How Moves Can Impact Us: It Does Get Better!
It’s honestly a really rare occurrence to say you’ve been stationed in one place for a very wide chunk of time. Or at least, more than two years, that is. Most brats that I’ve met say they’ve even been lucky to stay two or three years in the place they were stationed. When I moved to the little town of Copperas Cove, I had no idea what to expect. I had just left my best friend at the time back in Maryland and, according to my mother, she saw a part of me start to change. I claimed I wouldn’t make new friends and was going to fail. Being a quiet, shy 5th grader, this was a very scary time for me. We were the oldest kids in elementary school, and we were maturing fast. We would be in middle school in a year!! I thought that I would be cast out from all the other kids in my grade. That people would be “too cool” to hang out with me.
Boy, was I very, very wrong.
By the first day at my new school, I had made a new friend, someone I would stay friends with all 4 years of my time in Copperas Cove, Texas.
It continued to get even better as time pressed forward. I met my three closest friends in 5th grade, who I continue to call and text as much as possible. As time went on, I met more people at school and more people moved into the little crazy town of Copperas Cove. My social circle just kept growing tremendously! (Which I can safely say is strange for someone like me; I’m a HUGE introvert.) I had a place in school, in my church, Youth Group and in my extracurriculars!
I had a whole thing going for me in Cove.
Every kid has their thing. Some kids play sports, some make art, but for me, I had a serious knack for the french horn. In 7th grade I was first chair for the top band at my school, which is a serious achievement for a twelve-year-old. (Even though I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, mind you.) For all you non-band kids, I was basically in charge of an entire group of other french horn players, who were just as clueless as I was. I had wanted that spot in the top band and instead, I got something completely better! The most important thing to my band directors, was not necessarily that I was “so spectacular” but, that I had a passion for the instrument. And that’s what I became known for. What people in school associated me with. I was the french horn player.
And I was proud of that.
Then, in March of 2019, I got the worst news I thought I would ever receive in my life.
We were moving away.
We were moving to Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
It was the summer before my first year of high school and I had been stationed in Copperas Cove for four whole years. Copperas Cove was basically where I grew up, where I found the things I loved, where I found the people I loved. I considered Copperas Cove my home, my hometown, even!
And now it was all gone.
In that year, I had already been struggling with panic attacks and what I would label as a mild sort of depression. It seemed like my body was just waiting for something extreme to happen because, after I got the news we were moving, these things pushed into high gear.
I was crying non-stop and I would get panic attacks because of minor inconveniences, small things I could easily fix.
Most everything ended with me in tears, shaking and sobbing, from math quizzes to school performances.
And although this story is a happy one, I can’t say these things have changed for me. The good news is that I am getting the help I need and continue to find healthy ways to cope with these things.
So, fast forward to the move. As every brat knows, this is a stressful time for everyone in the family. In addition to unpacking and lots of broken items from our move, my condition continued to worsen.
I still talked to my friends, and we facetimed and texted but, to me, it wasn’t the same. I still saw pictures of my friends online. And they were all together. Happy, even. Except I wasn’t there to be happy with them.
There was another thing that continued to scare me as the weeks of summer continued to become fewer and fewer. So, in 9th grade, that’s when you’re allowed to join the marching band back in what I consider my “hometown.” (it’s different everywhere but, I digress.) It was going to be my first year in the marching band. My first year in a new town, with a new extracurricular and even a new instrument I was going to have to learn!
To say I was nervous is an understatement. I was completely and utterly petrified.
The typical thoughts ran through my head.
“I’m going to make no friends!”
“I’m going to be so awful at it!”
“What if I mess everything up?!”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
I almost refused to go to band camp because I didn’t want to do anything band related that wasn’t “Copperas Cove.”
I now realize, if I hadn’t gone, I don’t think I would be the person I am right now.
It was the first day, the sun was beating down on my face as I was waiting alongside all the kids who were new to marching band. Then, the strangest thing happened to me. As I was sitting, sulking to myself, this girl walked up to me and said with the kindest, sweetest tone:
“Hey, you’re the new flugelhorn player, right?”
Her smile as she said that filled me with a joy that I can barely even describe. The best way I can describe how I was feeling in those moments was pure euphoria. I was obviously nervous, but it still didn’t get rid of the fact that, I felt truly happy for the first time in a long time.
Because of the amazing community I was placed into, many of them were used to kids like me coming and dropping in on their territory. I made so many friends in what felt like a matter of days! I even met one of my best friends in the band, a fellow military brat, because they asked if I needed to shower after some weird things happened to the water on base.
I bonded with people on the rides to away games, I made friends while we were dancing in the football stands, I had so many inside jokes and the pure crazy fun I had during the marching band season was extraordinary to say the least.
Because of band, I found the confidence to be truly authentic and really put myself out there, especially when it came to who I was socially. I made so many amazing friends in the little time I got here, some of them I even consider my best friends. I am blessed to have that. I was even surprised to hear that many people are sad I’m going to be leaving, something I never thought would happen when I first moved here.
I’m sitting here, typing this out, reflecting on how much I’ve grown as a person in such a short time. It honestly feels like only yesterday I was entering Carlisle for the first time, crying as I ate my Rita’s custard in the car.
If I hadn’t moved, I don’t think I would have been sitting here, writing this. And I don’t think I would’ve learned the most important lesson I’ve learned so far.
One thing doesn’t automatically “define” what you are as a person.
Only you can define yourself. No one else can.
I learned a lot more about myself that I don’t really think I knew before I came here. I learned I have a natural aptitude for music. I can learn and memorize music in a matter of minutes and can even play some simpler songs from ear. I learned that there is so much more about the french horn that I need to learn. I’m only a step of the way in my journey of being a musician. I also learned that I could pick up other instruments very quickly, when given time to learn. (I’m currently learning the trumpet. It’s very loud. 100/10 instrument.) I learned that I have a creative drive and when let loose, it can flourish. I learned that besides music, I have a skill for art and writing too! And, my personal favorite, I learned that I really, REALLY like cartoons, in any medium. I could go on for days analyzing and talking about them. (You can ask my whole family. The schtick got old fast.)
I think I let Copperas Cove become who I was when really, it was only a piece of the giant puzzle that is me!
As the moving season approaches us, to the military kids who are struggling with coping with the idea of moving: it’s not always going to be easy; this transition, for me, wasn’t at all! But the best part about it all is that it does get better! Moving is the worst and nothing about that is going to change but, you may find people who better you and inspire you, find things you never thought you’d enjoy, and most importantly, you get to learn and grow!
I think that that is the best thing I’ve ever learned. And while I’ll be back to Copperas Cove by the end of June, Carlisle will hold a special place in my heart. It’s become important to me. It’s a place which I first thought would be a bump in the road, a stop sign in my road to success. Instead, it became another landmark in the journey. And I will never forget how it has impacted me.
Not for a second.
This article was written by Emma M., an army brat stationed in Pennsylvania. If you have a piece you'd like to share, please visit our Writing page for more information.