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Ranking My Duty Stations

As a military kid, I often dread the age-old "Where are you from?" I usually answer one of two ways: the place I live in, or I'll say something like, "Every place I've lived has a piece of my heart." Every duty station has its ups and downs, so today, I rank my duty stations.

#4: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Now, this is no easy feat, as I haven't lived in any places I dislike, but coming in last is Virginia Beach. Let me preface this decision by mentioning that this is where I was born, and my whole family lives in Virginia. So really, I have nothing terrible to say about this duty station other than the fact that traffic gets pretty bad and the weather is very gloomy. Of course, there are great things about Virginia Beach. For example, my favorite Filipino bakery, "Glory's," is there, and they serve the best ensaymada I've ever had. As I mentioned earlier, my Maw lives there, which is the highest selling point. So overall, it's not that Virginia was a horrible place to live, the other places I've lived are just much better.

#3: San Antonio, Texas

In third place is Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. I loved Fort Sam and San Antonio, but honestly, it could have been better. The housing we lived in here was ancient, so ancient that the original paint was still there, and if paint peeled, like 30 years' worth of paint peeled off. We also had a pretty terrible cockroach problem, and don't even get me started on the pollen problem. But this is also where I found my cat (found him living in my basement as a kitten). I also joined the swim team during my first year of high school, which gifted me my best friend. The culture and history that Fort Sam and the city of San Antonio hold are mesmerizing to learn about. Living there gave me a new appreciation for the world around me and ghost stories. I also learned to know my worth here. I gained so much confidence from the beginning of my time at Fort Sam to the end.

#2: Fort Bragg, North Carolina

In second place is Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I lived the longest here, clocking in at eight years. This is where most of my memories were made. Here, I lived in my favorite house I've ever lived in. We lived in a gated community in a house at the bottom of a hill. It was the biggest house on the block. Maybe it was just because I was so little or that it was painted a beautiful yellow color, but it just stood out to me in no way any other house ever has. All of my childhood memories are in that house and the surrounding area. My family used to eat at this Mexican restaurant down the street from where my sister and I used to cheer. Looking back at it now, I have no idea what the restaurant was called because my family just called it "Now Open." I'd always order the same thing, a quesadilla with beef, beans, and cheese, and my sister ordered the "ACP." My memories there are honestly some of the best I have, which is why it is placed the way it is.

#1: Tampa, Florida

And placing first by a landslide is my last "duty station" in Tampa, Florida. I wonder if this counts as a duty station because I live where my dad is retired, but this is my blog post so I'm counting it. Florida is by far my favorite state I've lived in, especially the west coast of Florida. The water is clear, and the beaches are clean. I still pinch myself every time I drive over the bridge from Tampa to Clearwater because it's amazing that I live in a place with a climate like this. Living here, I've learned so much about myself. In Florida, I finally found the group of people where I belong. After joining the pageant community, learning from many strong and independent women has been great. It was here that I finally found myself and realized that I am worth so much more than I give myself credit for. Florida has also given me many opportunities, like attending my dream college, FSU, and working in one of my dream roles at Disney. Living in Florida has been life-changing, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Usually, when I say, "I wouldn't say that I have a favorite place I've lived, and it's more that every place I've lived has a little piece of my heart," I follow up with, "I know that sounds cheesy," but it's the truth. Every place I've lived as a military kid has shaped me into who I am today, and I am immensely grateful.


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