Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Vagabond

I have been experiencing a strange sensation over the past several weeks. It felt like anticipation--like I was supposed to be expecting something, but I couldn't figure out what. Last night I had a dream about checking in at a new duty station and this morning I know what I have been feeling. I'm expecting my next set of PCS orders. I've been in my present home for two and half years, and I have an overwhelming urge to start packing.

The itinerary of my entire life has been at the whim of the Department of Defense. I was born at McCoy Air Force Base in Orlando during my father's first enlistment. By the time I graduated high school, I had attended 13 different schools and lived in 12 different houses in four different states and two foreign countries. Then, I really started travelling. Eighteen years as an Air Force brat was only preparatory training for the next three decades as a Marine. At the close of my military career, the count of homes in which I had lived during my life was over 40. And that didn't count the dozens of temporary quarters I occupied on deployments and assignments.

When you move as often as I have, you learn not to accumulate possessions. Removing your life's stuff from boxes and setting up household becomes a ritual you can do in your sleep. By the time my wife (she was an Air Force brat, as well) and I were in our 40's, we had packing and unpacking down to a science. Her goal at every new duty station was to break the previous record for time took to set up our new home. Once she went 36 hours straight without sleeping and had our new home set up and decorated like we had been there for years. I was often able to avoid helping her in any meaningful way by claiming "they" wanted me to "get right to work" at my new job.

Our tumbleweed life (and the transient life of our military cohorts) also taught us not to establish too close of a relationship with friends and neighbors. It was painful enough saying goodbye to close acquaintances, and that was a constant exercise.

It is an unfortunate state to which I have been conditioned. As much as I want to put down roots and make close friends, I don't know if it is possible anymore. My vagabond nature is too deeply ingrained.

Where's the newspaper? I need to check out the real estate section.
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