By Eric Schlotzhauer –
I’ve spent my whole life saying good bye to my friends.
I was born in a small townhouse out of Alexandria, Virginia, with my mom, dad, and brother. Several weeks into my blossoming life, we boarded a plane to begin one of the many steps of living a military life.
My dad was in the Marine Corps, dedicating 21 years of his life to the service. On average, every three or four years we would have to relocate to another base depending on where he was ordered. It just so happened that I would be moving to the coolest place I could ever imagine. Hawaii. At such a young age, everything was a blur. The best moments of my life are — well, I don’t really remember.
I traveled the country with my family from that point on. Three years were up, and I was only three years old, still lacking the ability to know how awesome the places I lived in were.
Driving over the Golden Gate bridge, my mom turned to me and my brother trying to explain what the significance of it was. Her explanations were drowned out by the constant whining question of “Are we there yet?”
I grew to hate traveling. Any trip in the car longer than an hour was like a century in hell.
After two days of flying back to the continental USA and traveling the country, we arrived at the next location that we would
continue are life in. San Francisco, California.
I was finally starting to get to learn what friendship was — whoever had the coolest toys, of course. I met a few kids from my neighborhood and chose wisely (the kids with the Nintendo 64 gaming system). The friendships were nothing more than occasionally hanging out, but they were still friends. When it was time to move, I didn’t understand why. “We just got here,” I thought. Although we have lived in California for four years, it felt like nothing to my current worry-free, no responsibility, play-all-day, seven-year-old self.
Saying good bye to people we grew to love was new to me. I didn’t understand why, but all I cared about was the length of the ride. Two days of traveling later, I was ticked. We opened the door to our new house and our new life. Stafford, Virginia, was our new residency.
A new location, a new school, and a completely new experience. I had to start all over again and meet new people. I was finally entering the public school system. I was nervous and scared. I didn’t know a single person and I did not really know how to meet new people very well. It took some time, and a lot of sacrifices (like giving up my snack or lending the girl I had a crush on my nap time mat), but I eventually started to fit in.
In a flash, three years were up, my dad came home and told us that it was about time to leave. This time I was devastated. I was old enough now to fully understand what this meant. Only being in second grade, I had already started over twice. Luckily this time, we stayed within Virginia, but on the whole other side.
Most think constantly relocating and meeting new people would get easier after a while. They assume that I should know how to easily get friends, but that was not the case. The older I got, the harder it got, mainly because I got a lot more stubborn. I was mentally tired and emotionally drained. The friends that I worked so hard to achieve were now nothing but a memory lingering in my mind.
It turns out that this would be the last move that is forced by the military. My dad would be retiring that year. Twenty one years is a long time, and it wasn’t easy for him to give up his current Marine lifestyle. It was a sacrifice he made my brother and I.
My dad was now retired from the military, and we had control of our destiny, so we lived happily ever after in Virginia.
My parents were not satisfied with our current location. They both decided that they wanted to move back where all their memories derived from, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, am I going to have to go to school by horse and buggy?
Now sitting here typing this story, it is obvious I survived high school. Barely. I met all new people and have had a lot of good memories here. After constantly moving, I thought I would be happy to remain in one place, but I guess I just can’t stop complaining. Six years has gone by and I can’t wait to get out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. College is coming up, and I am counting down the days.
I guess in life, you just have to constantly find the good in good bye, because everything is a series of new comings and homecomings. There is nothing wrong with a fresh start in a new location. Traveling the world is something these Lancastrians should learn. They’ve been here for too long.