A few weeks ago, my friend Cheryl came over for our weekly happy hour. Our kids immediately got to work dismantling the art corner, settling into the chaos that they call fun. Too tired to bother with organizing their mess, Cheryl flopped down across from where I lay on the playroom floor, head resting on a stuffed animal, equally spent. She filled me in on her day, tossing a miniature basketball from one hand to the other, and I smiled to myself. I was glad that our regular get-togethers had grown into visits comfortable enough to bypass small talk and social graces and dive right into conversation… and a glass or two of wine.
And that’s the point in an assignment, when you take a deep breath, appreciate good friendships that have developed, and feel at home… and then you get orders to move.
It’s that time again.
Yet again, the length of an assignment has been adjusted. We’ll be leaving a year sooner than expected, embarking upon our sixth move in ten years this summer. A 2,000-mile journey stands before us, from the competitive grind of Washington, DC, to the farthest corner of Texas, where they reportedly operate on “mañana time”: El Paso.
It’s time to stop buying items that the movers won’t pack, like jugs of Clorox or family-sized liquid Downy. It’s time to buy only sparingly other staples, like flour, vinegar, lotion, and shampoo. It’s time to think about purging items that aren’t worth taking, like over-the-door shower caddies that have lost their luster or toilet brushes that… well, that would just be disgusting to pack.
Inevitably, we’ll have a few boxes filled with spray bottles of 409 and unopened boxes of Swiffer Wet pads, half-filled Domino sugar bags and a never-enjoyed box of Bisquick. We’ll pass those items to neighbors, hoping they can use them. We might unload them with a disgruntled humph, annoyed by the wasted money, or we might hand them off with the immense relief felt by simply getting rid of stuff during a period of high-stress.
But what do we do with the friendships? Do we put them in a box, give them to a neighbor, and hope they can be useful? Do we unload them with a humph, a sigh of relief? Do we put a numbered sticker on their foreheads and load them on the truck? Gosh, I sure wish we could.
This is one of those parts of military life Continue reading