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Drop And Go

 April 1, 2020 at 6:57 AM PDT

Speaker 1 (00:02): [inaudible] Andrew Bracken (00:02): being a kid with a parent in the military usually means getting used to moving a lot. So how many schools did you go to? Omni Hampton (00:11): I'm trying to count? Omni Hampton (00:12): It's a lot. Andrew Bracken (00:15): As the daughter of a U S Marine, Omni Hampton grew up seemingly everywhere and nowhere South Carolina, California, Oklahoma city, New Jersey, they were all considered home once or twice during her childhood. As you might expect, this ever changing lifestyle had a lasting impact on Omni. Omni Hampton (00:34): It was, it was very, it was a lone feelings, that loneliness feeling or like, why is this happening? Or why am I meeting, do I need new friends? And it's just irresistible. Those just those questions is always why. So it was really hard on me. Then as I got older, I started understanding that it's my dad's job to, you know, move from place to place and this is just the way of life. Andrew Bracken (00:59): Welcome to my first day telling stories of those who've come to San Diego from elsewhere and now call it home. My name is Andrew Bracken. We'll be back with Omni story right after this. Here's Omni Hampton with her story of Omni Hampton (01:22): my first day as I got older and I, you know, you, every little girl wants to diary. I don't know why, but maybe to write down our thoughts, something we can't tell our mom or friends I would actually end every entry of my diary with. I would never marry a military member of any branch or any service because I hated the fact of moving around. The moving around always got me. It wasn't more of them gone more anything. I think it was, it was always the moving around for me because then I have to meet new people and have to meet new friends or try to make new friends. So I've always wrote that in my diary and I actually called my mom and asked her, Hey, I still have my diaries in my room. And she looked at it and I said, does it say I would ever very military memory? She was like, yeah, but you did. I was like, I know. I can't believe I did that. Omni Hampton (02:20): I was shy when I was little. You know, people say that's unbelievable. When I tell people that they're like, you couldn't have been shy there. And I was like, I know as an adult I realized I needed to come out of my shell to learn and talk to people. That's how you meet new people. So, and how did that happen? So when I got married, my husband, the first thing he actually told me was, um, he moved me from South Carolina to Virginia and he actually said, you will never meet new people if you don't open your mouth and say hi. And so I literally just started saying hi to people and saying hi, how are you doing? And then it was started conversation and that's actually how I meet new people. And then me talking to those people randomly was, you know, cause some people won't even tell you hi, even if you, I say hi. Omni Hampton (03:05): So then I would just start at different conversations. Like, Hey, I like your shoes, or if I'm at the grocery store and there's something in somebody's basket that I like, I'd be like, Hey, where's the party at? Or, and it was just start a conversation. So that's how I got out of my shell a lot more. We, so we got married in 2003 we actually schedule our wedding for 2004 we moved it up to 2003 because we realized he wasn't going to even be here for that wedding date. So literally we went to the courthouse one morning and was like, let's just do it. And I'm like, I'm more religious than he is. I was like, yeah, I need a little bit of religious ceremony. So we paid an extra $10 for it. So we got married literally the day before he deployed. So we got married that day and the next day he deployed for six months. Andrew Bracken (04:08): And that's how Omnis married life started with her husband, Morris Hampton sr, whom she calls Mo shipping out to sea for months on end for his work with the Navy while Omni holds down the home front. Omni Hampton (04:20): I don't know why, but people always ask me for, what do you do? Like what do you do when your husband is gone? You know, I was like, stay busy. And you know, I said that's the common answer you always get from another military spouse to stay busy. It takes about two weeks to adapt a new habit and if he's going to be gone six months, you already got a whole new habit. Make goals for yourself, but don't stress your seller out while they're gone because the more stress they are out there, the less they can do their job they're supposed to do out there. So when we first got married, it was a, I got diagnosed with preeclampsia, so at five months they put me on bedrest five months until the rest of my pregnancy. I didn't tell him. So every time he called, even when he called, I could probably could have told him, told him, but he just went on deployment and I didn't want to stress him like everybody in her family knew, but him, Andrew Bracken (05:13): Omni had the baby without complications. A girl they later at a two boys to the family too is they move from port city to port city, usually spending three years in each duty station. Then it was onto the next the life. All too familiar to Omni during her childhood was now becoming reality for children. Omni Hampton (05:34): You know, it does get harder sometimes when he's like, Oh, I'm about to go out to see again, you know, this is going to be six months, you know, or this is going to be longer or it might not be that long. It still gets hard. It still hits me hard. So I used to go to the pier when we first got married. He used to go to the pier and watch the ship leave. Omni Hampton (05:59): as I had kids, I noticed that when I used to take them to the ship and watch the ship leave, it was harder to walk away and then we just sit in a car and cry Omni Hampton (06:16): so after a couple of years I just stopped going to the pier and watching the ship leave. Andrew Bracken (06:39): Omni and her husband Moe have a running joke of what happens when they change their home port. They call it drop and go because her husband always seems to have to ship out right after they arrive. Omni Hampton (06:51): We always say, every time we go to a new duty station, we move. Always say, are you dropping and go? Are you dropping and going? Are you just dropping you off and going? We got married, you left right away. And then you know, we went to Japan, we flew in, you left right away. So you come to San Diego, you dropped and go again Andrew Bracken (07:09): after moving to a base in Japan, Omni and her family now have a new assignment in San Diego and the trip back as far from smooth Omni Hampton (07:25): my first thought really on that plane was, I can't believe the military actually put me in my three kids and a dog on a separate plane from my husband. We were in the back of the plane at that and I was getting to the back of the plane and I was trying to put the kids in their seats and neurosis dude. And he stood up from his seat to help me with the kids and he said, are you military? And I said, yes. Oh, so, well not me. My husband is, he was like your military. And he was like, it looks like you had a rough day. Omni Hampton (08:00): And he was like, let me, let me just help you. He just knew he just zoned in and knew and so he helped me. So I think I was sleeping and I think one of the kids woke up and he took care of the child at the time and I was, and I woke up and I was like, well, Oh well, you know, I'm so sorry. He was like, Oh, it's no bother. You need some sleep, you look tired. That actually is what didn't build my anger up during that flight because that man was so nice and he just helped me and he didn't have to. But he helped me Andrew Bracken (08:33): when we come back, another drop and go for Omni after getting a boost from the kind stranger on the plane. Omni, her three kids and dog all arrived in San Diego from Japan, while her husband, Moe had been booked on a flight into Los Angeles causing additional complications to the trip. Omni Hampton (08:57): The time I got the kids and all eight of our bags and a dog. He actually was there, which is shocking. He was out front and then he was like, Oh, your car's here. Let's go get it now. I didn't understand why he was rush, rush, rushing everything because in my mind, Oh, you know our, we're a household goods come tomorrow. We just got to unpack everything. We're good and we just got to go grocery shopping. We're good. So we'd go get my car and we bring it back to the house and he literally tells me, Oh yeah, so they called me when I was on my way from lax to San Diego. It told me that I'm deploying tomorrow. The household goods come tomorrow. You just got here like I actually was saying this, you just got here, are you serious? And then I stopped myself and realized that he cannot do anything about it, so there's no use for me to fuss with him. Omni Hampton (09:52): I think he actually felt bad too because you could just see it on his face. He was like, I'm sorry I'm doing this to you. You just had a rough flight and now I'm just dropping and going, stay in your grew. That's actually what I have learned to do is just keep it moving. If he's here, he's here and it's not like I want to disclude him from the family, but it's more of if he's here, he's here. If he's not, we just gotta keep it moving. You know, we have a schedule, we have a routine. The routine always gets messed up when he comes back and that's because you know he's back. So you know, it messes up for a little bit and then he always be like, Oh, did I mess up the routine? And so most of the time I'm literally like giving him a list of the routine that we do. And that's just to get him back into the groove of things. So it doesn't mess up the groove of the kids. I am very proud of my kids because you know they, they do have those nights when they cry and they, cause they want, they just want daddy. But they were big troopers with adjusting and adapting to things. Andrew Bracken (10:56): Now in their 2nd deployment to San Diego, Omni and her family feel a special connection with the city she hasn’t found elsewhere. Omni Hampton (11:04): I feel like this is one of my happy duty stations because not just because of weather, but I think I met more people, a non military and military. Um, because the simple fact it might've been because I got out of my shell a lot more and I meet new people and then I started working out and then you meet new people there and then I, you know, when I used to work, you met people there. So it's like, to me this makes me happy right here. I feel like, you know, some people would think that military spouses don't do anything and it's like, it might seem that way from the outside looking in. But if you were in the inside looking out, you see how much mentally, physically that it's draining sometimes and it's, it's, it's hard. It's hard being far away from home. It's hard cause you don't get to say your last goodbyes to family members. Omni Hampton (11:58): You don't be there for special moments in your nieces or nephews lives. And so I always say it's, it's just hard cause you know, the credit is given to the service member, but not always the military spouse. And we deserve some credit. We learn how to, you know, survive and thrive without them. So I said we deserve a little credit. I don't have any regrets about it. I think when I was writing in my diary, I was just thinking it as, you know, in a child's mind of I don't want to marry military because I didn't want to move around. I do still do not like moving around a lot, but like I said, I will support him. So if it's me supporting my spouse, then I'll do what I gotta do to support him. I don't regret marrying into the military life and I don't regret him still being in the military. Omni Hampton (12:56): I actually think I will miss it when he says goodbye to the military now. I don't think I would miss it. I know I will miss it. You know, even though he works most of the places we be and he works a lot. It was a venture for me. It was a venture to meet new people even though sometimes I didn't want to meet new people but it was a venture to new meet new people. You know, I met some of my best friends during our ventures so far. I think this is the only time right now that uh, the house we live in, I feel like home is not that cause we bought, it's more because we've been here more than three years. So it's like, Hey, this is home. But then I don't know, we don't know where we're going to do in the next three years. Are we going to stay here or we're going to move Omni Hampton (13:40): again? It's all up in the air right now. Andrew Bracken (13:44): So where does home feel to you? Is it South Carolina or where your parents are? Omni Hampton (13:48): South Carolina feels like home but not my home. It feels like home because our family is there. But like home, the home feeling for me is more of all of us together. So with my husband and the kids together, not him calling all the time. To me, it feels like home. We were all together. August. Sit down and eat dinner together. We all go places together. That's what home feels like to me. Andrew Bracken (14:37): Thanks for listening. Our email is my first day you can find us on Instagram at my first day stories you find me at, My first Day is produced by me and with help from Melissa Diaz. Music by Jason Begin, Chris Curtis and Memory Palace. Thank you. Also to Huey Betz for help with this episode for KPPs. Emily Jankowalski's, technical director, Kinsey Morlan's podcast coordinator, Lisa Jane Morissette is operations manager and John Decker is director of programming. This program is made possible in part by the KPBS explore content fund. Thanks for listening. See you next time.

Omni Hampton grew up in a military family, traveling from place to place. She swore she’d never marry a military member. That was before she became a navy wife and mother.