It's my birthday today. What better day to reminisce about my life. 31 years old. I've done a lot and seen a lot in my 31 years of life. Growing up as a military brat saw to that. Life was fast. I made friends as fast as I could and just as quickly, we were on the move again. Like clockwork. Every 3-4 years, a new town/state/country, new friends, new life. What didn't work in one town was improved for the next.
My very first day of school started in Augsburg Germany. It was on my 5th birthday, exactly. Funny, here it is, 26 years later and I still remember. I learned at that moment that shyness doesn't cut it. At 5. That's being an Millitary brat. You learn to adjust quickly to new environments. Make friends quickly. At 8 we moved again; this time to Ft. Devens. This is where I "grew up". Middle School years. Making friends wasn't as hard this time around. I had my first crush here…my first best friend…. I remember like it was yesterday, riding my bike from my house, down the hill to my friend's house. I went to visit this town not to long ago; the hill seemed much larger when I was 10. After 4 years at Ft. Devens we were moving again. Started "Jr. High" in North Carolina at a civilian school while my parents got things settled, once again, in Germany. This was a tough time; these kids weren't familiar with the military way of life. See, the thing about being a "brat" even though you aren't enlisted, you are still military. It's a way of life. You go through the barbed-wire gates, guarded by MPs, just like they do. You shop at the PX and commissary just as they do. You stop when you hear the canons go off to mark the putting down of the flag. I found it hard to fit in. Maybe because I knew it was only for a few months, I don't know. It was a culture shock for me. No structure. No base. After a few months…we were off again, thankfully. Off to Ansbach, Germany. My favorite years of growing up. The school was small. The kids were welcoming. They too were military. I made friends quickly. The kids were all accustomed to Army life. I loved living in Germany. More so now when I look back and reflect on all that I was able to see and do. Back then I can't say that. I appreciated the fact that I was living in a different country, but hated that there were no malls near by. . I remember when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out…watching it in the movie theatre… I swear the Red Carpet was out! Visiting castles, admiring churches... Going to a new country was like going to a different state; just a car-ride away. While most kids here in New England would go to say DC as a school trip – we went to Italy, pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa and bartering with the peddlers for a cheaper price on souvenirs and Switzerland, skiing on the Alps. I grew up thinking it was normal for me to say that over summer vacation, we took a boat ride to Holland. Didn't everyone? German marks were in my pockets more than quarters or dollar bills. German was taught in classes as opposed to the traditional foreign language of the area. When we moved again, this time to Maine, I couldn't believe they didn't teach German in the schools. This was unfortunate because I have since lost my ability to communicate with the locals. Not that it matters since I'm among English speaking citizens again. High School I would have to say was the toughest. My parents retired, so we were officially "civilians" going to regular schools. Here, the kids grew up together. They knew each other from pre-school. They all were born in the area and had never lived any where else. Their social statuses were already established amongst each other. Where mine was, still to this day I have no idea. I was the new kid. Recently come in from another country. I'm sure I talked funny, walked funny and dressed funny. After a while, I adjusted to normalcy. Had boyfriends, lived a typical teen-age life. Well, as typical as it could be. The structure was gone. PE was sports, not exercise. (Do you remember the gym classes at DoDDS schools?????)
So, here I am. 26 years later. I feel I have found home. I swore growing up that when I had children, I wouldn't move around like I had to. See, back then I hated it. It was hard leaving friends behind. I'd try to keep in touch but it never lasted long. Now, I'm 31. I've found a few of my best friends from the different eras of my life and made new ones. I'm settled…or am I? I still feel the urge to move. After a few years in one place I get the feeling that it's time for change. So I re-arrange the furniture…..