It is always interesting to go back to somewhere you have lived before. As an Army Brat, I've lived all over the world - and I've had mixed experiences returning to those places - one key seems to be the distance in time since I lived in that spot.
I lived on a small Army Post in Germany for my seventh and eighth grade years. My dad was the commander of this post, and with that came a certain amount of notoriety. I couldn't sneeze without my mom getting a phone call from someone in this tight-knit community. I loved this assignment - it was full of unique experiences that remain memorable and important as I reflect on those years. One year after I moved, I returned to Germany as an oper for a German family we knew. I was thrilled to get the chance to go back and see my friends. I decided I would surprise them, so I bicycled onto post one day - and no one blinked at all. Well, ok, a couple of people asked the traditional questions, like, how are your parents? How do you like your new place back in the US? But, I didn't reconnect with any of my old friends. Some had moved, some weren't there, it just wasn't the same. Army Brats are really expected to move on. "You'll make new friends," the moms say. But, I fantasized a little (probably a lot) about returning. Due to my being so devastated by all the change, I decided then and there that I could never go back to the important places that I've lived - and I have stuck with that, for the most part.
On our way to Boston, however, my husband suggested we stop in Newport, Rhode Island to see this beautiful city. I spent my tenth grade year here - after leaving Germany - and I have vague memories of the place. We drove into the city of Newport, entranced by the bridges and water - and headed straight for the base where my family had lived for that one short year. Fort Adams is still there - on the edge of the peninsula, protecting Narraganset Bay, it is beautifully situated - and today I thought, Wow - I lived in this beautiful setting? Truly, it is stunning. Leaving the fort and heading for lunch, we happened by my old high school - for me now just a collection of mental images: doing Rock Lobster at a dance - shooting at the target range with the ROTC drill team - taking the PSAT test. Revisiting this place was not agonizing - and the changes we found, of course, were to be expected after so many years. I was glad we had taken the time to drive by and stop.
Being so far past those formative middle and high school years, as so many of you know, it is much easier to "go back" to where you have left, revisit old territory, and really enjoy it. I was much to close to still living there when I returned to Germany - and that expectation that nothing would change, and of course it all did, would haunt me for a while.
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