MONTH OF THE MILITARY CHILD: As long as the sun sets
By the time I was 17, I had moved 19 times. I’ve attended a different high-school every year and the majority of my life has been the process of taking off into the air, and descending for a bit, only to be whisked away up to the clouds again. Some people think that’s a misfortune . . . having to keep leaving friends behind, switching schools, how tiresome it must be to always be packing and unpacking, hopping planes, and meeting new people. But I have gained so much more than I could ever loose.
I was six when I first gleamed at the snowflakes of Wurzburg, Germany. I didn’t even understand the concept of a different country but I knew I liked it. I’m eighteen and I still crave the taste of warm bratwursts or pretzels on cold evenings when I watch the sun set.
When I was 7, my father told me before his deployment that I could always look up at the sun as it was setting and know he would be looking at the same one as it turned towards him. Ever since then I knew that as long as the sun set I was still close to him, as if right in his reach. But sunsets weren’t the only thing I grew to love.
As my family continued to trek through Europe, I gained at a young age my love for different foods and sceneries. I always took a liking to the twirling street dancers whom I would tip a Euro or two. I can still feel a pigeon from Venice landing atop my head some days when I walk through a crowd. I remember the Greek singers who always inspired me with their bright voices and happy cheeks. And I remember the feeling of the breeze tangling my hair as I gazed from the top of the Eiffel tower as the sun floated away.
I was ten when my nose was first tickled by Hawaii’s delicate Plumarias. I still believe it’s the most wonderful smelling thing on this planet. Walking to school by the ocean every morning and walking back home, often beneath a sky painted with rainbows that I could see through the curtains of palm trees is one of my favorite memories. And I remember how much I missed it when I landed in Alaska next.
There at age 13, I realized how that the sun, although absent in warmth, was still absolutely breathtaking. I would stare at it until it disappeared after hovering over the chilled waters and mountains surrounded by dancing lights. Sometimes a salmon would try to catch a glimpse of it even if just for a second, as it leaped out above the waves.
Coast to coast I flew. I drove. I even sailed. North Carolina. Washington. Tennessee. A visit to Colorado. Utah. Nevada. Nebraska. Florida here. Kentucky there. Wyoming. The list goes on. All beautiful places. All places I’m thankful to have seen. In each place, marvelous people, yummy food, new found passions, and in each place a sunset just as admiring as the last.
I was 15 when I was welcomed with a glass of sweet tea and people even sweeter in Alabama. I was at the age when southern gentlemen began opening doors for me not just to impress me as a friend. And from here I was introduced to a whole new world that one could not simply travel to.
I was 17 and in Japan when I first met who would become my best friend and all in all, love. All the sunsets became even lovelier and more vibrant as we watched them together. The world around me, as colorful as ever and even flowers seemed to blossom more fiercely than I’ve ever seen.
I am 18 and I catch myself still, peeking out my bedroom window, past the Japanese food stands, red vending machines, and glowing late night fishermen to the sunset in which I have been able to find all my life. The same one that has comforted me during the distance I must bear between my father when he is away and the people I am missing and also the same one that I am delicately kissed beneath. And the same one that’s worth finding from every angle of this magnificent world. Life isn’t perfect or always easy but it’s beautiful . . . Especially when it’s time for the sun to set. I’m just lucky I’ve gotten to see it from so many windows.