Friday, May 6, 2011

In Appreciation of the Military Spouse

Let's pretend, just for kicks, that we haven't fallen off the face of the blogosphere for nearly 7 months, & let's act like this is a normal blog with someone who updates regularly, shall we? It's much more pleasant that way, & I worry less about being fired for dereliction of blogging duties when I pretend this didn't happen. So hello, loyal readers, oh, how I've missed you!

Really, I could perhaps pretend that after a certain point of negligence, I decided to wait for today, since there is no more appropriate day than today, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, to get back in the blogging saddle. No joke, you can look it up (the MilSpouse Appreciation Day, not the blogging saddle. That's just what I fondly call my well-worn desk chair.). There are e-cards for the day (I sent one from, personally.), & we all know that e-cards make a holiday legitimate. And since we're proudly military spouse owned & staffed, catering to the unique fashion needs & desires of other military spouses & families, consider this our e-card to you, our readers. We are eternally grateful for the support you show to our servicemembers. We share your passion.

Just a few weeks ago, I had the exhilarating & unforgettable experience of driving cross country for work with A. C. Valor. For twelve days, people commented on how crazy I must have been to drive more than 5,000 miles by my lonesome. But to quote Tim Cahill, "A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles." And by that measure, it was a short & pleasant journey indeed. I never lacked for friendly faces to greet me, homecooked meals, or engaging conversation. I had more offers for places to stay than I could possibly have taken up in one trip (But the next one! I will darken more doorsteps!), & I felt truly blessed by the staggering number of friends all over the country who were not only willing but eager to open their homes to me. And with only a handful of exceptions, the tie that bound me to these kind, generous people was the military - a strong, dependable safety net of Marine, Navy, Army, & Air Force spouses, veterans, & civilian employees, past & present, ready to catch me should I have even the slighest need.

Of course, my 12-day adventure across the United States provided me with excellent photographic evidence of the women (and men) who make up the group we appreciate today - military spouses. So truly, exceptionally unique, yet with common experiences to unify them, that it would almost be a crime to not introduce & publically thank them here. So without further ado, a pictoral diary of my journey, a glimpse of some of the people the military has brought into my path (literally, really), & their stories.

This is Ashley.

My first night on the road, I cruised into Little Rock, AR, just before 1 in the morning, bleary-eyed and more than happy to be out of the car after roughtly 15 hours in the car. And even in the wee hours of the morning, I was met by the friendly face and true southern hospitality of Ashley, a lovely Marine wife I've had the pleasure to know for more than four years now. Ashley is a practicing attorney & a southern beauty to boot, & her husband, Cliff, is an up-and-coming country music performer. They're also the parents of two little girls so unspeakably gorgeous, it's a truly fortunate thing that Cliff was a Marine, because just a few short years down the road, he'll need that title to scare away any boys with less than honorable intentions. (I'm going to take a moment here to plug Cliff's music, because he's an extremely talented singer & songwriter. He's also a pretty decent cook - like I was saying, incredible hospitality!) So check him out - Someday when he's famous, I can say he once cooked me breakfast. Ha!)

Anyway, the moral of the story is, that only one day into my drive, I found myself having such a wonderful Saturday morning in Arkansas that I didn't want to leave. In fact, it took me until nearly lunch time to pry myself away & get on the road to Oklahoma.

This is Steph.

Both going to & returning from California, I had the distinct privilege of staying with Steph & her wonderful boyfriend, Richard, a soldier-turned-airman now living the civilian life in Albuquerque. I have known Steph for more than three years, & have seen her journey take her all over the United States. She has recovered from difficulties with the kind of tenacity & determination that is extremely rare & very inspiring, without ever compromising her integrity or her compassion for others. Had I not had a schedule to keep, I could easily have gotten lost in Albuquerque with Steph, happily eating myself through the local Mexican restaurants, watching Army Wives & snuggling her dog.

I have no pictures of Army Wives, but I most certainly have pictures of the mouthwatering salsa:

and my bed buddy, Apollo:

I'm going to have to end this blog post abruptly, since I have the constraints of dinner & bedtime for all persons under the age of six presently hanging over my head, but I'll continue later tonight, so don't go anywhere!