Friday, October 26, 2012

"Home Is Wherever You Are."

From Germany to Drum hotels and an apartment to a deployment separation and the move here to begin our new, post-blast life I've never had a problem making a home out of wherever we are. When a soldier is critically injured and requires a caregiver while here at Walter Reed-Bethesda, there is a lovely "apartment barracks" building for them. I live here with Aaron and I have to say that the building isn't too shabby. The apartment came fully furnished with basic kitchen necessities and a few linens. Of course, over the past year I have added small pieces of furniture, stocked the kitchen, and purchased additional bedding and towels. When people stop by, they tell me it looks "lived in" and like a home, not like the extended stay suite it originally mimics. The building has served us well.

However, it has not been without its challenges, many of which I've blogged about (usually in a fit of despair). There are little things, like the small electric oven and stovetop that makes simmering anything impossible. The oven itself isn't conducive to cooking anything consistently utside of some rolls. The bathrooms flood and don't have fans or lids on the toilets. The desks in the bedrooms are way too big. The couch is sad (literally: the back cushions sag and it looks like the whole thing is crying). It's also just flat-out not normal to live at hospital. There are aspects of achieving the "new normal" that just can't happen here. Since the active duty "regular" Army life is clearly behind us, we've been talking about what it's going to mean to really move on. So, we took a big step in that direction...

And we found a new place to live! We're pretty excited. I've been keeping an eye out for appropriate places for awhile now. Gaithersburg and Germantown are too far, and anything directly north and definitely anything south of the hospital is very expensive. We were feeling pretty limited but I wasn't going to give up. We had a good idea of where to look, though but nothing had really struck a cord except a large walk-up apartment community, but parking seemed nightmarish. But yesterday I logged onto Craigslist and saw a great special for a place I had deemed too expensive earlier in the search. We had some time, so we popped out and took a tour. It's fantastic. There's a parking garage attached to the building with access on every level, so that's a huge sell right there. Aaron can always get to his car and not be outside, so if the power goes out he isn't reliant on an elevator. But, there are many elevators in the building. We first toured a one bed-bath, and were impressed with the low kitchen counters and shelving already installed in the closets and pantries. Aaron asked about a two bedroom, and the price was right so we toured that, as well. The oven is full-sized gas (oh sweet baby Jesus, a real oven!) and the fridge has an ice-maker. So this place is looking pretty good, right? Oh, and of course it comes with a washer and dryer. I assumed that the two bedroom only had one bathroom for the price because finding a two bathroom anything usually jacks the price right up to  "hell no." But there it was... a second full bathroom! With a shower stall! And the master bath has a garden tub! A TUB FOR BATHS! There is a juliet balcony, which is just a set of french doors and a wrought-iron frame you can step on. We applied yesterday afternoon and if all things go well, we'll be in our new home before the end of the year.

A lot of people wouldn't do what we're doing, and that's okay. Yet many seem to understand why we're breaking out. I was having celebratory wine bottles with one of my warrior wife friends and she was so funny about the oven and tub (it's the little things, truly). Yes, this is something we are choosing. We could continue to live in the building for probably six more months and enjoy being "taken care of." For us, it's about choosing to move on instead of being forced to do so. We see some people who do all they can to stay here, or can't seem to get past having to give up on active duty life. It does get better. The civilian world is good enough for the other 99% of America, so it's definitely going to be good enough for us! Moving out is a very awesome and big step in the right direction. Aaron will drive to PT, just like most people drive to work. We'll have Charlie Buckles back, so we won't be able to stay gone all day and night if it suits us. I'll be halfway to school, so that commute won't be so tiresome. Target is across the street. Sure, we won't be real "normals" but we can fake it til we make it. And I can't wait!


  1. I'm excited for this new step for you two!

  2. Settling in to a home, even temporary, can do so much to make things feel more "normal". Congratulations on finding a place!