I have only moved twice with the military. The first move was from North Carolina to Hawaii and then Hawaii to Tennessee. They were vastly different moves, and yet, somehow they both still scare me.
When the move to Hawaii was done, I looked at my husband and said, “If every move is like this, I will meet you in 20 years.” It was bad. It took a while to settle, but we eventually got it all taken care of. It haunted me the entire time we were in Hawaii; anytime anyone mentioned PCSing, I swear I became nauseated.
So I made sure I was insanely prepared for the move out of Hawaii. I had a binder ready a full year before orders were even a whisper. I had receipts for anything over $200. People made fun of me left and right, but I did not care. When my husband and I went to our PCS workshop, I took my binder and added handouts and notes. I had my power of attorney; I had piles ready for a yard sale; I knew what I needed to keep for the trip; I had talked to Distribution Management Office (DMO) and Installation Personnel Administration Center (IPAC) about what I needed to do, and I had my “plans.” I was ready.
Did I mention that I was hoping to have most of the move done while my husband was at recruiting school? I was terrified to do the move out of Hawaii alone, but because our oldest daughter is in school, when we moved mattered. My goal was to have an empty house when he came home the week before Christmas and leave the island as soon as possible afterward. This way we would be settled in our new house in time for school.
But, the Marine Corps being the Marine Corps, they would not issue orders! They told us a date we “should” have them by, and that date came and went without so much as a whisper. My husband started ignoring my texts because inevitably, I was asking if we had orders. This went on for two weeks. The week before he was due to come home, I had given up hope and was at a friend’s house when he text messaged me. “Web orders in. Working on getting them to you.” I stared blankly at my friend who, once she found out I had my Power of Attorney with me, told me to get to DMO.
Thankfully, I had already been to DMO a time or two…or five, (Who’s counting?) so they recognized me. I walked in and was immediately seen. When the Marine helping me asked when I wanted the pack out and I said the next day, he looked at me like I was insane. But if it wasn’t the next day, I explained, it couldn’t be until Christmas Eve because of construction in my neighborhood. Talk about a blue Christmas. He said he would try, but no promises. We submitted everything, and I went home, convinced my house would be full of movers on Christmas, but knowing I’d done what I could.
Imagine my surprise when two hours later, I got a phone call from a moving company with the promise they’d be there the next day. I was so sure that it wasn’t going to happen that I was literally painting a dresser when he called. When he asked if I had any questions, all I could think to ask was, “What about my dresser?” Poor guy. He told me he’d be at my house that afternoon for the walk through, and the team would be there the next morning ready to go.
I hung up and immediately started texting and calling for help. My dresser was wet! I had to get my oldest daughter to and from school, and what was I going to do with the baby? Nothing was packed! I had to do laundry! I couldn’t be alone in our two- story house with FIVE movers! Thankfully, I have amazing friends, and they pulled through. Someone took the baby, someone took my older daughter to school, someone came to help me pack and someone sat with me all day. It all came together.
And then the movers came. And they were great. They packed quickly, and more importantly, they packed well. My husband came home to an empty house, got checked out in one day, and somehow got us a flight out the day after Christmas, after we were repeatedly told that would not happen. We had an amazing visit with my in-laws, got to town a week before school and found a house the next day. Everything got delivered early, including our cars, and not a single thing was broken or missing.
I wasn’t disappointed that the move went so freakishly easy. But I was scared. I had convinced myself that every move would be horrible. When we bought our replacement bedroom furniture, I didn’t like it, but I rationalized that it probably wouldn’t make the move off island, so who cared? Then it all went so well.
I tried to rationalize and say that we had earned some PCS karma, but even now, three months after the movers and their boxes have gone, I am still waiting for something to go wrong. The further we get from the move, the calmer I am, but still. My moving experiences were night and day. I like to think that the move to Hawaii was the Corps’ way of welcoming me to a world where I cannot actually be in charge of everything all the time. Honestly though, both moves have made me much calmer about any future moves. Sure, things might go wrong. But it’ll get fixed. I know I had a move people dream about, so I am sure the next few won’t be quite as smooth. At least I’ll know what to do.