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It feels sort of weird to be living in the same place for the third year in a row. This has only happened to us twice before and is affecting my life in ways I never expected.

As mentioned in an earlier column, I wasn’t surprised about the way dust begins to pile up when we stay somewhere for a while.

It only makes sense that a freshly scrubbed rental would take a while to get that "lived-in" atmosphere, complete with spitballs on the ceiling and BBs under the couch.

If Ron expects me to host his seminar group or guys from the battalion, I make sure to schedule such events for as early in our tour as possible, when the boys have done the least amount of damage.

Health care is also affected by our frequent moves. Over the past 19 years, I have had some memorable experiences at Army, Navy and Air Force facilities around the world, but never have I seen the same doctor for three years in a row ... until now.

My current primary care manager is young and good-looking enough to have stepped right off the set of "Top Gun." When I first glimpsed him at Tommy’s football physical 2 ½ years ago, I was uncomfortable being in a small room with such a gorgeous human being.

Surely he would be as temporary as every other doctor assigned to us by Uncle Sam, I told myself.

But there he was again when I took Jimmy in for some zit cream six months later. He even dared suggest I use the same cream to erase the fine lines and creases in my own skin!

"Oh no, he thinks I’m old," I realized, but didn’t really care. He had addressed our concerns, produced a prescription and looked impeccably handsome the whole time.

What more could I ask of a primary care manager?

Now that I’m in my third year here in Springfield, I know my way around, sort of. I can drive around for weeks at a time without having to make a U-turn or last minute lane-change.

My fellow drivers seem to appreciate this and let me know by keeping all their fingers on the steering wheel instead of giving me the usual one-finger salute.

We have lived here almost long enough for me to get used to the big hurry everyone in this area is in, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I don’t use pennies at the self-checkout register, and I have taught myself to stand to the right on escalators. If you don’t walk on escalators around here, you are deemed an "escalump" by the locals and expected to move over so the busy people can get where they’re going.

All those people hurrying around don’t irritate me the way they did when we moved here in August of 2006. "That’s just the way people are around here," I tell myself. "They can’t help it."

I’m sure many military spouses who are stationed in my home state of North Carolina have a hard time getting used to various Tar Heel traits that seem weird and foreign to them.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like it here and feel comfortable enough to call it home for a while. But please, don’t tell Uncle Sam, or else he might send us packing again.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at or visit her Web site at

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