I cried when I found out we were moving to Minot. I broke down when I found out we had orders out of here.
I get it; Minot has a lot of downsides. We all know what they are. Also, it’s easier to ignore the disadvantages in the energetic summer months rather than in the midst of the claustrophobic winter months. So, on one hand, I wish we had left here in the winter. Then I could pretend that I despised it here like so many others. But the truth is: I don’t hate it here.
I don’t want my farewell to feel like a cheerleader article about Minot, because I know it’s easier to remember the good times when faced with the reality of leaving. I know it’s also hard here for so many people, for legitimate reasons too. It was for me at times too. But, in the last 14 years of being a mil spouse, I have learned a few ways to make it through the challenging times and difficult bases/situations. Maybe it will help a few of you that are struggling with Minot life.
1.It’s okay to miss home or another way of life. It’s okay to grieve for a life you could have had in a different place. Almost everyone had dreams or plans dashed that could have led somewhere else. But, everyone is placed here for a reason. It often presents you with challenges you probably never wanted to have. Appreciating where you are, for the time you are there is part of the Air Force journey, even if all the circumstances are not ideal.
2.False positivity can be just as detrimental as negativity. It is important to understand the difference between realism and pessimism. Acknowledge the negative, then move on with what you have. Gratitude can go a long way in establishing a content life no matter where you live. Being determined to hate somewhere only hurts you in the long run. Finding the best in life really is in your best interest, even if it does sound cheesy.
3.Get involved somewhere. Find a church, a sports team, a book club, a place to volunteer or anything. This goes for anywhere you live. Anywhere can be made to feel like home once you find your people. Everyone needs people with similar goals or interests to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. It can be challenging at first. You might try several clubs that just don’t “fit” but you have to keep trying. If you are going to make it in the constantly rotating life of the military, learning to put yourself out there and find groups to get involved with, is non negotiable. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter where you live, you’re going to hate it there. Friends are what is really important at any assignment. And trust me, they are always out there. Go find them.
As we roll out of an empty house and into our last few days here in Minot AFB, my stomach clenches with what I know comes next. This is our 6th move in 14 years and the sadness of the friends left, opportunities missed mixed with the scary unknown anticipation of what’s to come fills me with melancholy.
I’ve heard other seasoned military spouses say that moving gets easier with time. But, what I think they mean is that it gets more routine. You know what to expect, what paperwork to fill out, the order of events and so forth. It’s not the crazed confusion of the very first PCS in which all the military jargon, offices to visit and what is and what isn’t covered on your travel voucher, feels overwhelming. Which I remember fondly.
However, it doesn’t get easier in terms of missing friends, and gathering up enough emotional energy to say goodbye and start over once again. I think those things, at least for myself, have drained over the years because I know to expect that my life is about to change forever. And as adventurous as that is, it is also extremely scary and exhausting. Both of which I have found to be harder to face the older I get, instead of easier.
Living our lives for the military and with very little control over our personal circumstances is not the easiest way to live. We, as mil spouses, give up careers, opportunities and sometimes a life near family. It’s hard. Leaving is hard. Starting over is hard. Yet we do it.
We experience life in places and with people that we never would have met otherwise. We see new things, have new adventures and get to expand our worldview beyond anything that staying in our home town could have done.
This is military life and it’s time to say goodbye yet again.
Goodbye Minot. I am going to miss you so much. The last two years have filled me with friendships that I will have for a lifetime. You brought challenges and tears, but also smiles and memories.
I’ll see you around the Air Force.
P.S Being a part of the Northern Sentry team has given me such a gift here in Minot! Thank-you to Rod and Ted for giving me this opportunity and sticking with me. You both have taught me a lot and I appreciate you guys taking the time to read my long email complaints and helping me work through frustrations. Also, thanks for listening and often humoring my new ideas. Nikki, what you do every week in putting the paper together with super short timelines… just wow! You are a rockstar! I don’t know how you remain calm every week amidst deadlines. The Northern Sentry team is amazing!