MSEJ August 2018 - Page 21

Since college and grad school, I’d taken a variety of jobs, some that made me happy, some that helped to pay the rent—and I’d forgotten what it could feel like when the world is wide open, when there are a range of possibilities, when you have choices. Somehow, that felt more liberating at eighteen than it did at thirty. At thirty, sometimes it felt downright frightening.

Whether your family leaves the military due to an injury, a scheduled retirement, or because you decide you want something else from the world and you’re not willing to wait another ten years to get it, there’s only one thing about this business that I think is really true. There is no one way to transition. Each transition will be just as individual as the family members who sign up for it.

Some military members leave the service on their own, without a spouse or kids to consider—but they may have ailing parents, or childhood friends that they miss. Others decide that their career skill sets will pay better in the private sector, or that they are ready for a change, so they take advantage of the network they’ve built, late night Google searches, nonprofit organizations, or headhunters who work with former military members. Some will retire with their benefits in

place, but they don’t know where to place all of that leadership energy and potential (pro tip: your spouse will not thank you for micro-managing them… that’s not household leadership, not by a long shot). For some families, transitioning will feel like a burst of frantic activity followed by a sense of relief as they settle into homes they purchased long ago, or near family they’ve missed while living this military life.

All of these versions feel familiar to me, and yet, I find that I can’t quite place or recognize the version I find myself in. We left the military because we wanted to, because we needed to… and yet, here I am, still writing from a hotel room while my spouse has already started his new job. We’ve left a place that never really felt like home, though I lived there for two years, mostly on my own… and we’ve moved to a place where we don’t have a large group of close friends or any family. Our household goods are in storage and are going to stay that way for a few more weeks thanks to New York’s 60-day house closing process (no, I’m not making that up). We don’t have any kids (and are truthfully still on the fence when it comes to that decision), and there are no major obstacles to me sending out my resume. By all rights, I should be taking the employment scene in Buffalo by storm.

There’s only one thing about this [transition] business that I think is really true. There is no one way to transition. Each transition will be just as individual as the family members who sign up for it.