The night I met my husband, it was actually my 25th birthday party. I was rocking four inch hot pink heels, a short black dress, and a Jersey Shore style hair bump that was also hot pink, which contrasted nicely with my freshly dyed black hair. (Birthday party, remember. It was a theme.) Oh. And I can’t forget the sparkly pink eye shadow. It was awesome at the time. It was a huge party, with thirty to forty of my ‘closest’ (I use the term loosely…) friends, family members, co workers, and new friends riding the drunk bus we rented or meeting at one of two bars for the evening. Amazing party. Amazing weekend. And so very me. I’m still not sure I remember the whole thing.
This February, it will be my 30th birthday. We haven’t started talking about what we will be doing, but I am 100% positive it will not include anything from my 25th birthday – except him and me. And maybe some hot pink. What will likely happen is a nice dinner out somewhere and maybe another dinner or drinks with some friends. And I’m ok with that. It sounds calmer, more memorable (well…that might just be the lack of the drunk bus!), and wonderful. It will be a whole new group of friends, none of whom even know about the crazy hot pink Sam from five years ago.
That’s the bummer part.
I have amazing friends here. Really. And I’m already sad about the upcoming PCS season when we all scatter. But they all only know me as Samantha Dean, mother of two and Marine Spouse. Which I am. But I haven’t always been like that. And I hope that’s not all I am. They don’t know the hot pink Sam, the dancing on a bar Sam (only where it was allowed!), the Sam who won second place in the Halloween costume dressed a Rap Star (I looked awesome – corn rows and all!).
And it’s hard to really know someone when you only know one part of him or her. So while I want my friendships here, I need my friendships from home. I need my friends from home. They are the ones who hear me talk about not letting Cailin do certain things when she’s older and snort with laughter while they roll their eyes because they were there when I did the exact same thing. They are the ones who appreciate how hard it is for me to be the polite Marine wife when I meet other spouses because they know I’m thinking something I’m just not allowed to say. They are the ones who know exactly why I laugh whenever I see jungle juice, why I regularly quote certain movies, and why Harry Potter book and movie launches will always hold a place in my heart.
There is a comfort in that kind of familiarity that you cannot get with new friends, no matter how amazing they are.
About one year ago, I was five months pregnant and dying for someone from home. This was my first pregnancy, but second child, and some people here didn’t even know that about me. I needed someone who could know how excited I was to be having my own baby, but who remembered how excited I also was the day I brought that 2 year old to Virginia while her dad deployed.
I cried the day I found out one of my sorority sisters was going to be living on island for 8 months. I hadn’t talked to this girl in a while, but as soon as I heard, I contacted her and we picked up where we left off. The month after she got here, she came to my baby shower with tons of presents for the baby. The week after Madelyn showed up, she came over, telling me that she didn’t care what I looked like or how I felt, she was coming to see the baby so just shut up already. My military spouse friends? They waited politely for a phone call saying when it would be a good time.
Sure enough, she came over, ignored the messy house, the lack of my shower, and the spit up all over me. She grabbed Madelyn, sat down, and I think one of the first things she told my days old baby was that she’d be sure to share all my crazy college stories as soon as Madelyn was old enough.
It was perfect.
The hard part comes in keeping those long distance relationships alive. It can be tricky, especially for close friendships. We were putting ornaments on our Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, and I grabbed one a friend gave me a few years ago. It is a group of snowmen with the friends are like stars saying – good friends are like stars; you may not always see them, but you know they are always there. I got sad for a few minutes, because I’m not sure I’m friends with the girl who gave it to me anymore, and Caleb, trying to make me feel better, said he wanted me to make friendships where we were, not spend all my time holding on to old friendships. But how can I make new friends if I don’t have my old friends helping keep Hot Pink Sam alive?
I guess that’s the hard part about being with someone in the military. Making new friends is tricky, but it gets easier. Keeping those old friends, the ones you need to stay you, that’s hard.