I've always been a brat.... and I don't mean spoiled.
I was born on Ft. Benning, Ga. I like to say that my first pair of diapers were khaki. It took a while before I realized that "olive drab" was not a color most people could identify at 50 yards. I was in junior high before I realized that "civilian" was not another word for relatives, and I was very upset to learn that I was a civilian. My toy box was one of my dad's old foot lockers.
My dad got out of the Army when I was in 8th grade. For the first time in my life, I was dropped in with a bunch of people, who, when they asked "Where are you from?" didn't mean, "Where were you last stationed?" but really wanted to know where I was from. I didn't know how to answer that. I still don't know where I am from. I was born in Georgia, but I haven't lived there since I was 5. My state of residency was Florida, but I never lived there until I was 14. I guess most of my friends consider me to be "from" Virginia, because I went to high school there, and my parents still live there, but I haven't lived there since I was in high school. I live in Maryland, but I didn't grow up here. And I really can't say I'm from Texas, Kansas, Nebraska or North Carolina, because I only lived in those places for a year-- and I don't have a lot of clear memories from those places (well, except for North Carolina, because I moved back there when I was an adult. My only memory of Ft. Bragg is of sitting on the back steps, eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon, but, honestly, I'm not sure if that happened there or somewhere else.)
I moved almost every year of my life. It wasn't until I was in 3rd grade that I lived somewhere for more than a year, and even then, I switched schools in 4th grade. A friend in high school asked me once, "How can you stand moving all the time?" I just looked at her and shot back with, "How can you stand living in one place all the time?" It's what I knew. Until then, I don't think I understood that most people don't move every year or couple of years. The fact that I've lived in the same house for 9 years still amazes me.
I still miss having an id card. Yes, I have a driver's license, but it's not the same. Having an id card is like a pass to Secret Society. You get to shop at the PX and the Commissary. If you lived in a foreign country, you're not looked at as if you're not really "American." (And yes, the first place I went to high school, I was ostracized for that. Or maybe it was because I hadn't grown up in that town. They were pretty provincial.) People understand me in ways I can't even explain. It's the whole shared experience thing.
Since becoming a civilian, I don't get rid of stuff. Some of my friends think it's because I'm a hoarder, but really, it's because I have no urgent need to get rid of stuff. Even my parents haven't gotten rid of anything. One thing the Army forces you to do is get rid of the stuff you don't really need. The Army gives a moving weight allowance of about 18,000 lbs (for officers. Enlisted and NCOs get less than that). Anything over that, you have to pay for, and my mother was bound and determined to never have to pay for overages.
I tend to get restless in the summer. For most people, summer is when they have vacations. For me, it was when we moved. I have a summer birthday, but until recently, I almost never had a birthday party. Either we were getting ready to move, had just moved, or, for the few times we weren't moving, nobody was around because they were getting ready to move, or had just moved.
The military does have it's own special holiday that most civilians don't celebrate: Armed Forces Day. I loved Armed Forces Day. Each unit sets up a cool display. The time I remember the best was at Ft. Lee (VA, not NJ). One unit set up a small zip line. Oh, that was fun! And I got a small bag.... it was like a messenger bag, only no flap and the strap was too short. It was in dark olive drab, too. I loved that bag. Used to put my Barbie dolls in it and sling it over the handles of my bike. I wonder if I still have it, or if it became a casualty of a move.
I found a humor page of "You Might Be a Military Brat If...." one-liners. I identified with most. If you want to see how our lives are different, check it out: http://www.military.com/humorcontent/1,,humor_012506_brat,,00.html
I think I'll head back there and amuse myself.