It’s been 13 years since I got on an airplane with my 18-month-old son, and really started our military journey. My husband had left for Germany 4.5 months before, and we were finally joining him.
And while I had technically been an Army Wife for the last 4.5 months, this trip would open the gate to my first experience in Army living. While I had grown up between two military bases, and I knew kids whose parents served, the military had never been my world.
And now the military was very much my world, and I was nervous.
How could I not be?
Not only were we becoming a military family, but we were doing it in a different country. I have never been to Europe before and didn’t know what to expect. Germany would be an experience.
After a full day of travel, my husband picked us up at the airport and took us to our first Army home. It was a 2 bedroom stairwell apartment, on the 3rd floor. We had Army rented furniture, with a lovely maroon pattern, and made that place a home.
We ended up living there for over two years before we moved to another duty station in Germany. That home will always have a special place in my heart. And that wasn’t because I loved that apartment.
The apartment was new, which was nice, and we had a washer and dryer in our bathroom, which not everyone had. But it was also on the smaller side, and when people visited,
My downstairs neighbors heard us every time we walked anywhere and with a toddler, that wasn’t fun at all. I tried to stay as quiet as possible, but toddlers.
When I was pregnant, and my husband was deployed, being on the 3rd floor made things a little tricky. Going up and down those stairs more than once a day was almost impossible. Then, when my baby came, that was an added challenge.
I had to get creative when I would come home and both of my boys would be asleep in the car. I couldn’t possibly carry both in my arms at the same time. Should I leave one in the car? Should I wake up the sleeping toddler?
Buying groceries was a challenge too so I would end up going a few times a week and just buying enough food to be able to carry in a couple of bags. That way, I didn’t have to take a full load up by myself. If only we had a grocery delivery service back then.
Our apartment was in the back of the building which meant we had a fabulous view of Germany, and I loved waking up to that. When the weather was bad, I could pretty much see the storm coming. That view was a lovely thing in the midst of a crazy time.
I got through our long 15-month deployment in this apartment. Through the days he was gone, the challenges that I dealt with, and the lonely nights.
I will never forget that place. I have heard the buildings have been torn down, so no matter what, I will never be able to see that place again. But our first military home will always be in my memories as the place I learned how to Military Spouse.
That home is where I lived when I met my first military spouse friends.
That home is where I wrote love letters to my husband to send to Iraq.
That home is where I learned how to stay as busy as possible, and where I
At the end of R&R, my husband leaned over and gave our 2.5-week-old a kiss goodbye in that apartment, not knowing he wouldn’t see him until he was almost a year old.
My husband met our son in that apartment, coming back from Iraq, three days after he was born.
As a new military spouse, I spent a full jet-lagged day, trying to figure out this new life that we had started, the day after we landed in Germany.
As military spouses, you will probably live in many different homes. I know some seasoned spouses who, at retirement, have lived in 20-30 different places. But, I think, no matter how many times you have moved, most people remember that first military home.
They remember what it was like to see the military movers arrive and bring all your household belongs in, praying they don’t break anything important.
They remember meeting their first military spouse neighbors and realizing how much they had in common.
They remember how it felt when they saw their spouse walking in the door in uniform, after a long day of work.
Going forward, they will probably always compare every other home with this one. They will probably think about how different that first home was from what they have now. And they might even miss the place, some more than others.
That first military home could bring up difficult memories, of times before things changed, of a former life. And for some, thinking of that home can bring up some hard to deal with emotions, and maybe just maybe they want to forget all about that place.
And for others, that home could have been the place where they discovered they were strong enough to get through anything, where they found themselves, and where they grew up and became the person they are today.
What about you? Do you remember your first military home? Do you ever miss it?