Friday, August 04, 2006

November, 1999. Welcome to Virginia.

I would use the term culture shock to describe the transition if it weren’t that Virginia was too much of a lady to do such a thing to a stranger. It was more the opposite of culture shock. It was like swimming through a clear, crisp mountain lake to pull up on the shore of a giant squashy marshmallow. Terrible analogy, but true nonetheless. Virginia was civilized and soft and safe (although that didn’t break Kirk of the habit of calling out ‘come on, victims’ to bring straggling kids running to his heels when we went hiking). It was, at least at first, a bit boring.

There were gentle rolling green hills and great tall green trees. There were enormous, unbelievable herds of deer – a sight that completely baffled the kids who couldn’t imagine what those dog-sized edible creatures could possibly be, standing around simply waiting to be devoured. Stupid animals. And there were people, many, many people.

We did all the usual settling in things – going to the housing office to get the list of possible places to rent, scouting out the local base, the schools, the recreation areas. As usual as well we only looked at two houses before we settled down; always anxious to lose the uncertainty of TLF. We rejected the ranch house in Norfolk (even though the commute would be fairly easy) after a neighbor confidentially told us about the major fire the house had suffered the year before. They had fixed it up beautiful, she insisted, and it only smelled a little bit when it rained.

Home would be a large colonial. It was the biggest house we ever lived in. There were only three bedrooms, but (mirabile dictu) a real, genuine playroom for the kids where the mess of toys could be confined to one area. There was a huge family room, a breakfast room, a formal dining room, and even a livingroom that frankly was too much for us as with no budget and three growing children we didn’t have anything upholstered that could be remotely considered formal – comfortable would be true, and kind, shabby would be closer.

Within a week Kirk reported to the Naval base for work. He went through the rigmarole of getting a pass and signing in, and walked onto the floor. Ah, they said, the Air Force guy. Right. Well, actually we’ve decided we don’t really want an info ops unit. Instead, you’re going to join the counter terrorism group. We’re putting you in charge of Y2K.

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