The World Spins Madly On

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head for funny posts: the, uh, alternative picket fence I drove past in weirder-than-weird Maine (you'll love it); the "trading post" a few towns over with more taxidermied animals than you've ever seen in your whole life, combined; the time I accidentally ordered - & ate - a whole, deep-fried crab... Yes, there are lots of things to say, but today, I'm not feeling funny.

Nathan deployed yesterday. He never calls it "deployment," but it's the easiest word for me to use, because others understand it. In the Coast Guard, they call it "getting underway," & it means he's on a boat for the next two months, floating down the Atlantic & toward South America, where he'll help intercept drug boats.

I was a military girlfriend once before, in college. My boyfriend at the time, Scott, was in the army, & he left college after our freshman year to be full-time military. I wrote him a letter every day he was gone, & I attended his boot camp graduation in South Carolina with his family, swelling with pride & feeling somewhat smug that my boyfriend was a defender of freedom. When you're 19, these things feel very cool, I guess.

Nathan's job is cool - but now that I'm a real, bona fide adult (EEK!), his job feels a lot less like a novelty & a lot more, well, real. I'm relieved that he never deploys to Afghanistan or Iraq, like some of my friends & my friends' significant others. He's never gone for longer than two months, & he's never in the line of fire, per se, though the idea of pissing off Colombian drug lords makes me a liiiiittle nervous. He looks hot in uniform, & most importantly, he really loves his job. He's takes college classes while he's underway, which he likes, too, & he's trying to get his degree despite the fact that he'll likely reenlist when his initial six years are up next spring.

Don't get me wrong: There's still a great amount of pride - he is a defender of freedom, after all. But it's difficult. It's difficult to date someone who's gone every two months for two months; it makes it nearly impossible to establish any sort of a reliable routine. It means that when he's here, we spend as much time as possible together - and when he's gone, we spend none at all together. All or nothing, every two months, from one extreme to the other.

And this time, its even more difficult than before. I live in New Hampshire now, in his apartment. I left everything I knew - and everyone I knew - to move to the city where he's stationed, in a part of the country I'd never even visited, much less lived in. In the last two months, we put together a life here, a life that includes our new cat & geocaching & many a dinner at Sake, my new favorite Japanese restaurant. We decorated our place & bought a Keurig & watched an entire season of "Top Chef."

And now he's gone. It's just me & the cat, who pooped on the couch today in protest of Nathan's absence, I suspect. I drove him to the base at 8:30 yesterday morning, donning my Coast Guard sweatshirt (see photo), & then I returned home & shopped my melancholy away at the local outlet mall. Today, I woke up sort of confused - what do I do now? I miss him. And I miss the company, too, in a related but separate sort of way. I haven't made enough effort to meet people here - I've made no effort at all, in fact - and as a result, I don't know a soul in town, save maybe the sort-of-douchey guy across the hall who plays his guitar all the livelong day. If I wanted to go grab dinner with a friend, I would have no one to call. If something were to happen to me, I would have no one to call. In fact, I could be dead on the living room floor with my cat picking at my innards & no one would ever know.

Today, I'm sitting at a Starbucks downtown, facing the window & watching everyone else's lives. A car that drives by leaves a trail of bubbles in its wake. A group of high school girls giggles & points at a group of older boys on the opposite corner. A woman walking a bear-sized dog (no, really - see photo) can hardly get down the block without being mobbed by curious & adoring animal-lovers. And me? I've spoken to three people today - two baristas & the woman sitting next to me, who I asked to keep an eye on my things while I made a phone call.

I miss my boyfriend. But perhaps just as importantly, I miss my friends. And I miss my old lives. I don't want them back, necessarily, but I'd like to be able to recreate aspects of them here - for example, the part where I have friends. The part where I don't devolve into a lonely, devastated cat lady when my boyfriend leaves town. The part where I don't have to drive an hour into Boston & pay $12 to park my car just for to have a meaningful interaction with a friend.

Maybe it would help if I got off my arse & out of this Starbucks...?


  1. Making friends and keeping busy is absolutely the key to long distance. My husband moved away 22 months ago, and while sometimes our schedules allow visits a few weekends in a row, we also go 3 or 4 months between seeing each other. And you know what? Most of the time, I don't miss him. Not in a bad, I never want to live with my husband again mentality, but just that I have my own life, I do my own things, and hey, it's all good. Working 80+ hours/week and squeezing every ounce out of my non-working minutes to spend with friends means I am always busy, always doing something, and never sitting at home missing him.

    Find some "meet up" groups on Craigslist, join a book club, or join a gym and take some classes. If there's a Toastmasters group in your town, DO IT! Not only does it make you a far better speaker and communicator (which looks super on resumes), it's a great way to spend a few hours a month with an extremely diverse group of people. Introduce yourself to someone else sitting at a Starbucks. I think you work from home (?) so consider becoming an afternoon dogwalker if you can take a break for an hour or in your day... people make friends like CRAZY in dog parks. You've certainly made dozens of friends on the internet, so I am sure people in your new town will love you too, once you put yourself in a position to meet them!

  2. Being a military girlfriend/wife/whatever is one of the hardest things ever. I haven't had to face a deployment yet, but even just not being in the same state is difficult, especially with our different schedule. Just remember he's doing what he loves and his job is extremely important. If you ever want to talk about Ohio, or anything, I'm here for you!

  3. The exact same thing happened to me last spring. I had moved back to Dayton & bought a house with Paul. And while it was my home town, all my friends had moved away. I didn't know a soul anymore. Paul worked 3rd shift and I had a nasty job search. I had to start all over again. It blew hard.

    I agree with sugar scientist, get out there! I'd also suggest learning some new stuff/getting into a hobby. Is your etsy stuff still going strong? I stumbled into teaching myself how to cook, and got damn good at it.

    Explore explore explore!

  4. Awww, I'm sorry that Nate left and is gone for the next few months. I agree with the others, go out and explore! Sign up for a cooking class, hang out at an indie coffee shop, maybe join a book club? Send me your address! I'll happily mail you letters from the buckeye state!

  5. I worry about this when I graduate and get a job. I'm doubtful I'll find one close enough to where I live so I'll probably end up moving. And I have a really hard time making friends so it'll be tough to be in a different environment and having to find ways to make friends.

    But the only way to make friends is to go out there and find them. Like others have said, join a book club or another sort of meet-up group or join a gym. I know you talked about joining WW before? I think that could be a great opportunity for you to make new friends.

  6. GAH, so sorry, lady.

    Not that this is the same AT ALL, but when we first moved here, I was jobless, so I just sat at home all day, alone, while Chris was at work. Not having friends is depressing. (And hey, I still don't really have friends! But I have a job! Awesome! (?))

    You will get through this time, trust.

  7. I know the "I have spoken to three people today" oh so dearly. There have been days when I didn't talk to a single soul in this world. It feels odd in every possible way! But I understand you. It's tough and during times like these I usually choose Starbucks or Barnes and Nobles or any other place with wifi and lots of people watching as my safe haven.

    However, being together for two months on and off must be very very hard. It's like having that honeymoon phase and getting used to each other ALL THE TIME. Okay, the honeymoon phase is nice but the getting used to each other can be overwhelming. Hang in there!!! :) We are here for you!

    PS: How did you meet your boyfriend, by the way?

  8. That is quite a large dog! I'm sorry the transition has been crappy. Meeting people is SO hard. I tend to end up finding people and developing a great friendship only to find they're leaving the area. So I have all of 1 friend in the Akron area since moving here... might be a good option? To find people with similiar interests? Again, I say this but I've been checking the website for a year and have yet made the leap to actually reach out and try...

  9. His best friend is my cousin, so he used to go on family vacations with us
    sometimes! We reconnected by email when he was underway last summer, & when
    he came to D.C. to visit his cousin & some of our mutual friends, we went
    from there. :)

  10. Deployment in any form is not easy - but you have such an amazing personality and fun nature that I'm sure you'll be meeting some people soon so you don't feel so isolated. Hang in there babe!

  11. Looking into all of the above right this minute. And while I understand
    being scared of ending up in this situation, I think it would all be better
    if I had an office job instead of an at-home one. It's SO MUCH easier to
    meet people at work & through coworkers - don't worry unless it becomes an

  12. Mmm. It takes time, I think. Transitioning to a new place ain't easy! But yes, you should definitely try to meet some people. I hate the thought of you sitting on your couch alone with your cat waiting for your boyfriend to come home. You're way too cool for that! ;)

  13. *hugs* I've been in the same boat. I moved to SF knowing no one but my BF, and it was tough for me when he had to travel for work. I'd be alone for a few weeks and would have to find ways to occupy my time. I've since made friends, but I still spend some time alone, but I like it. It's good for my writing to get out and be able to be alone with my thoughts.

  14. Awww, I recognize that loneliness of moving to a new place and suddenly being alone. Good luck, girl! A very brave move...

  15. Lots of good suggestions from many supportive friends here. They're right - you have an amazing personality & I bet you'll find your niche. I love that toastmaster suggestion, what a creative idea. Another idea is volunteering for a local organization, it's a good thing too. I know you'll make it work one way or another. Nathan's underways won't last forever, maybe a land job will be his one day...

  16. uff. you're reminding me uncomfortably of the first time my ex-husband went on det - we had just moved to guam, halfway around the world from my family. i knew no one.

    sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. but an hour drive beats a 24-hour plane ordeal to get back home - so head to boston as often as you need to. you sound like you have a good sense of humor on your shoulders - i'm sure you'll get through it.

    and keep writing!

  17. this stinks. are there other coastguard girlfriends/wives around?

  18. You are not alone. 18 of us are here!

  19. that sucks. being away from the bf sucks. period. having to worry about his safety on top of it, makes it worse. but it gives you eight weeks time to meet people, not shave your legs and run around naked in the apartment all you want. just trying to see the positive here. also, sending *hugs*

  20. Haha, I love the positives you came up with. Thanks! :)

  21. Being separated is hard. Being separated and all alone in a new town with no friends is even harder. But I guess Kim is right - you need to use the next four weeks to a) do whatever your heart desires without having to be considerate of anyone else!, and b) find some activities where you can make new friends. (Didn't your bf introduce you to some of his friends?)

  22. Yes, but unfortunately, all of his friends are underway with him! I'm hoping
    to hang out with some of their girlfriends... Thanks for the comment & the
    support. :)

  23. Send a press release to the local newspaper and start your own book club. You can post an ad at the Starbucks too, I bet. I'm sure there are many other people in your neighborhood who are looking for friends too.

  24. You just need to open your couch to traveling bloggers. We'll help fill the void. Promise.

    Are there groups of other coastie wives or girlfriends (and is it mean to call them coasties? I never know and that's what we in the Army call them and I'm always afraid it's derogatory and I'm sorry if it is because I didn't mean it to be). I've heard those groups are pretty hit or miss with some being wonderful and some being absolutely awful, but you never know if you could get lucky and find similar ladies going through similar situations.

  25. Ditto about the toastmasters, if there's one close. Don't know if that's the easiest place to make friends, you're kind of always "on" during a meeting, not really relaxed...

    Maybe find some place to volunteer? A soup kitchen, tutoring english/reading, an animal shelter, etc. Some place that hopefully there'll be people your age. and don't be afraid to ask them to happy hour or whatnot. they're already comfortable in their lives, so they may think you're settled into your life as well.


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