Friday, November 4, 2016

It's easy when you're big in Japan

One of the reasons we were drawn to military service was the potential for living in a variety of places. International would be particularly interesting, but since we'd already both left our home states years earlier, we were game for living anywhere.

First Tour JAGs in the Navy are generally assigned to one of twelve duty stations around the world, with offices large enough to support six month rotations in the four main offices of Navy law for a total of two years. We were asked to put together a dream sheet, a list of those twelve stations in prioritized order of where we would like to live.

Some people research their options and take a lot of time considering it all. We did things a lot more quickly. Two of the locations were international, so those were immediately at the top of our list. If not now, when? I'd already lived and traveled abroad, and Blake had been to Mexico for 45 minutes once, so of course we wanted to see what the wide world held for us. Number one for us was Naples, Italy, at Blake's request. Number two was Japan.

The remaining ten were in the United States. We put locations in Washington and California closer to the top, since they'd be close to family. The four options in Florida and some other places I've since forgotten went in no particular order in the middle, and staying in DC became number eleven, above living north of Chicago because that just sounded way too cold.

This was around January 2016. We knew we wouldn't hear until summer, and we figured that no matter where we ended up, we would make it work. If we hated it, we would only be there for two years.

On the afternoon of May 10th, we were sitting on the couch watching Once I Was a Beehive (delightful, by the way). I had taken a couple days off work to enjoy having Blake home after five weeks away. Blake got a phone call, so we paused the film. It sounded like his detailer was asking questions about how ODS went, so I hopped online to kill time.

Soon, Blake started saying "okay" several times and then grabbed my phone and typed "japan" in the middle of whatever URL was on the page. I silently freaked out until he was off the phone. I had taken Japanese in high school and fallen a little bit in love with the language and culture, so it was technically the top of my list.

Apparently, his detailer, after asking about ODS, had started telling him, apologetically, why we would not be going to Italy this time. There were no billets available, etcetera and so forth, and Blake realized that they wouldn't have gone on so much about our second choice if we weren't going to our second! As soon as his suspicions were confirmed, he told me!

After happy dancing around our apartment for a few minutes, we called our families and shared the news - Yokosuka, Japan! It would be a few more days before we realized it's pronounced Yo-ko-ska, long O, short A, skip the U. I may have taken Japanese, but it's been a long time, and I'm rusty. Now I have excuses to brush up again!

We celebrated that night by attending the Navy Appreciation game of the Washington Nationals. We were already planning to go and it seemed extra fitting after that phone call.

The move ultimately wouldn't be for five more months, but the wait has been worth it so far!