Three is the Magic Number

Posted: January 17, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Image by bizzlenj via Flickr

Something starts to happen to me every 2-3 years that most military brats will surely recognize. I start to get the itch. Yes, Colorado is a very dry climate and you have to wear extra lotion here in the winter, but that’s not what I mean. I start to get what I have fondly come to call “the three year itch”—to move. It’s hard to know whether such an urge is a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, it definitely keeps things from getting stagnant. On the other, it makes it difficult to be fully present in the place you’re at. I imagine (though I’ve yet to experience) that this itch can be relieved if you just sit with it for a while and don’t scratch—which means, gasp, staying in one place at least 4 or 5 years. But in an age where college programs and a lack of job security have more people mobile than ever before, I bet military brats aren’t the only ones who need the number for a good dermatologist. A lot of brats—and other transient beings—just get used to “the cycle,” almost likes it’s downloaded onto our systems.

It goes something like this:

Year 1: CHANGE. You pack up everything you own, move to a place you’ve never been, and hate life for a good 6 months because you have no friends and this place doesn’t have nearly as much to do as the last place you lived (it doesn’t matter if you’re moving from Kansas to Hawaii, by the way…this is how your warped little brat brain will feel). By the end of the year, you’ll have a few friends—at least one of them will undoubtedly move just when you’re starting to get close—and all your schemes to save up extra cash so you can go back to visit Location A will become less intense. Your skin, by the way, is healthy and glowing.

Year 2: You’ve settled in and are finding your groove. It’s smooth sailing, but occasional exfoliation may be necessary and don’t forget the sunblock.

Year 3: One of two things will happen. Either you will be ready to move on to the next place—at this point the itch will be breaking out in full force—or you will meet your soul mate and/or bosom buddy. Oh the irony. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made a really close friend about 9 months before we must inevitably separate. Fortunately, some of those friends are still really close…one of the upsides of relationship-building with a ticking timer in the background.

When the timer goes off, take a deep breath and let cool for about 5 minutes, then repeat.

I’d love to hear the thoughts of those who’ve had similar experiences! 🙂

  1. Marlys Sowell says:

    Well, never having experienced the Brat Life myself, (altho, that term may have fit my disposition at one time), I have traveled about and do feel a little constrained in one place.But, I tend to be on the move even while being at home base. I move into new circle of friends, trying to broaden my horizons through their experiences and viewpoints, I am always exploring new art and music venues, and love to explore the beauty that God has placed all around us. Literature also expands as well as faith which is always broadening my heart and outlook. So, even when in one place, I am in constant motion

  2. hailstorm27 says:

    hit the nail on the head with that one. it seems that right around three years the itch begins! i have now been in the same place for five years (although i have lived in four different homes during this time) and after the three year my itch has never gone away. i think all of the home location changes were a way of temporarily scratching the itch. i really don’t see myself ever being able to stay on one place. the idea of such permanence is so foreign to me. it may be the reason i cant even contemplate buying a house or getting a tattoo….whats permanence right??!! i have been thinking portland or chicago as of late…i am way overdue for a change of scenery, and i don think that feeling in me will ever go away.

  3. ha! Don’t you know it. I am and also married a bratt. It’s no wonder we haven’t chewed each other’s arms off wanting to move, as we have been in TX almost 30 years now. When my wife and I got married we were in College and then moved in radio every few years.. then we settled in the Austin area. We’re feeling it! Need to make that move!! 🙂 Thanks for reminding us!!

  4. Aspendodt says:

    I love finding people who have the same symptoms! I love the term “the itch” because it exists! Every 2-3 years I get this overwhelming urge (itch) to pack up, move, change jobs and make new friends. I even find myself subconsciously starting to cut ties and pull away from people, places and things that have not done anything to justify my psychological retreat. Once I am comfortable and feel like I am in a rut I’m ready to roll. Maybe it should be an actual syndrome called “Military bratitis”.

    • ashleecowles says:

      “Military bratitis”….I like it!:-) Thanks for your comment–it’s so true! Right now I’m approaching year three in one place and am actually considering moving. Perhaps one of these days I’ll make it to four years in the same spot!

  5. Aunt Tanya says:

    Right on! We have been talking about possibly buying an RV so when an itch comes we can scratch it by taking off somewhere to explore a new adventure.

  6. Rachael says:

    I DEFINITELY know what you’re talking about! Currently, I’ve lived in New Mexico for 6 years, and I can’t believe that is actually possible. Normally, it was every 1-3 years with one overly long stint in Washington in my first few years. I fight the itch on a daily basis, and can never tell if it really IS time to move or if I’m just antsy.

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing so many of your thoughts! Have you ever written or shared anything with the Museum of the American Military Family? They collect the stories of military family members and are a wonderful asset.

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