Something needed to change when I found myself eating an omelette… in my Jeep… on my way to work…

With my hands.

I thought I had my shit together. I was a fully fledged Marine officer and Cobra gunship pilot, deployed and recently back again, and used to the daily grind. I had even made time to cook breakfast. (Just not to eat it.) This moment in time – fork in my right hand, plate brimming with omelettey goodness balanced on my lap, left hand steering my bouncy blue 2000 Wrangler – sticks in my mind as one of those memories that makes you think. You think about your life up until this time. You think about your life after. What changed? I guess it was obvious when I gave up my utensil and stuffed my face with my cheesy-eggy breakfast, looking ridiculous on my morning commute along Highway 70 East.

I vowed I would never eat breakfast in my Jeep again – no donuts, no coffee, and certainly not an omelette – but I knew this was just a symptom of something larger. I clearly needed to give myself more time in the morning. If I wanted a healthy start – and years of eating the “pilot’s diet” of crap washed down with caffeinated sugar water certainly wasn’t healthy – I would need to change my habits. Go to bed earlier. Get up sooner. Block out time for a sit-down morning meal on my lovely dining room table I used mostly for folding laundry. Be an actual adult.

I made these changes, all of them. But I understood that something else was amiss. It wasn’t just that I needed more time in the mornings; it was that I needed more time in my life. I wasn’t especially enthralled with my current billet – it was a job, but it wasn’t a career – and I had been dreaming of graduate school. I had begun to normalize so many aspects of the Marine Corps that I forgot what was acceptable outside of my little bubble. I forgot that most people don’t wake up at 0630 and work ten-hour days. I forgot that the copious use of the word “fuck” was frowned upon during everyday conversation. I forgot how to dress myself outside of a uniform, especially as a thirty-year-old professional. And I certainly forgot what it was like to plan more than a week out, buying airline tickets home with confidence that your boss wouldn’t deny your leave request or recall you back for 24-hour squadron duty at the last minute.

I can’t say my omelette moment changed my life – at most, it prevented me from showing up on base with salsa and avocado smeared down my front – but it did force me to ponder what I wanted out of life. Where my priorities lay. What my passions were. It became clear to me I needed to switch directions, to take a new tack, to say goodbye to the familiar. Perhaps my omelette moment is why I’m sitting in England right now, married to a British man, pursuing the writer’s life. I suppose everyone has an omelette moment.

What’s yours?

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