Everyone has a PCS story and some have more than others but no PCS story is quite like your first one. It might not be your worst but it is definitely one you will always remember.
I read all the articles about PCSing. I asked other spouses for advice. I was sure I was prepared for this. I had done my research and I had moved more than once as a kid and thankfully, my parents kept me pretty involved in the whole process. I kept telling myself that moving 13 hours across the country couldn’t be that different from moving across towns. The distance was longer but the whole idea was the same, right? Wrong. I was in no way, shape, or form prepared for what this move would have in store. I went into this thinking it was going to be smooth sailing, we had done a lot of preparation and everything was in place. However, Murphy’s Law does not just rear its ugly head during deployments, it tags along for PCS too.
The beginning of day one started pretty well. We were all in pretty good moods, it was a nice day, everything seemed like it was going to go just the way it should. We were supposed to pick up the truck at nine; we did not pick up the truck at nine. Apparently something happened and they were closed the day before and left a note saying that they would not be open until ten. It was frustrating considering our plan was to leave around noon but it was not the end of the world. However, it did mean we were losing an hour of packing time.
Losing that hour of packing time did not help my stress about the day or the move as a whole. There was a lot of stuff we had to move considering all of our wedding gifts, all of my furniture, and all of my other stuff; clothes, shoes, bags, books, etc. had to fit into one truck. Not to mention, I completely forgot my husband was taking the car to go see his mom before we headed out so, I was basically a sitting duck on a pile of bags that needed to go in my car as soon as they could so we could maybe leave around the time we wanted. I wasn’t upset that he took the car but my slight oversight did result in another wave of anxiety to my already very anxious self.
After loading all of the furniture my dad asked if that was all of the heavy stuff going, I said yes. If you have not already guessed it, I was wrong. In my defence, there was nothing else sitting around that needed to go except boxes. My husband had come back about this time and that meant the car could be packed, we really were, or at least I thought we were, down to just boxes. We started loading and just as we finished my mom came outside and asked where the white cabinet was. The giant white cabinet from our neighbors that absolutely needed to go in the front of the truck. Obviously this was frustrating to everyone and I felt terrible for forgetting. Thankfully, it was a quick fix it but it did involve unpacking and repacking parts of the truck.
After that was solved I knew I was good to go fill up on gas right about the time my husband asked me if I had eaten anything yet, the answer was no which sparked a pretty disapproving look from him. I went to put chicken nuggets in to cook while packed up everything for the dog. (The ninety pound dog who had been whining all morning trying to figure out what was going on and was not very happy that I was putting all of his treats in a bag and taking them away.) I got pulled away to help with something else and almost thirty-five minutes later I remembered I had put chicken nuggets in. Thankfully, I got them out before they were burned but they were definitely harder than I would have preferred. With my very crispy chicken nuggets in hand I headed to the gas station and when I got back we loaded the dog kennel into the truck, loaded a very excited dog into my car and headed to my in-laws house to pick up the cat. Yes, we made this drive with not only a ninety pound dog but a cat who hates car rides as well. The cat however, road with my mom. I don’t even want to think about trying to drive with both the dog AND the cat in the same car. It would have been a train wreck.
After getting all of the cats things and a restroom break for the dog we were off. It had been a crazy morning so it felt nice to finally be on the road. We hit some traffic going through the towns we passed and the dog was anxious for the first hour or so but other than that it went well, until we hit the highway in Kentucky. Now, my mom and I had made this drive on my spring break and we did not spend near as long driving through kentucky as we did this time. We hit an insane amount of traffic, which I found odd considering it was a Wednesday, passed two different wrecks involving semi-trucks, and hit rain multiple times.
From where we left Indiana to get to Kentucky it only takes about two hours. From Kentucky to the West Virginia border it should have only taken us about two and a half hours. We stopped for dinner in Kentucky at eight thirty and we still had more of Kentucky to drive through. It took us close to five hours to drive through Kentucky. I have never been so happy to see the West Virginia state line in my life! Since I was getting tired at this point and really needed to stop driving my husband took most of the West Virginia drive. I was out as soon as he started driving.
I don’t remember much of that drive but one minute I was sleeping as peacefully as one can in a car and the next I was jolted awake but a huge bump and a loud noise. The next thing I know we are on the side of the road changing a flat tire. Only then did I look over at the GPS and see we were only a few hours away from our house. My husband and my dad put on the spare and we made it to the gas station at the next exit. Sure enough there was a hole about the size of a quarter in our tire, I don’t know what we hit but it did some damage. There was no way we were going to finish this drive going less than fifty miles an hour on the interstate so my dad looked up the closest tire shop. Now, you are probably thinking that we got it fixed and were back on the road in a few hours, not exactly. This all happened at three in the morning, nobody was open and no one would be open until eight the next day. We were not about to stay in the gas station parking lot all night, mainly because the dog would have barked at everyone who walked by, so we drove very slowly to the closest hotel near the closest tire shop we could find. It was going to be pretty expensive to get a room and we would only have been there for a few hours so in the intrest of saving money we decided to sleep in the parking lot. My mom and the cat in her car, my dad in the truck and, my husband, the dog, and myself in our car. It was not the most comfortable or restful sleep I have ever gotten but it was nice to sleep in something that wasn’t moving.
The next morning with a new tire we were on our way. At this point we were only about three hours from home and believe me when I say we were all very ready to be there. We had left the day before at about two in the afternoon and we pulled into our driveway at about one in the afternoon the next day. Thanks to traffic, rain, a very finicky GPS, and a popped tire we had managed to turn a thirteen hour drive into a twenty-three hour drive. I have never been in a car for twenty-three hours and I never want to be in a car for twenty-three hours again.
This is a crazy story but as crazy as it sounds this PCS taught me a lot.
- You can prepare for something and turn out to be the least prepared.
- You can plan, and plan, and plan but something will not go as planned.
- The ride may not be what you expected but you have to look for the little moments to enjoy.
That last one is probably what this PCS opened my eyes up to the most. Did I expect any of what ensued to happen? Absolutely not. I would have loved to not get caught in traffic and I would have been just fine not getting a flat tire at three in the morning but, I am grateful that those things happened. Itt sounds crazy to say that but without them I would not have been able to spend as much time talking with my husband as I did. Our lives are crazy and we don’t always get the chance to sit and talk like we did when we were driving. We had not had the time to do something like that in a long time and I think we needed it. On top of us getting some much needed quality time together it made us stronger. With all of this going on there were times that we were both stressed or frustrated or overwhelmed but we got through it together.
Would I wish a PCS experience like this on anyone? No. Would I suggest turning a thirteen hour drive into a twenty-three hour drive just because you can? No. Would I change any of it? No way. This will always be a part of our story and I am sure years from now we will look back on it and laugh, at least I hope we will.