When you get orders to Camp Lejeune (or one of the bases nearby), you’re told one of two things;
“UGH. I HATE THAT PLACE.”
“Oh, I LOVED living there, you will LOVE it!”
I got a lot of both. A lot of the hate came from either single Marines, or people who are not as adventurous as I am. The love side was a mixed bag. I think if I had gone from my home on the West Coast, straight to living here on the East, I would have joined the Debbie Downers. But luckily for me, I had that… we’ll call it, interesting 3 years in Okinawa, Japan. I won’t lie, things are almost as different here on the East Coast as it was switching from San Diego to Okinawa. There is a CULTURE SHOCK here, believe it or not. And while, yes, Jacksonville is mainly chain stores and restaurants, with no large amount of local fair, it is special in it’s own ways.
(by the way, it took me 7 attempts to upload this photo, you’re welcome)
You really just need to venture out. And this post applies to wherever you reside, not just Jacksonville. I suppose we’re well off, considering we’re very outdoorsy people and I’m not one to be caught dead in a mall unless it’s been a few months and have a friend to go with. I really love the movie Mall Rats though. I make no sense. Anyhoo! Generally I can get us all in the car and head out to just about anything. The Mr. is all about fishing at the current time, his myriad of hobbies usually reduce down to one at a time, and right now, fishing is IT. Once the cooler weather comes to stay, I’ll be breaking out the camping posts left and right after multiple trips to reside in a tent for a few days. AKA: HEAVEN. I grew up camping. I grew up visiting Yosemite and staying in a cabin. I grew up heading to the lake to ride around in a boat. These are things I will pass onto my son. If God graces us with a daughter, she better buckle up for a lifetime of tomboyhood because this Mama is no sissy pants. Unless a big bug tries to fly at my face, I ain’t havin’ that shit.
Now I will admit that this is no San Diego or Olympic Peninsula, but it’ll do. Bloom Where You Are Planted, right? I do miss hiking, and local hole in the walls, but if I really need those things, I can drive to them. Here, right in Jacksonville though, it does take some exploration to make this place home. I fell in love with this park, Onslow Pines. The trail isn’t extremely long, but it’s full of trees and peacefulness, and suicidal mosquitoes. Seriously don’t mess with me bugs. It’s long enough to occupy us until we come back around and burn energy at the playground. I found it through my running group, Stroller Warriors, and have since made it a favorite stop when we want to get outside.
The simple truth is, this park reminds me of Washington. Of home. I think that’s very important. That no matter where the military might move you, you find something that reminds you of home. It’s harder here. Nothing is really quite the same. When I buy a new plant, I think of my Dad. When I watch a sunset on my back porch I think of my Mom. Small things take me back home. Small things, make it easier to be away. People in the civilian world don’t think it should be hard for us, afterall we’ve just moved somewhere else, people do that all the time. We still make friends, do normal tasks, but we do it with only the memory of our once homes, instead of the actual thing. So I highly encourage you to high five a military family member, we love that. Maybe not in a creepy way though okay? Just a, Aww yeah way to be, kind of way. Because most of the time, we’re trying to make a place home, that is very much far from the original.
You get homesick. You get used to your new home. You get homesick again.
Make the best of the middle bit.