This is the time of year when moving vans are a fixture on-post, both coming and going.
Seeing these large, cumbersome trucks parked all over Fort Hood fills me with dread and a strange sort of excitement.
Allow me to explain: Moving is an inevitable part of military life and an often tedious, exhausting and stressful process. However, moving also can be a good thing, depending on where one is going, how long one has been in the current location, and whether one is in the “mood” for all that moving entails.
It’s funny — many military spouses complain about moving but after getting used to a lifestyle that requires a change of duty station every two to three years (although I know a family leaving after only 10 months), these same spouses get “itchy” when two years pass and they’re not going anywhere.
I’m kind of in this category. My husband changes command at the end of July and he will deploy in early August. This would mark the time that we would typically pack up and go elsewhere, but the deployment means one more year at Fort Hood.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, staying here is a huge relief. The boys are settled and seemingly happy in their schools, I feel established in the community and the thought of uprooting right now seems daunting.
On the other hand, moving is the best way I know of forcing yourself to actually deal with clutter and all the excess stuff that accumulates in a household over a couple of years.
For example, the boys’ rooms are filled with far too many unplayed-with toys, papers from school (some from previous years even) and myriad tiny pieces of broken Legos, intact Legos and yes, still more Legos.
There are also clothes piled in their closets that either used to fit or don’t fit quite yet and more Nerf guns than I’d care to count.
In short, they have seriously messy rooms. Even when they appear “neat,” I know it’s an illusion. Each day I pass by these rooms, I think: “This will be the day I take action and go through all this stuff.” Then the phone rings, I remember laundry in the washer or I conveniently realize I need a cup of coffee and the moment slides by.
However, if we were moving, the sense of urgency with which I’d approach this task would be greatly increased. Would I break the task into small, manageable chunks and do a little each day, as the “experts” so reasonably advise?
Probably not. Instead, I would wait until we’re a month out (OK, two weeks) and then attack the clutter in a frenzy, cursing my procrastinating ways the entire time.
The other thing I like about moving is the sense of adventure it stirs in me. Who knows what the next duty station will be like? There’s the prospect of a new and different house, a brand-new city to explore along with all the opportunities and novelty that entails. Not to mention terrain — maybe there will be mountains or the ocean nearby. And the ultimate thrill — perhaps we’ll be near family again!
Playing devil’s advocate, however, one has to be realistic. As a family of four with two boys who are swiftly growing up (one who will be a teenager in October), they are not as easy to uproot as they once were. Now there are schools to consider and friends and activities. It can get to be terribly complicated if you let it.
As a child, my family moved often, though we were not military. I remember plenty of tears at leaving friends and favorite bedrooms behind but always came out on the other side surprised at how adaptable I could be.
Once all the furniture is packed up and gone and all that’s left is waiting to leave, I always feel a sense of freedom and lightness. Maybe living simply and with minimal material goods is the reason why. It’s akin to camping out in your own place. But then, I also love seeing our stuff again on the other end and rearranging it to fit the new house. (What I don’t like is having to root through endless, mislabeled boxes to find the legs of the sofa or the TV remote).
It’s a hard thing to explain to people who haven’t moved much in their lives but I suppose the best way to sum up the moving experience is that it’s a “love-hate” relationship.
This summer, we are staying put, but I am pleased to see new neighbors filling up the houses around ours and am looking forward to meeting them.
Safe travels to all this summer!