But wait. Now what? Well, I speak Pashto so, let's see what they have for that. Well, looks like all of the jobs seem to be in Augusta, Georgia. That sounds like fun! But dang, Carolyn doesn't get out for a year. I know! I'll just come back every weekend! But dang, she's pregnant. What if I miss Charlie being born? Ugh. After much deliberation we decided that I'd try to find something in Jacksonville. I started off thinking, “This will be easy.” Yeah right. Even with the skills that I had acquired and the education I had, I found nothing worthwhile. I would basically be working to pay for daycare and before and after school care. No thanks.
|Andrew in dad mode|
As I began running, I realized that a crucial aspect that I was missing was camaraderie. That was something that the Corps had plenty of, want it or not. Sometimes camaraderie was chasing you, letting you know that if it caught you, you'd really regret it later. Other times, camaraderie was more welcome, helping you where you needed it, giving you the push that you were too proud to ask for. Now, being in the land of the free, camaraderie had deserted me, leaving me to do what I wanted (including running at a pace far below that of my former “unfree” self)
I began searching out running buddies I asked a few of my friends, former associates, and co-workers of my wife if they were interested in joining me for a run. But an interesting fact about Jacksonville is that the working population of the town already has PT scheduled for them. And for some reason, that seems to be enough. They aren't looking to get up at ridiculous hours or to extend their days any longer. And those very few that did want to do that were already part of a running group, typically made up of their fellow service members..
|Andrew and Charlie at the Run for Cole|
In early April, I heard about the Run for Cole from a friend. Seeing as it was on a day that Marines had off, I finally decided join up and to come out for an event. After all, Carolyn would be with me. I'd be safe. Carolyn and I had a great day. There were a lot of spouses, I felt comfortable, and she felt comfortable. It was important for her to actually see the club. I remember her noting things like how the group was bigger than she'd thought, how well setup it seemed, and how the climate was so positive.
|The whole family, Andrew, Carolyn,|
Teddy, Leo, and Charlie after a family
Those words were the kick-in-the-butt that I needed. I realized that I was the one that a point needed to be made to, not the group. How haughty could I have been! I was no longer trying to “prove a point.” Instead, I was the one in need! Only my pride, insecurity, and uneducated thinking had kept me from the club. I mean, come on, SW was exactly what I was looking for. They had an awesome, fully-functioning, fully-assembled running club and they were welcoming me with open arms. I decided to start coming.
Did this magically make it all better? No. I'll be honest, the first actual workout that I went to, I still felt out of place and a little awkward. But apparently I was the only one. That day I met a great deal of members, from SW leadership to the rank-and-file members. Although each person was unique, the one thing that all had in common is that they wanted me to feel welcome. This was only the beginning. I thought that I knew what SW was all about, but this was the beginning of my education. As I began attending workouts, I once again felt the camaraderie that I mentioned earlier. But more than just a running camaraderie, I realized this was a way-of-life camaraderie. Regardless of who you were, there was someone there who related to what you were dealing with and had the information that you needed and the willingness to share it. This was not a running club, this was a network of like-minded individuals who also happened to enjoy a good outing on Greenway Trail pushing the kids or waking up at 5:30 AM to go for a ten mile run. Well, “enjoy” might be the wrong word for the latter.
Looking back, I'm amazed at how much I've learned from this club. Yes, I may have been able to gain access to the club (against its
|Stephanie and Andrew at the Run for the Warriors|
will), but thankfully we never had to find out. The club was too mature for my immaturity. More importantly, I had completely missed the point. Earning “the right” to attend a particular clubs functions would not have earned me any favor, respect, or goodwill. Funny thing about those characteristics is that they are pretty much only gained when one first gives them. Well, heck, I wish I'd have learned this before age 30, but hey, at least you folks were there to do the teaching when I was ready. For the record, you were all pretty nice about it, too. Thank you all!
Andrew Morris is a former marine, military spouse, stay at home dad to Teddy, Leo, and Charlie, and Stroller Warrior. Starting June 11th, he'll also be a full time resident of Illinois and a student at the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign. He and his family will be greatly missed at SWCL but as he says..."Once a Stroller Warrior, Always a Stroller Warrior."