I've been married 8 1/4 years. In those 8 years I have lived in 5 states, 3 base houses, 4 apartments, and 2 houses. If you do THAT math, it becomes obvious that we don't stay in one place for long. And that means we never truly get "settled." To me, part of being settled is having things that I can enjoy over time in a place--like gardens and flowers. The longest we have ever lived in one building is ALMOST 2 years--we lived in our house in Jacksonville, NC from October 2006 to July of 2008. My husband was actually stationed at Camp Lejeune and we (mostly just K and me as Buzz was overseas most of that) were in J-Vegas until April of 2009 and those last months he was deployed, so we sold our house and moved on base for that--and we moved to TN 5 days after he returned that time.
We are getting ready to pass the 2-year mark at our house here in Tennessee. We closed on the house on April 30, 2009. This is the first place we have come even close to being "settled." And I love it here, other than the allergies and the fact that we are way too far from the coast. But I love the house, I love the neighbors, I love the area where we live. It is the first place I felt like was more than just a house with walls. And, though I often complain of not fitting in in this "civilian city," I know that our friends here are REAL friends. They are not just friends with us because our husbands work together or because we are so lonely during a deployment (not that there is anything wrong with that at all and I have made some amazing friends that way--but it's just different and I always worry that people wouldn't be my friends if it weren't for our crazy situation). But here, we are actually sort-of fitting into society...sort-of.
And one of the best parts of being at this house for an extended period of time (who outside of the military considers two years an extended period of time in one house?) is that I get to see my flowers come back this year for the SECOND year in a row. WOO-HOO! I have a secret desire to be active in gardening. It hasn't happened yet because 1. we move all the time and 2. I haven't had the time to put into it (thanks to PhD school and the like) and 3. it would take a huge effort because I know nothing about plants. But two falls ago, one amazing neighbor bought lots of tulip bulbs and another neighbor planted those bulbs in all three of our yards. I remember the planting day...I was so excited that I was a part of some neighborly activity that did not include a deployment. I felt like I fit in and like I belonged. I became a real suburban homeowner in the who does these homey-things with her neighbors to make the street look nice. In my head, it was awesome. On the outside I just stood in my yard, made small-talk, and smiled. On the inside I was doing cartwheels.
It was an exciting week last spring when our tulips started to bloom. And we all talked about how pretty our shared tulips looked. This year, the tulips started poking through a couple of weeks ago...and my excitement began. Late last week, the buds started getting bigger and this weekend the first full tulip opened up--ours was the first of the other shared tulips. :) And today, more are opening. Something I didn't know before is that the tulips have TWO buds per bulb this year...and I am so happy I get to see it...and we SHOULD be here next spring to see my baby tulips have three buds.
I know this is just a simple force of nature, but to me it is so much more. It's symbolic of something I am experiencing for the first time in military wife life--staying in one place for an "extended" period of time and feeling like I fit in...and having my husband home to experience these joys WITH my daughter and me for an "extended" period. (Though he's not nearly as excited about those tulips and K and I are.) I'm enjoying it. I know it's so simple, but I love to see these flowers open in the morning and close in the evening--the only downside is their beauty lasts only a short amount of time. But it's here long enough to remind me of all for which I have to be thankful.
Here are some pics of the progression of the blooming tulips the past couple of days...and I've also put a link to another Sarah McLachlan song that sums up what is happening here--Ordinary Miracles, which are so much more than ordinary to me. :)