We’ve been told by people who have been stationed overseas for a while that going back to America can be overwhelming. That once you live in Europe, America is just plain loud and everything’s big. I looked for this distinct difference when we moved here, to Germany. It wasn’t very noticeable, so I decided to look for it when we went back to the states for our first visit. Again, not too noticeable. Except at Chuck E Cheese’s, where everything is over-stimulating anyway. (If I had to hear the “Pizza Dough” song one more time I might have thrown dough at the speakers… the most repetitive song ever made, I assure you.) I wondered if one had to be away from America for more than 10 months for the differences to really take effect. I sort of just shrugged the idea off as something I might be able to notice when we move back in 2 years. Then we got off the plane in Ramstein… we sat down to breakfast (0600 on our bodies, 1200 lunch time here in Germany) at the PX and were enjoying our pizza and Chinese (no IHOP here). I had dismissed the concept of everything being quieter in Germany and had not given it any more thought until that moment… Even in that huge (beautiful, amazing, Air Force) PX food court, it was definitely quieter here. It was noticeable. It was quite comfortable. We knew we were home. At least home for the next 2 years. Don’t get me wrong. When we head back to the US, we will do so with great excitement and joy! We love America and miss so much about her, but I do believe God has put this “thing” in us that causes us to enjoy having “home” move around. Going back to visit our family and friends who still live in the same houses they’ve lived in for many years is nice. It roots us. It’s great to take our boys back to see these houses, the people who live in them and give them a history. (Another blog for another time, I’m sure.) But Matt and I don’t want to be in our forever-house right now. We like the adventure we’re on. We like not knowing where our next duty station is going to be. Well, we are pretty sure our next stop will be the career course at Fort Jackson, but that’s for only 6 months. The next real duty station won’t be revealed to us until we’re halfway through that course… and we like it that way. This way of life would drive most of the people we visited in NC insane, and I say that because many of them have told me that at one point or another. Sometimes I feel like I need to apologize for not being more homesick, then I remember God set this path for us and He has made us for this journey. If I were homesick I would be miserable, because that trek to visit NC is a cumbersome one. Not one I want to make more than once a year, especially with four boys. I am thankful I am so at home where we are, and thankful that Matt and I share the excitement of our life and look forward to being home. Of course, we use that word interchangeably! Going “home” before the trip meant, “going to NC to visit family and friends.” While there it meant, “going back to the place where we have set our household goods and made our own life.” When we got off the plane in Ramstein, we immediately felt at home. The base there has been a treat for us since we moved here as it is just so nice. (Air Force does everything nice.) When we stepped off the C-17 the air was just a touch cooler than brisk, and we were home! The leaves are turning much prettier colors here, as we’ve had more rain than NC, and we were home. The PX felt like home. The autobahn was FAST and we were home. We stopped at WAAF to pick up our mail, and we were home. (Going through the gate and showing our military ID assured us we were home.) We pulled up to our house and walked in the door, saw our stuff, and we were home! And then strange things started happening. Bailey and I immediately noticed that the house smelled exactly like it did when we first moved in. It literally took us back 10 months to the first few weeks we were here. The house had a distinct smell, not bad or good, just, particular. And it was cool inside, just like we like it, and just like it was when we moved in. As we moved about the house, doing the chores of unpacking, I couldn’t help but have moments that felt like we had just moved in and were unpacking for the first time. Bailey hugged the fridge. I kept repeating, “I love my house.” There’s truly NO place like home! Our space.
While in the states I was 100% there. I loved every minute of it, so don’t take the above as a hint that I wasn’t happy there, because I was. I was reliving our childhoods as we spent time with our families. Reliving our time as newlyweds as we walked around the campus of Gardner-Webb. Reliving our time as new parents as we drove past the house we owned when we had the first three boys. Reliving our time when Matt was a youth minister as we saw the church and the people who loved us so well during our time there. Those events are what made us who we are and we are so glad for each of those periods of our lives. I’m just extremely thankful I don’t want to go back and do them again. I feel that there are some people who wish to go back and live in the past and I pray that I always love the season I’m currently in and look forward to the next season with anticipation. God has proven Himself faithful and I can trust Him with my future.
As soon as we got home last night the boys were off and looking at the new playgrounds that have been built while we were gone. They also headed down to Nathan’s house. They’ve missed their friends! They can’t wait to see Owen and Wyatt!!
Dinner last night was homemade vegetable soup that I had prepared and frozen before we left. I stuck it in the crock pot frozen and thawed it in there, and it was great to eat a home cooked meal! We only had a handful of those while on our trip and have missed the hominess of them.
At bedtime each boy had no trouble falling asleep! In fact, earlier in the day I found Carson in the bed just about to fall asleep. I had to make him get up or he was going to fall asleep way too early… poor kid. As I write, it is 0815 local time and everyone is still asleep. That means the boys have been sleeping over 12 hours. Parker slept for several hours before waking at midnight, ready for the day, as it was 0600 on his little body.
Matt and I enjoyed an episode of Chuck after the boys went to bed and it was nice to be in our own living room, our own space, resting together.