I posted recently that I had begun rehearsing again with a band that I was involved in yeeeeears ago - I'm talking high school here - and now that the event that we were rehearsing for is over, I can talk about it. Great friends of mine from school decided to get our swing band back together for the retirement of our Swing Band conductor and the school's counsellor. For the most part due to my Naval service, I hadn't seen the fellow band members for around 10 years. The last time we got together was for a wedding in 2005.
I have to say, that being part of this team of people again brought me such great joy, a joy that cannot be explained rationally. I don't know whether it was the music itself, the people involved or a combination of both, but my gosh, it brought back such happy memories for me. Memories of a time when life was simple, when all we had to do was to go to school, do homework, maybe a part-time job, and sleep! What I would give for the simple life some days!
I've been searching for a hobby for so long and nothing ever felt right. People would make suggestions, try a sport, join a gym etc.. blergh! No thanks. I mean I like some sports, but this little black duck much prefers TV watching (don't tell the kids....). Being part of this group again though made me feel right at home, from the in-jokes amongst the band members to the mutually stuffed up notes amongst friends who hadn't played seriously for over 15 years. Despite the stuff ups (and there were many!) I was super impressed that after only 3 or 4 rehearsals, we smashed out the music just like we did in the 90's (man, that makes me sound old!!).
Why am I writing about this? I'm not really sure. Perhaps it is the realisation of the start of my transition to civilian life. Finding new/old things to be a part of again and finding the new me. Transferring to the Reserves has not been anywhere on my radar at all, but after much soul searching, tears and hours of discussions with anyone who would listen, I came to the realisation that it was the right thing to do. Saying goodbye to the identity I have held for 13 years though is really really difficult. I am extremely proud of the service I have given to this country, eternally grateful for the friendships I have made, thankful for the experiences that I have had, amazed at the places I have been and joyful that through my service, I found my husband and have since had two amazing children.
Serving in the ADF has given me so much more than I could ever ask for and it has been an absolute pleasure and an honour. It has most certainly been my second family for the whole of my adult life and I will definitely miss being able to give my occupation as 'Navy Officer'. What replaces that title? Dedicated Mum, Super Wife (or I'd like to think so), Daughter, Auntie, Sister, Hard Working Small Business Operations Manager, Company Admin Officer and the list goes on. Those parts of my identity are amazingly important but not going to work and putting on the uniform that I've worn with pride for so many years is going to be so difficult. It is absolutely my choice to leave, but it doesn't make me any more sad. In fact, I am devastated, but I know I am doing it for the right reasons.
So hopefully, being part of the band again will help me transition from the family I have known for 13 years to one that I knew many years before. Luckily for me, I also have an extremely supportive immediate and extended family to get me through this transition and I don't know what I would do without their guidance and support. Leaving the Navy will force me to say goodbye to many amazing things, but will also open up many opportunities for me, like being able to choose which colour nail polish I can wear because I don't have to conform to uniform standards!
On that feeble attempt at a bright note, I'll say farewell. To my dear Navy, it is not over yet, but thanks for the memories. You'll be in my heart forever xxx