I recently made and sent out a meme to some friends. Like me and my family, they stayed at our current location during this summer PCS season.
I’ll explain it.
The installation where we live sees plenty of annual turnover since it’s home to a yearlong school. Those of us who stay here regularly feel like we’re treading water as we watch our friends move away and our usually-vibrant neighborhoods empty out.
I feel like Will Smith in “I Am Legend” after the mass exodus. It’s quiet and empty and eerie.
And the only thing weirder than this is when new people start moving into your friends’ houses. Seriously, a few weeks ago my friend lived in that house, and now these strangers are just living there?
Ordinarily, I’d eventually saunter over to introduce myself to the new arrivals as they settled in. Greeting new neighbors is a time-honored PCS season tradition.
How are we supposed to be welcoming during social distancing?
Now, it’s all weird. New folks are technically supposed to quarantine for two weeks. But when we’re both outdoors, what’s appropriate? What if they don’t take social distancing seriously enough? What if they take it super-seriously, and you look like the scofflaw? You just don’t know.
So, out of respect for science and their personal space (and an abundance of caution), you keep your distance. And by you, I’m sure you’ve figured out, I really mean me. I’m talking about myself.
Now, presumably, they know you’re (I’m) being aloof on account of the bizarre apocalypse we’re all living through. On the other hand, what if they just think you’re uptight?
Arguably, if your behavior is slowing the spread of COVID-19, it doesn’t really matter if you come across as uptight. Still, you’re (I’m) only human and it’s natural to want to be liked. Especially during PCS season when first impressions are important.
There are, of course, cute ideas for ways to skirt this issue.
Go online and you can see all kinds of creative solutions to socializing while keeping your distance. Sure, I could write an elaborate sidewalk message or leave welcome baskets on their porches. But don’t those ideas seem like a lot of work?
Honestly, it seems to me that the only real, workable solution is to stay home and blog about it. If any of my new neighbors are reading this, hi! It’s me, your neighbor. I’m very, very crazy (Kidding. Sort of.).
Then there are my kids.
How is staying put with children during PCS season somehow still hard?
You would think not hauling all of our belongings across the country while keeping three children entertained in the summer during a global health crisis would be easy. And honestly, it mostly is.
But it’s not without its challenges.
It’s difficult to explain that the house that for the last year has been the Jones house is now the Smith house. “We’ll probably never set foot in that house again, kids,” I try to make plain, as I wave to the Smiths through gritted teeth. “Yes, I know we used to go over all the time, but they don’t know you’ve slept in their basement.”
The Bottom Line is: PCS Season is the Worst if You’re Moving or Not
Honestly, the older you get, meeting new people is just hard. There are probably buoyant extroverts out there who get a weird thrill from repeatedly putting themselves out there, making themselves nakedly vulnerable to the scrutiny of total strangers. I’d venture to say, however, that there are very few of them over thirty.
So whatever side of PCS season you’re on, especially in these times, you’re not exactly having the time of your life. And if your neighborhood starts to resemble an empty zombie apocalypse, double-check the news (just in case) and remember that it will fill up fast again.