A sterling example of how well military brats adapt is the deep online roots they have already planted. Before the widespread dispersion of the internet, military brats had to go out of their way to maintain connections. Today, brats can make friends before taping a single box shut. The online brat community is getting better and better and I’m glad to share my experiences within that larger realm.
I’ve decided to gain this sense of community by starting ABQ Brats. It might give me some peace and closure to help other military brats deal with the lifestyle.
For a little background, I was born in Scotland to a young sailor and his even younger wife. We moved with the submarines for a while until the late 1990s. Eventually, we were straddled somewhere between Kings Bay, Georgia and Cocoa Beach, Florida: a family splitting apart and every surface covered in swamp. In 2003, my parents split and my DOD mother took the kids to the UK while my Navy father went to a ship on the Med.
We traveled often, but travel when you live somewhere is different from travel on vacation. We always had to bring our homework and still had chores. Even in the UK, we were obviously Americans. We knew to be aware. We heard so many warnings about security and saw commercials day after day regarding the best place to sit on public transportation in case of a terrorist attack. There was very real stress. My time overseas in the years directly following 9/11 instilled a Cold War-style fear of national and personal security.
Now, I am in home territory and should be able to relax. I’ve always dealt with depression and anxiety and I probably always will. Somehow, I feel on call and am still prepared to pack on a moment’s notice.
Often, that Cold War fear sets me apart from those nearby. Once at a Navy event at a zoo, I spotted a backpack without an obvious owner. Immediately, I alerted my dad to the danger and he and a few other Navy guys went over, did an inspection, called Zoo Security, and apologized when the college artist came back with his sketch of the polar bears. I was surprised the student hadn’t realized you never leave your luggage where anyone can tamper with it and thought he’d be pleased we secured this precious backpack instead of leaving it to the wild zoo thieves.
According to my civilian-bred friends, this is all very unusual. After time, I am able to see how that may be but they still seem weird to me for leaving cars unlocked or going out without a wallet. As a substitute teacher, I was always disturbed by how easily people can access schools. You can park and just go on in. Where’s the security guard? The ID check? The mirrors under the car? It’s all so trusting!
I still haven’t settled my own personal views on the military, but the influence is undeniable. I am a military brat through and through and am learning now how different brat life actually is.
So, I’m afloat in the “real” world and trying to make do. My military upbringing has given me both the guts and brains to put together my own business. It would be great to drop anchor sometime and I think that by letting people in, it might show other brats it is okay to do the same.
This is the first post in our new running column, “Reflections.” Each Friday, I will share an experience from my past and hope you will share your own stories below.