Updated: Sep 3, 2022
Almost two years ago, BLOOM published an article by Loretta S. entitled “The Military Brat Life: A Playlist.” Recently, I reread the article and started thinking about what my personal playlist would be and what songs I correlate with my past duty stations. So…here that list is.
Pre-Memory (Germany - Arkansas - New Jersey)
I don’t remember living in any of these places, but from what my parents have told me, I was quite the Winnie the Pooh fan. Even if listening to the theme song doesn’t trigger any memories for me, it does make me feel comforted.
When I lived in Illinois, my obsession with Disney princesses began. My favorite was Ariel from the Little Mermaid. Even though I refused to watch the movie because Ursula terrified me, I loved Ariel’s dresses and wanted a fish to talk to me just like Flounder. Under the Sea was constantly playing and I still know all of the words. I’m sure that my parents are still sick of the song.
In Alabama, I started kindergarten. For the short year that we were there, I played with my cousins and discovered my love for reading. I played tons of Just Dance; I mean a lot. And my favorite song to play? Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. Other than that strange reason, it also reminds me of my mom and spending time with her. The move from Illinois to Alabama was the first one that I was old enough to be involved in, and I became closer to my mom as a result - my little kid self trying the best she could to help her out.
Technically, I lived in Arkansas for a second time before moving to Germany, but it was such a short stint that I don’t have many memories. Living in Germany was when I took a step into actual music, even if it was very mainstream. I still remember my gymnastics warmup routine set to Break Free by Ariana Grande, making it the song that defined my time overseas. It was the first song that would heighten my mood and motivate me. It was also when I “broke free” of being just another little kid and became someone closer to who I am now. There, I found my love of travel, socializing, learning, and art.
The second time that I lived in Alabama, it was also for a very short year. This time, though, I lived on Maxwell Air Force Base in a quiet circle with a great group of kids, constantly running around outside behind the larger houses. I remember choreographing a dance to Gold by Britt Nicole with the other girls in the neighborhood, laughing our heads off because we kept messing up the timing. This song led to the first time in my life where I felt confident, telling me to “hold my head up high.” The lyrics combined with the amazing friends I had led to a year of long-lasting, good memories.
My confidence in Alabama continued during my time in Virginia. Even though I’m sure that I was obnoxious because of it, I am glad that I was so confident in the tough environment there. The elementary school that I attended for 5th and 6th grade had an event called the “fun run,” where you would ask friends and family to pledge money for you to run a certain number of laps. On top of this event, we had multiple assemblies where a parody of Cheap Thrills by Sia was sung, promoting the fun run and, instead of hitting the dance floor, we would “hit the track and run.”
On top of that, our 6th grade class was required to sing Friends Forever by Vitamin C during our promotion to middle school. Though that song is definitely meant for high schoolers, it reminds me of elementary school and the friends who I made there, even if I don’t keep in touch very well with them.
My final time living in Arkansas was, in all honesty, difficult. I didn’t like the majority of people I was around, all the confidence that I had prior was utterly destroyed, I came home crying everyday, and my only peace came from running around my street with my friends on base. My wakeup alarm before school was set to My Way by Calvin Harris, a song that isn’t sad by nature, but I can’t listen to it now without wanting to cry. I dreaded hearing that song, it meant that I had to get up and go to school again.
On a happier note, Arkansas also was the time where I briefly was very, very into musicals. So Much Better from Legally Blonde was a song I had on repeat, hoping to one day be able to sing it to the people who were so rude to me before. Musicals and theater defined a lot of my joy while I lived there, even if they no longer do the same.
Where I live now - Colorado Springs - is without a doubt my favorite place I have lived. Yes, I lived in Europe, but I am meant to be here for high school. A great team, amazing friends, beautiful scenery, hiking, skiing: this state is my happy place. Downtown by Macklemore (thank you, Kaitlyn) and Sweet Talk by Saint Motel are two songs that can always make me smile and get me excited. They are now my go-to pre-meet songs to stay positive and focused. I don’t relate to Downtown, but there has to be serotonin infused into that song. Sweet Talk is my most played song, I could listen to it forever.
Recently, I discovered my new favorite band, The Wrecks. Infinitely Ordinary has influenced me to continue focusing on the small moments. Driving at night, watching a meet, eating dinner with friends, having conversations. This being the longest that I have ever lived somewhere, those little moments that I haven’t ever gotten to enjoy are incredible.
And that concludes my not-so-short summary of my moves through songs. This article motivated me to explore my memories - both positive and negative - of every location. It allowed for me to revisit aspects of my life through a new lens, maybe it could do the same for you. If you put together a playlist of your duty stations, what would it look like?