We’re moving again, my son is excited, my family is excited as a whole, but I’m nervous. It’s my fault.
I joined the military in 2007. My first five years were spent as a National Guardsman. It was a good experience and it helped me stay the course to graduate college. In 2012, I graduated college and commissioned as an officer in the Army. I thought life was on the high road from then on, but things change. My first assignment was to Fort Lewis, Washington. My family couldn’t accompany me yet for a couple of reasons: I hadn’t gotten married yet and it was only a three-month assignment.
My first assignment was to Fort Lewis, Washington. My family couldn’t accompany me yet for a couple of reasons: I hadn’t gotten married yet and it was only a three-month assignment.
Shortly after I left Fort Lewis and my fiance at the time made the road trip back with me, we found out we were going to have a baby. We were both scared and excited beyond what I could have ever imagined. When we got married my wife and stepson moved to Virginia where I was currently in school for another couple of months. We lived in a small two bedroom loft apartment in downtown Petersburg, Virginia. It was a cool apartment but none of the stuff in it belonged to us. It was never our home.
We moved for the first time from Virginia to Louisiana, where our daughter was to be born. I packed everything we owned in a 6′ by 12′ Uhaul trailer and off we went. A thirteen-hour road trip to a place neither one of us had ever been and we spent the next ten days in a hotel on base awaiting our apartment to come available.
When I asked my wife to marry me she knew we’d be moving a lot simply because of the whole military thing, but we didn’t anticipate moving from Louisiana so quickly.
Two years ago, on our last day down south, I wrote this post.
It detailed our journey in the land of crawfish and what we had been through. Our daughter had passed away a few months before I wrote the post and we had received a compassionate reassignment back to Kentucky so we could be closer to family.
It turned out to be a great form of healing but we also realized we missed Louisiana more than we could have expected. It held a nostalgic place in our hearts. It was where our daughter had lived her entire life. Where all of my wife’s friends she made during my deployment were staying. Where people knew the joy our daughter brought every person she ever came into contact with.
It was a place we had grown to love, we just didn’t know it yet.
Now, the time has come for us to move again. Almost two years to the day that we last held our beautiful baby, I’m having to uproot my family again. It’s my fault, yes, by default. I have a little say in how my career goes, but ultimately there’s a timeline set forth by the powers that be and I have to move along at their pace.
As a kid I moved 17 times before I graduated high school, so moving is nothing new to me. Though these moves were all within the same county. Cross-country moving is quite different. It’s considerably more stressful and there’s always the lingering thought that your stuff won’t make it to its destination. But that’s really the afterthought.
The main thing is the memories that you’re leaving behind. And I guess you never really leave memories behind but it feels that way as you’re packing pictures wrapped in towels and blankets. It feels as if another part of your life is closed off and you have no choice but to open a new chapter.
New chapters can be good, but what happens when you’re not as ready to move on as you thought you were? It creates this tension that can’t be solved by conversation, only time.
Today is our last day to prepare for the movers. My wife is a little stressed and I can’t blame her. I am too, but I try not to show it (I’m still not sure if it’s the right reaction) because I want to bring her comfort, not add to her stress.
We’re excited about a new place and a new house and a new chance to make friends again. The people is really the best thing about the military. But when we drive out of this neighborhood for the last time, it will be a bit sad. We’re close to family here and our son loves the school. But I’m sure he’ll love his new school all the same and we have new memories to make.
The kicker, though, is that our baby son was born here just last August. It’s like we’re taking away his birth memories (even though they don’t exist yet, technically speaking) and we’re going to miss this place because it’s where he was born.
They say home is where the heart is. I believe that to be true now more than I ever have in my life. My heart is with my wife and kids, not a place. The coolest thing about realizing home is not about a place is that you then think about all the places you’ve lived and realize that your heart is spread all over the place. Little pieces of you are left in the corners of where you lived before.
It’s comforting to have such a wonderful family who is up for an adventure, it’s also comforting to know that anywhere you’ve left a piece of your heart can be a home in the future.
Photo credit: Flickr/Devlon Duthie