If you grew up the child of a military member, you’ll understand how life was for me.
My life revolved around moves on base and off, from as early as two years old to seventeen.
Since my birth in the state of Maine, my family moved from there to Taiwan, Massachusetts, Virginia, Alabama, Germany, Illinois, Virginia, and Colorado.
While in Germany, my mom took my sister and I with her to Greece each summer so that we could spent it with our yiayia (grandmother), aunt (thía), and our two cousins. We spent three summers in Greece, and the memories are fantastic.
Most of the time, we spent our days at the beach, playing mini golf, eating ice cream and watermelon, and tramping around the suburbs of Athens.
One time, my mom took my sister and I to a disco. It was fun dancing to the BeeGees on colored tiled floors produced by strobe lights and a disco ball dangling from the noisy room’s ceiling.
And the outdoor theaters were awesome–four walls without a roof, surrounded by beautiful flowers with the huge screen on the wall across from us.
My dad retired in Colorado, and I finished up my last year of high school in Castle Rock, Colorado.
Although attending my senior year at a completely unfamiliar and friendless high school was both challenging and incredibly abysmal, the fact that I fell in love with the light, arid, sunny climate and gorgeous mountainous scenery of Colorado helped lessen that year’s lows, and it only got better after I graduated, seeing how I hated high school.
When I was growing up, I was painfully shy, and it took me several months to get to know other kids. Nevertheless, I did each place we moved, and in some cases, I wrote to those I became friends with for many years, until most of them stopped writing.
Writing letters was a normal way of communicating in my day, youngsters out there reading this. 🙂 And writing letters and receiving them in the mail was akin to getting a surprise gift every time my mom would bring in the mail.
One friend, who became my best friend, I met while my family was stationed at Rhein Main Air Base, is still in contact with me today. We’ve literally kept in contact, visited with each other a few times, for the last approximately forty years.
Relationships like that are so special and cherished. In fact, I’ve talked to her recently, and she is planning to come visit me in a few weeks, depending on the COVID rules here in Colorado.
Childhood memories of getting in and out of airplanes, unpacking our things, starting at new schools, are embedded in my mind. Riding my bike with my friends, playing Barbies, going to the roller skating rink to glide around the circular floor and do the hokey-pokey with the lights off and colorful spotlights dancing around the huge space bring a smile to my face.
So many children were in the neighborhoods in which I grew up. You’d encounter them on your street or in their front yards, and soon, you were talking, playing–friends.
There was such freedom in the days of my childhood. You hear that often from older folks like me. But it is so true. Life was full of imagination, wonder, and riding your bike or skating around your neighborhood and beyond with no fear and little limits/boundaries, especially if you lived on base.
I wish it were still like that today. My sons didn’t grow up with the same freedoms I did.
All those moves exposed me to different cultures and different people, and I feel blessed to have had those experiences.
I bring all this up because not only am I reminiscing, but also because ideas of writing about the military brat’s life, using some of my own experiences to create a work of fiction has been swirling around in my head the past few days.
Perhaps this new idea will land on my mind’s runway, and a story will be written. I’m hoping so.
Were you a military brat? What childhood memories do you hold dear?
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