Homecoming and Expectation Management

Greetings from Kentucky! I arrived back in the States on April 9th, but have been extremely busy since then and have not gotten around to writing. Now that I have reintegrated with my family, friends, and coworkers, visited the girls in Texas, and finally have a little free time, I wanted to catch everyone up on what I expected for my return to Fort Campbell and what actually happened.

Cold, wet, and windy at the Transfer of Authority (TOA) Ceremony in Romania

After touching down at Campbell Army Airfield around 0400 in the morning, the hope was that we were going to quickly receive our safety brief and three-day reintegration schedule, have a short “Welcome Home” ceremony, grab our bags, and then head back home with our families (because of school and distance, the girls were understandably unable to make it to Fort Campbell for my return). To our surprise, this is exactly what happened. In less than an hour, my boss and I’s bags were packed in a co-worker’s car and we were headed to my house on post. So far, the homecoming was exceeding all my expectations. Unfortunately, that all changed the moment that we walked in the door.

Expectation Management: Your homecoming is not going to be how you envision it

While the entryway looked good to me, my boss took an immediate right into the kitchen… and right into a puddle of water. Uh oh. The entire kitchen was covered in water, and while unfortunate, I was not too concerned just yet, getting out some towels to dry it up. Not exactly how I wanted to spend my first day back, but it seemed to be manageable. I said goodbye to my colleagues and started to change and unpack. Planned on getting some sleep, maybe throw on a movie later, and once the kitchen dried up, get back to baking by noon.

RIP Sectional, Dinner / Gaming Table, and Buffet

As tired as I was, I figured that I would take a quick stroll through the house to make sure the rest of it was okay before I passed out for a few hours. This is when I discovered just how big the problem had become. Since the water had been sitting in the kitchen for who knows how long (the maintenance team found out it was a busted dishwasher hose), it had created quite a humid environment in the house, the perfect conditions for the growth of mold and mildew. And did it grow. While the kitchen and dining room got the worst of it, the only rooms of the house that were not affected were the girls’ rooms and the garage. While almost all of my stuff could be cleaned and salvaged, there were some items that just could not be saved (or not without significant expense), including the dining room table, sectional, buffet, China cabinet, living room rug, rice cooker, Instant Pot, and waffle maker (that I have had since college *tear*). After discovering how far this had spread throughout the house, I begrudgingly called the housing office, where they politely told me that I should displace, putting me up in a hotel for a few nights. Not exactly how I wanted to spend my first night back, but assessed that after they cleaned the house, I would be back in it in about a week. After my reintegration period, as scheduled, I drove down to Texas to visit with the girls for a few days (which was amazing and will be covered in its own post). At this point, I was still staying fairly positive, especially after seeing the girls…

Once these are on the wall, you know we are home

… that is, until I got the call on my first day in Texas stating that we were going to have to move to a different house. Now I was getting a little down, which is not what you want during your reintegration period, especially when you are visiting your daughters. The housing office found me another home in the same housing area (right across the street actually), but could only give me ten days to move. While I was having a good time visiting my daughters, in the back of my mind, I was constantly thinking of how in the heck I was going to clean and move everything from one house to the other, as well as clean the old house, by the time my leave ended. Could not just have a simple homecoming, could I? Well, when I returned to Kentucky, and after making the executive decision to cancel my planned trip to the Gettysburg National Military Park (for time and financial reasons), that is exactly what I did. Hours after I arrived back at Fort Campbell from visiting the girls, I had signed for the new house, and was cleaning and moving our stuff from one to the other. My co-workers did offer to help me move, but due to my stubbornness, aside from taking the sectional to the dump and moving the new one in, I moved everything myself. And well ahead of schedule, I might add. This is grit at its finest; it was a problem that I had to fix, and by God, I was going to do it. After five days of moving, with blistered hands, sore arms and legs, and an aching back, our stuff was in our new house, with pictures on the wall and everything.

This definitely lived up to expectations

It was only then that I got to do the only three things I wanted to do the first day back: Order a pepperoni and black olive pizza from New York Pizza Depot, sit on my sectional, and watch Top Gun: Maverick. Not the grandest of plans, I know, but I went with something I was certain I could control. How wrong I was!

And after cleaning and sanitizing 100% of my cookware and bakeware, I am happily back in the kitchen!

As I was flying back from Romania, the plan was to post about my visit with the girls, casually mentioning that I arrived home and reintegration at Fort Campbell was as boring and uneventful as expected. But after going through all of this, I think it is important to bring it up and discuss it. Of those returning from Europe, I am sure I did not have the most difficult homecoming, but it is important take in the problem(s), evaluate them, and then slowly get to fixing them. In my case, it was the house and the move, but for others, it was family / marriage problems, financial issues, or others. Either way, it is vital to accept that these are problems that you are going to have to face and solve. While it was not easy on the mind or the body, my family and I are certainly better for having gone through this predicament.

Applesauce, Vente Kitty, and Eeyore waiting for the girls to come back home

Thanks for checking in on us.


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