This first week has been quite the roller coaster of experiences, emotions, and ideas about our future here. Reality struck first thing Monday morning when we went to the housing office to see what base housing had to offer for a future home. They gave us keys of three places to look at. One was a 50-minute drive away from base (never would have thought you could have an hour-long commute on this island). One was a duplex 15 minutes away, older, one bathroom, no thank you. And finally one was worth going to see… a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom single family home on base in the same neighborhood as our friends.
Our home here is something we’d really been looking forward to about Guam. After living in a shoebox apartment in Coronado with neighbors beside and above us, we were thrilled about the idea of not sharing walls with anyone AND having real guest space to host all the fabulous people who have vowed to come visit us (ahem). But once inside the house, I was struck with the reality that my expectations of a dream home in Guam were not to be. The place isn’t awful, but the drop ceiling tiles you’d find in an office, the dull yellow paint throughout, fluorescent lighting fixtures, and 80s-inspired kitchen countertops put a stain on the Pottery Barn pages that have been turning in my mind ever since our friends here sent us pictures of their house on base. Turns out they got lucky with one of the awesome newly renovated houses (with a garage… and landscaping). We weren’t so lucky... but not destitute either.
A few days after coming to terms with reality, I’m thrilled about our new home. It’s very close to friends, Nick’s work, a gorgeous beach, etc. We will no longer need quarters and three free hours for laundry. Being on base is extremely safe (no one locks even their bikes here), and I know we will make this place feel like home once our stuff gets here (Wednesday!).
The bigger issue, I’ve come to realize, is that in order to make leaving San Diego, Texas, and all of my wonderful friends and family easier, I convinced myself that Guam was going to be the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. The scenery would be breathtaking (and it absolutely is), our house would be amazing (almost), I’d meet just as many close friends here (we’ll see), and I’d fill my days doing meaningful, soul-searching, career-furthering things (uhhh…).
All that wishful thinking and positive future outlook business did wonders to help me get through the awful goodbyes that seemed to come one after the next for two solid weeks. After all, what’s there to be sad about when you’re moving to paradise with the man of your dreams? But we’ve arrived there now and from here I have a better view of whom and what we’ve said goodbye to. Time for expectations to meet reality and for life to move forward in real time.
In addition to battling expectations this past week, we also got to do some exploring around the island. We fit in two rounds of golf, two scuba dives, snorkeling and a boat ride through the harbor on the navy base. We also keep running into people we know all over town, which is strange because I swear we still only know 10 people here. And each day we find ourselves stumbling upon vistas even more beautiful than the last one, many of them below sea level. So even in light of my high expectations, this place definitely is not all bad. I suppose it’s just a matter of time before expectations and reality align once again. Until then, I’m off to the beach… :)