Awhile back, I wrote a column about the challenges I faced making friends as a stay-at-home mom and military spouse, living off-post in a town where I knew no one.
Over the course of the past two years, we’ve lived in a neighborhood of mostly retired folks, but I’ve still managed to make a few good friends. Regardless of this fact, keeping busy with a toddler, work and living a fairly isolated existence away from family and friends has created a somewhat sparse terrain in the land of socialization.
Translation: “SOS” friending, pertaining to friends both near and far.
For nearby friends, it goes something like this. Friend No. 1 — “It’s me, I’m alive. You?” Friend No. 2 — “Same, rough week. Coffee tomorrow? Oh, wait, my mother-in-law’s coming. Crap.”
You can even add an additional twist for friends living far away, something like, “I miss you so much. I can’t believe it’s been two years since I moved. Maybe one day we’ll see each other again.”
We laugh about it, and make jokes, but it’s still kind of pathetic. Alas, I fear this is the future of adult friendships between work, children and life obligations. Especially for the military spouse — who often has to juggle more than the average person — the message is often a wistful, “It’s been nice knowing you.”
But maybe there’s hope.
Right now, my husband and I are eyeball deep in the tiring process of moving and transitioning out of active duty service. What does that mean? It means figuring out jobs, houses, the usual logistics. But it also means relocating closer to family, our main goal.
We are moving closer to the general area where we grew up. That means one thing (drumroll, please): Friends! Yes! People we love hanging out with that have been sadly neglected for quite some time now.
At least, in a physically present sense.
Okay, maybe not that many friends, as some have moved away themselves. But still, there are a few left in the area. Additionally, we have quite a few friends on the east coast, all the way up north to down in the gritty south.
I am thankful to say that I have my family members as well, who, without a doubt, I consider to be my friends, too — my sister, my cousins and their significant others, all of whom live on the east coast.
Totally awesome, totally built-in friends for life. I mean, come on; the greatest friends are the kind you can’t get rid of, the kind that will have to play checkers with you in your collective old age while bantering about the accuracy of childhood memories.
Being honest, moving near family probably excites me the most because I have missed out on so much in recent years. When we move home in a few weeks, a few of my cousins will be coming to visit, bringing a little family member I haven’t even met yet.
In a typical scenario, I would be bummed to hear about the gathering, knowing I wouldn’t be able to attend.
This also goes without saying that once we are finally settled, we will have the ability to make new friends — likely ones that won’t move away at a moment’s notice. (Disclaimer: location is not a disqualifier, but it sure is nice to have long-term consistency in being able to hang out).
Either way, genuine friendships — military or not — will always last. At our last duty station, we met another couple that became our closest friends and are our closest friends still. The only difference is that now, we might have more “leave” to go visit them.
Abbey Sinclair is a former Army spouse and a Herald correspondent. She lives in Killeen.