Living

Life changes: On to the next chapter, this time as a civilian

Today, I got a taste of what my civilian life will be like. I'm almost there.

IMG_0945

Today, I faced an event that I was kind of dreading. I returned my kit: uniforms, tactical vest, ballistic glasses, helmet. You know, the stuff that basically makes you a soldier. And although I anticipated a serious meltdown, I walked out of there feeling a little bit lighter, both figuratively and literally. (I mean, look at all those bags I’m carrying!) But a feeling of calm washed over me. I was one step closer.

This afternoon, during an appointment with the relocation specialists, I booked my flight, car rental, and hotel for my house hunting trip and set the official dates for my move. On April 22nd, I will begin my road trip across the country to my new life. This Thursday, I’ll be off to find my home. Two steps closer.

About ten different people asked why I was wearing civilian clothing. For a moment, my eyes would well up a little bit as I thought of what will soon be my past. All the fantastic memories and laughter. All the friends and fun. But then I think about reading books and freedom to be with those I love. And I know I can find happiness.

This weekend, I was home visiting my parents and cried more times than I can count. It was due to a fear of my new life. My parents were patient, kind, and understanding. Dad helped me pack the car then pulled me in for a big hug. And for a moment, a bit of panicked washed over me. What about the bond Dad and I have over the military? What will we have when I lose my ability to answer his questions or punctuate all my sentences with military acronyms?

So I asked him what it would mean for us and our relationship. “Moo,” he said, holding me away from him, with his hands on my shoulders. “What you and I have doesn’t end just because the military does.” I know I’ve asked him this question before. But what’s better was that I knew I would get the same comforting answer.

So today I took two steps forward. And this gal? She’s never turning back.

Kelly