sweet home base or home sweet base.

“Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble
(His music videos are soo theatrical :P I love this song thoughh.)

So I’ll admit that I was in part inspired to write this blog by a friend who posted one along the same vein. But it really is a constant and common feeling that I specifically experienced today.

I’m all over the place with this one (more than usual). Just warning you.

Growing up with a parent in the military gives people this certain element, I think. Earlier this afternoon I was at coffee with two of my friends (also army kids) and one of them pointed out that out of our whole group of friends, we seem to be the most open-minded. Obviously not all military kids are like this but I’d say that it is definitely a quality that one can easily gain from moving around every few years throughout childhood. Depending on where you live you can even become exponentially more worldly than some of your teachers at school: One of my friends from middle school had lived in Egypt, Germany, and Italy by the time she was thirteen. She had spent more time abroad than she had in the continental U.S. It’s certainly an enviable lifestyle.

Except that there are some serious drawbacks, the first being the most obvious: a parent in the military means a parent who is obligated to deploy at a moment’s notice. It means tumult and heartache and fear and instability for months upon months, often occurring multiple times. It means drama between wives while their husbands are gone, power struggles, petty politics, and passive-aggressive competitions to have the most perfect children. The most perfect lives. Or rather, lives that seem the most perfect.

Not to mention the awful displacement that military kids feel every time they move. I know I felt incredibly mixed up whenever I moved. I mean, yes, I enjoyed it. I can’t imagine staying in one place for longer than three years. But I missed my friends! Can you imagine having this perfect group of friends one minute and then have them all disappear a year later? You get over it. But it sucks when it happens.

We’ve recently moved off post because my step dad is no longer working for Fort Benning, so I don’t really have any reason to make the twenty minute drive past south Columbus onto post. But this afternoon I went on post for the first time in four months because I was dropping my sister off at her friend’s house for a sleepover.

Army posts (I’m just going to start saying “Army” because that’s what I grew up on) have this sense of tradition and safety inherent in their layout. The housing is pretty much universal on Army posts across the country because (I like to think) they want to give us some feeling of continuity when they relocate us for the fifth time. Although I’m sure it’s actually just because they were too cheap to hire a new architect to design houses for each base separately. Okay, cynics. Let’s just imagine that people in the world are less cold-hearted than they actually are.

Anyway. I would like to believe that anyone who has grown up on a military base can understand what I mean when I say that there is some kind of universal, comforting characteristic on each one. Last summer, I went onto Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, for an old friend’s graduation. (We were close in middle school when we both lived in Washington state and I am so glad/amazed that we’ve stayed friends for so long. ) Even though I’d never been to the base, driving through the gates felt familiar and right. Seeing the roads felt like meeting relatives that you know you should recognize but just can’t place in your memory. The big parade field was just like the one in Washington as well as the one here in Georgia; I could only imagine the shenanigans that kids like me got into on that field at night. The bases are homey with tradition and dignity and discipline and reckless youth.

Returning to Fort Benning today was like a giant exhale of relief. Mostly because as I drove under the trees and over the bumpy old roads I felt cradled in nostalgia. Anything I’ve gone through recently in the past blew right out the window with the 90’s era music playing on my radio. It’s all okay. There are always the good parts of the past and then the future comes next.


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