Friday, May 12, 2006

Tuna Out of Water

We're simple folk.

We really are.

We live pay check to pay check. In fact, this month, I had to do some creative shifting of funds to even make it to our next pay check. Don't worry for the Tuna Kids though. One of the reasons we live pay check to pay check is because we put away huge chucks of cash for them.

My husband may be an officer in the military, but it is not the glamorous life some civilians expect. He's what I would call a mid-level officer. And I know for a fact that he makes about 60% of what he's worth in the civilian world.

Yes, we live on base (which means we don't get a housing allowance) and our house looks pretty nice from the outside. But inside it is mostly creaky floors, rotted doors, and tampon-clogged plumbing.

But, because of the extreme generosity of a member of my husband's family, we are able to own a summer home, drive decent cars, donate to some worthy causes, and most importantly send our kids to a private school.

Every year this family member makes a sizable donation to the school in our kids' names. So every year we are invited to the Donor's Dinner for people who donate more than $5,000 to the school.

This is the first year that we have been in town and able to attend.

Holy crap, you guys! You should have seen the neighborhood we went to for this party. It was a country club neighborhood with an actual armed guard at the gates. The houses could justifiably be called mansions. The one we were in was decorated to an inch of it's life. And that includes the back patio which looked out onto the golf course.

They had valet parking, but at least half of the guests arrived by golf cart.

How the hell much does it pay to be a doctor these days?

I'm sending the Tuna Man back to medical school. The I-fly-in-an-airplane-for-a-living-stuff just isn't cutting it. Of course, the Tuna Man quickly pointed out that I could succeed in medical school just as well as him.

We did have fun though. SW was there and we were cracking each other up. As much as my husband and I are technically out of our element, we always find a way to enjoy ourselves and fit in.

The whole experience has me thinking. As much as the life of an officer's wife has a certain amount of pomp and circumstance to it, it's nothing like this. Most of the officer's wives I know would have been blown away by the house and intimidated by the people.

Most of the people at that party are very good, very nice, very well-respected people. But they could never understand the life of a military spouse.

Today I sat in traffic on base for about ten minutes while two squadrons ran by on their weekly PT. Today I sat in traffic again while a parade of golf carts filled with sombrero-wearing aviators made it's way from the officers' club to the golf course. Today I heard someone complain about how their husband will be away for an entire weekend and I shook my head. Today I heard someone complain that they had to move and I thought of the eight times we had to move in the first four years of our marriage.

Today is Military Wife Appreciation Day. (Appreciate me, damn it!)

While I have been unsuccessful at convincing my son to remind Daddy of that fact, I'm not really thinking of myself today.

Because as I swim in and out of these social groups, I know that I am lucky. Very lucky. Extremely lucky!

Today is a good day to remember all of the military spouses who make food stamps stretch to feed their families. Remember the spouses who stand in line for bread at the chapel. Remember the spouses who are afraid to watch CNN because they don't want to find out about their husband's fate that way. Remember the spouses who are by their beloved's bedside nursing him or her through a lost limb. And remember the spouses who have received the folded flag off of their husband's coffin with grace and dignity.

I'll remember them as I remember to be thankful for every safe return, every dinner invitation, and every day my husband is by my side.

I'll give thanks that my luck hasn't run out yet, and I'll try and prepare for when it will. While living in one of those country club mansions would be really nice, for now, I'm happy to be here on base, with my sisters in military spouse-dom.

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