Breaking up is hard to do, except when one is following their dreams.
My husband is currently on another deployment, this time Africa. Thankfully, this is a short one - only six months. Meanwhile, I am living in our current duty station of Wiesbaden, Germany, trying to learn the language, building a network of friends, and just barely staying sane.
Yep, he’s ARMY (Hooah) and has been for about 8 years. I joined the party about 5 years ago when he swept me off my feet in a fairytale-style romance. At the time, I was enjoying a long career with a local company in San Antonio. The pay was awesome (the company Mercedes a nice perk) and the downtown apartment was every city girl's dream. I felt like Carrie in Sex & the City (minus the active sex life).
When we got married, I had to reinvent myself. As you may know, it is hard for a military spouse to keep a career. Mention to a potential employer that you’ll be moving to another duty station in a couple of years and they place your impressive resume in the “Not a Chance” pile. No hard feelings…I was a business manager too. I get it.
Did I mention my husband is a total geek? Dungeons and Dragons, first-person shooter games, Magic: The Gathering, and airsoft are just a few of the immersive hobbies that became my world when we got hitched. Fortunately, my own previous hobbies were minimal due to working long hours, so I welcomed the change…and love every minute of it! Who knew role-playing games could be so much fun?
A few years ago, we decided to host a weekly D&D campaign in our home (Ft. Hood at the time.) Working long hours himself, Paraic decided to pass along his miniature terrain building skills to me. He taught me how to create stone blocks using silicone molds and plaster, how to build them into miniature replica of castles, taverns, & ruins, how to paint them and even add flocking and weathering touches. The pieces we created together became the setting for our miniature D&D town of Two Creek Crossing.
Our players loved the terrain so much, Paraic suggested I try selling the pieces online. A year later, I was operating successful Ebay and ETSY online markets, devoted solely to miniature fantasy terrain. Every time my ETSY phone app would signal a sale by making a little cash-register chime, I’d get goosebumps. The satisfaction I experience from creative expression is unlike anything I ever felt holding down an executive position in an office setting. The feedback from my customers motivated me to look for inspiration, create new pieces and continue to expand my business.
It was just about that time that we received orders to Germany. The idea of living is Europe is much cooler than actually living here. While we are grateful to have the opportunity to travel and experience the German culture, we find it difficult to get our game on here. ARMY housing is…well, let’s just say that I had a larger apartment than this when I was a 19 year old cashier at Burger Time.
Not only does the lack of space and the prohibitive business laws prevent me from operating a home-based business, the cramped quarters make it difficult to host games here. We made several efforts to get involved in games at local hobby stores, but the language barrier is a real issue. If you can’t talk trash to your opponent, games become seriously competitive and stressful. So, Magic is out. D&D is out. Airsoft is illegal here and so we have thrown ourselves in to our newest hobby - Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures games. Excellent game, but even dogfighting becomes boring after a while (whining ends soon, I promise).
Paraic’s answer to this is to design an X-Wing campaign, allowing the game play to last for weeks, even months. He is in Africa now, researching other campaign style games and incorporating some of their rules and ideas into our G.E.E.K campaign – Galactic Epic Escalating Konflict.
Back to the breaking up part…
Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending. Paraic and I Skype every night from Germany to Africa. We talk about the GEEK campaign and about life in Germany for me and the pups (we opted out of parenting humans). Our conversations inevitably go philosophical and the more we talk, the more we realize that we are not happy. While the ARMY has been good to us, it is keeping us apart too often and holding us back creatively. So one night, we entertained the idea of separating from the military. I suggested we use all of our passion, creativity, gaming knowledge, business management experience, and Veteran resources to open our own hobby shop. It was something we had talked about before in a “wouldn’t it be cool if” sort of way, but that day, it was a viable option on the table. “Let’s do it”, he said.
So, we are breaking up with you ARMY. It was a successful relationship in that we were good for each other and we can part friends, but life is short and we’d like to return to our own planet now.