Root-maker.

The longest I’ve ever lived in a house was… let me think… four years.

The house, in the West Point’s Lusk neighborhood, was a place my mom let me let loose.  I painted the walls blue, and tried my hand at painting clouds on the ceiling. In my closet, my friends signed their names to the wall in pungent sharpie marker, leaving my clothes slightly fumey. But I was in middle school. They were already slightly fumey.

Now, Patrick and I have lived in our first home for a year.  Every wall has been painted. Every rug is new. All the furniture meticulously placed. Nails only seldom pierce the walls, for fear that I’ll change my mind and leave a hole in the freshly patched and perfected walls. I care about this place.

and this dog.

But all this nesting has made me really reconsider my childhood. My moving, changing, stupidly mobile childhood. And the truth is, I’m confused about it. 

I am an Army brat: I am friendly and flexible; I adapt to new situations, have a global mindset, and have lived in more states than you’d care to hear about; I attended four elementary schools, one middle school and two high schools; my friends in New York used to make fun of me because every single one of my stories started with, “in Virginia…”; then my friends in South Carolina would get sick of hearing about New York. I was prepared for the world, but uprooted from my world every other year. I make friends quick, and forget them even quicker. 
This is an existence that so many children live, and very few understand. In this country, we have an all-volunteer Army raising up generation after generation of indentured public servants: their children.  
I’ve been thinking so much about this lately, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. Maybe it’s because I’m starting on my fourth year living in Nashville, and I’m feeling this awkward change, where I deeply love the people that live here, and can’t imagine leaving them. Then I remember all the people I left before. All the people I loved, but left, and never had a chance to hold onto.
Maybe it’s watching my sister, an Army Brat, raise three new Army brats, whose father has seen more war than any generation since WWII. Maybe it’s seeing those friends who chose to stay in the military display their life on Facebook, seeing the uniforms, the short haircuts, the athleticism, the patriotism, the unity, and I’m missing it. Wishing for it, longing for the selfless service that characterized so much of my life and the lives around me. 
I’m an Army brat, but now my time of service is over. How do I teach myself to put down roots?
I think my root-maker never fully developed. 
For my Army-brat friends out there, can you chime in? How have you dealt with understanding our experience? Are you still in the Army? Out? Putting down roots somewhere? 
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Author: Claire

Hi I'm Claire. I am a freelance writer, Vizlsa lover, and avid runner who lives in Nashville, TN. Nice to meet you.

3 thoughts

  1. I just read this and it made me nostalgic for our good ole’ rootless days. Even now, I have a hard time answering when someone asks – out of genuine interest, “Where are you from?” But then it occurred to me that our REAL ROOTS are not of this world at all! Our real roots will be put down in eternity! I guess that’s what we are longing for now….
    RILY – you’re the best!

  2. I think the military gets the best of both worlds at the moment. Thanks to the power of Facebook, Skype, and cell phones I can just take my roots with me wherever I go. Also, I get to enjoy traveling and essentially every day of my military service has been in a new exotic locale with amazing people that I never would have met if I weren't an Army Brat. Someday I'll put down some roots myself but I'm going to travel and live and learn as much as I can before I have to.

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