It sounds like I committed a crime or something, doesn’t it? I promise my husband is still alive (all of them).
And… since we have been given the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, that is all I will say on the subject and get on with my story. I do not exactly recall how many times I was asked that question in the weeks leading up to — and while I was packing my not-so-big bag to go to — boot camp.
“Heh? What’s that? You mean this is about why you enlisted in the Marines?”
Yes it is.
It was all really quite innocent you see. We — a group of my friends and I — wanted to get out of class that morning, so we all signed up to take the ASVAB. A quite ingenious idea really, we all sat together and we all got out of Chemistry Class. What I did not know was that fateful day would result in a few trips to the recruiter’s station. Naturally, I went to see the guys in the Air Force (and as a freshman in college I was in the ROTC Program). But, It wasn’t to be.
The ROTC class, just like college, was dare I say… too boring? On the various trips to the recruiter’s station I did end up speaking to the Marines, and made friends with a few of them. (I gathered at some point that this was not quite in keeping with the rules, but hey, senior year of high school ended up being kinda fun hanging out with those guys.)
Anyway, at one point I might have said something to my mother about joining the Marines instead. It not only was poorly received but she even went as far to say that I could not make it through boot camp.
I was absolutely incensed!!! Why in the world would I not be able to make it through boot camp? Did I not participate in sports year round? Was I that much of a pansy that I couldn’t hack it? And how would she know? Did she have some inside scoop or some express word from God himself that said “Kristie will never make it through boot camp?”
So, I told my friends. You know what?!?! They AGREED with my MOTHER!!! I could not believe it. You know what I did next, don’t you? I did it. I went down and signed the papers. I went to the MEPS station without telling anyone. I raised my hand and said the words.
My dad didn’t speak to me for months. He didn’t even give me a hug when I left for Paris Island, we didn’t speak until he came to Paris Island to see me graduate.
I did it. It wasn’t so easy, but it wasn’t so hard. The hardest part was realizing that after I actually graduated from boot camp, I still had to do the rest of my contract.
I won’t lie, that was difficult for me. My 18-year-old mind kept saying, “You did it! You can go home now. Right?” Yeah… NO. The years were long. I wish my mom had mentioned that I really don’t like being told what to do. That might have saved me some serious angst, but perhaps she thought calling into question my ability to make it through boot camp would work better. It never occurred to me to ask her.
It was a decision that changed the entire trajectory of my life. Sometimes I wonder where I would be or what I would even be doing right now if I had stayed in school. What I do know is that I have done things that many people have not. I learned so much about basic human behavior that I could not have learned anywhere else. I continue to meet people and make life-long friends that I otherwise would not have met, and for that I would not change a thing.
I even reenlisted… once.