Although I do not notice or think of it often, there is something in my life, a seemingly invisible force, which is constantly affecting and changing my life, sometimes without my knowledge or without my acceptance. This force has been at work my entire life, even before I was born, and has resulted in my existence here on Earth. An active-duty member of the United States Air Force, my mother makes my life what it is, naming the government and the Armed Forces as fathers of mine. I follow orders from the Air Force just as she does.

My parents met each other while attending the Air Force’s Basic Training program, and I was a result. Throughout my entire life, the Air Force has told me where to live and I have grown comfortable temporarily living on government land in a government-owned house. I have known nothing but the white walls that have surrounded me in every house I’ve lived in, and cannot even imagine a painted wall, now. House expansions and remodeling seem against the law to me since they have been against my laws. I have grown used to following government regulations and no longer find moving often unusual. Throughout my seventeen years of life, I have called eight different houses home and have cheered for six different school mascots. Because I move often, problems arise. My grades do not correctly transfer affecting my class rank, classes I have taken are not accepted in different states, friends are left behind, items are lost, and I can never truly plan for the future because I never know what’s going to happen next. I learn to live on my toes and expect the unexpected. Because of the Air Force, I have seen a variety of places, and faced different climates growing comfortable right up against the Canadian border and the Mexican.

Because the Air Force controls when people come and go, I am comfortable giving goodbyes to loved ones, wondering when I’ll ever see someone again, and shedding tears at an airport. Each year I must meet new friends to leave the next year and while my sense of adventure brings optimism to each move, my sensitive side dwells on the loss of friends. Relationships of mine have broken and ended because of my situation, friends unable and unwilling to keep in contact. Family life is also affected, my mother willing to be sent away to participate in a war, help in a distant region, or receive more training in a different place. Gone for two weeks, gone for four weeks, gone for eight weeks, gone for twenty-four weeks, it’s different every time. With my mother’s long working hours, leaving the house at five in the morning to return as late as eight in the evening, and deploying to Maine, Alabama, Cuba, Afghanistan, I have adjusted to life at home with my dad. My mom’s schedule is unpredictable and she can leave at any point, sometimes even excusing herself from dinner or sneaking out from the darkness of the movie theatre. While I must be ready to leave a friend, my mom must be ready to serve her duties.

They tell her not to drink the water. They restrict her from the leaving the base alone. They issue her a gun and train her how to use it. The Air Force consists of people willing to work in dangerous situations to protect their homeland. My mother is one of these people and while she may not rush into combat with bullets brushing her shoulders and grenades ringing in her ears, she does reside in dangerous areas. Working in the medical field, my mother treats those who have fought and those who have been injured. Her enemy is disease and her goal is not to protect the innocent villagers, but to save their lives. While she is away, I worry for her safety, knowing that there is a possibility that she may not return.

As I live my life, the United States Air Force makes many major decisions for me: where I will live, when I will say goodbye to my friends, when my mother will work and where she will deploy. While these may add difficulties to my life at times, I have grown used to them and have become familiar with the procedures. I continue to make new friends as I am pulled from one place and stuck in another and continue to worry for my mother as she is sent away from my family and me. I take required classes that I have missed and try to straighten my grades out between schools. I may live as if I could move soon, but I try to find “home” in each place I reside. Because of these difficulties, my perspective of life has been sculpted, leaving me to believe, “You never know what’ll happen.”

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