Not everyone moves in together, gets married, and then drives across the United States within 4 months of getting engaged. But we did. The Navy lifestyle is already proving to be a wild and crazy adventure full with TONS of ups and downs, and not just from the actual roller coasters we went on. Here are the top 10 things I learned about life during those 7 days on the road…
1. Real life isn’t Instagram filtered Pinterest goodness. We all know this but it’s easy to forget. The life you see of everyone posting warm-frosted-sprinkle-life-Pinterest-porn pics on Facebook and other social media sites is NOT the life they are living. We all put our best online. Why would we do anything else? It’s important to remember though that we often compare ourselves at our worst to others at their best. Usually it’s when I’m shoving Cheez-its into my mouth with no makeup on and I’m looking at someone who is all dolled up to go out after losing 20 lbs and has abs on top of their abs. WAAAAH. While you’re going to see a lot of those pics on this post, you won’t see the ones of me crying in tears over our spilled cooler or my ugly cry face after my first coaster at Cedar Point. Hell, at least I’m writing about it though 😉 It’s funny that we take pictures of the best but then drive ourselves crazy focusing on the negative sometimes. I definitely got this reminder immediately on the road after I’d spent days pinning shit onto my road trip board. All these pics of well-organized minivans and happy couples and then here I am not able to see out the back of our Sonata and getting pissed because my feet are damp from the cooler that leaked in the front seat.
2. You’re always going to learn new things about yourself and meet parts of your mind you never knew existed. It can be terrifying when you’ve cried more in the past week than you have in the past year. This lesson I learned quickly. It’s that moment when you go “well fuck, apparently Sarah has never done or felt ANY of this before and we have NO idea what’s going on!” The good news is that emotions are like rivers, they channel through you and the faster you let them go through you and experience them, the sooner your husband will stop freaking out about your face water. And as much as I preach about observing emotions, you are allowed to FEEL them just as much. Sometimes we have to react and cry at a road stop in the middle of Oregon, and Utah…and Illinois when you realize you left your shorts at the last hotel. The point is, we never stop learning about who we are and who we react. And no matter how many times others may tell you about what different experiences feel like, you’ll never truly know what it’s like until YOU experience it, YOUR way.
Planning our road trip
3. No matter how much you plan and how much you pack, something else will ultimately happen. This goes back to my previous mention of the cooler that leaked, the books that got soggy, the exits and on-ramps we missed that delayed our travel time, the gas stations we almost missed or had to turn around for, the frustration we had with each other, the lack of healthy road food options, the number of times we had to go to the bathroom but held it for “just another hour” so we could make better time. Shit. Happens. In life it can be advantageous to plan ahead, bring a coat even if its warm when you leave the house, save extra money for those emergencies, but the truth is, stuff will always come up. I learned quickly from this trip especially, that how you decide to handle things will ultimately determine your happiness and your stress levels. Frustration and anger are inevitable. Just like stress, there are everyday and reoccurring emotions we can’t escape. Emotions happen.
Cute Dino in Little America, Wyoming off Lincoln Hwy/I-80
4. Change is inevitable. Change is good. But change can also rock you, shock you, and make you feel overwhelmed as fuck. We all know that change can be hard but sometimes we’re impatient with ourselves and we don’t really take the time to realize how much we’re taking on. I had this moment (several, actually) both on the road and once we got to Maryland. It all started to sink in. Holy crap! We got married and didn’t have a big wedding, I didn’t even have a dress, I know we’ll do that later but what?! I just quit my 4 1/2 year job in downtown Seattle to travel with the man of my dreams, I just said goodbye to all of my family and friends – the people I grew up with! That takes a lot of guts yeah, but it doesn’t mean I’m not human. I always try to remind myself that it can take around 2 months to truly get acclimated to a new place. To find out where you are, what’s around you, get to know some regular people, even finding the right place to get gas and buy groceries can make you feel at home! So take a deep breath as you encounter those big life changes and remember that sooner than later you’re going to relax and things WILL start to feel normal again – just in wonderful and very different ways.
My husband fighting off dinosaurs in Nebraska.
5. Routines make the world go round. Nothing made me more depressed than 10 days without our household goods at our new townhouse in Maryland. Ten very slow days. Ten days to think about every anxiety and worry I had and then some. Ten days to ask myself (and my husband) more questions and then questions about those questions. I have a question – can I ask you a question? What those ten days did for me though was important. It made me realize the importance of routine in our lives. It doesn’t mean you need to have a 9-5 or go to Karate every Tuesday but it does mean that every day you should have something that you regularly do. The day I started getting up, brewing coffee like a normal person and didn’t try to sleep in til 11am was the day I started to calm down and feel a LOT better. It can be hard to establish a routine when you’re someplace new, but it’s important. Even when I didn’t have our stuff, I started exercising every morning, checked the mail, went outside, cleaned the kitchen. Keeping busy can save you a lot of worries and it gives your poor mind a break when you’re already overwhelmed.
Frog Rock on Bainbridge Island, WA -where I grew up
6. In-Laws are overwhelming but so are ALL people. When you’re newly married in-laws can be mega overwhelming. And it doesn’t matter how welcoming, sweet, rude, irritating, or thoughtful they may be, they are new people in your life that you are now committed to in one way or another and that my friends, is terrifying. It’s easy to deal with our own family because if we yell at them over someone’s birthday dinner, we know deep down how much we love each other and that after a couple of awkward hours/days life will continue on as normal. If anything, we grew from that tussle. But with in-laws, it isn’t quite like that. We suddenly meet an entire new family – OUR new family – and as much as they might annoy us, we can’t just say what we normally would. It can feel like a lot of effort, it can be intimidating, it can make you worry about swearing or saying the wrong thing off-hand about religion or political matters. It can also put us in situations where we might feel overly defensive or judged – even if people don’t mean to come across that way. We’re suddenly trying to prove our self-worth and as normal as that is, it can be self-sabotaging in many ways. I’ve learned that just being yourself, always, is the best way to go. Sure, you’re going to upset people from time to time but so are they. We’re all human. Just remember that your family is just as difficult as his/hers and things affect us all differently.
To share a piece from our road trip – we took two days to stop in Indiana to meet his family. Yes, I’m writing about my in-laws in the interwebs, god save me. Really though, this is funny as hell and if my family doesn’t know I’m a blogger, they will soon 😉 While visiting my husbands grandmothers house I was delighted when she finally decided to speak directly to me in the group of us. Sitting outside on a nice spring day in May with the sun above us and sodas in everyone’s hands. Ah, I thought, here comes grandma bonding time. Little did I know what she was about to say. You see, a few weeks prior I had sent her an email outlining our travel plans, our new address, as well as a link to the apartment website for her to check out. Slowly my grandma in-law raised her head, locked eyes with me and proceeded to announce:
Sarah. I got that email you sent me. While it was very thoughtful of you to think of me and make that gesture, the link took me to a pornography site.
WHAT!?! BAHAHAHAHA. I was speechless and so was everyone else. After pulling my jaw up from the concrete I simply responded “______ there’s no way that’s correct.”
I searched for my phone in my purse. Pulled up my sent email history. Found the very one I had sent her, clicked on the link, anxiously waited for it to load on 3G and BEHOLD…it was the apartment link. This lady now thought I had literally emailed her porn – must have been looking at porn when I emailed her – and sent her the link. When in reality, she most likely had a virus or brought up something someone else in the house may have been browsing. Ugh.
Point is. In-laws are just new people you meet, just like co-workers and people you have to interact with on a daily basis. Just remember to be yourself – even if your new grandma thinks you’re a slutty slut slut who married her grandson.
The Bean – Chicago, IL
7. Stop and enjoy the view. Life is ever-changing. Sometimes moments happen that change into moments that will never happen again. It’s easy to always say “eh, we’ll do that tomorrow” or to not truly take in a moment, like saying goodbye, or hello for the first or last time. We won’t always know what’s next, what’s last, what’s ever-lasting, or what’s fleeting. So enjoying those moments as best we can is important.
Lighthouse Point at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH
8. Appreciate what you already have. I mean this is so many ways. The people you know, the home you live in, the food you get to eat. I had NO idea how amazing Seattle truly was because I grew up there. I have had people my whole life tell me how amazing and gorgeous the Pacific Northwest is but didn’t even REALIZE until I left. I also didn’t realize how great some of the food was. It was also a lesson about not being afraid to try new things, I never knew I’d have the MOST AMAZING nachos of my life in Denver, but I did.
True Deep Dish Pizza – Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta – Chicago, IL
The Best Nachos of My Life (thus far) – Breckenridge Brewery – Denver, CO
Glorious Pie – Farmhouse Cafe – Omaha, NE
Side note: I realized why they call it Omaha because it’s the sound you make when you eat the pie and still have your mouth full trying to say oh my god. “OH-MA-HA”
9. You can look back from time to time as long as you keep moving forward. There’s nothing wrong with reflecting on your life or feeling nostalgic but often times we are so focused on what we once had that we forget what we have now in the present moment. When you go through a giant change it’s normal to clench onto the past. One thing that helped me though was to really think back to my time in WA and the reasons I was excited to leave. The more I remembered that, the easier it was for me to embrace the new moments and the challenges ahead.
10. You’re never too old (or too young) for an adventure. Living the Navy lifestyle means we’ll be doing a lot of traveling and moving every 3 years but it’s all about how you look at it. Places, jobs, people – they are all going to have their pros and cons. Adventuring doesn’t mean you need to drive cross-country though. It can mean turning everyday into something new. Cooking a new dish, creating a new recipe, calling an old friend you haven’t talked to in years, going to the library and reading the first book you see, getting up early on a Saturday and driving East until you find a diner to eat at. This is your life!! Get to living it ❤
Magnum – the roller coaster at Cedar Point that had me in tears #Imababy
More of Little America in Wyoming (with a population of under 80 people)
Roadside T-Rex – Dinosaur Museum – Lincoln, NE
Snake River – Twin Falls, ID