Why I Love to PCS

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I love to PCS — I love it! Have I mentioned I love it? That’s not to say I don’t have my moments cursing the clutter trolls, while books and junk pile hip-deep around me on move-in day. But every adventure comes with its pitfalls, and that’s what moving is: one of military life’s great adventures! What’s to love, you ask?

I love the uncertainty

It’s March. I haven’t seen my sailor in nearly six months. He might be home in a few months. And we might move around then. Maybe one day the Navy will even tell us where we’re going.

“Oh gosh, I’m sorry,” people say when I tell them no, we aren’t registering for preschool in the fall, and no, we don’t know where we’ll be then.

Sorry? Heck, this is the good part. Because right now, everything wonderful is possible. What if we ended up in San Diego, closer to family? What if we get to “summer” in Newport, like wealthy society people of old? What if we spend the summer on Florida beaches while our favorite sailor does some training? The other day I indulged in a five minute fantasy of roaming art galleries in Italy and going home for the Italian version of a siesta—maybe one of these days the Navy will wild card us to Europe, right? When nothing is certain, anything is possible!

*Caveat: for our last PCS, at six months pregnant, I did NOT appreciate not knowing where that baby was going to be delivered. If there’s too much uncertainty in your life, please ignore this rave.

So long, house problems! 

My house is trying to kill me. We had hornets in the attic, flooding in the basement, and the dishwasher lit on fire. ON FIRE. But when I am tempted to despair by the floorboards popping like a shotgun—always while the baby is asleep—you know what? Soon, this house will not be my problem. I am better able to appreciate the wonderful natural light and expansive front porch, and less frustrated by the mildew smell in the attic and the constant sewage problems when I remember that this home is temporary. Our next house will have issues, but it will have different issues. As well as more than one bathroom.

I love purging 

The moving assessor guy informed me last move we had small furniture, but more junk than most people. Well whatever, my grandmother’s old teacups bring me joy, and I use them all the time. Or… occasionally. I shudder to think how much junk I’d have if I wasn’t forced to sort through it all every few years. Time for another clean out!

I love the wrap up

It is sad watching friends, church members, and work colleagues plan things that I’ll never get to see or participate in. That bums me out. But I love the complete schedule-clearing a move brings. I love looking around and talking about all the people and aspects of life here I’ll miss, all the things that made our family so happy during this time. I love—and hate—the round of “lasts:” last day at preschool, last day at work, last walk around the block, last tea time with neighbors. I love the time to reflect on the past two years, and measure how our family has changed and grown, and note the parts of my life that are different—and wonderful—because we unexpectedly moved here.

I love the transition

Transition is hard, but it’s also exciting. It’s exhausting, but it’s also energizing. It’s sad, but it’s happy. I indulge in nostalgia and sadness as much as I want the last week/month in our duty station, but choose a moment to change from being sad about leaving to being excited about what’s next. It could be the day the family moves out of the house, or the day we drive out of the city, but that’s my big emotional turning point. The future is more exciting when I’ve had time to grieve what I’m leaving behind.

I love seeing friends again

Saying goodbye is one of the saddest parts of military life. So it makes sense that saying hello again is one of the joys. I was extremely surprised and not entirely delighted when my husband announced we were moving to Norfolk, but my first consolation was, “Woo-hoo! Plenty of friends there!”

That hasn’t always been the case, of course: we didn’t know anybody when we moved overseas. But even there, we were able to meet up with friends of mine from high school and friends of my husband’s from college for shared dinners in different parts of Japan. We wouldn’t have had those opportunities without moving to a new place.

New opportunities 

Every time we’ve moved, I’ve had a job I was sad to say good-bye to, jobs I never would have had if we hadn’t moved. Same with friends. And neighbors. And church. And libraries. And spouse groups. Now I wonder: What new opportunity awaits?

If you hate moving, I really do empathize. I too hate moving on Day 3 of the unpacking, and anytime a mover drops a box down the stairs, or when something important disappears in the process. Nobody loves moving at those moments. At the end of the day, we’re forced to up our game when we don’t know exactly what’s coming at the end of the move.

But, I trust it will probably be something good.

About the Author

Mari Krueger
Mari Krueger is a freelance journalist and Navy wife with two little kids. She's written for daily newspapers, magazines and blogs, been a stringer for Bloomberg News, and contributed to the New York Times, Life and Style Magazine, and the Associated Press. She likes meeting her sailor in exotic ports of call.