For many people home town is the place they originated from, usually were they were born. Where they have history, relatives and childhood friends they grew up with, where people remember them, somewhere they can return.
Ask an army brat where are you from? and you probably won’t get a definite answer. Like many military brats that moved around a lot as a child, I have that familiar feeling of being from nowhere in particular. I have no real historical roots or sense of belonging to any particular region or town. I moved from the city I was born before I could walk, lived in many different parts of the UK and also spent a lot of my childhood years living abroad.
Army brat with no home town
My memories of the various places I’ve lived tend to be based on emotional connections. I remember little about landmarks or the geographical detail. If I was to return to any of these places now I’d be stranger. But I do remember; The camp I lived on where I would watch Concorde on its practice runs, the house I lived in when the Falklands war started and where I lived at the time of bomb scares, where dad had to use a mirror on a stick to check under his car…
Although for me it was frequently one house to another, I remember my upbringing fondly as a continuum of happy experiences. I recall a childhood filled with hot summers playing out with friends speaking different languages, bratwurst and sweet kiosks in the wall. Waiting excitedly for dad coming home with another souvenir from around the world. Wearing snow suits to school. School activities that included driving tanks and the families sunday lunches in the sergeant’s mess.
Benefits of the army lifestyle
Being brought up within a mobile army lifestyle has provided me a wider perspective on life that I feel I might not have had, had I been brought up in one place. Looking back, my sense of belonging as a child didn’t come from being in one place or any particular geographical region. It came from being part of a close knit military community and having the consistency of the military lifestyle wherever we went.
As children army brats are conditioned to keep moving forward and not be perturbed by the fear of change. We have learnt to say goodbye to friends, embrace new places, integrate and adapt and to know that we can thrive wherever we end up. Perhaps this is why in adulthood so many of us find it difficult to settle in one place, it’s our instinct to keep moving on, embrace the next opportunity, experience more of life.
Home is where the army brat chooses
‘Moving forward’ will always be easier if you are not constrained by historical ties or connections to any one place. We army brats may not belong to anywhere in particular, but on refection, perhaps the greatest legacy our upbringing has afforded us is a freedom. The freedom to make our homes, our ‘belonging’ wherever we want.