Without a doubt, I absolutely loved living along the coast of central Florida when my children were babies and toddlers.
We had the beach just a short distance from the house and Orlando with all of it's many attractions, was about an hour away. We had an airport and destination city that made it easily affordable for family and friends to visit. We had sunshine, orange groves, space shuttles, alligators, and palm trees!
Others were short-term, but the friendships that began there, are some of the most enduring my children have known.
One duty station, Bill did on his own.
He traveled every couple of weeks back to Pensacola to see us. During long weekends without kid activities, we'd make the drive to see him. Or, we'd spend a week or ten days with him at the beginning and end of summer break.
We knew retirement was within reach. We didn't know when, exactly, until it was suggested his next duty station might be the Pentagon.
Um, thanks but, no thanks. Traffic. Congestion. Long hours. Not what our family needed.
Our decision was made, it was time to retire. But where?
There were many places we hadn't been to. Many parts of the country where we could pick up and start over, as military families often do.
We could return to what we had known as children. Back to the area where much of our families live.
Or, we could stay right where we were.
Where our children had at this time, spent the majority of their lives.
Where our neighbors have become not only good friends, but family.
You see, that's what happens when you join the military.
A duty station, over time, becomes home. Because of the people. Because of the experiences. Because of what it offers. Because it becomes familiar.
Pensacola is home.