Military life is not easy. I can't remember ever, in nearly 19 years, thinking "hey, this is a cake walk, I don't know why everyone thinks it's so tough". The deployments, the constant moving, the, erm, 'humble' paycheck and the predictable but yet unexpected yearly goofups in the finance department that keep us from ever having a real savings backup...those things are all challenges we've learned to just accept as the norm. But there is yet one thing that we haven't figured out a way to get around. It's just one of those things that we knew was there in the background but just had to ignore. We never really felt at "home" at any of our duty stations. In fact, this last tour in Germany, we didn't even put pictures up on the wall; it just didn't feel right.
It has been nearly two decades since we felt "at home"; in fact, it's been so long, we almost forgot what "home" feels like. Our family has never even really had a home. We've had houses, apartments, duplexes, and (ugh) even a mobile home. But every single one of those came with the thought in the back of our minds that it was VERY temporary. At any moment, the Army can pick you up and move you to somewhere else in the world, so you just don't put down roots. It's not a fun way to live, but you just get used to it. Until now, I'd almost forgotten what that "home" felt like.
I don't know how better to describe it other than to say that when you know it, you just know you're home. Talk of moving again and looking for a city to settle in have disappeared. Now that discussion is about retirement from the Army; about looking for a house, about planting those roots that we've had so loosely plunked in whatever soil we've been on. We look around us and we see people we want to be around for the rest of our lives. We see a church family that we already love dearly, and we see a community that we can invest our hearts in, not just a little bit of our time.
We're home. And it's WONDERFUL.