Anyone who knew me when I traversed the writing world as a now defunct nom de plume many moons ago was perfectly aware of my station in life as a military bride. With that one single sentence, anyone who’s getting to know me in the here and now has also been made privy.
Once a military bride, always a military bride. Even with MarshFox retiring from the annals of servitude to the kingdom, I will always be married to our beloved Corps just as he will always be a Marine deep down inside. You can take the boy out of the Corps but you will never take the Corps out of the boy. I’m okay with these realizations. The military way was our way for so long there are bits and pieces of it embedded in us so deeply we’d be hard-pressed to root them out. He’s grown a beard and has hair on his head for the first time in thirty years, but no amount of change in appearance can ever conceal what I know to be true. He’s still a Marine through and through. It shows in the way he attacks problems and keeps his office neat and tidy, squared away. He’s probably the only person in his classes at school (I find myself now married to a college man!) who wears khaki trousers and button down shirts, and on cool days a cardigan sweater with leather elbow patches. He treats everyone he comes across with respect, until they prove they’ve not earned it and then all bets are off. What was the saying I saw somewhere posted just a few days ago? I only owe my loyalty to those who’ve never made me question theirs…or some such thing. I can’t attribute it to anyone as I’m not sure where it came from or if that’s even the verbatim telling. Anywho! What I can say for certain is that all the military men and women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing adhered to just that. They are loyal to a fault until you break that bond of trust.
What it all boils down to is this. There is just a certain way of carrying oneself which is ingrained in a Marine, or any military man or woman, from the moment they set foot on the big yellow foot prints at boot camp. In our household, we actually remember the days Marines weren’t allowed out in town on a weekend pass without being in the uniform of the day. MarshFox will always carry the belief that one should go out in public looking one’s best and presenting oneself in the best light with the best foot forward. That’s not to say Marines weren’t notorious for getting rough and dirty in those days, but I digress. They started out with the best intentions and wore the uniform of the day well, affording all whom they encountered respect and loyalty until it was found they weren’t worthy of those things. Along with all that comes with presenting oneself in the light of being squared away, there’s a list a mile long, or longer, of traditions and customs that come with the title United States Marine. Holy grits and gravy!
I won’t even attempt to list all that’s included in the ways passed on from generation to generation of the fighting men and women who earn the right to wear The Blues. I will, however, tell you that this morning I was reminded of one of them: field day.
For many years, it was the norm that in every barracks everywhere, Marine Corps wide, Thursday was designated field day whereby every Marine was expected to get their area “squared away” to white glove standard for the week. The junior ranks would spend a couple of hours after chow on Thursday evening spit polishing everything not nailed down then the senior ranks would come through for inspection. Once the barracks had been deemed livable by the standards of the military, the junior troops would typically take to the nearest watering hole and start the weekend early. Friday morning PT was not their friend I those days. In recent years, field day has been moved to Monday with re-inspection on Wednesday in the event the troops can’t get it together to standards. (It happens more often than you might think these days.) I won’t get into the particulars of why field day was moved here because it’s basically an old school vs. new school debate and nothing is accomplished by rehashing it. ‘Nuf said! I will tell you here, however, field day has moved from Thursday in this house, as well. To Friday…
Old habits die hard, friends. It happened before I realized it, honestly. Nothing was written in stone and nothing was really said out loud deeming Friday field day, but it is. No tea is sipped until the last dust bunny is chased from beneath the couch on Fridays by default or some such thing. And, this morning? I actually said it out loud.
“Honey, we need to get busy. I want to go to the gym later and I need the house squared away before we leave. It is field day Friday, after all.”
Gravy! What the what?! I actually said that out loud, like for real, didn’t I? Yes, old habits die hard.
And what does any of this have to do with writing? Well, what doesn’t have to do with writing? A true writer takes inspiration from everything around them. Right? Everything they see, hear, feel, touch, smell, or taste is all fair game to find its way into a story at some point. It’s what gives our stories life, sucking our readers into the depths of our innermost thoughts and holding them hostage if only for a few hours. I’ve often been heard saying, if a writer isn’t living they aren’t writing. Experience is the fodder for our stories, at least it is of mine.
When I first thought to enter into this wild world of writing many moons ago, working under that now defunct nom de plume, one of the greatest bits of advice I ever received from another well-established writer was write what you know and if you don’t know find out.
write what you know and if you don’t know find out
What I knew then was the life of a military bride and all that surrounded me…marines, jarheads, and leathernecks. There was the occasional soldier, airman, or sailor. Military life is what I knew. It’s what I know now. It’s what I’ll always know no matter our station as “retired.” Old habits do die hard and that which was ingrained in me from the time I stepped into the big shoes belonging to the elusive creature known as the military bride lives on even into our twilight. I wrote, I write, and I will continue to write military heroes from the inspiration wrought of the real life one’s I’ve come to know over the years and those I still keep up with.
#fielddayfriday reminded me of this.
Have a great weekend, friends!