Is it possible to miss a friend when you’re sitting right next to her? Or feel homesick even as you sit in the house you ache for? Some people may not understand, but as a military kid who knows she’ll be moving before the year is out, I do.
I’ve experienced this before, often months before we’ve even packed a single box. It’s hard to shut out the thoughts of an impending move. The past few months, I’ve walked to the library near my house and felt a twinge when I remembered I won’t be able to go back there next year. I’ve talked and laughed with one of my best friends, wondering in the back of my mind if we will stay in touch. Even bright days after months of wintry clouds are reminders of time ticking away. I thought I would welcome springtime more enthusiastically, but instead, I find myself moping and pining for more time.
I’ve had these feelings of "pre-missing" in South Carolina, Colorado, Virginia, and more. My last move was the hardest I’ve had in a while. I left a school I loved, friends I adored, and a house and neighborhood that felt like home. A lot of military kids can relate to that. But this move has been the hardest I can remember, maybe because I’m old enough to craft more meaningful friendships and to truly understand the pain of losing contact with someone I used to speak with every day.
Feeling this way about my current home would definitely be a surprise to me last year. Of course, as a military kid for sixteen years, I predicted that I would get used to life at my next destination. Grudgingly, I assumed I’d even enjoy it, but never had it seriously crossed my mind that I would be dreading another move months in advance.
To be clear, I was not excited about the move here. The geographic location wasn’t exactly thrilling to me, especially considering we had all but gotten official orders overseas when the military (aptly) pulled an about-face and sent us to where I now live. I remember vividly what happened after I heard the news. I walked to my room with every step seeming huge and slow. I sat on my bed and stared at the wall. It didn’t seem real. I was leaving my friends and school for this?
We would only be at the new place for a year, just like before. I convinced myself I could coast through the school year, make a few friends, and overall not get too attached. Then I could finish the rest of my high school career in one place. I set my sights on junior year- that was when I could put down roots again. A year wasn’t that long anyway; the last one had flown by.
Then I came here. Though I was hesitant to, I found a few silver linings. Like the neighborhood library, some great classes, and some really great friends. Okay, I thought, I can get slightly attached. As long as I’m not too glued when it’s time to unstick.
Summer melted away and fall skittered past like the leaves that carpeted our yard. Winter, without the abundance of snow we got, would have been completely miserable if not for some other bright spots. I made some acquaintances that blossomed into friends. I joined the school’s quiz team and loved the competition and work that went into it. The more time that passed, the less I wanted to leave.
Now it’s about three months until our next move, and twice that since we arrived. Most of my peers have known one another all their lives while I am a new addition (the story of many military kids’ lives). Somehow, I managed to eke out a space for myself in a school and neighborhood I’ve come to love. It was mostly unintentional, but at some point, I gave up trying to make a minimal footprint. If this place was joining my list of homes, well, shouldn’t it feel like my home?
So even though the pre-missing hurts, I allow myself to feel it in its entirety. Then I let it go for another day. Sadness comes with the territory, but as someone who moves often, I know making the most of your joy is key.