In 1985, my father was re-assigned to Erlangen, Germany just outside of Nurnberg. He would serve with the Red Lions of 1/32 Armor and my mother would teach at the American school on the base. I can still see my father’s office… and I know that there are peanut m&ms in the bottom drawer. Dad was promoted to First Sergeant (1SG) here and would be forevermore known as ‘Top.’
Top used to set me up at a table on the ground floor next to the coke machines to sell my Girl Scout cookies. I like to think it was my fashion sense and personality- not my father’s rank- that put me at the top of sales every year. Double Velcro Reebok Hi-tops, People. Check it.
Once again (God bless them), my parents opted out of the ever-shifting environment of base housing and rented a house in the little town of Baiersdorf. Oma and Opa were our sweet landlords; they had a German Shepard. We drove 2 old BMWs with German license plates because Omar Qaddafi had made life difficult for foreigners overseas. We memorized my fathers’ social security number and held tight to our military ID cards as proof of American citizenship. Every day, multiple times a day, our car was checked for bombs at the front gate.
Our little post has since been returned to the town and the base has been re-developed.
We skied as soon as there was snow and hiked when there was none, sometimes leaving before dawn to ski all day and then return the same night. I don’t know what we actually looked like, but my brother and I felt like pros. Danny was fearless and fast, his ego buoyed by his spiky hairdo. He crashed a lot, and happily. I was slower and did not fall often, but when I did it was spectacular.
Third Grade brought Ms. Durham and the first time my writing was recognized publically. It was the year of the Challenger space shuttle disaster, and my essay was read alongside a fellow classmate’s. His was beautiful and poetic, full of dreams and stars and possibility. Mine, I believe, went something along the lines of ‘They knew there was a problem but did they listen? Noooo. One minute after take-off and BOOM!’
Takin’ it to the streets, people.
Fourth Grade sent me to Ms. Kloss where I would become known for cleaning and organizing the other students’ desks during free time. Once, I left a note in Carrie’s desk saying, “You. Are. Awesome!” and Ms. Kloss called me up to her desk. I cried, thinking I was in trouble but she praised me for making another student feel special with such a small gesture. That idea would never leave me.
Fifth Grade brought Mister Jones, who was missing a finger. It was also the first time a boy would send me a love letter. His mom was a teacher at school, too, so he thought it would be safer to put the note in my mom’s teacher mailbox instead of passing it during class. That was un-awesome for me. Subtlety is not in my mother’s vocabulary. You know.
In sixth grade, I got the teacher everyone wanted (which NEVER happened to me), Ms. Skoogs. Oddly enough, I remember nothing from this year except that my best friends’ names were Amy and Nicole.
I was in every play Mr. Levy directed. We would practice after school and I would walk from the theater (the movie theater on base that doubled as our school auditorium) to the base library where I systematically read every book in the Youth Section alphabetically. That’s me there in my traditional drindl skirt playing the part of Peter’s girlfriend in the Pied Piper of Hamlin. I don’t believe that role was ever offered again, I was that good.
In 1989, my father received orders for Colorado Springs, Colorado. These would be changed, basically as we packed, to Fort Hood, Texas.
We all cried.
Did you have to move during your school years?
Timeline posts are a chance for me to get my life in order. Literally.