Day 91: Land That I Love
(I had to readjust my countdown dates, and oddly enough it is officially 90 days until I head back, so I’m not as behind as I originally thought).
I will miss standing at attention for the National Anthem in the movie theater before the movie starts. Very similar to sports events (Football, baseball, etc), all movie theaters on all military bases, stateside and overseas, play the National Anthem before a scheduled movie showing. This may be strange to some who’ve never been on a military base. For me, not so much.
Anyone who knows me or within 5 minutes of meeting me learns 3 things: I’m a nurse, I’m in the Navy, and my father was in the Navy for 30 years. Growing up, it was perfectly normal to move every 3-4 years, go to a new school, and make new friends. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 20 because you could only drive off base if you were 18, already had a driver’s permit, and passed the local driving exam. I’ve always had a Military I.D. card. I graduated from a DODDs High School in Germany. I still blank at the question, “Where are you from?” (Where was I born? Where did I go to high school? Where was the last place my family was stationed? The last place I was stationed?)
Although being a Navy Brat had its challenges, it was pretty dang awesome. Thanks to my dad’s job, we got to live in Italy and Germany, two of my favorite places in the whole world. I’ve seen Paris, sat in a Venetian gondola, been to the Munich Oktoberfest, attempted to snowboard down the Swiss Alps (It was a disaster, btw), and sat through Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica presided by Pope John Paul II.
So it’s a little surreal for me being a former Navy Brat and now as the active duty member, seeing the kids get on the bus off base, walking down the halls of the high school for volunteer work, or speaking at a career fair about my job as a nurse, knowing that I was exactly in their shoes a decade ago. Maybe I’m just waxing nostalgia since I will be missing my 10 year high school reunion where a bunch of kids who graduated from Patch American High School in Stuttgart, Germany are meeting up in Colorado (It’s kinda random, but let’s be realistic, most of us can’t go back to our actual high school in Germany, especially since the building is being shut down). But truly, there are very few people in the world who’ve shared this experience, growing up, being teenagers and figuring out life in general, overseas in a military school in a foreign country, and knowing that odd feeling of belonging and not all at once.
The Navy and the military as a whole is a core part of who I am. And it’s something I’ve certainly struggled with every passing day. I often joke that I’m a lifer, I’m committed to serving the full 20 years. But as with most things in life I suppose, the responsibilities and expectations become more challenging, more difficult, and more overwhelming. I am immensely proud of my family, our history and everything I’ve accomplished thus far. Two of the greatest moments in my life was the day I was commissioned by my father, and the day I recited ‘The Watch’ and sent him ashore after 30 years of service. But some days, I do wonder what would life be like on the outside, to be a civilian, to be “normal.” But normal is a relative term at best.
It is frightening to consider life outside of the military, since really, it’s all I’ve known. For the first time in my life, I honestly don’t know exactly what I’m doing. Which is strange cause I’ve always been the girl with the 5 year plan (The damn plan as of right now has been set on fire and chucked out of the window). But all I can do is keep moving forward, one day at a time.