There are a lot of things I’ve learned so far as the wife of a servicemember. Among the top few things I’ve discovered are: 1) expect criticism for being a Marine officer’s wife, 2) even the biggest, baddest Marines turn to mush for an adorable puppy, and most importantly 3) the definition of “home” isn’t what you would expect.
I would say that without a doubt, my most texted/ Facebook messaged/ Skyped phrases have to do with missing someone/ missing KCMO. My friends, family, and town where I grew up are all 1000+ miles away, and that’s something that I am constantly reminded of.
Back in 2011 before I had started “officially” dating my (then future) husband, he was gearing up for OCS Juniors. I bid him a cheerful goodbye for six weeks, wrote him a couple of letters, and welcomed him home a few days after he flew back in. Kansas City was home. My mail was sent there, I lived at my mom’s place, and my driver’s license proclaimed that my address was there; it was irrefutably my home.
In 2012 we got engaged. He was resting for a year, studying for OCS Seniors, and putting the muscle back on that he had lost at OCS Juniors. My home was in Liberty. I paid rent there, my fiance called it “Brittany’s house” when talking to other people about where he was, and I was buying kitchenware and the like to try and make it “mine”. Although it was a suburb of the city where I had lived my entire life, it was still definitely my home.
The year went by quickly, and before we knew it, it was the summer of 2013: time for OCS Seniors. Saying goodbye was infinitely more difficult this time than it had been back in 2011. I wasn’t saying goodbye to a friend, I was saying goodbye to my best friend and future husband. I stubbornly held him in my arms, planting a disgusting amount of kisses all over him before unwillingly allowing him to leave me.
We wrote letters, I drew him little cartoons, and he called me every Saturday and Sunday after the first three weeks. I had a big dry-erase board on my refrigerator counting down the days until I would see him again. This time, I was going to drive the 1000+ miles to watch him graduate, and I tried to distract myself with the planning. “Okay, did I print my hotel confirmation? Where’s my packing list? Has his graduation gift arrived in the post yet? For f***’s sake, I still have x amount of days to go!”
Finally, the day had come. I drove 17 hours straight through eight states to my hotel. The next day, his parents (who had flown out, obviously proving that older generally = wiser) called me, saying that they were driving to my hotel to pick me up and take me to see him on base. It was Family Day, and we could spend the next six or so hours with him. I got a call from room service after a bit, with the desk attendant saying that someone was there to see me. I grabbed my purse and rushed down the stairs, my throat dry and my heart full. Halfway down the staircase, I saw him. He was standing alone in the lobby, with the biggest smile stretched across his handsome face. It was like something straight out of a movie… I ran to him, beaming, and landed exactly in the right spot; my head tucked under his chin, lips grazing his collarbone, fingertips pulling his shoulder blades into me as if we could never be close enough. That is home to me. Nothing in my life has ever been as clear as that moment.
Sitting here writing this over a year and half after that day, it still holds true. We are not living in KC. We are without our family and the friends we’ve known for years. All we have is each other. And really, isn’t that what marriage is about? Being with your best friend, no matter the time, place, or situation?
On the nights his training pulls him away from me for awhile, I’m reminded that homesickness can happen for a person just as much as for a hometown. That feeling like you’re displaced; like you’re in a part of the world that you wouldn’t otherwise choose for yourself.
At the same time however, I must remind myself that I did indeed make this choice. It was 100% my decision to uproot myself and follow my husband wherever he may lead me (or wherever the Marine Corps may lead him). I have no obligation to be where I am today. But then of course, I also do. In my mind, there isn’t really an option to go back to Kansas City. It isn’t my home anymore. My friends may be there, spare bedrooms awaiting, my family may be anxiously asking about “coming home”, but all-in-all, it doesn’t matter what zip code is on my ID. No matter which city I’m in, I’m home as long as he’s with me.