My thoughts on Texas: almost a year later.

I can’t believe it but it has already been nearly a year since we left Texas. I’ve talked a little before about our experience in Texas and what we went through to try and leave Houston but with all of the time that has passed comes a new perspective on the situation.

In case you weren’t following along all the way back in 2011 and 2012, I’ll quickly catch you up. During the summer of 2011, Josh was selected for recruiting, which is a special duty and allowed us to get our “picks” far earlier than most people. We researched areas all across the country and turned in our dream sheet.

1. Memphis

2. Houston

3. Houston

4. Seattle

5. Seattle

6. Pittsburgh

And so on. We really wanted Pittsburgh because we wanted to move back to our home town but we also decided that if we didn’t get it, we were going to make it an adventure and move somewhere we’d never been. We figured that we may as well use our ability to travel to see as much of the country as possible. A few months later, Josh got a call from the detailer who said that he had been slated for Pittsburgh (pencilled in to take that position) but unfortunately, he had just gotten a call that the Pittsburgh recruiting office was closing (thanks to all of those awesome budget cuts).  This meant that Josh got to pick from the leftovers. Great!  

The leftovers were Arlington, VA, Woodbridge, VA or Jackson, MS. Great! I may have shed more than a few tears. We quickly did some research and decided that Jackson was really not for us so it was between the two Virginia positions. The position in Arlington was at the Coast Guard Recruiting Command which meant that Josh wouldn’t actually be out in the world recruiting new Coasties. Essentially, it wasn’t a job he wanted so we decided we’d go with Woodbridge. Even though it wasn’t our hometown or the great adventure we were looking for, we had friends who lived there and we knew it was a nice area (DC suburb). Josh called the detailer and told him what we’d decided  but there was new news. Apparently one of the guys who had gotten Houston was now backing out of recruiting so our number 2 pick was officially up for grabs again. We decided to take it and 8 months later, we were on our way to Texas.

Finding a house was a little stressful. We wanted to buy since the economy in Texas is incredible and the cost of living is dirt cheap but because I was due with Ruby in the middle of March and we were moving in June, the timing was terrible. I refused to leave Ruby with someone at just a month or two old and Josh refused to look at houses without me so buying was backburnered. We ended up finding a brand new, beautiful house in one of the best school districts in one of our favorite suburbs, on Craigslist. It was on the high end of our budget but it was perfect and the move was just a month away so we decided to sign the lease sight unseen. In June of 2012 we made the drive from Cape May, NJ to Pearland, TX.

We lived in Texas for 9 months and during that time I truly believe I was depressed. Really depressed. To begin with, I was still nursing Ruby during most of that time so my hormones were all over the place. I was crying at the drop of a hat. I remember Josh and I were driving one evening and a Kenny Chesney song came on the radio. I immediately started bawling because I knew that at that very moment, all of our friends from Cape May were at a free, on the beach, Kenny concert. Hearing the song was a reminder of everything I was missing. I was extremely lonely. I went from being an active part of a community that I loved to living in a giant, empty house and knowing no one. Under normal military circumstances you’re thrown into friendships either from living in a military community or the insta friends you make from the people your husband works with. It’s typically a very social environment out of necessity. But in Houston there wasn’t any military housing and since Josh worked in the city, all of the people he worked with lived in different surrounding areas. Houston is a huge city and the suburbs are sprawling so the people we clicked with lived relatively far away.

On top of all of that, during our move our belongings got lost. We spent over three weeks waiting for our things to arrive. It was misery and very expensive. We had to buy new things (a bed and air mattresses, bathroom necessities, cooking and eating supplies, etc) and ended up spending a lot of money out because by the end of the day, the kids and I would just need to get out of the house. Playing outside was only slightly feasible because I was scared to have newborn Ruby out in the 110 degree weather for too long. Aside from the obvious negativity caused by living in an empty house with three little kids, any military wife will tell you that when you move, especially to a completely foreign place, all you want to do is make your new house a home. I felt trapped and unsettled for the entire first month we lived there.

As for the house itself, we were completely let down. What looked like a brand new, nearly unlived in 2300 sq ft home turned out to be a completely wrecked, uncared for mess. The house was filthy. The owner had told us that it was only she and her ex-husband who had lived in the home so we imagined the three bedrooms aside from the master to be perfect. What we found was that she and her husband had 11 cats and two great danes. The walls were never painted past the builder grade chalk white and were filthy. The hardwoods were not done professionally and were damaged in several areas. The carpeting was disgusting and the kitchen was worse. Our landlord didn’t end up charging us a deposit so we went with it. I spent those three weeks scrubbing from floor to ceiling and painting half of the house.

After the initial issues were resolved, I knew I needed to work on what was wrong with me. I had loved being involved with Cape May elementary so I dove into Parker’s new school and volunteered as the room mom. We joined the Y and I got back to running every day. We got the kids signed up for soccer and preschool and swimming lessons and just tried to settle in. We took a weekend trip to San Antonio with my mom to see my little sister graduate from Air Force bootcamp and when we came back I got a part time job working at Starbucks. I wanted to try and put myself out there so I could meet people and maybe make some friends but choosing a place where the average worker’s age is 20 years old, probably wasn’t the best choice. I hated it. I felt like I was babysitting every night I was away from my kids but I stuck it out for three months because I didn’t want to quit.

We celebrated the holidays completely by ourselves and I was miserable. We’ve never spent a ton of time with extended family because we moved away when we were so young but up to that point we had never done holidays alone. This was when it hit home that we were all the way across the country from everyone we loved. We couldn’t afford to pick up and go home anytime we were feeling homesick and our family couldn’t afford to come visit us the way they had been for the years before this.

I was in a bad place. I felt like I was trying everything I could to make my situation better but nothing was working. Parker didn’t like his school as much as he had loved CME and Josh wasn’t the biggest fan of the Texas culture but no one was at the point I was. I was crying constantly. It was so bad that Josh was practically begging me to go to a doctor but I just kept blaming the problems on other things and promised Josh that once those things were resolved I’d feel better. I was just stressed because the house was a mess and once it was finished I’d feel better. I was just stressed because we were tight on money and once we got our finances in order I’d feel better. I was just stressed because I was lonely and once I met some people I’d feel better. Looking back, things were getting better and better the entire time we lived there but my attitude didn’t keep up which is why I think it was depression. There was no cause for my feelings except possibly something hormonal and the time it takes to work through the adjustment period that every move brings. I was talking to my friend about all of this a few weeks ago and she said, “You really thought the problem was Texas?” and at the time I really did. But looking back now, I know that the problem was just me.

By the time things were finally starting to turn around for me, it was time to move. You can read about that hereJosh and I still talk about Texas all the time and even though I said when we left, “There isn’t anything I’ll miss about this place.” there is. I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling badly for being the cause of our family moving unnecessarily, especially because Josh despises New York and because he made a really great friend in Houston whom he still talks to and misses (and who just mailed us some Whataburger ketchup!!). But I can’t say that I regret moving because we’ve had some amazing experiences while living in NYC. I guess Texas will always be a “what if” for me. The good news is that one of my sisters moved to Austin a few months ago and my other sister is moving there in August so we’re planning a big back to Texas vacation for next year. First stop, Gringo’s (sorry Josh)

* If you linked back to my past posts you would see that two years ago I thought I was the consummate Coastie wife. That’s laughable. 🙂 

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