Do you ever stop, & think back to the moments in your life that led up to this very day? How just one day in the past, led you to where you are now? & on that one day, you may have had no idea of its significance? Today, I find myself 2,000 miles away from where I spent most of my life. I now live on an Army base, something I never would’ve expected to happen to me. This morning, I decided to look back, & pinpoint the exact day that would change the course of my life, leading me to where I’m at today.
Four years ago, I went out on a first date with a ROTC cadet attending Virginia Tech. He was visiting home for the summer only, so I didn’t expect us to be in each others lives for long. One date would be fun though, or maybe even a summer fling! The date went well, & at the end, he drove me home. In the car, we opened up about our life aspirations. He shared with me that he would serve our country in the US Army, & that he would likely travel all over the country, & world for work.
I distinctively remember admiring, & respecting it, however couldn’t help but think to myself, “Well, that’s going to suck if he ever falls in love,” assuming that he wouldn’t be allowed to bring a significant other with him. & guess who jinxed it!!! Just guess!! Luckily, the same person who jinxed it was wrong about thinking military spouses would always be left behind. I find myself four years later snuggled up on our couch in Fort Benning, Georgia, laughing to myself, because I really thought military members couldn’t bring anyone along ever. Hey, how would I have known?!
I grew up in Las Vegas, NV, & absolutely loved it. The older I got, the more convinced I was that I would never leave, because Vegas was home to me. All of my close friends were there, some family lived there, there were endless opportunities, & nearly anything I could ever want to do, Vegas provided. What could ever make me want to leave that? Oh, I know what. A man by the name of Zachary Tritsch.
Initially, the thought of going with him into the unknown was terrifying. Where would we be sent to? What was military life like? Would I ever make friends? (BTW- Yes, I have! Phew!! Haha) Would I find a job? Would we live somewhere long enough for employers to want to hire me? Most people in my life also didn’t understand the military, so they couldn’t help me find the answers I was looking for. Luckily for me, there was one person who understood the military, & could answer all of my questions. My dad. My dad also served in the US Army, being in the 82nd Airborne Division. (Go dad!!) He helped prepare me for this foreign world I was getting ready to enter. He taught me the difference between enlisted & officer, all of the ranks on both sides, some of the jobs within the military, acronyms, things to expect, etc; his inside scoop eased many of my nerves.
Before Zack commissioned, we found out we would be temporarily stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he would be in IBOLC training. My first thought was, “Georgia?!?!” I will not tell a lie. City girl Valerie thought this meant she was moving directly into red neck hick land. (I’m sorry!!!) I decided to do a little research, & was grateful to find other army wives online sharing the ins, & outs of Benning/IBOLC. These wives weren’t red necks at all… they actually reminded me of myself. I knew that this life change wasn’t going to be nearly as bad as what I once assumed.
I left the city with an open mind, knowing that the best thing to do was fully embrace this new culture. It’s exciting starting somewhere brand new, not knowing anyone, making new friends, learning, & growing. Keeping this mindset has truly helped me thrive while being here. It’s so intriguing to see a totally different lifestyle than what I’ve ever known. It’s definitely a culture shock, but a good kind of culture shock. The kind that really opens my eyes, reminding me that there is much more in the world than just the small corner I come from.
Q & A TIME!
Is it hard being so far away from Vegas? Honestly, it’s not as difficult as people would assume. Zack & I have had three years to mentally prepare for this new lifestyle, so we were more than prepared. Plus, I keep in touch with everyone back home through texting, phone calls, & social media. We all still have great relationships despite the distance, so it doesn’t even really feel like we’re apart!
What do you do all day? Are you going to get a job? My job is running my own business! Duties include running this website, writing blogs, selling prints, & working with clients. My days are filled with keeping up with all of that, while simultaneously doing my best to keeping our home orderly & clean, working out or doing yoga, making sure I’m on top of the laundry, cooking, & down time. It’s funny, I heard a rumor about myself that, “All I do is sit, & wait for Zack to get home every day,” Ha!! Anything but!
What’s the south like? Well, there’s a lot to it! To start, the scenery. It’s pretty dang beautiful, especially now that spring has arrived. Everywhere you look is green, & vibrant! The trees are extremely tall, with beautiful branches that reach out towards the sky. The landscape? Rolling hills, not flat like back home. In Vegas, you could see across the entire city. Here, you can’t see too much more than what’s directly around you, due to the hills, & all of the trees. I surprisingly appreciate it a lot, because I can truly focus on what’s right in front of me. There’s also a ton of historical streets, & buildings around here. Many from the 1800’s & early 1900’s. I can’t get over how much character this place has!
Then there’s the people. For the most part, a lot of people here are just genuinely kind. Southern hospitality is a real thing… y’all. 😉 Most workers go out of their way to truly take care of us, conversation naturally flows here between people (there isn’t really any awkwardness, or where you feel like someone is secretly judging you LOL), etc.
Plus the food… my goodness… the food. It’s so good here. The south definitely knows what they are doing in the kitchen!! Some smaller restaurants I wasn’t really used to in Vegas, but are here, include BBQ places, chicken joints, & overall homestyle cooking. All so delicious! My favorite thing to order down here is some fried pickles! Mmmm- Thank you southern USA!! ♡
I think the only thing I dislike about the south is the bugs 🙁 Some are hugeeee, & terrifying!! Outside, these GIANT bees are slowly but surely starting to come around… It’s that time of year I guess. I’ve noticed that the bees like to hang out around establishments or ponds. One time, I tried to run stadiums, but at the top of each row’s staircase had at least one huge bee just hovering… watching me… waiting… I nervously said, “Sorry, I’ll skip to the next one!” at least five times, with five different bees before I gave up, & went to the gym. I was not about to run directly into a big ol’ bee’s territory! Mama didn’t raise no fool. LOL.
Another time, the other day actually, Zack & I decided to walk along this wooden bridge over a local pond. I heard a buzzing before we stepped on, & asked, “What’s that noise?” Zack said probably a bee, & to just go. Okay… So we walked halfway across the bridge, when at least… EIGHT GIANT BEES circled us!! The bees punked us, until we ran away screaming. 😭😭 (Okay just me, Zack just walked away calmly) Oh yeah, if you’re new to the south- CLOSE THE DRAINS IN YOUR HOME. Bugs can come through them.
What’s it like living on base? Our base is like a perfect little community, protected from the rest of the world. I feel so so so safe here, because I know I’m surrounded by people who are literally dedicating their lives to protecting this country, & the people in it. Just about anything we need is all right on post, & we don’t have to venture far from home at all. The convenience is really nice.
Not only that, but the people on post are active! It’s cool to look out of our living room window, & see folks running, walking dogs, or biking every single day. & every single evening seeing teams playing baseball, soccer, or softball in the surrounding fields. People like to get out, & get active here. It’s a good, positive lifestyle to be surrounded by!
What happens when Zack finishes all of his training? Will you stay there? Nope! After Zack finishes his training, the army will send us to a new location to stay for the next few years. We will move sometime towards the end of this year. We actually just recently discovered where we will be getting sent to next!! Any guesses?! (If you already know, please don’t spoil it!)
Do you have any advice for other people going through a big life change, as well? Embrace it. Find as much good as you can from it. You can’t move on to the next chapter in your life, if you’re clinging on to the last one! Change is necessary for us to truly grow. Be fearless!!
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♡ Valerie Karen.