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Military Life in a Bubble

Living on a military installation, I sometimes feel a sense of wonder. I get to see the manicured lawns of my neighbors each day, as I look around and see the beautiful houses which uniformly line at least a dozen streets and remind me of what it must be like to live in suburbia.

I see dozens of men and women in their uniforms as they go grocery shopping or stop by the shoppette to get gas or pick up snacks.

I sometimes see soldiers en masse during training, carrying heavy rucks, and not a day goes by that I don’t hear the reverberation of blades chopping through the wind as a Chinook or helicopter flies over my house.

street

A view of my neighborhood.

Something I learned early into my life as a military spouse was that it is easy to become trapped in the bubble that is life on a military installation. On the streets that I find myself sometimes very mundanely driving, I realize that I am stuck in an almost caustic routine.

I go to the commissary nearly exclusively for grocery shopping. I go to Madigan Army Medical Center for practically every doctor visit. I use the shoppette for probably 99% of gas that is pumped into my car. I have almost everything I need on this installation.

And that, in turn, has put me inside of a bubble.

I’m sure I can’t be the only one who has ever felt this way. I love living on an installation but sometimes find myself feeling disconnected to the rest of the world. It was something I did not fully experience until about three years into my marriage because the duty station we lived at prior to Fort Lewis was actually not a place with more than a couple of buildings used by both military and DoD civilians. It was a rare opportunity in those days to visit an installation when the closest ones were about 90 miles away.

After living in a place without the resources offered to service members and their families that regular installations have, I was beyond ready and excited to be in a place where I would have the opportunity to have these things whenever I might need them. Once I moved into my fabulous on-post house, which offered much more space than the apartment we’d been renting while waiting for housing, I was excited for the adventure that post life would bring. And it has been an exciting adventure.

I also realize that, sometimes, this adventure has left me feeling disconnected to the world around me. Whenever I start to feel this way, the answer is to push myself back into the world.

Getting off post helps me feel reconnected.

Sometimes that may be driving up to the mall and walking around or planning a short weekend vacation to a city nearby. Calling my family helps, especially since I haven’t been home to visit them in more than a year.

Most importantly, I think that making sure you exist outside of this bubble is how to feel in tune with the world around you.

Even though we sometimes get stuck in routine and maybe feel a kind of disconnect, I am grateful to see those people walking around in uniform living their lives, to look down the street at the uniform houses with the manicured lawns in my own special little suburbia, and to hear the blades of the a Chinook chopping through the wind over my own fabulous on-post house.

Author

  • Mary Spangler

    Mary was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She currently lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, SFC Spangler, their two sons, and one cat. Previous duty stations include Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Rivanna Station, Virginia, and Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

2 Comments

  1. Stephanie

    I feel this way all the time! I do work off post so that helps me a lot to feel connected. But you are right living on post does put you in a bubble that while it may make you feel disconnected to the rest of the world, it brings you closer to the military and makes that connection more stable.

    Reply
  2. Kim Stafford Van Voorhis

    Great story and do true.

    Reply

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