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TCK Closeup: AJ Zilinsky

AJ during a sunrise hike to Fort Collins' Horsetooth Reservoir.
The Color Purple 2023

AJ Zilinsky is a Military B.R.A.T. whose father served in the U.S. Air Force, so he and his family moved every time they got stationed somewhere new.

AJ has lived in England, California, New Mexico, Florida, Wyoming, and Colorado, staying in each place for about two years. We talked about his personal TCK experience.

When asked what his favorite place to live was, AJ said that he liked both Colorado and California: “I really like the outdoors of Colorado, but miss the beaches in California. All the places I’ve lived have been Air Force bases, and in California I enjoyed that I could ride my bike anywhere on the base. Colorado was similar, but I could drive then, and there was a lot of nice scenery around. There’s lots of outdoorsy things to do in Colorado.”

I really like the outdoors of Colorado, but miss the beaches in California.

AJ Zilinsky
AJ during a sunrise hike to Fort Collins’ Horsetooth Reservoir.

Next, we discussed where he considered to be home. He said his home was “my apartment, because that’s where I live.” When asked to elaborate, he stated: “The words ‘home’ and ‘house’ have become interchangeable. My house is where my stuff is, and it’s where you would mail me a letter if you needed to. . . . I definitely have memories and associations tied back in other places, but I don’t live there anymore.”

I then asked if he ever got homesick for any certain place. He replied, “There are definitely aspects of certain places that I miss, like beaches in California, but nothing beyond that really.”

Benefits

We then discussed what he considered to be the benefits and disadvantages of moving. For him, the main disadvantages were not knowing the same group of people throughout school, having to deal with being the “new kid,” and having to adjust to each new place.

As for benefits, he said, “You get to see new places, and things don’t get stale. After moving around, you just kind of get acclimated to seeing new places and doing new things that getting stuck in the same routine wouldn’t be terribly exciting.”

You get to see new places, and things don’t get stale.

AJ also said he enjoyed “meeting new people, seeing how people from different areas have different expectations and norms, seeing what people who have lived in one place their whole lives do for fun, things like that.”

Moving for AJ

How did he feel about moving? “I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, because it was a pain to pack and unpack everything, but it’s definitely something I got used to pretty quickly.”

Would he have preferred to stay in one place? “No, even though I enjoyed certain places that I lived, I liked being able to move around and see other places.”

To conclude our interview, I asked him if he would prefer to stay in one place in the future or if he saw himself continuing a more nomadic lifestyle. He answered: “I don’t think I’d move without sufficient reason, but I think I’m used to moving at this point, so it wouldn’t be something I’d try to avoid.”

I don’t think I’d move without sufficient reason, but I think I’m used to moving at this point, so it wouldn’t be something I’d try to avoid.

Coming from a military lifestyle myself, I found myself agreeing with many of AJ’s answers. Moving and seeing new places can be a very fun experience if you remember to live in the moment and enjoy life, but that doesn’t mean forgetting where you’ve been and the people you met. It’s simply living in the present.

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