The Summer in Which I Became Frugal and Long-Haired Hippie ate Meat

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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  1. Oh, so now that you got me hooked, you’re leaving me with cliff hangers. The old bait and switch, I see. 😉

  2. You are pretty good at those cliff hangers…

  3. Wow!! First I just want to say I have eaten at Little Havana several times. As for the rest I am just amazed at everything you have been through. I absolutely LOVE your story. I am so glad that you decided to share it.

  4. What????? Girl, I love this story! And, you are doing remarkably well at leaving us hanging!!!! 🙂

  5. I’d say she’s doing remarkably well! haha

    I am totally loving this. I do hope short haired navy guy will share his side of the story too, like you suggested he might 😉

  6. Finally the next installment.

    I have been checking your site multiple times a day waiting….now I am back to waiting again! 🙂

  7. Thanks again for sharing your story. It’s a fun read!

  8. This is great!!! I can’t wait for the next one

  9. Yes the next installment of this wonderful love story! 🙂

    This is a great story! I can’t wait to hear/read the rest.

  10. ok i subbed! now hurry up and write part 2!!!!! 🙂

  11. Our story is so engrossing! I love it!! I can’t wait for the next installment!

  12. Oh man. Tuna. Poor guy. And yeah, one thing for sure, I am SO glad I didn’t marry the military.

  13. Lol on the tuna helper! 😀 Wow, that took awhile to get a place in Panama. Ugh! 🙁 Eagerly awaiting the next installment….

  14. Lol..sounds like my first days married. Of course I would call tuna helper a casserol to sound more grown up. Learned a few things…you have to have the tuna otherwise its nasty (er) and you can add sliced mushrooms for a grown up look. Thanks God i lived near my grandma who cooked for my husband alot as I worked in a restaurant and ate for free. When he first moved in he asked where my food was as I had cokes, wine, soup and spam. I worked doubles at a restaurant so I ate there or my mom’s or out. And we had a baby to deal with too. My DH is in Panama now every other month but does not get off the boat unless to travel to the airport & the airport restaurant is not good. Keep up the good work.

  15. Somebody's Mimi says:

    The first meal I cooked for my husband was TUNA!! BUT I made a cassarole! So young, so long ago. Keep the story going…

  16. Somebody's Mimi says:

    Sorry… I mean casserole.

  17. Wow, What a story! But I actually like Hamburger helper, not sure I’ve ever had Tuna Helper though!

  18. Yeah more of the story!! Keep it comming!!

  19. Ok, I’m hooked. I went back and read all of the entries. Don’t stop. This is getting better and better.

  20. Sounds remarkably like when DH and I first got married and he went into the military so we could survive and feed my growing pregnant belly! The one thing I have learned is that nothing EVER turns out like it is supposed to in the military. I can’t wait to hear how it turned out!!!

  21. EW! Tuna Helper! Funny, I love tuna fish salad or raw tuna on sushi rice….but hot tuna is just about the worst thing I can imagine. EW!

    I am just fascinated with this story. This is what I have gathered thus far:

    1. You married on a whim
    2. You’re just flying by the seat of your pants at the moment.

    I would love to know why long haired hippie asked you to marry him. Did he love you? Why did you say yes? Were there feelings of love there on your part? Had you been feeling mushy about him before he asked you?

    What I really want to know is, Where’s The Love? =)

    Are you not in love yet? Are you just hanging out together making the best of a bad situation?

    Soooooooo dying to hear more. =)

  22. Wow! That’s a lot of moving here and there. Can’t wait to read the next part!

  23. Wow! I just found your blog today through 5m4m and now I’m hooked! I have to know what happens next!

  24. I can’t wait for the next installment! I love reading your story! My husband and I met in Oct of 98 and then got married in April of 99. So we really married before we knew each other very much. It’ll be 10 years soon. Will keep watching for the next post! 🙂
    God bless,

  25. Wow. What a great story. I look forward to these and I’m really curious how you and long haired, now short haired hippee went from there to where you are now. What does dh stand for anyway?

  26. Well, it’s no wonder you are so good with budgeting now! You had to practice under pressure! I am wondering…were you two “in love” yet or were you still wondering, “What did I do??”

  27. I feel like I must have missed the rest of this, but I can’t find ALL of Our Story on the website. I can’t find anything past when your boy got lost and found.

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