We all knew it was coming – we cannot drive anywhere on base without seeing the trucks with the crates. You cannot attend anything – a school event, a social function, go to the post office/gym/commissary (military grocery store) without someone asking “When are you moving?”
Some in our household are dealing with this impending change better than others.
Mid-May to the end of August marks the height of the military PCS-Season (Permanent Change of Station). Military personnel and their families all over the world are packing out and moving on.
In a delusional effort to feel like I have some sort of control over this process a friend and I attended the Moving Workshop provided here on base. In general it was helpful, if nothing else to jumpstart me into my pre-move anxiety phase which runs in tandem with my pre-move insomnia phase. As the photo shows there are more than a few pieces to the moving puzzle – and moving, it is. In a world that has rules and regulations for just about everything a military move is very organic, requiring one to acquire the “que sera sera” mentality. If you’ve been following my posts at all you probably are already clued in … the “whatever will be will be” attitude is foreign to my genetic makeup. My Gumby is out, a reminder for me to be “ever flexible.” But after 12 moves, embarking on my 13th has left me stiff and it’s much harder to be as nimble as I was say on move no. 3 (from Alameda to San Diego) or no.4 (San Diego to Rhode Island). I have to warm up a lot longer.
When it comes to moving my recessive OCD trait comes storming back, dormant for the last three years it is well rested and ready to get to work. I obsessively organize and purge – much to my family’s dismay. Everything is on the chopping block. If it’s getting packed on this end then I’ll be unpacking it on the other and putting said item somewhere … it makes you evaluate and consider the worthiness of all your possessions. The process has already begun in our house. I am armed in full battle gear with a trash can, donation bag and a ruthless eye for what is deemed essential. I have lists and stickies everywhere – on kitchen cabinets, on door jambs going into rooms, medicine cabinets – all in an effort to make sure I do not forget some essential item.
Tums are my friend.
The packers and movers will be showing up at our military quarters in a few weeks – packing our HHG (House Hold Goods) into crates which will then be sealed, signed and shipped to the U.S. and my stomach turns at the thought. The distinct sound of packing tape ripping off it's roll to seal up our boxes used to signal change to me and I'll be honest, a bit of excitement of what new adventures would lie ahead. The mantra years ago was "change is good." Now when I hear it, it sets off a PTSD reaction as I go in search of the Tums. It will take eight weeks for our possessions to travel half way around the world. Eight weeks going from a home, to a crate, to a ship, to a truck and to home again. It takes a lot of coordination both on the part of the military and civilians who orchestrate moving military members each summer. It takes a lot of patience, coordination and faith for the families that prepare for a major upheaval as they move from one location to another.
Some moves are better than others – it is time to go, move on and everyone is looking forward to the adventure ahead. You have faith that there will be that yet-to-meet friend at the other end who will lend a hand, share a laugh, offer a hug, clue you in on the ins and outs of your new location. Other moves are not that easy. There is the sense of loss, saying goodbye to friends you may never live in close proximity to again. Living on a military base heightens the awareness of moving on – with most everyone living here on two or three year orders the turnover is high during the summer PCS Season. For the last two years I have been one of the “left-behinds” – friends have moved on to their next duty stations. This year it’s my turn. Over the next few weeks I will share my stories – which I hope are just that and not sagas – of moving a family of five half-way around the world. I hope you will be able to laugh with me, nod your head in the irony of the situation at times and undoubtedly at least on my end there will be a few tears shed and shared. This moving stuff is not easy no matter how many you have under your belt, but it’s something anyone in the military family is intimately familiar with.
So until next time I will organize a bit more, purge as much as I can until I trick myself into thinking I have control and will repeat my new mantra daily which is to ... “breathe – just breathe.”