“I will never, ever be a military wife. Ever.”
Harsh words coming from a 16-year-old while on the phone with my love-stricken male friend. Unfortunately for him, he was pursuing me almost as stubbornly as I kept slamming the door of rejection in his face.
Little did I know that one day, this tall, gangly, slightly annoying friend of mine would become my lawfully wedded husband.
From a young age, he knew without doubt that he wanted to be in the Air Force. This was an admirable desire for sure, especially considering both his dad and grandfather had retired from the Air Force. He wanted to carry on the family tradition while fulfilling his own career aspirations of becoming a pilot. But, while I admired that from a distance and made it painfully clear to my friend that he had my respect, in no way did I want to be affiliated with the USAF, or any other branch of the military for that matter.
It’s funny how things change. Obviously, I once wanted nothing to do with the military. I had heard horror stories of loved ones going away to war for months at a time, only to return home maimed, physically and emotionally, or even worse, in a casket. The military would also derive great satisfaction from sending you to the most horrible duty stations, the very armpit of the nation, although I wasn’t sure where that was. On top of that, people in the military were a little strange. Not because I had spent substantial time with any, but because in my inexperienced thinking, they must be weird to enjoy dangerous situations, being separated from their families for ridiculous amounts of time, and living in various geographical “armpits.”
However, over the course of time, I came to realize a few things. People change, myself in particular; sometimes danger, separation, and unfamiliar environments have a way of bringing two people closer together-not rip them apart. I also learned that my young friend’s passion and desire to join the Air Force were indicative of his good nature, thirst for adventure, and respectable character, which were all qualities lacking in most other young men I knew.
After one year of awkward long-distance dating due to his deployment to Afghanistan, five years of marriage, and four moves around the country, I am happy to say that while being a part of the military has been tough, I am also very thankful for how it has helped strengthen my marriage and exposed me to so many different people and places. Even a redneck-infested swimming hole in the bowels of a Floridian swamp. But more on that later.