Thursday, October 30, 2014

On the Horizon : Jersey Girl & Manhattan Dreams

So, a little announcement today. I won't bury the lede. If the map didn't make it abundantly clear: The hubs and I are going to be moving. Again. Yes, we only arrived in St. Pete five months ago, and we were slated to be here for three years, but we'll be picking up and moving north to New Jersey next May or June. When Uncle Sam says go, you gotta go. That's military life.

Now, let me explain.

When we found out last October that we would be moving to St. Petersburg, Florida, right after our wedding, G was thrilled. It was his top pick (mine was Boston), we had heard nothing but great things about St. Pete, and my gunner's mate husband was excited to be going back to a boat after three years at a land job.

But not long after G began working on Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke in July, he learned that the boat was going to be transferred to another crew, in Portland, Maine, at the end of October. Of course, we had no idea that was going to happen. The detailer that sent him, us, to St. Pete didn't know either, or else he wouldn't have assigned G to the Ocracoke. One would think that a detailer would know if a boat is set to be transferred or decommissioned, but that is not always the case. Again, that's military life.

We were a bit upset by the news, to say the least. We had just packed up our whole lives, said goodbye to friends and family, to move across the country for a tour in St. Pete. Suddenly, all our plans changed. That job G had looked forward to was being snatched away. With no new boat coming to replace the Ocracoke, he would have to go back to a land job, working in the armory like he did in San Diego. We had signed a seven-month lease for a one-bedroom apartment and rented a storage unit with the intention of settling into something different after getting the lay of the land. Had we known we'd only be here a year, we would have rented a two-bedroom place, had more space and not thrown a considerable amount of money each month into keeping a large storage unit.

All this, coupled with the summer's oppressively hot and humid weather and my difficulties finding a journalism job, made us feel defeated. St. Pete wasn't working out for us. It definitely wasn't what we thought it would be.

Lesson learned: Things rarely turn out like you think they will. Sometimes it's better, sometimes worse. Expect the unexpected, and embrace it.

So that's what we did. After the initial shock wore off, we shifted our perspective. G losing his boat could be a win. The chance to pick another adventure.

G printed out the list of available boats and brought it home to discuss. Initially, he was interested in going to Miami, where new, super-fast, state-of-the-art FRCs (fast response cutters) were scheduled to come online. I wasn't as thrilled by the idea of moving to Miami, and since the Ocracoke gig wasn't what G thought it would be-- he had hoped to be working drug interdiction cases-- I urged him to research the Miami jobs. In doing so, he discovered that the Miami crews almost exclusively work migrant cases, something G isn't all that interested in. And while I told the hubs that I would support going to Miami in order for him to work on the latest, greatest cutter, I started to have misgivings, secretly wishing he would consider a place I never thought I'd want to live:

New Jersey.

One of the locales on that "early sea solicitation" list was Bayonne. And while the largely industrial city is certainly not the prettiest or hippest place to live, it is just about 30 minutes outside Manhattan.

It has always been my dream to live and work in New York City. I have never been to the Big Apple, and I'm sure my "Sex and the City" fantasies will quickly be shattered once I get there, but there is no question that it is the hub of journalism in America. G knows all this and said before we got married that if there was ever a way to make my dream come true, he would pursue it. Bayonne seems like that chance, and I didn't want it to slip through my fingers. We don't know where the Coast Guard will send us in the future, and the opportunity to live in or close to NYC may never come around again.

For G, being on a boat was the most important thing. He wants his Cutterman's pin, a symbol of having achieved five years total sea time-- a status he would have earned had his tour on the Ocracoke not been drastically cut short. G is determined to get his pin, and he can get it, working on the Sitkinak in Bayonne.

So after much discussion and consideration, G submitted his assignment preferences to the detailer. He put Bayonne as his No. 1 pick, and Gloucester (a town just outside Boston) as his second choice. On Monday he officially received orders: We're going to Bayonne.

We've known for several weeks that G was slated for New Jersey but given all that has happened the last few months, we wanted to be totally sure (orders in hand) before making any kind of announcement. We still have seven months here in St. Pete. Even though the Ocracoke had its change of command last week, we won't move until the transfer season, next summer. So there's still plenty of time to explore Florida and we have a couple months at least before we need to start planning for our next big move.

Still, it's exciting to know, for sure, what is on the horizon and the new possibilities the future holds. This Cali girl is staying on the East Coast for a while longer. I doubt I'll turn into Jersey girl (or a Jersey Shore girl, for that matter). But maybe, just maybe, my cosmo-sipping, city-living, Carrie Bradshaw-channeling Manhattan dreams will come true.

(Sitkinak photos 1 & 2 by Patti Sapone/The Star-Ledger, via


  1. Military life really is about expecting the expected...and by embracing it, well, you're already a leg up from everyone else! I'm a newbie military wife and I'm slowly learning as each day goes on. I came across your blog and was excited to read that you and your hubby were stationed in Florida as well! But to hear about NJ, well that's just AMAZING! So close to NYC and not that far from Boston, which is where I'm originally from! I plan to keep up with your blog and looking forward to reading all about your adventures! :) Good luck with everything!

    1. Hi Jen! Thanks for stopping by! So nice to "meet" another military wife :) I'm a total newbie too and while I've had it easier than most, with my husband not gone away from me for long periods of time, the whole moving across the country away from all my family and friends has been a little tough. But I'm doing my best to make the most of our time in Florida. I'm going to hop on over to your blog now... I look forward to learning more about you! :)

  2. That definitely means you're going to have a "real" winter next year. Not that Jersey gets crazy cold compared to some places, but for us California girls living in any type of snow is crazy different. After 4 years of living with it in college, I'm definitely of the opinion that snow is fun to visit, but not nearly as fun to live in. But it does mean coming up with a whole new winter wardrobe, which I'm guessing you'll have fun with!

    1. I hadn't even thought of that yet! Good thinking! Yes, I will definitely need a new winter wardrobe!! :)


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