Start at the beginning, Part 1.
Twenty-four days after I married long-haired hippie and moved out, I moved back in. Since I didn’t have a bedroom anymore I ended up moving into the living room, and dh came along too. This arrangement was less than ideal since the living room was the first room you saw when you entered my parent’s home. My mom hung up a sheet for privacy and we we moved all our earthly possessions into our new “home.”
This new living arrangement probably encouraged my dh to get moving on the whole get back in the Navy thing. Less than three weeks after moving in with my parents long-haired hippie became a short-haired petty officer. He was temporarily assigned duty in Jacksonville, FL while he awaited permanent orders. He stayed in Jacksonville during the week and drove home to Orlando on the weekends.
I spent the rest of the summer moving around Florida. For a few weeks I lived in dh’s grandparent’s empty condo in Tampa. This was nice except I had nothing to do during the week, no car, and no friends. This was also when I figured out dh wasn’t too good with money.
One thing dh neglected to tell me before we got married, although I don’t fault him for this- there wasn’t time, is that he had accumulated a large amount of debt during his single years. We decided not to declare bankruptcy and to try and pay it off. This meant that most of his tiny military paycheck went to debt payments. I remember one Sunday night in Tampa, before he was returning to Jacksonville we counted out our money for the week. We had $7.62. Fortunately the car had a full tank of gas, but we didn’t have much food in the condo. I quickly learned about a grocery budget and purchased a few boxes of tuna helper and a few cans of tuna fish to last through the week. I felt bad dh’s first meal as a meat eater was tuna helper, but times were tough.
There was another time when dh took me to his favorite restaurant in Miami. Things were wonderful until it was time to pay the bill. It was only then that dh realized he left every penny we had under a mattress three hours away. I thought I would be washing dishes in Little Havana for the next week, but then remembered I had $30 in an old bank account. I pulled all of it out of the ATM in order to pay the bill and we quickly drove three hours in the other direction to retrieve our life savings.
I was very excited about dh’s rejoining the military (yes, I was naive). He told me about all the great places we could live and all the opportunities available for military spouses. I was shocked when he received orders to Panama, because to me that did not qualify as a great place to live. I was absolutely not prepared to move out of the country. In fact, dh had told me that there was no way we would receive orders to Panama because they were closing the base. He was wrong. I told him I wasn’t going to move to some third world country and he could go without me. Dh begged me to go and told me there would be many opportunities for me to finish my degree, get a job, and see the rain forest. Finally, I agreed to go.
Dh needed to leave for Panama in a few short weeks and we quickly found out I could not go with him until he was assigned a house, which could be a month or longer. We heard through the grapevine that there were flights from Panama to Key West on a regular basis. Dh had a Navy buddy who lived in Key West so I decided to move in with him and dh could fly to the Keys on the weekend. We loaded up a small moving van and drove all night from Tampa to Key West. At some point during the summer we had also acquired two cats, and at a later point in the summer I discovered I am not a cat person. I remember trying desperately to stay awake during the all night drive. Fortunately I had two screeching cats in the back seat of the car to keep me awake.
We arrived in Key West and I settled in to my 4th home that summer. It didn’t take long for me to realize that dh’s Navy buddy lived like a pig and I didn’t want to live there. I was afraid to leave our stuff and the cats with the guy so I stayed. Meanwhile dh flew off to Panama and found out there were no such flights to Key West. I needed no more incentive to get the heck out of Key West so I called the movers, had our stuff packed, put on a boat to Panama and moved back into my parent’s house.
I spent the rest of the summer waiting for dh to be assigned a house in Panama. Finally in September he was assigned a house and I would be leaving for my tropical paradise in less than a week, or so I thought.
The next installment has been published… Panama.
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