02 September 2010

a farewell to norfolk

It's the end of an era.  The movers have come, our place is empty, all we have left is a carpet-cleaning and a move-out inspection.  Then it's goodbye Hampton Roads!  It's actually been harder to leave than I thought it would be.  After college, I moved to Jacksonville, FL, to do AmeriCorps, and since then (or possibly before) I've sorta considered myself a nomad.  But I guess it's a bit different this time since we're the ONLY ones leaving.  College was just a bunch of entrances and exits, with everyone on roughly the same timeline.  It was good to leave Athens -- it meant that you're moving on (and hopefully up) in life.  My AmeriCorps "family" also mostly left en masse at the end of our year of service.  The others just never really left (and probably never will?).

But this time, it's us.  Just us.  And lately I've been reminiscing on my reaction to those first set of verbal orders.  The ones that said we were gonna stay here.  I was NOT happy about it.  But what was hard to convey to my friends (and the reason I really didn't wanna tell anyone) was that I wasn't upset because of the PEOPLE I've met here.  Or the neighborhood we lived in.  Or the church we attended.  All of those things I will miss very dearly.  My frustration really circled back to that nomadic part of my personality.  I felt like we were being denied an opportunity.  I mean, let's face it here, our top six picks were in completely amazing, awesome, exotic, exciting locales.  San Diego, Hawaii, Italy.  If we had actually been selected to go to any of those, I'm sure my friends would've been ecstatic for me, the adventurous one.

After I let it set in a bit, I didn't know what to think.  This could be a great thing, and I could possibly see us as the kind to never leave here (which slightly frightened me as well).  Norfolk was safe, it was fun, I had friends here.  Why was I so against staying?  I can't deny I was jealous about everyone else getting their top picks, and me being stuck here angry at the detailer for being a lazy bum didn't help matters.  But after all the roller-coaster emotions a gal can handle in one week after hearing we're staying put, it changed.  Pensacola.  Our #7 (perhaps 8? either way, pretty far down the list).  I was pretty neutral about the news.  I'd lived in north Florida before, and B had done his OCS at our newly-assigned base.  My initial reaction was just a few simple questions.  Will this be a "real" adventure?  Does this mean I'm going backwards in my life?  Is there anything to DO there?  And, um, didn't some oil thingy just explode near there*?

*Okay, technically, the Deepwater Horizon Spill didn't happen until the day AFTER I got the news.  But still.

I've come to realize that these orders are coming at a great time in our lives.  It will be such a blessing to have my family only a 6-hour drive away, after these past 3 years of driving 10 hours (still cheaper than flying though).  And with my husband on shore duty, he will be around to go with me on MLK weekend and hold our first niece, due this January.  My mom can come down and see us for the weekend when she works in south GA.  And we can drive to see extended family in Tampa and Orlando.  Or we can drive the same amount of time as from Norfolk, minus winding mountains, to see his family in Indiana.  (At least I think there are winding mountain roads, as he's never actually been on land here long enough for us to take a road trip there.)  And when we start pro-creating (or "popping out puppies" as I like to call it), our families and friends all come to us just as easily.  No worries about southern hospitality, either.  I know we'll be taken care of by the fine folks we'll meet, just like we were here.

But Hampton Roads will always hold a special place in my heart.  It is where I went from girlfriend to fiancée to wife.  It is where I had more addresses in the course of three years than I'd had in my entire life.  It is where I had one of the worst roommates ever and one of the best.  It is where I became both a "career woman" and then a "domestic" one.  It is where I first felt like an outsider, and it is where I came to feel like I fit in perfectly.  It is where I first had to "try" at making friends, and it is where my friend-network built up so much that I rarely spent a Saturday night alone.  It is where I experienced a pretty awful deployment, and it is also where I experienced a pretty amazing one.  It is where I got into my first car accident, toured my first submarine, went on my first bar crawl (and subsequently dealt with my first hangover), decorated my first cake, caught my first fish, rode in my first limo, and bought my first boogie board.  I feel like I came here as a confused girl, hoping this dating thing would work out, and will be leaving as a classy young lady.  I feel like Norfolk is where I've received my "big girl panties," and for that, I am grateful.

I truly will miss all of the friends I have made here, from fellow sometimes-lonely Navy wives to passionate Catholic kids to middle-aged sopranos to cable advertising sales assistants (and everything in between).  I'm not very good at saying goodbye in person and I often don't know what to say in these situations other than a traditional Navy toast of "fair winds and following seas," but I thought I'd do this in my own style with a Lebanese Blessing by Jeannette Abi-Nader, since, you know, I'm Lebanese and whatnot.  We  included this on the back of our wedding programs, and I think it is appropriate here as well:

May love be the gardener of your years 
Bringing forth from your grounding in God 
A harvest of wholeness and peace 
A bounty of courage and compassion

May your soul tower 
with the strength of the cedars 
Your heart pound with the power of the sea

May joy rise in you like the mountains, 
And may it be a blessing you share 
With all those you love, 
Who this day make merry 
That in you The great love of God 
Has found a home on earth

That is my prayer for everyone who has come into my life these past three years.  I won't forget you, and I hope to see you again someday!

1 comment:

  1. What a great opportunity! Its exciting that you guys will be starting over somewhere new and hopefully you'll like it! :)