The Road Too Often Traveled
It's an event that happens approximately every 3 years. It's an event precipitated by shot nerves, lost tempers, the weeding out of trash and unwanted odds and ends, and hard, heartfelt goodbyes.
We should be used to it, and in all honesty, by joining the Air Force we knew this would happen. We’d be sent someplace, not dare to put down roots, make friends, get to know the area, and before we know it, it’d be time to go somewhere else. We’ve been doing it for almost 18 years. Some places we’ve enjoyed more than others, but it’s usually difficult to pack up and go, because there’s always someone we’re leaving behind we don’t want to.
This assignment, Travis AFB in California, is different. We’re close to family, close to the area where the Spouse Thingy and I went to high school, where we met. It’s also our second assignment here, and we had hoped it would be our last. The Air Force has other ideas. With less than 3 years to go before he can retire, they decided the Spouse Thingy should see the Midwest one more time, and are sending us to Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio.
Now, we don’t mind this, not really. WPAFB is supposed to be a terrific base and the area nice to live in. It’s much cheaper in Ohio than it is in California, and once the Spouse Thingy retires he can actually make more money there than here. If everything were as it normally is, we’d be looking forward to this move more than other moves.
This move is more difficult, at least for me. It’s more emotional. We have real roots here, more than just my in-laws – whom I love very much and enjoy living close to - who live less than an hour away. We’re making this move with an acute case of Empty Nest Syndrome.
The Boy is not moving with us.
A curious thing happened during those 18 other years; while we were getting on with the details of living, and bouncing from place to place every third year, he was busy growing up. At some point I blinked, and The Boy turned into A Man.
I should have seen it coming; when he was 14 years old he went to work as a busboy and was promoted through the ranks of the restaurant so quickly that when we left he was a cook with the potential to be placed in a supervisory position, and would have if we had stayed there. He took his current job and made himself indispensable; he was pure teenager, but when it came to his work he made responsible, adult decisions. It wasn’t long before he was making those same kinds of decisions in his personal life.
Our goal had always been for him to be an adult by the time he was 18.
That doesn’t mean I was ready for it, even if he was.
The Air Force made their decree: Thou Shalt Move From Thy Favored Place and Goeth Once Again To The Cornfields. The Boy made his: I Am Staying Here.
Really, we expected that. And the Spouse Thingy and I both believe that it is in The Boy’s best interests to remain here, go to school so that he can follow his dream, live his passion, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I look at him and see the man we always wanted him to be, and my heart swells. He made it. He did it, and he did it well. But I’m leaving here without my little boy. I’ll miss those next few milestones, the steps he takes into Real Life.
In my head, I know that’s as it should be.
In my heart I know that’s as it should be.
That doesn’t mean I have to like it.
At least I have his cat.