WHAT IF WE GET CAUGHT? My military husband and I were hiking on this lava rock trail in Hawaii. The guide books promised ample opportunities to spot the migrating humpback whales. About a mile in, we were suddenly halted by a large stone fence skirting an immense, exclusive resort. The books had said nothing about this, yet the trail seemed to disappear right below the stones.
Undeterred, my Über confident service member scaled the wall without so much as a “hmm.” Reaching the top, he held out his hand for me to join him on his illicit climb. I balked.
It was a fence, and a high one at that around a resort which appeared to cost more per night than our budget-minded trip did in total. He scoffed at my worries. After all, he was sure we’d find the trail again and be on our way.
It took him twenty minutes perched atop that wall (which, annoyingly, he ALSO didn’t seem to find awkward) to convince me to climb over as well. I couldn't get over the idea of breaking the rules.
I’m a rule follower. Not only that, I’m a rule lover. That “rush” people describe when they are right on the edge, I’d call it “panic” best avoided when any other option presents itself. I know it’s not a glamourous way to feel in a cowboy society, but I’ve always felt more comfortable with boundaries, with rules. I like doing things “right.”
So I was nearly shouting at him, waving my arms WHAT IF WE GET CAUGHT? He beamed down at me with a caviler smile, what if?
I wanted to slap that grin off his face. I wanted to scream and stomp and pitch a full-on fit, and I was most annoyed-- because he was right. What if we got caught? Well, probably nothing, besides a bit of embarrassment. I’ll admit it.
What if is one of those things that came with my military marriage. My tenure as a military spouse has been a lesson in tenacity. After all nothing about this lifestyle is for the faint of heart.
Before I met this man, I’d lived in the same place for all of my adult life. I was a professional with a clear career track, colleagues I admired, and a best friend a few miles down the road. It was great. It was also, in retrospect, kind of boring.
Being married to a risk taker is annoying, but it’s also emboldening for rule followers like I am. Without him, I never would have left my secure, familiar job to reinvent myself as a consultant. Now I make my own schedule, negotiate my salary, and telecommute parlaying my expertise into a position that provides me creative freedom.
Without moving all the time, I would never have made the best investments in my portfolio -- houses. We buy a small, simple home wherever we go and turn it into a rental when we leave. It’s riskier than renting but it’s already paying dividends.
And without allowing myself to break a few rules, I never would have let myself love a military member, someone who very well may go off to war and not come home. The very thought of it is enough to break my heart. But even with the risk of loosing him, far worse would be never having him. So I love with abandon. It’s a risk, but it’s so worth it.
In case you are wondering, we did find that trail again inside the Hawaiian resort. Although, that was not before we received blush-inducing raised eyebrows from many posh resorters as we searched.
Yet that trail did, as promised, lead to ocean cliffs and crashing, spectacular whales. Seeing them was one of our most memorable moments on that trip, and I would have missed them if my spouse hadn’t pushed me passed my what ifs.
So go climb the wall and conquer your what ifs; whales might not be all that you can see.
Meredith Galloway is an educator who administers an online portion of an Arizona charter school from her current home near Ft. Hood, TX. She has been married to her Active-Duty Army pilot for three years now during which time she’s called four different states home. Currently, Meredith is also pursuing her credential as an accredited financial counselor through the FIRNA military spouse fellowship. Her other passions include volunteering in the community, gardening, and coffee, lots of coffee.