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Military Kids and the "Forever Home" Conundrum

I’m in the middle of a PCS right now. Some people reading this article might also be in the middle of a PCS - beginning one, unpacking after one... You get the idea. Sometimes I like to brag about how “worldly” I am; how many places I’ve been, how many people I’ve seen, spoken to, and learned from. That was often a hot topic when I changed schools, and still is a hot topic even now as a sophomore in college. I love the road trips, the foods I’ve eaten, the landmarks I’ve seen. Occasionally I’ll wonder if I would love traveling as much as I do if I wasn’t raised in a military family.

Going through a PCS also makes me miserable. Of course, I haven’t met a military brat who likes packing, or cleaning the house before moving out for good (those should be obvious, but I’m sure there are some people who don’t despise it as much as I do.) I’ve grown up in places where I go to school, and the kids I go to school with have known each other their whole lives. There are conversations I don’t fit into about extracurriculars that students have been a part of for years (at the high school i graduated from, that was a sore spot whenever my peers from Shakespeare Troupe or Model United Nations would start to reminisce. This isn’t to say I wanted to rain on others’ trip down Memory Lane, but no one can deny that being left out isn’t a pleasant feeling. I won’t get started about what it’s like to grow up as a black adolescent in predominantly white space, partly because I’ve already done it in another article. If you haven’t read it, just know that it affected a lot of my relationships, platonic and otherwise.

Think about how long it takes to grow a tree. Think about all the different variables it requires to grow a healthy, fruit bearing tree. Consider the soil, the sunlight, and the amount of water required. Consider how long it takes for a tree to sprout roots, and how tall it must grow before it is no longer at risk of being toppled by the slightest breeze. Is that tree going to flourish after having to uproot itself every couple of years (or worse, months) and having to plant itself again in an environment that it might not thrive in?

Tree metaphor aside, I’ll get to my point: despite my love of moving, I want a forever home. Well, not saying I can’t have one once I graduate and land a job, but I feel like I was deprived of something so many of my friends have. I wish I was able to paint my walls a different color, have luscious gardens in my backyard, and actually nail pictures to the wall without having to pay extra for damages and to fill them back in. Like I’ve said in this article (and say a lot in real life, for that matter) as much as I love the thrill and adventure of moving, I desire long-term stability.

I’m a college student, in the middle of my 10th PCS. (I had to ask my dad how many PCS's I’ve lived through. I stopped counting after 6 or so. He didn’t sound too sure, it might actually be more.) After my entire freshman year online, I’m completing yet another PCS, to another duty station I fear I won’t be fond of. Another period of putting posters up in my room, getting re-oriented, making new friends, co-workers, acquaintances, before I move out to actually live on a college campus in the spring. Like a mini-PCS.

Maybe I’m not looking for forever. Maybe I’m looking for a little longer than 2 or 3 years (or that horrible time where we only stayed in Hawai’i, one of the dreamiest places I’ve ever lived, for a shoddy 10 months before packing everything up to move to Pennsylvania. I hate snow, by the way). Maybe I am looking for forever? Sometimes opinions change, as people do (and should, for that matter.) But at the time of me writing this article, the bathroom having been freshly and painstakingly cleaned, I want a forever home. I don’t want to look at boxes knowing that their contents are possibly going to be damaged or missing the next time I see them. I don’t want friends to give up on our friendship because I’m too far away to spend time with them. And man, oh man, do I want to paint my walls (my father always says that I can! I just have to paint them back to their default color before we move. There’s no fun in that).

I’m not the only one with conflicting feelings on this. I’m sure there are plenty of other military kids who feel the same. If you’re one of them, reading this article, I see you!


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