I am an Air Force brat. If you put me in a room full of 100 people and five of them are military brats, we will find each other. Three sentences into meeting each other, we will just know. It doesn’t matter that it has been decades since we have lived on a base. We will spot each other.
I’m going to introduce myself military brat style, by starting out saying where I’ve lived: Salina, Kansas; Plattsburg, New York; Burns Flat, Oklahoma; Izmir, Turkey; Springfield, Massachusetts; Margaretville, New York; and “Upper Wonderful”, Ohio. The last move, to Ohio, was the only move I made without my tribe of five sisters, one brother and both parents. It was the most traumatic. I moved with my husband and the baby in my belly, where he began his career as an engineer and I began mine as mom. We now have two boys, Vincent, 9 and James, 13. (Not their real names.) My life changed completely when I had them. It is much better now.
The second most, and only other traumatic move was the move to beautiful Margaretville, NY, and here’s why (courtesy www.bratsfilm.com). My dad retired from the Air Force in 1972, when Westover Air Force base closed, and we lived our first time ever as civilians in a tiny town in the Catskill mountains. The transition from living as transients on bases for one, two or three years, making fast friends, to a town with a long history, where lives move more slowly and friendships were formed tentatively, blew my mind. This link explains some of the difficulty in making the military to civilian transition:
My military brat conversation starter, “Where else have you lived?” was a conversation ender. I made the mistake of starting a conversation with that opener only once, because the conversation went like this:
ME: Where else have you lived?
ME: Maple, New York? Michigan? California?
Vesty: Maple Street
ME: Where did you live before that?
I am not sure how, as an adult, I wound up in a similar town with a long history, whose residents have been here for generations. It still feels like I’m outside looking in. So that is how I write. As the observer. With a weird sense of humor. And my heart on my sleeve. When you move a lot, you get to reinvent yourself. A lot. But the humor and the heart on my sleeve will be the thread that runs through all my blogs.