If you're like me, your answer to the inevitable question, "So, where are you from?" has to be answered in list form. Of course, the next question is always, "Oh, so you're an Army brat?"
To which I answer, "Marine brat, actually."
While this question used to fill me with dread, as I've gotten older I have come to embrace my time as a Marine brat. So, as a celebration of my childhood, I present to you the top 10 best things about being the daughter of a Marine.
1. Government officials are nicer to you
When I was in college, I went on a ski trip to Canada and forgot to bring my passport. When we tried to cross back into the U.S., the border agent gave me the side eye and started lecturing me about increased security.
Then we had this conversation:
Border Agent: Where were you born?
Me: Camp Pendleton, California.
Border Agent: (visibly becomes friendlier) Oh! Do you have a parent in the Marines?
Me: Yep! My dad's a Marine.
Border Agent: Ah, that's great. Well, just don't forget your passport next time.
Boom. Thanks dad for keeping me from getting trapped in Canada forever.
2. You have a sword in your house
Sure lots of people have baseball bats or knives or guns in their houses, but not many have a sword. In high school, my dad's dress blues sword hung on the wall in the den where it could strike fear into the hearts of boys while lending our house a sense of medieval charm.
3. Your dad scares your boyfriends
Which leads me to number 3. Now, I pride myself as being an independent, strong woman who doesn't buy into that puritanical, patriarchal protection nonsense.
That being said, I can't say it isn't fun when my dad puts guys just the tiniest bit on edge. My high school boyfriend once told me that my dad was funny, friendly, and just a little bit terrifying. Heck, my best friend from college is still nervous around him.
4. You've seen "Full Metal Jacket" 627 times
Not the whole movie, just the first 20 minutes or so while your dad tells you about how realistic it is, how hard boot camp was, and how he broke his all of his leg bones during the first 5 minutes of boot camp but still made it to the end, damnit***
*I don't know if this qualifies as a "best" thing or just "a" thing.
**He has clarified that he only had a stress fracture in his foot and it was the last week of boot camp. But still.
5. You are always on time
To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is out of the question.
Military time isn't just converting 1500 hours to 3:00 PM. It also means knowing you should really be there at 2:45.
6. You get really good at meeting people
Awkward small talk and continuously having the answer the same questions over and over again? Bring it on!
I've met at least 76 new people every year since I was born. Ok, I don't actually have an exact figure, but from the time I was a wee one, I've been comfortable with being suddenly dropped into a completely unfamiliar group of people. When my friends fretted about going away to a college where they wouldn't know anyone, I was happily filling out applications for colleges all over the country.
Moving has also made me great at 1) joining clubs 2) first dates 3) teaching college students.
7 . You don't get overly attached to houses or places
In my family, we got into the habit of making "pros" lists when we moved somewhere new so we didn't just focus on what we missed about the old place. This habit has forced me to look at the bright side of any location in which I find myself. I'm also great at packing and unpacking, and I won't ever have to go through the existential crisis of my parents selling my childhood home, because I don't have one!
The downside of not having a childhood home to return to is that I get overly attached to my stuff. "How can you expect me to throw away any of the birthday cards I've ever received. THIS IS ALL I HAVE"
8. But you get to live in awesome places
By the time I was 5, I'd already lived in Southern California, Japan, and Maryland.
Maybe you wouldn't call Maryland awesome (but, crabcakes!), but every new place changes you for the better and becomes a part of you.
My family left Japan with a love of sushi, an amazing chopstick holder collection, and a life-long family friendship. My parents kept in such good touch with a Japanese family we met while we lived overseas that their son came to live with us when he was in high school, and this summer my parents are going to his wedding in Turkey.
As an added bonus, you eventually know people in so many cities, that you can go on vacation virtually anywhere in the United States without having to pay for a hotel.
9. You become very close to your family
Throughout my life, I've had several friends refer to my family as "The Waltons." When my mom was 25, she was living on a military base in Japan with a toddler, a baby, and a husband who was gone for months at a time. We quickly came to rely on each other for support and companionship.
10. And even though you have to loan him to the Corps for long stretches of time, you know that your dad is, first and foremost, there for you