Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why an ETS is infinitely more heartbreaking than a PCS

I knew I was leaving Fort Irwin.  Re-enlistment or not, we had to go.  Since the birth of my daughter, I've been looking forward to our PCS.  That was the next major stepping stone...the next thing to check off on my life-long obsession with lists.  We knew where ever we went, it would be a better place.  We knew wherever we went, we couldn't be any further from civilization than we were in Fort Irwin.
So why was it that I found myself driving out of the gate teary-eyed?  What changed when it was an ETS move rather than a PCS?
I knew I was going to be upset leaving my neighborhood.  This had become my new family.  We had laughed together, cried together, endured natural disaster, our fair share of drama, and even had a hand in raising each other's children.  Now, I'll be with my own flesh and blood, but somehow, it doesn't seem the same.  I know that I may not be moving into the type of neighborhood where everyone knows each other, knows what everyone's spouse does, and where everyone throws their kids into the street while the adults all gather on someone's front porch.  No more USO events, no more meeting up with friends for events at Army field, no more Tuesday play groups, and no more splash park meetups every day in between.  I'm losing my built in "village."
When we were planning a PCS, we figured we would move out of one neighborhood like this, and into a very similar one.  I would lose one village, but gain another where we could sit around by the wash basin and scrub out our clothes before hanging them to dry (figuratively, of course).  We would be in the same lifestyle.  We would have stability.  Some other girl may love the freedom that this brings, but a girl like me thrives on stability.
With a PCS move, all these thing are a given.  A few moves later, you start running into people you know again, and you end up with a tightly woven network of support and love with some people you've known forever, and others who you've just met, but are somehow equally as close.
With an ETS, you're open to the whole world.  You can go anywhere, you can do anything.  Its as exhilarating as it is terrifying.  It needs a big caution sticker: "Experiences may vary."  I'll have my family, but I'm mourning the loss of the social life that I have now, and the friends and sense of community that my daughter would have grown up with.  I'm mourning the loss of job security and housing security.  I'm mourning the loss of my ability to stay home with my daughter.  She's my whole world, and I physically don't know how I could possibly leave her.
Our ETS is heartbreaking for me.  We didn't just lose a house and our neighbors, we lost our stability.  We lost a way of life.
As much as I put a negative spin on this, I have no option but to make the best of it. So I packed my bags, said goodbye to my closest friends in my driveway, took my baby and my dog, and drove away without shedding a single tear until I crossed the gate. I said goodbye to post, goodbye to the gate, and goodbye to the tanks, all while saying hello to something that just may be much better.
Welcome? More like goodbye......

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