Sort the things, rip tape off the strip. Packers come tomorrow. We will have temporary furniture loaned from base for a month, then into a hotel for a week, then camping gear on the floor of our new home. Must leave out the sleeping bags and our second-best sheets.
I don’t want to move. I love it here. Our lives are here.
What do we need for three months without the bulk of our household? School is going to be fully unschooling for the next while; art supplies, surely. But not in the organized caddies they’re currently housed in. All the markers, crayons, pencils go in gallon baggies labeled “Do Not Pack.”
I miss my family. I miss America…I think. Do I know America anymore? Hawaii is America, legally…culturally, not really. Eight years away from mainland America is a long time in the field. I miss my nephews. I miss my nieces. I don’t really know them well. It’s been three years since I’ve seen Owen, Avery, Lillian. A year since I’ve seen Philip. I’m ready to see them more often.
“Mom, I’m scared of the moving truck. It’s too big.”
“Mom, when are our friends here going to visit us in Maryland?”
Why are we doing this to them? Wait, doing what? Providing them with a lifetime’s worth of travel and cultural richness in just five short years? Giving them the bedrock of financial stability gleaned from getting overseas housing allowances and banking our savings?
Uprooting their lives, that’s what. Uprooting all our lives.
We’ve done this before. It’s ok. You KNOW it’s ok. Think of all the beautiful, well-adjusted, happy field and military kids you know. They are amazing. Your kids will be, too. They already are. It will be hard. Hard things happen. They can be dealt with.
I don’t want to go home. I am home. I want to go home. I don’t know what home is.
I’m going to be really tired of these few outfits I’ve left out for myself by July. It will be fun to shop at my favorite stores in person again. It will be fun to get Starbucks drive-through. It will be fun to buy a new car. Okay, maybe not fun, but it will be nice to drive on wide roads and smooth, beautifully laid out highways again.
I wonder what our house looks like when you really walk through it. I wonder what kind of a person buys their first home sight unseen with only her husband’s word and a few photographs to say it’s good. I trust him. I still wonder.
“Mom, will my Legos go to America?”
“Mom, can I take my costumes to America?”
“Mom, will we get to visit Florida when we go to America? Will we get to go to Assateague to see the wild ponies? Mom, will I get to have a pet fish in America?”
So many promises, bartering away anxiety with assurances and gleeful descriptions of time with cousins and future trips and betta fish tanks. Bright, chipper smiles layered over tight throats and watering eyes. We all have pinkeye from the dust.
“Mom, are we going to see our old friends who moved already?”
Yes. We’ll all see old friends, and we’ll need to talk to the ones who have been home. The ones who understand you’re not trying to be pretentious when you talk about what you’ve seen and done while you were abroad. The ones who understand how hard it is to go home. The ones who understand how much the country, and you, have changed. The ones who don’t say and think “But you’re home now!” I was home. I will be home again. But there is a time in between, and in that time, we won’t be anywhere until we get our feet under us.
“It’s okay to be sad. Mom and Dad are happy, but we’re also sad too. You can talk to us and cuddle with us any time. It’s hard. We know it’s hard.”
Understatement. “A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend.” – Willow, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
It’s hard. It’s sad. We’re going home. We are home. I’m sorry. I’m excited. I’m scared. We’re fragmented.
I rip off some more tape, and I move on.