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See You Next Year

This summer is an unusual one for me. For the first time in four years, I am not moving over the midyear months. Moving is an uprooting. It can be uncomfortable, and no matter what, it is a huge change in someone’s life. Although, I’m discovering that not moving can be almost as jarring.

I’ve gotten used to packing up and leaving the state at the end of the school year. Starting when I was four, I have never stayed in one home longer than two years. Most recently I’ve only been staying in place for one year (or even just ten months).

After seventh and eighth grade in one home, my family left for another. I enjoyed an arts school, a detailed and historic downtown, and some of the best friends I will ever meet. At the close of spring, my family stuffed all our things in a POD shipping container and began a months-long period of travel and family visits. We finally arrived in a place with another good school, a plethora of great teachers, and one more lifelong friend. Like clockwork, that year ended, and I packed up. Now I’m in another state, have gone to a good school, made great friends, and I have nothing to do.

That's not true, of course, although it feels like fact. I still get to do some traveling this summer. I have people to hang out with and projects to complete. The one thing I don’t have to do is move. My innate reaction to this is not something I expected, especially considering that every PCS has brought sadness. Every time I leave somewhere, part of me rebels against the certainty that I will get used to and even enjoy whatever comes next. But leaving friends and happy places is something I always dread repeating.

So why do I feel so wrong about staying in place one more year?

Don’t get me wrong - I’m grateful to be staying. I’ve made some important relationships that I want to continue, and there are other bright spots as well. Just last year, I cried over leaving one of my best friends and wished I could spend even a month more in my sweet neighborhood. I don’t want to take the extra year I have for granted.

Despite all that, the travel and excitement of moving have become a staple of my summers. I’ve gotten used to moving as a way of seeing family and old friends at the stops along our journey. Living in different spots around the country can mean that I don’t get to see loved ones for months or years. Even knowing that I will get to visit some of these people in the next season, part of me is disappointed that I don’t get the opportunity to move closer. The anticipation of finding out where the next PCS will send us is bypassing my family this year, and I miss it.

Even the uncertainty of moving has its bright spots. My family has gone on weeks-long road trips, taking breaks to explore national parks and tourist attractions, hidden gems, and staggering landmarks. We will still go on adventures this summer, but our trips will not be as unpredictable as they have been in the past. I will miss the hours of watching the country flash through my car window and the excitement of wondering what the next stop will bring.

Summers as a military kid can be anywhere from whirlwinds of stress and confusion to bouts of thrills and adventure. My experiences of moving are a core part of my identity, and the way I view my life will always be affected by them. Whatever emotions I feel during each hallmark year, I know that they are valid and exemplative of my wonderful, tumultuous life.


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