stop by, regardless of work or being “so busy”.
I THOUGHT: People would have meaningful conversations with me to ask how I have handled raising a toddler all on my own away from family or how hard it has been – definitely not about how the weather is in Washington. It’s cold. Washington is cold.
I THOUGHT: People would make sure to see Jett, instead of acting like it’s no big deal if they couldn’t “this time”. NEXT TIME will be at least 7 months on top of the already 7 months that they haven’t. *Let me add the last time we were in FL he was 10 months old, now he is 18 months old and in 7 months will be over two years old.
I THOUGHT: I would be so overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and consideration of people taking time out of their full days to see us, that our calendar would be packed and pre-scheduled to the max.
I THOUGHT: My husband would be told a time or two of appreciation or how proud someone was of him for serving our country. How strong Jett was for being so resilient for going through all the huge life changes with us. Or of how much we were missed.
Now that I know what I should’ve expected, I feel at peace. Maybe I am being a little bit self-centered or expected way too much but I am not sad anymore about the small support system that we have because though it may be small (and few) it is so strong. We seen all the loved ones that wanted to see us. And that’s what matters.
We had such great moments, I felt so loved during my baby shower for baby girl, my family from out of town making a trip to come and see us, and being able to wrap our arms around people even if it was for a brief amount of time. I had great conversations with loved ones that took time to talk to me, about myself, my family, my new home, or my new pregnancy.
Though Marianna, Florida will always hold a piece of my heart I know now we have grown a piece of our hearts across the country too. We get to go home and appreciate our actual home – in Washington State – so much better now.
The military has shown and taught us so much already. Life can get “busy” but you make time for the things that truly matter to you, no matter the cost or inconvenience. It’s easy to get caught up in our own little worlds but sometimes, the smallest things you can do for someone, can make the world of a difference.
We had fun Florida! Hope to see you end of this year or the next!
Mama Aerial 💙❤️🇺🇸