Amy recently did a post on how she doesn’t want Kevin to join the JAG so they won’t have to move. I respect that – moving can be a giant pain in the keester.
That said, I did leave a comment about how moving with the Air Force is different from regular moving. That got me started thinking about moving, so I thought I would post about it.
At this point in my life, 27.5 years in, I have moved 18 times. More if you count moving from a dorm to home and from home to a dorm as two moves (I just count it as one two-part move) or from dorm to home to apartment as two moves (again, that’s a two-parter). I have had 19 addresses. All that to say, I consider myself a bit of an expert on moving.
Growing up, my dad was in the Air Force, so we moved a lot. I’ve known people from the Air Force who didn’t move much, staying in one place for five years or more and so forth. We moved pretty frequently – about two years per place on average, I’d say. The shortest tenure, about 8 months, was in Prattville (town motto: “This town weren’t NOTHIN’ ’till we got us a WAW-mart!”), Alabama while my dad was at War College in Montgomery.
People are always asking me, “Was it hard to move around so much growing up?” I never know what to do with that question. I feel like retorting, “Was it hard to live in the same house and never get a chance to start over or see new places growing up?” Of course not. Growing up you never suspect that you’re anything but “normal.” It’s not until later that you realize some people are still friends with people they knew in kindergarten. That, to me, is very weird. I wonder what happened to my kindergarten best friend Kate Betton. We used to catch butterflies and eat grilled cheese sandwiches and pretend to be Cyndi Lauper. I wonder if we have anything in common now?
There were lots of positive aspects to moving around. I learned that there are good things and bad things about any place, and so moving is not scary to me. I had some amazing experiences as a kid – I have lived in literally every region of the United States, plus Korea and Germany. You really can’t beat living overseas on the Government’s dime. That was really tremendous, and I would not trade those experiences. Traveling for short times is not the same as actually living in a different culture (but with American hospitals and a Commissary nearby).
Moving itself was also better with the Air Force. Since I wasn’t an adult at the time, I don’t know if it was stressful to deal with selling a house and buying a new one, but the packing and moving part was definitely superior. The military sent movers who put our stuff in boxes, packed it all, loaded the truck, drove the truck, unloaded the truck, etc. If something broke, we got paid for it. And if they accidentally unloaded some other family’s toys, we got to keep those too. For example, when we moved to Illinois from New Hampshire, they unloaded a Fisher Price shopping cart toy that was not mine, but I got to keep it and that was rad.
By contrast, moving myself has been a heinous ordeal every time. I have moved myself 5 times now and it always stinks. First, I have to find boxes. What a chore! No one saves boxes. They attract roaches and take up space. So you’re out scrounging boxes from behind liquor stores and whatnot. Gross. Then you have to pack the boxes. Also a huge undertaking, and you’re bound to break stuff or accidentally place a heavy object on top of your highly breakable treasures. Then you have to rent a truck and convince friends and acquaintances to help you load it. As they load it, they will all get hernias from lifting your stuff, and they will not be careful with your antiques so things will get gouged and scratched and busted, which is depressing. Even when I got movers (twice), things still went wrong. It’s expensive, and the movers might be crazy Israelis and hold your stuff hostage because one of your roommates is part Palestinian, as with the ones who moved my roommates and me from Silver Spring to Ballston. That is another post entirely.
Having experienced moving both ways, I would take the Air Force move any day. As for moving itself, well, I guess moving a lot growing up did give me a bit of wanderlust. I’m not sure how to function living in one spot for a long period of time. It’s weird. I kind of want to move even now. When I read Amy’s post, I have to admit my first thought was “Aw, she is so lucky!!!” But, having married a man with roots, I am learning to adapt to the idea of living out the rest of my days in Central Indiana. Sometimes “whither thou goest, I will go” means staying put.