A big, obvious part of the military lifestyle is the inevitability of a PCS: a Permanent Change of Station. Or, in my words, a Pack Up All Your Shoes Because You’re Moving Again, And Your Move Date Will Change Seven Times So Good Luck With Those Panic Attacks While You Search For Your Flip Flops. Try that acronym on for size, Army.
Despite carrying the word “permanent” in its title, a PCS is something that often reoccurs; Jonathan and I will be enjoying three PCS moves in the next two-and-a-half years, because we really love sitting on hold with new cable companies and paying activation fees for our utilities.
I, like roughly 99% of non-masochistic humans, don’t like moving. And though the military lifestyle has its perks (manifested mostly in free bourbon tastings), my biggest fear about entering Army wifedom was knowing I’d have to pack up my comfort zone so often, and hope to readjust it each time with minimal tears.
The transitory military lifestyle is something I’ve had plenty of time to dwell on and dramatize. When Jonathan was reenlisting last year, I drew up some maps of continental Army post locations and, in the panic about my marriage and my future, immediately decided that the vast majority of them were horrifying.
Seeing as I blocked out a good 80% of the country as uninhabitable, my chances of reacting positively to a PCS were automatically pretty low. Army wife mistake #1: only loving America selectively.
When Jonathan returned from his latest deployment, I knew a PCS was on the horizon. So I’ve spent my time in Fort Campbell expanding my tolerance and reminding myself that Trader Joe’s has been opening up a lot of new locations, so I could get lucky.
So while we were waiting for the final word on Jonathan’s next station and assignment, I crossed my fingers and dabbled in hoodoo to cover all my bases.
And it worked.
Because we’re moving to…
I know. More people should try hoodoo.
In the next few weeks, we will be making the cross-country drive from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Monterey, California (the only California pictures I have are from my time with family in Los Angeles, so ignore that we’ll be nowhere near Sunset or Hollywood Blvds). Monterey is home to the Defense Language Institute (DLI), where Jonathan will spend the next year or so beating his brain cells into proficiency in a foreign language, while I will be sitting on the beach beating my brain cells into every bottle of wine I bring back from Napa.
I bet you don’t feel bad for me about not getting a honeymoon anymore.
Though Jonathan will have his work cut out for him while we’re there, we’re both looking forward to the seaside change of scenery in Central California. And I’ll finally be able to take Jonathan to visit my home town and family in Los Angeles. I am beyond excited, but staying humble. In an Army town like Fort Campbell, military resources are convenient and prevalent; I can drive on post to pick up my Tricare prescriptions, do my discount grocery shopping at the Commissary, and take the dog to an affordable vet, and be home in time for lunch. In a regular civilian town like Monterey, everything from finding affordable housing to locking down a good doctor who takes our insurance will be battles of their own.
And when I lose those battles, I will drown my sorrows in my Trader Joe’s frozen Indian food dinners, and bags upon bags of their apple cinnamon granola.
Until the final move date (which changed again while I was writing this, because WHY NOT), I’m trying to buckle down and learn the basics for my first PCS. And by “basics,” I mean a 40-age PDF filled with warnings, tips, and the 50 or 60 ways I will probably fuck something up and lose all my boxes of shoes.
Have you ever PCS-ed or suffered through a big move? Have you ever done so with a dog? Feel free to leave your horror stories, success stories, and tips of the trade below!