I forget until they ask for my "sponsor's" social security number when I go to pick up my prescriptions or book my doctor's appointments.
I forget until we have to submit our flight information months before our vacation for approval.
I forget until I hear people talking in acronyms.
I forget until my friends get their RFO and start talking about PCS-ing (RFO: request for orders PCS: permanent change of station).
That's the big one. The hardest one to ignore, but still always the biggest surprise. Probably because we go through the rest of the year mostly pretending that everyone will still be here next year. WE just keep on making plans kind of like we've got our hands over our ears, saying "la la la la la, can't hear you."
But we're entering that season in the military community. When everyone gets orders and moves away. Neighbors, the graduating residents, friends all anxiously waiting to hear where they're being sent and what new area they need to start stalking on Zillow. Last year I wasn't quite tuned in. I wasn't close to the chief residents who were moving on, and I had yet to befriend my neighbors so I didn't feel this pull on my heart. The old but familiar ache that comes when you're preparing to say goodbye, don't know when I'll see you again, to friends.
I almost forgot about that. But I've been here before. In high school, in an expat community, when masses of families made their exodus every year. At the end of college when we all hugged each other tightly and then set off on different paths. And right before I got married and the chapter on living with roommates came to a close.
So here we are again. I should be used to this, I better get used to this. The revolving door of friends coming and going. The build up of emotions, the anxiousness before the moving truck pulls away, the denial, we have plenty of time left together, the holding back of tears, last get-togethers, farewell parties.
But the reason it's so dang hard on the heart is because we let ourselves dig in where we are, even though we're only here for a short while. We make real friends, real fast, letting ourselves forget, each time, about the long drawn out goodbyes, because what's the alternative? To never plant roots, to never call another new house "home," to never find community, to never be vulnerable?? That's not living, that just surviving.
(Taken on a walk last night with one of my dear, dear friends who happens to be moving away this summer.)