Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the story of growing up military. (basically the story of my life.)

i am a military brat. i was born in Cleveland, Ohio, only bc that's where my fathers family was, and at the time, my parents needed all the help they could get.

oh, did i ever mention that my mom was a marine too? and that's how she met my dad? yep. he was her recruiting officer. and once she got back from boot camp, he was the first person she promptly kicked in the butt bc he? sooooooo totally didn't tell the truth about THAT experience. they've been married for, i believe, 26 years.

so my dad then got stationed in Massachussets. and we moved there. and lived on base. this is where i learned to talk, and for a looooooooong time i had a boston accent. yeah. wicked cool. my dad used to give me lessons while he gave me a bath at night: "okay, Lori, what do we ride in when we go to the store?" "the caaaaaahhhh." yeah. never worked.

we lived there for five or so years, i think, it's still a little fuzzy- i was really young- and then we shipped off to Ohio again to regroup before we headed over to Doylestown, Pennsylvania. we lived here for oh, i think until i was 8. a very young 8. that was ripped out of her first three weeks of third grade with all the new friends she FINALLY had made all over again in a new place that was totally foreign and scary just to be moved. AGAIN. sorry. military life for a kid is rough, man. so we hung out in good ol' PA, and while living there we moved twice. i stayed at the same school tho. this is the place where my parents used to ship me off with my dad in the mornings where he would babysit me.

okay folks. this is a marine, here. and yeah. he babysat me. all day. and this was when he was still a mechanic on fighter jets and helacopters and all things that fly. in a hanger. around big men all day. who curse. and it's dirty. with tools. and loud noises.

people wonder why i looooooovvveeeee love love LOVE L.O.V.E. the smell of oil. it's bc of my dad. and the smell of gunpowder. bc my dad? yeah. when he got busy he pawned me off on the lady (i think her name was renee, wow, how i remember that i have no clue.) who worked the GUN CAGE. bc he figured, hey, it's locked, she'll be locked in there w/renee, what harm could she do? uhm, dad? yeah. maybe a six yr old and LIVE WEAPONS isn't such a hot idea. just sayin'.

let me point out that this is probably the last time in my entire life that i remember being absolutely, impossibly, blessedly happy and content. this is the death of one part of my childhood right here, bc when we moved from Pennsylvania, i grew up. big time. i put on my big girl pants.

bc we moved to Chicago. inner-city school. i'm talkin', i was the only white girl. i have no problem with that, but seriously? other people did. as in, i was the blunt of many racist jokes made at the expense of caucasian people. it was a very hard time for me. it was also hard bc this was the year-and-a-half my dad was stationed overseas in Japan. we saw him every 6 months, if that. my mom worked as hard as she could but life is tough when you're essentially a single mother of a very sad 8 yr old who, once again, has to make all new friends and live in a new strange place and live in a CITY for the first time in her life. not to mention not living on base anymore. THAT was a shocker.

and then i got sick. like, really sick. with something called Fifths Disease. yeah. no one had heard of it then, either. i got really ill, like really.... really ill. i don't even REMEMBER months at a time bc i was that ill. turns out my dad was the lucky carrier of a strain of a virus in Japan. that he had his shots for. i didn't. a Philipino nurse, actually, was the one to diagnose me. i got better. my dad came home.
then it was YOU GUESSED IT!!!! orders. AGAIN. this time they were to... California. to Camp Pendleton. and this? is probably a time that i got a little of my childhood back. it was also the start to a very, very rocky adolescence in which i did things i probably shouldn't have and i am just going to say, in case my mother reads this blog, that i am one lucky, lucky LUCKY girl. nuff said. moving on.

(just some background info: i lived in California up until 2002, when i graduated high school. when i graduated, i moved cross-country to chicago three weeks later. yeah. i RAN from california. RAN. also, my mothers family lives in chicago, she's from chi town, so they moved back.. and i sure as hell didn't want to stick around after high school so i followed them.)

at first we lived on base, well wait i'm gettin' ahead of myself here. first we lived in temporary housing which is a glorified motel and i almost got beat up every other day. i wasn't allowed on the playground anymore bc of it. so i stayed inside and instead watched too much tv and learned how to artfully fold napkins. (this was before hgtv. it was just pbs.) i still know how.

after this we moved into an apartment where i didnt know anyone and if i went too far to the back of the property ( we lived in one on the front road.) i could get shot. yeah. bc it was ghetto and one time we had police hellicopters and all. yeah. then we moved again on base. into a half-house. like it was a duplex. there we go. and it had a backyard, and we got a dog, (oh btw? all this time moving around, we drove. cross country. with two cats. yeah. NOT. FUN.) (but i am really good at long car rides now.) i went to a school where, after the first year of having to dodge kids who wanted, again, to beat me up (this is a common theme and please make sure your children are watched at their schools bc seriously, getting beat up is no fun. it happened to me.) i liked it there. i loved school, learning, i had friends, it was wonderful.

this is actually the time of my favorite moment EVER in my life, my best day, and it's when my mom surprised me one morning and drove me past my school. i was all, dude, yo mom! there's my school! and she said, you're not going to school today. i'm all confused. like, wha? and she says...

we're goin' to DISNEYLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

yeah. best. day. ever. i almost cried just now thinking of how great that was and how great my mom was for doing that for me. (she once built me a cake castle for school. she's the shizz.) are ya still with me? this is one megga post!! SO. i graduate grade school, 6th grade, and now it's either send me to an inner-city school AGAIN in oceanside which is NOT good... or we move.

so we moved. to Fallbrook. begin the worst years of my life. yeah i'm not even being melodramatic here. bc this is the truth. the sad truth. no child should endure this crap.

and okay that was melodramatic, bc nothing really BAD happened to me. junior high happened to me. cruel kids with way too much money and parents who indulged them so the kids would leave them alone, happened to me. we didn't have much money. we struggled. we were proud tho. and these kids kicked me and pulled me down and stripped me of that. that is a very sad thing to happen to an 11 yr old. i grew up fast. i swear i was the most mature 12 yr old ever. i was made fun of. i ate alone. i had things thrown at me. i'm being honest here even tho it is very painful to discuss this, one bc it's well painful, and two bc honestly, i'm still ashamed and embarrassed. i had MAJOR insecurity.

i still have extreme confidence issues and i am so self conscious that i have problems even going to the grocery store alone, for fear that someone is going to mock me. yeah. i was traumatized.

bc i was made fun of, bc i was mad, bc i was so lonely i was even on the verge of contemplating suicide, yeah, THAT BAD, i decided you know what? if they don't like me, i'll show them. and that, my friends, is when i became... technically, goth.

yeah. but punky too. i cut my hair really short. i wore all black, i wore 14 lace doc martins, i wore school girl skirts and actual real school uniforms for little girls. and totally made them, actually, kind of scary. now the kids didn't make fun of me.... bc they were afraid of me.

i was kind of evil. as in, i was very angry. very young. and very, very excited by the fact that everyone whispered that i was secretly a vampire, or that i tortured animals, or i was a witch or some other trash garbage. none of it was true. i was just a sad, sad kid who was jaded and didn't give a rats patoutie (to quote mamadawg). during this time i was in a major depression. i smoked. (not just cigarettes.) i abused pills. i self-harmed. yeah. as in i still have scars. i had one best friend and we were exactly alike, dressed alike, and we depended on each other. if it weren't for this friend, and this strange, weird behavior, i think i would have honestly crumbled. at only 12 years old. very sad.

but i mean, kids grow up, and i did too, and i phased outta the scary girl thing, and i started to figure out that the more i blended in the more people left me alone. this is also the time i became a cheerleader. it's actually funny... bc the ONLY reason i, goth girl, decided to join the cheerleading squad was bc my friend i talked about just now, her mother was MAKING her join pop warner. bc while my mother let me do what i wanted not bc she didn't care or notice i was struggling but bc she realized that i needed to go thru this phase so i could get OUT of this phase. my mom was awesome and allowed a lot of stuff to happen that most moms wouldn't. (like 14 lace docs on a 13 yr old.) she believed in being different. my moms friend, not so much. she wanted to FORCE her daughter to change. so?

i joined with her with full aspects of promptly getting us kicked out. instead, i fell in love. and i fell out of being that angry little girl and in high school i fell INTO trying to, well, fit in. to say i was popular is an understatement, and i don't mean it to be pompous but c'mon, if you're the ONLY goth blonde girl in a small stuck up cali town, you're gonna be known. so i ran for office. i got in. then i promptly wanted out. i was school treasurer. and people VOTED for me.

it was also the year i got beat-up, REALLY bad, and then was almost suspended for it, even tho all i did was stand there and let this girl punch me and pull out 12 thousand pounds of my hair. i had it rough. i was sad, lonely, even tho i had friends but really? they were more daughters of rich rich people in town who wanted to rebel in THEIR own small-town way. by pissing off their parents and bringing around the girl-who-used-to-be-goth.

then the rest of high school happened. i went to europe one summer. then i fell in love my senior year. i was a punk, emo girl, wore converse but was still on the cheer squad. i was captain. twice. i was damn good at what i did. i'm very proud of it. then i had my heart broken by the same boyfriend.

then i moved to chicago. and i was alone, and i was sad. i went to community college, i lived in the little basement apartment of my grandmothers building in lincoln square, and i watched A. LOT. of hgtv. (this was when trading spaces was originally british.) i worked at lincoln park zoo. yeah. i chilled with the lions at lunch. i was lonely.

i floated around for a while, worked at bloomingdales, then didn't work ANYWHERE when i had chemistry (gained 10 lbs from that damn class), then i decided i wanted to stop being so ... sad all the time, so sad and pathetic, and i started working for a tanning salon. which, 6 months later, i met my now-husband. funny how things work out.

phew. so this is the story of my life. and this is the story of growing up military. now, i can tell you honestly that i'm okay inside. i love my family. i love my friends. i have a home. i am lucky enough to have parents that are amazing, a husband who loves me unconditionally and takes care of me, and i can count my true friends only on one hand but i hold this fist very close.

i have trust issues. i hate crowds. in fact i can never be alone in public. i am also someone who is extremely self conscious even tho people tell me i'm attractive. i will always think i weigh too much and that i'm gross. i will always doubt my intelligence. i will always feel like people are using me instead of truly liking me. i'm shocked when people want to hang out with me.

i love fiercely. i have extreme loyalty. i value each and every person i let into my world. but i can also drop you faster than a hot pan- bc i've had to move so much i can do it w/out a lot of pain. i hold grudges. you hurt me? yeah. you're out. all of this, is bc my father was a United States Marine. all of this? i wouldn't trade, not in a million trajillion years bc it's who i am today and i am an extremely empathetic person. i have learned, bc of my heartaches in my life, how to VALUE what i have and how damn precious everything is.

i love the Marine Corps bc of how amazing it is. i love it bc it's my childhood. i love going on base and seeing all the squids (i live next to Great Lakes Naval Base) and i love it when i get to see a rogue Marine around these parts. i get excited!!

did you know that when my military health insurance ran out at 23, i had to go to a real doctor and i STILL don't understand how it works??? my mom has to find my doctors for me and deal with everything. i cannot do it. seriously. bc military? you go to the hospital. done. and everything is there. pharmacy, ER, radiology, physical therapy. i do not get the health care thing these days. oh, and tax? yeah. when i moved off base to fallbrook and started trying to buy stuff at regular stores... i never had enough money. on base, there is no sales tax. AND everything's cheaper. as it should be.

so to end this mammoth post i want to say that while i'm a little skewed i'm still okay. and i'm a better person for it. and now, i feel lucky to be in that special club called 'military brat.' damn lucky.


Mama Dawg said...

Oh, honey. You're ok. I like you! (and thanks for quoting me!).

You sound like you're in a much healthier place.

If you ever need to talk, just drop me an e-mail!

Melissa Ellen Tweak said...

Lo - I can very much relate to a lot of what you wrote. We may have had different situations - and dealt with our depression differently - but I have some scars too.

I'm proud of you for sharing this. It is a huge part of growing even more comfortable with where you're at - why do I know this? because I did this too.

I am not going to leave in a comment my full response to this - I'm going to email you -

Know that I really do think you are super awesome - and I think of you as my friend, already!

big ol hug!

Lump said...

wow that's some story! we live and we learn and it's great that you are loving yourself and life! and kids can be so cruel - I know this. ;)

many many hugs to you!