(First of all, I have to say that I was really, honestly touched by the fact that people noticed my absence in the blogosphere. Thanks, virtual friends!)
One of the comments on yesterday's post asked what I thought about the spouses' coffee (which, if you're not familiar with military-speak, is a regular, semi-structured meeting that spouses have. In this case, it meets monthly). Well, dear readers, I think I may have gotten off on the wrong foot.
For starters, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I knew that I wanted to attend the event in order to start connecting with "the community." I'm honestly pretty happy with my miniscule social circle right now (i.e., my husband and our very cool neighbor), but what if a high-up pointed a finger at Spike and said, "Congratulations! Unit X needs to plug a staff officer hole for their upcoming deployment, and you're it! Enjoy your year-long vacation in the fabulous desert!"? Probably (hopefully) unlikely, but it could happen. And then I'd need some help from other spouses. So. The introvert decided to attend the coffee.
I asked Spike if he had any idea what I should wear. He told me that the spouses' coffees he'd heard about at his old unit were pretty casual, so I shot for the classy, nice end of casual. I wore dark skinny jeans, a flattering-but-not-maternity-looking tunic top, and black boots. I accessorized. I curled my hair. I was feeling pretty good. That is, until I saw that everyone else was dressed on a Sunday-morning-church-goin' scale. Strike one for me.
Strike two was simply the fact that I'm not an extrovert. At all. I hate being the "new kid," and I hate meeting new people, especially in semi-large quantities. I don't even like it when strangers talk to me on planes. Thanks to my former job as a college admissions counselor, I can schmooze for a limited period of time, but it's very draining. (I must say, though, the rum punch helped.) For 3.5 hours I talked to a few people, but I mostly stayed quiet, and tried to unobtrusively hide my pants with my napkin when an innocent comment was made about the questionable nature of skinny jeans. (Gulp.) Honestly, I was pretty lost for most of the night. I don't think I understood fully 1/4 of what was said, thanks to my kindergarten-level knowledge of the military community, and the fact that I also don't know anyone here yet.
Strike three (although I hasten to inform you that I'm not yet "out") is that I'm not sure I really fit into the military spouse mold. As the military spouse of Spike specifically, I'm fine. We're fine as a couple. Great, even. But I'm not sure I'm the type of person the military community expects me to be. I definitely did not get an accurate picture of the spouses' community back at Fort Sill, probably because Spike was in a class for a 6-month period, and not in a "real" working unit. At the coffee, I was shocked by how all-consuming the military is to families who have been "in" for while. For instance, the other attendees introduced themselves by telling me their names and their spouses' jobs. I still have no idea what many of them do (whether that's a job or homemaking or raising kids or volunteering, etc.) after a whole evening of conversation. And conversely, they were more interested in Spike's function than in what I do. Only one person was truly curious when I mentioned that I work from home. Now, I'm not knocking the spouses. It makes sense; assimilate or die, unless you LIKE being a hermit. (Which I do.) I just felt like a square peg in a round hole since I haven't felt compelled to learn about the unit in detail and since I have an outside job instead of one here on post or in town. For me, the military is my husband's job, and I'm proud to support him and to get involved with the other spouses. But I don't see it as MY life. At least not yet. I'm sensing that might change with a deployment.
Okay, well, now I think I just sound like a whiny kid who got shunned from the popular kids' table. I'll stop. The fact is, I already knew that semi-structured group gatherings weren't my thing (I quit my sorority halfway through college, for example), and that hasn't changed. I'm going to try to stick it out a bit longer, though, in hopes of making some individual connections and learning the military way of life.
One thing's for sure: If I do continue with the coffee group long-term, I'm going to have to step my hostessing skills waaaaay up! A bag of chips and a soda is not going to cut it with this crowd.
*Addendum: Please know that this assessment of the coffee isn't meant to be offensive in any way to the "typical" military spouse. I fully admit that I'm a bit of a nonconformist loner!