We're trailblazing into new territory here.
I've reached a stage in my career where I can just stay in one place and probably never have to move again (knock on wood). There are many desk-jobs around the DC area for post-command guys, and not enough inventory of post-command guys to fill the jobs, so the detailer is happy to keep me in the DC area and just rotate me from one desk job to another for as long as I'm willing to stay in the Navy. I'm thankful that we can let our boys finish middle school and high school in the same school district and not have to move again, and it's a good school district, too.
Staying here this long has resulted in some new experiences for us.
For one, we've finally lived in one place long enough that we ran out of a Costco-sized bottle of ketchup. Seriously. All our previous duty stations, we've had to PCS (move) before we finished off the Costco bottle of ketchup, so we end up throwing it away and buying a new bottle when we do our initial Costco food run at our new duty station. We just thought that was so bizarre that we emptied a bottle and had to go buy another one.
It's also come to our attention that our previous PCS moves every couple of years have helped us to clean out our closets and take a truckload or two of stuff to Goodwill.
I've written a couple of times before about achieving "regular" status (part I and part II). Usually about the time a barber or a waiter or a sales clerk begins to recognize us and remember us and our "usual" order, it's time for us to move again. Well, we've now been here long enough to go one step beyond "regular" status at our local favorite businesses. I'm now beginning to feel like more of a long-term member of our community.
This is our third time being stationed in the DC area and living out in Loudoun County. We feel a sense of belonging and are well connected in our church and other extra-curricular activities. When I go out running, there are several spots around my regular running routes that I think to myself, "Hey, that's the Smith's street," as we've come to know more and more families in our community - our sons' friends from school, friends from cub scouts, friends from church, Navy friends. I see a couple of guys I know out mowing their lawn during my Saturday long runs. When I started training for my first half-marathon, I liked that I was able to make an unannounced stop at a friend's house several miles out to refill my water bottles along the way.
It gives me some comfort when a friend tells me, "Hey I saw [your son] out riding his bike on [street name] on Friday." I like that we've been here long enough and we know enough people that chances are we're going to see someone we know, and they see and recognize our kids out and about, too. I like when I run into families at the grocery store and remember their kids from cub scout camp or from being a chaperon for the school orchestra field trip.
Last week I was honored to be the guest speaker at a local high school National Honor Society induction ceremony. As I was shaking the hands and congratulating each of the students walking across the stage, it surprised me that I knew multiple students. At the reception in the cafeteria after the ceremony, I enjoyed talking with several parents that I knew and thinking about how at least one of the students I've known for 10 years.
It's nice to be a part of our community. This is a new experience that I suspect is uncommon in most military families.