Some folks love their little routine. My father was one of those. He com-plained a lot about his job at Union Central Life Insurance, but whenever you called his office, where near the end of his work-ing life he was a division manager of sorts (don't ask me what the title meant, I'm the original anti-corporate guy), he sounded suspiciously cheerful.

And because of his love of habit, we were never surprised at mealtimes either.

He liked meatloaf on Mondays, sausage or ham on Tuesday, hot dogs or hamburgers on Wednesday ... well you get the idea. If my mother objected to cooking by rote, she never expressed those objections where we kids could hear.

If you had asked me when I was a kid, I would have said I, too, was a habitual kind of guy.

I lived at home, in the same room, for most of my early life. Even after I graduated high school and took a job at a machine shop, I paid my parents room and board, and except for coming in later than they preferred on weekends, I hewed to the same routine I'd always followed.

Getting drafted during the Vietnam War didn't change anything all that much, once I finished basic and advanced trainings and was sent to a regular duty assignment.

No place is more regulated than the Armed Forces, unless it's prison. There is a time to do everything and even a way to do it. And I learned quickly not to try and improve on my sarge's methods. He did things the way he did things for a reason, he said, although he never bothered to explain his reasoning.

Come up with a better way, and instead of a reward you were more likely to receive kitchen duty.

As I've mentioned in this space before, after my two years and change in arms I had a few problems with foreign substances, like a lot of veterans of my day.

But there are few vocations less guided by habit than pursuing narcotics. Heck, they even call drug addiction having a habit.

It's been more than 30 years since I've had that type of difficulty, and as I've told curious readers before, although I wasn't proud of my prob-lem I was very proud to have kicked my habit (and it stayed kicked).

Other than red wine with dinner or a beer after golf or softball, nothing stronger than coffee usually passes my lips. And I've grown afraid of needles of all kinds, too.

Soon after I righted my listing personal ship in the early '70s, I met the strong, ambitious woman who became my wife. More habits. Five years of college and two degrees crammed into four years time. A steady clot of journalism jobs. And then, after divorce, a few years of single-parenting when, once again, because of the kids, a habitual routine was required.

It was only a few years ago, after both of my daughters were out on their own, one working and one in college, that I discovered I'd become a non-musical rolling stone.

No matter how well the career was going, or the romantic life, I have tended to pick up stakes after a certain amount of time.

Four years in Sun Valley, at a good newspaper, living with a very good girl. I left. No real reason other than boredom.

Four years in Port Orchard and Bremerton, the last year editing my own newspaper. And two very nice young women, one for each newspaper. Desire for change once again.

Then two years in Hawaii, at a so-so newspaper and with a sporadic dating life. Maybe that's why only two years in the islands instead of four.

And now I've been back in Seattle about three years.

I've got two very nice grandsons - one for each daughter.

I do a lot of writing for a lot of publications. And I always have a second job of sorts. I've just quit the market-research hustle I've mentioned here before, but something else has already been lined up.

I've got a lot of options at a certain level because I'm a certified nursing assistant, I've managed a used bookstore, tended bar, attempted counseling - one of my degrees is in abnormal psychology - and I've done legal investigative work for a relatively prominent Seattle criminal defense attorney who reads this paper sometimes. I've also taught writing and journalism at two colleges and a major university.

I've thought of all this lately because people keep talking to me about these poor folks in the New Orleans area who have lost their homes.

I feel terrible for these folks. And I know the earlier, more rooted me, would have felt stricken if everything I owned were washed away.

But I wonder if the newer me, the one I discovered hiding behind the stay-at-home Dennis, wouldn't in some odd way welcome a big change - as long, of course, as there was no loss of life involved for me and mine.

One of the tougher things to me about getting older and less flexible physically if not mentally (yet) is my inability to do exactly what I want when I want (on the physical plane).

My days of one-on-one hooping in the inner city are 10 years gone. My soccer goal-tending ended in Hawaii with a detached biceps. I can't even play golf without a little stretching first.

But I can still feel my foot just starting to tap. I ain't mentioning this feeling to my kids or closest friends yet, but I can feel it.

I went to Thailand for a month last fall, and I find myself thinking a lot about Southeast Asia.

Thinking I might want to see the new, unified Vietnam.

Thinking I only saw Bangkok and the southern half of Thailand.

Thinking that everything I read about Laos sounds intriguing.

I feel terrible for all the folks from the stricken Gulf region who feel bad. And of course for all those who suffered. But I'll wager there are at least a few folks, folks who had been rooted for years or even decades, who, once relocated started feeling a strange stirring in their uprooted souls.

I think those are the folks I'd most identify with now that I've seemingly lost the urge for routine and a habitual everyday existence.

I don't know why this is so, but it has become so. Whether I like it or not.

But then maybe my desire to keep moving every four or five years is simply my newest habit.

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