Lonely At The Top

Command is a two-edged sword. It’s something you long for, that you spend your career preparing for. Then, when you get the prize, you find it to be perhaps not what you thought it would be.  The thing is, on the way up, and this applies to enlisted as well as officers, you develop these bonds with your shipmates that are simply amazing. You share experiences of joy and fear, highs and lows unfathomable to many others.

Yet, when you get that command, you have to set all that aside. It doesn’t mean that the old friendships don’t have meaning, that it was all for naught. But you cannot have any friends in your command when you may have to issue orders that will likely result in the deaths of some of them. A commander at any level, anyone who may have to order another into a risky or deadly situation must be able to set aside his feelings and deal with the mission tasked to him. It’s why those appointed to commands come from somewhere else.  It helps in the transition.

As an allegory, though not on quite the same level, is the difficulty of being a parent. When you are blessed with children, you are given a responsibility to safeguard and teach them, to give them the physical, mental and emotional tools needed to survive once they become adults. Sometimes the lessons can be tough for both the parent and the child. You can and do love them, you would give your own life to protect them, you want them have the best that you can provide and yet, like the commander of a military unit, you can never be their friend.

In the end, it is you the parent that will have to make the hard choices,  to have the final say in difficult decisions, because you are the parent. You are the one in charge.  Currently, I’m in that place. I want to do the right thing for both my daughter and myself, but one of us will not be a happy camper depending upon my decision. It will be my decision to make, but it’s one I’ve got a little while longer to decide on.

In short, I want to move away from here. I’ve come to the conclusion that the economy is NOT going to be getting batter anytime soon, and that with a fixed income, and prices going up, I will be forced to leave in order to remain solvent, to have any real financial choices left.

It’s too damned expensive here. I love Maine, but between the property taxes and the energy costs, I’m being priced out. Here’s the rub, though: My daughter is giving me some serious pushback. She starts High School in the fall, and wants to stay with her friends.  I understand that. This is the only home she’s ever known. She has a circle of friends and a comfort zone. I get it.

We could move out of the house and get a smaller apartment that includes most of the utilities. It would save us a bunch, but it would mean selling off much of what we own, paring down considerably. Oh, I could rent a storage unit, but then where’s the savings? Plus, you have folks living all around you with an apartment, and they may not share the same desires you have for peace and quiet, bedtimes, etc.

My own choice is to relocate south. Texas beckons, as does West Virginia. I had given very serious thought to Western Maryland, until I saw their draconian gun laws and onerous taxes. I can deal with heat a lot better than cold these days, so energy savings would be there. Plus, it would give us the chance to finally own our own home. Home prices and property taxes are outrageous here in Maine. I just can’t do it. I can get a VERY nice house, with some land, ready to move into, for less than half what a similar house would cost in Maine. Plus, most of the property taxes are half or a quarter what they are here.

But my daughter doesn’t want to move. Sigh.

I can make her happy, and move us to an apartment for the next four years while she goes to high school and remain miserable myself. Or, I can move us south, buy us a home that I could actually leave to my kids some day, develop some equity, and then have to deal with her frustrations as a developing teenager. She’s had enough of a rough go with her mom running off and leaving me the single parent. There’s a lot she’s had to do without.  I just don’t know.

As a parent, I’ve been making sacrifices for my family for over 25 years. It’s part of the job. I’ve been putting them first, last and always because I want them to have a wonderful childhood. They only get to be kids once. It needs to count for something.

And yet, I’d like to do this one thing for me. To live somewhere where I own the land. To spend the remainder of my life in my own home, in a place I’d like to live. If I don’t do this now, I probably will never own a home. In four years I’ll be 61.

So, yeah.  I guess this is just one of those posts where I rant and ramble on for a bit. Not asking for advice, per se. Just sitting on the front porch, thinking things through. Regardless, a choice has to be made by June. We’ll see where this goes.


11 Responses to “Lonely At The Top”

  1. 1 shipfitter
    March 25, 2012 at 15:04

    Move. She’s young and will adapt and having a home that you own is more important. Besides, you’re too damn old to keep living in that ice box up there and you’ll still be able to follow the Pats on TV 🙂 Seriously, move to a less socialist state. DON’T move to a state that’s a commonwealth…move to one like Texas or Florida. I know you like the idea of West Virginia but it’s damn near as bad as Maine…it’s a commonwealth just like Virginia. Remember: Florida has no state income tax and has many places like JAX that loves the military..and you can still watch P-3s flying around NAS JAX 🙂

  2. 2 Scott Cochran (Scotter Pie) AW1 Retired
    March 25, 2012 at 16:30

    First, let me say what a wonderful picture of you and your daughter. You have done such a wonderful mission of loving, raising, and caring for your daughter. Second, the thought of you leaving Maine gives me the same feeling I had when the P-3’s left NAS Brunswick for the last time……….It is just not right! Third, I understand that circumstances do change where we have to make tough decisions. Some of these decisions are forced and some of them we are allowed a little leeway in our decision. Which ever decision we make, we hope that the decision becomes the right and best of what was, is, and will be.

    Your decision is not an easy decision my brother. Your daughters age is at a very vunerable time. I have 2 daughters and 1 son and I can say my daughters between age 14-18 were the hardest time of my life. I about pulled my hair out. One would be wise to take into account how they act at their age now, how they were in younger years, and what are their dreams in the future. Even with this said, you will still be at at 50/50 on which way to go.

    Without going into all the details of who, what, when, where, why, and how, I personally would not buy a house or land unless I could pay it off within a year. Personally I would not move to Texas. I spent allot of time there in 95/96 and was not impressed and can only imagine how it is now. Plus, Texas has had that terrible drought and it is expected to remain like this for years to come. Some towns are having to have water brought in because they don’t have any water. Fire departments from other towns have to respond for their fires. West Virginia I am not too familiar with other that it has places with beautiful scenery. Many places are mining places which I don’t think would be a good place to live. I am sure there are some good places within the state.

    As for the least taxes, Tennessee is the best. No state or “personal” property tax. East Tennessee is the only part of Tennessee I would consider. I know, I was born and raised there and lived there after retirement for 16 years. I miss East Tennessee but my circumstances made it where I had to move out of state.

    Should things get really bad economically, Utah and Idaho are the two states that come up on most radar lists I’ve seen that are said to be the 2 best places to be living. Personally I believe things are going to get much worse. Wherever one is living, do what you can to prepare for harder times, then sit on the porch and fire up the grill as you watch the storm approaching.

    I highly recommend that you sit down with your daughter and put on paper the categories of Maine for 4 years or moving away with each having subcategories for each of your personal likes/dislikes and subcategories of what is and what ifs “from each of you”. Discuss each deeply with one another and put it down on paper. Now under each category/subcategory, rewrite each inputs in order of importance to each of you. Then eliminate the bottom half of the inputs and you will have the inputs that are the most important for consideration and talking further about. Even if you cannot come to a definite conclusion on what to do, the best part of this is that you have taken quality time together to “discuss” between each like adults. It will bring you even closer and it will make your daughter feel more grown up and more connected to the decision process. If you come to the decision to move, then after doing extensive research and coming up with 3-4 states for consideration, I would recommend that you do the same process with your daughter to determine which state to move too.

    Sorry I do not have much advice that might help you. If you need to just talk, you have my phone number and email…….call/write anytime. I will pray for you and your daughter.

  3. 3 Lynnis
    March 25, 2012 at 16:56

    I feel for ya. Tis never a easy decision to pull up roots and move. I remember the flak my kids gave me when we moved from one county to another. They were in the sixth grade. I still hear how I ruined their lives… dang brats!
    A thought to ponder perhaps…has she one or two really close friends whose parents would be willing to “foster” your daughter during the school year if you do indeed move to a different state?

    I’ve often considered moving to a new state, but somehow Kentucky always wins out in the end. Love to travel, but gosh darn, there really isn’t any place like home.

    Good luck though!

  4. 4 The Usual Suspect
    March 26, 2012 at 18:38

    We moved back to the PNW from SoCal when our son was in 5th grade. He made new friends quickly. I would think, that as a freshman, your daughter could make new friends. Moving is tough on kids, but opens new doors. I really like West Virginia out around Matoaka, Bluefield, Lashmeet. My grandfather was raised there and the area is beautiful, land is cheap, but work is sparse. I don’t envy you this decision.

  5. 5 harp1034
    March 27, 2012 at 19:11

    Come on down to Texas. The drought is over in North Texas. The small town that ran out of water is having as pipeline built. It should be up and running before summer.
    Your daughter will make new friends quickly if you decide to move.

  6. March 28, 2012 at 00:23

    Look at Tennessee. No income tax and land is relatively inexpensive and tends to be cooler than Texas.

    I would recommend North Carolina as it’s a military friendly state that doesn’t tax military retirement, but the real estate costs in the mountains is ridiculous and unaffordable. I know, I live here now.

    On balance, levels of taxation, towns near two military installations that are military friendly (Tullahoma near Arnold AFB, and Clarksville near Ft. Campbell), and climate would clinch Tennessee for me if I were a military retiree. West Virginia and Virginia would two of the worst choices. Real estate is cheap in WV, but there’s a reason for that, and it isn’t good. I liked visiting WV, but would never live there. I lived over teh river from WV when I was in Marietta, OH, and it was a political cesspool of the sort that Made Maine what it has become. You would actually be better off in PA than WV. You can get everything you find in WV in East Tennessee in a much better economic climate and better schools to boot. Plus college is fairly inexpensive in Tennessee as well.

    Don’t hesitate to drop me an email if you’d like to discuss it.

  7. 7 OldCOB
    March 28, 2012 at 14:39

    I’d be happy to welcome you and your daughter to Texas. Plenty to do (work and recreation) and no state income tax. Schools vary by locale, but plenty of folks who can provide “been there, done that” info on the good ones and the ones to avoid. Feel free to send an email if you have questions.

  8. 8 John Blackshoe
    April 1, 2012 at 04:08

    Tim- Not much sage advice, but sincere best wishes. Our son moved with us multiple times, incluidng just prior to senior year, and he turned out fine. In the long run, he thought that moving and being in new situations gave him a big advantage in job hunting over people who had been stuck in one place and no experience adapting to new situations.

    While change can be a real pain, it can also have real benefits, especially for youg adults who have only seen a very narrow slice of the world and its good and bad.

    If college is a consideration, remember, most states have a residency requirement for a year or two before people are eligible for “in state” tuition rates which can be $$$$$$ cheaper.

    Although young people’s plans for life and careers are often unformed ( or severely malleable), if your daughter yearns for experience beyond working for Bath building good ships, or working a the Kittery Outlets serving folks “from away” then that may be a factor in exploring new locations, for the climate, culture, careers, etc.

    Of the places mentioned, I like Texas, but have not lived there. NC around Clarksville is nice (have visited). Utah is nice, but you gotta like snow. FL (at least Jax to Gainseville) is pretty good. West FL (Ft. Walton to Pensacola is nice, but more South Alabama). Florida’s no income tax is a consideration.

    Although it may not be obvious to a teenager, most parents, and you in particular have a solid and rational basis for decision making, and while not popular, in the long run they will eventually realize the favors which parents have done, and the sacrifces made for their benefit.

    Together, you will make the right choice. But, if it is a tie vote, yours wins.

    Good luck.

    • April 1, 2012 at 15:39

      Thanks, John. I’ve informed her that all of her concerns and ideas will be taken into consideration, but that in the end, the decision remains mine to make.

      I have to tell you that I am still amazed that my parents maintained a stable home and family with 6 children. I have three, and that was like herding cats.

  9. April 9, 2012 at 23:55

    You and your family are in my prayers each day Tim so I’ll add to the prayers that you and your little girl come to the correct decision. What ever you decide, you are both fortunate to have one another. The bond between father & daughter can be a strong one; I know because my dad raised me and even though we too were faced with challanging circumstances at times, we always stood by one another and were able to work things out equitably. I know that you and your daughter will be able to as well.

    • April 10, 2012 at 18:48

      You are too kind, Mary. Thank you for your words and prayers. It’s taking awhile to figure things out, but regardless of the decision, we’ve got each other, and that’s a good thing.

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