I was only ever grounded once in high school. It wasn’t for drinking, staying out past curfew, or drugs. Instead it was for participating in a protest to remove military recruiters from campus. In my teenage zeal and left-winged fervor, I could only assume that I knew everything and that the military was part of some cosmic machine dedicated to death. All I can say now in my defense is that teens are fucking idiots. For proof, just follow any newly minted “adult” into a tattoo parlor and see what happens.
Now I’m married to a naval officer. I can honestly say that growing up, I never saw that coming.
I was raised in Santa Rosa, California, in the heart of Sonoma County. Santa Rosa is one of the most idyllically beautiful places on the planet. The town is located 60 miles north of San Francisco and it produces some of the best wine in the world. It is also widely known for other horticultural wonders that are slightly less than legal, depending on who you ask.
Many hippies retired Sonoma County, and that may explain why I had friends growing up with names like Star, Ravina, Holmes and Llano. My own father isn’t certain exactly how many times he’s seen the Greatful Dead live. In senior year of high school my requisite volunteer work for community service credit was performed creating vegan meals for the homeless with Food Not Bombs. This is all to illustrate the simple fact that I was destined to be a bit of a hippie.
My hippie roots were further solidified when I went to college in Santa Cruz, where I befriended multiple white people with dread locks and got a tattoo of a carrot (can you guess how old I was when I walked into that tattoo parlor?). UC Santa Cruz is one of the few places that perfectly fits its “laid-back” stereotype. The school with the banana slug mascot didn’t even assign mandatory grades for courses until 2001.
I loved my time in college, but graduating during an economic meltdown with a degree in Medieval and Renaissance literature left me with few vocational options. After months of unemployment, I found a job working at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. Up until this point, I’d never known anyone in the military. I knew vaguely that an aunt in Japan was in the navy, but I only met her once as a child. To me the military was a hodgepodge of negative stereotypes that only the naïve and self-righteous could ever really believe. I had actual moral reservations about working on a military base, but I was broke, and you know… money.
So one January day I began working for the Navy. I was immediately struck by how courteous everyone was. At 22 years old men double my age respectfully called me Ma’am. I don’t think I opened a single door for myself until I’d been there over a month. This was generally at odds with the stereotypical assumptions I rested on.
As I gradually befriended naval officer students and enlisted administrative staff, I realized that I might have been wrong. Military members weren’t actually baby killers. Most of the men and women I met were solidly good people who really wanted to do something in service to their country. Previously I’d tossed this notion aside as bullshit, but in many cases it was true. In some cases the military was just a job, or a means to a future college scholarship, and that was ok too. But as far as I know, I never met anyone in the armed forces who relished war or violence.
I still had no intention of seriously dating any of the young officers who graced the hallways at NPS though. I had plenty of military friends, but I did not want a partner who would be gone for long deployments, nor did I desire to move outside of California. Friends were fine, but serious relationships were designated to my civilian counterparts.
Then I met Cameron. He was adorned with a mullet and handlebar mustache for a themed party when I met him and he held malt liquor in a paper bag. It was love. He was (and is) a Surface Warfare Officer in the navy, but we were (and are) just right for each other. I didn’t stand a chance against his Tennessee charm. Within a year we were engaged, and not long after we were married.
Thus began my career as a navy wife, and an officer’s wife at that. I’ve made more than one interesting move and have met some incredible people. Now I’m along for the ride. This blog is shares my experiences moving around the country and joining a new community.
TL;DR: California hippie marries naval officer and writes about it.