I ran into a friend at the Commissary today and I commented on how well stocked the shelves were. Usually we can expect them to be out of something important like potatoes or cranberries. Sure enough, there was no cream. A helpful employee heard me talking to another woman about the empty shelf and she went to check to see if there was any in the back. The other searcher and I had a minute to chat.
I told her it was no big deal if they didn't have it. I would just go off post. She confessed that in 10 months here she has only gone into downtown a couple of times and she hasn't explored any of the grocery stores close to post. She said it is too hard to get around with her big stroller. I gave her the names of several stores and said they contain some really nice things. I shop at my local grocery store several times a week.
What I wanted to say was that she needed to ditch that big old stroller and get out. Get off post! Sophia occasionally rode in a small stroller, just one step up from an umbrella stroller. It was compact and it folded easily with one hand. She rode in a jogging stroller but only if I was walking or running for exercise. She rode in a sling when she was a baby and when she could walk she walked. She climbed canyons in the Mojave desert when she was not even a year old. I hated those monstrosities that would carry the baby and half of the nursery and I refused to own one. I think I was in the minority.
What I'm really upset about though is that so many people here have been given this amazing opportunity to live in a beautiful country and they rarely even leave post. Many are struggling to raise a family on a small salary. Many have small children at home. Many are intimidated about the language barrier. Many just hate it here. But no wonder they hate it if they never leave the gates of post. I start to get claustrophobic just thinking about it.
I try to excuse some of them because they're young and pinching pennies. Then I remember that I first came to Europe to study when I was 19. We had lots of opportunity to travel with school, but Kenny and I explored on the weekends and then met up with friends along the way on a four week Christmas trip that went in a big circle from Spain to Turkey and back again. I credit him with being the adventurer but I was a willing participant. And, I didn't have much money. My memory tells me I had only $400 of spending money for the whole year but that is seemingly impossible. Maybe that didn't include my Eurorail pass. In any case, I had to be very careful about any money I spent. I was thankful that I was wearing two sets of clothes for warmth when we were robbed on our train in Rome on Christmas morning. I didn't have money to buy more clothes. We found a way to make it work.
I made a summary scrapbook of all of the important trips and events of our first ten years of marriage. When people were looking through it at the 12 hour crop the other week they were amazed that we have been so many places. It helps that we are now on our third assignment in Germany and money isn't as tight. But, we take advantage of our time here and try to see as much as we can.
And then there are the people that won't go to the grocery store to buy cream for Thanksgiving dinner. It's too bad the Army doesn't figure out a way to send people that really want to be here. I am so sad about all of the lost opportunities.
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