It's been said that when you move to a new location, what you get out of it will be what you put into it. "It's what you make of it" has been a constant refrain from those who are trying to help. I had a pastor who once told me that such platitudes "preach by the mile, but live by the foot." In other words, they sound really great, but in normal, every day life, they don't mean much. Reality is so much more less inspiring.
As you probably are aware, we spent the last 2 years in San Angelo, TX where my wife commanded an Army battalion. When we first learned we were going there, my first reaction was simply to ask, "where is that?" Little did I know that my simple question would lead to a deeper sense of being lost. In fact, San Angelo is no where near anything. At all. It sits more than an hour south of i20 to the north, and more than an hour north of i10 to the south. The city fathers decided that all sorts of ills would accompany any kind of highway that might connect the city to the rest of the country. What you are left with is a city of nearly 100,000 people that is a nearly 4 hour drive from the nearest big city. Once you got out of town, winding 2 lanes roads become the norm.
Of all of the places that we've lived in, I'd have to say that I was most out of place in San Angelo. First, San Angelo is a cowboy town. Big trucks with deer guards and headache racks (never heard of them? neither had I until I moved there) are the norm. Cowboy hats, boots, and starched jeans are the preferred fashion for a large portion of its people. Understand, there's nothing wrong with that. It just isn't who I am.
In 2013, Tyler, TX was voted as the most cowboy city in Texas, narrowly beating out San Angelo. There was, understandably, many in the city who were upset by this. Why, I'll never know. Personally, I didn't feel this was a bad thing, but that's just me. For a city boy like me, being in West Texas cowboy territory felt like being on a different planet. Again, I'm not criticizing the people who live there. It was me who was out of place. You see, I don't do the cowboy thing. I don't do the country thing. I don't own boots and never will. And the only hat I'll ever wear is a baseball cap.
My point is this: there's nothing wrong with San Angelo if that's where you live and what you love. I didn't fit there. And it gets to what I'm trying to say in this blog, namely that each time we move, there is a chance that the place we are going to is going to have a culture that I don't adapt well to. As an East Coast city boy, I don't do well in Midwest rural settings. And I certainly don't do well in the heat, a topic I've touched on in this blog before.
Over the years we've been to a lot of places. Some I've enjoyed, some...not so much. We spent three (LONG) years in central Missouri, and when we finally moved away I couldn't pack our bags fast enough. 2 years were later spent at Fort Bragg, and I actually shed tears when we moved because I had grown so attached to it. There have been other places that I was less excited to be at, others that I loved. The list varies greatly in terms of locations, and my reaction to them.
When cadets we knew would graduate from West Point, my wife would give them a small gift, the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh The Places You'll Go" as a way of getting them excited about their upcoming Army
Yes, in the military you'll go many different places, see many different things, and experience many different cultures. When all is said and done and my wife takes off the uniform for the last time, we'll look back at the many places we went. Many of them we'll remember fondly, some not. I think the book title will, for me, move to the past tense. It'll read like this: "Oh The Places We Went (And Some We Wish We Wouldn't Have!).
Free Blog Counter
You can follow me on Twitter if you so choose... @Armyspouse007