Well, we’re just over one week into our American Adventure: how time flies! In some ways it feels like we’re still really new here and on the other hand, it seems as though we’ve been gone from Australia forever. One of the big bonuses of military experience is that you reach a point where change happens and you keep on rolling; it becomes normalised to an extent. Don’t get me wrong, this transition has certainly disrupted us – it would be a bit worrying if we moved halfway around the world and weren’t affected at all – but we’re settling in pretty well and gradually figuring out our routine and how we’re going to approach the next few years.
Of course, the beginning is always going to be the crazy part. We’ve been running around trying to get things sorted; making trips to Walmart and realising when we get home that we’ve forgotten something; organising paperwork – for American ID cards, for our housing, for exchanging the furniture in the house, for registering at the hospital on Fort Sill – in a seemingly-endless stream of administration and also kind of getting lost all over the place. Seriously. We’ve now been lost on-base, lost in Lawton trying to find the local Crossfit gym, lost when trying to head into Oklahoma City (or OKC as the locals call it and so now must we), and lost in OKC itself (lost or adventuring, whatever you want to call it). [Disclaimer here: we were sans mobile phones with data during this time and that meant we just had to guess sometimes, or consult the unreliable and uncertain depths of the hire car GPS. So we were a bit hamstrung!]
To be fair, most of these places are huge. Fort Sill is massive. I mean it people, it is humungous. James and I have theorised that we could probably fit most of the Australian military bases inside it and maybe still have some wiggle room. And Fort Sill is small for an American base. It doesn’t help that there is a certain… uniformity to be seen. We were heading to the pool the other morning and looking at the on-base buildings, it’s like someone has taken a cookie-cutter and stamped it a few thousand times. All of the houses, all of the offices: they all look the same. That can make it a bit disconcerting to get around sometimes. Lawton is actually quite big too; whenever we go for a drive, I find myself surprised by how long we can be on the I-44 for and still see turnoffs for Lawton. I assume my shock is because most major Australian cities are along the coast and tend to be quite concentrated in smaller spaces and Lawton just seems to go on forever.
But we’re gradually adjusting, and if this adventure of ours is about experiences, we’re getting them in spades already.
Our first night here, there were no pillows on the bed. Sometimes I sleep without a pillow, but it’s normally a spur-of-the-moment decision at 10pm, not a situation where I have no choice in the matter. It made for a restless night: I woke up at one in the morning and I was hungry. Really really hungry. But not only did it not really occur to me to go downstairs and grab a snack, but we didn’t really have any midnight snack options.
I was awake for about an hour.
Just being hungry.
I’m not sure if this is at all related to not having a pillow, but those of you who know me will know that I don’t deal with hunger very well. Like at all. I mean, we went shopping the other day and I think I probably told James I was hungry about 10 times in the space of an hour. Maybe more. I get hangry pretty quickly, I’m ashamed to say. There’s also a possibility that my constant hunger updates were less than polite, and occasionally whingy.
But back to the pillows. We went to Walmart the following day to sort it all out… It’s subsequently turned out that what we bought that day are the hardest pillows known to man. To add salt to the wound, our current bed is super super soft (which sucks for someone with a back injury). The hard, incompressible pillows crank your neck until your chin is almost resting on your chest; yet a week later, we’re still yet to resolve said pillow dilemma, despite the fact that we’ve made at least one more trip back to Walmart since then for more random bits and pieces. That being said, Walmart: it’s astonishing how much stuff they have in there. Australia really doesn’t haven’t anything like it… I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. It would be really easy to get lost. Or buy a kilo of gummy bears.
A dangerous, dangerous place.
I think about gummy bears a lot. That’ll be the only good thing about James travelling for work if that’s required while we’re over here: I will definitely be getting some tasty studying snacks that he need know nothing about.
We’ve also made the time to get down to the local crossfit gym in Lawton – Black Dog Crossfit – to check it out and do some training. They’re really friendly, the gym has stacks of floor space and (of course) some have commented on their love of Australian accents. I’m so weak and unfit at the moment: you’d think tomfoolery and a lot of laughter would help keep you fit, but it doesn’t. Le sigh. So I just hang out in a corner and do some rehab workouts for my back, watching everyone else with envious eyes. Also sweating a lot – Oklahoma is a hot and humid place to go from an Adelaide winter. I feel slightly better because after training a lot of other people also look like they’ve just jumped into a pool.
Speaking of… There are something like four pools on Fort Sill. FOUR. For a country that is, by their own admission, not so good at swimming, there seem to be pools everywhere. Bizarre. I guess maybe it’s not so bizarre, because a lot of people don’t appear to actually swim when they go to these pools. They just take up space and since the indoor pool only has two lanes designated for actual lap swimmers, that can be quite annoying. The same indoor pool has pretty dirty water, but I’m viewing it as an opportunity to really test my immune system by exposing myself to some repulsive germs and human fluids (I’d like to point out that I am currently in excellent health). Extra bonus because when I get home again, the pools there will look crystal clear and incredible. Winner winner, right?
Tune back in tomorrow for the tales of our harrowing search for a car!