The first week of basically living in Mark full-time has been relatively uneventful save for the incident with Oreo. I say “basically” because my family invites me to every meal, and I typically accept, meaning I haven’t cooked much in the van this week. I need to though because my perishables will likely perish soon if I don’t. Sad face.
For the first couple days of my full-time Mark living, Jeremy resided in Airstream Annie, parked right next to me. Then he flew out to California because we thought my dad would be discharged from the hospital soon and wanted someone to be there. Even though Jeremy was around for a couple days, he wasn’t living in the van with me, meaning I’ve acclimating to van life by myself.
After Jeremy returns from California and quarantines in Airstream Annie for two weeks, he’ll be moving into Mark. Sounds like no big deal, right? Anyone who has returned from deployment or been a spouse of someone returning from deployment knows it can be quite an adjustment.
During deployment, many home spouses learn to live their everyday life without their deployed spouse. They develop their own routine, their own way of doing things, and gain a lot of independence in the absence of their spouse. By the end of deployment, it’s almost like their spouse never needed to be there in the first place. Sure, they miss them terribly and eagerly await their return, but then they return…
The deployed spouse hasn’t been living the home life while they’ve been gone, they’ve been living the work life. In their mind, when they return, home life will be just the way they left it. Wrong! They come home expecting everything to be as it was and act accordingly, but it’s not the same. They are no longer part of the everyday picture and don’t fit into the daily operations of the home. The home spouse gets irritated because deployed spouse doesn’t do things their way or wants to do something that used to be part of the routine but no longer is. The deployed spouse gets aggravated because this isn’t the way I remember it. *
It’s not anyone’s fault, merely a consequence of absence. Both parties know this and work to reintegrate the deployed spouse back into daily life. They adjust to the change. In time, everything returns to a new normal because it can never go back to exactly the way it was. Military families are strong and resilient because of this constantly recurring change.
I served in the military and all three of my spouses have as well, yet I have never been a home spouse during a deployment. My second husband deployed for six months during our marriage, but instead of staying home I thru hiked the Appalachian Trail. My thru hike certainly changed me, but my husband and I essentially returned home at the same time, resuming business as usual.
Jeremy’s “absence” will be nowhere near as long as a deployment, but it will likely be an adjustment when he moves into Mark for the first time. I’ve only ever lived in Mark by myself. We don’t even have a normal baseline in the van together to work off.
Okay, it’s not that much stuff I need to move for Jeremy to have his side of the bed.
Unlike the cat, he responds to questions, and I’ll have to take the time to consider his input before acting. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it’s a good thing, but it’s simply different. The van is small, and I’ve grown accustomed to having all the space to myself. Soon, I’ll need to move my pile of stuff I use everyday off Jeremy’s side of the bed so he can sleep next me. Where some of it will go without being in the way, I don’t know yet, but the snuggles will be worth it.
Part of the van life appeal is the constant change. Moving to a new spot when the desire strikes. Experiencing different climates and variable temperatures rather than being controlled by a thermostat. Working different jobs depending on our financial situation and location. Not knowing if we’ll be connected or without cell service. Sharing Mark with Jeremy after living in him by myself for a mere month is just another welcome change.
* This is a broad generalization for illustrative purposes only.