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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 17: What Is Your Most Proud Moment?

I think my most proud moment was, and still is, graduating from boot camp.  I remember so much so clearly (insert dreamy memory-lane music here).

The date is Monday August 19, 2002.  My parents had dropped me off at the hotel in Renton the night before because I had to be at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) in Seattle before the lower butt crack of dawn...as in before the sun even begins to think about coming up...and it is still really dark outside.  There was last minute medical stuff that we had to do and since Coast Guard boot camp is in Cape May, New Jersey, we got to swear in on Monday.

We did not sleep at all that night.  I was sharing a room with a girl who was supposed to be rooming with her friend but they somehow got split up.  They tried to get me to move but I said I did not know anyone and that we could all share the room if it was okay so I could get to know them.  We caught a glimpse of this really cute guy and invited him up where I was the lucky one who got to make out with this super hot Army recruit...all night (and that is literally all we did...get your minds out of the gutter)!

4am came way to fast and we were on the bus to the airport.  Hottie Army guy sat next to me on our first flight to Chicago.  He slept the whole way and no matter how hard I tried and how exhausted I was, I could not sleep.  I think that was primarily because I was stuck in a middle seat.  Not just any middle seat either.  It was one of those planes were there are like 10 or 11 seats in a row and the row is split up as:

Window-Seat-Seat-Seat-Isle-Seat-Seat-Seat-Seat-Seat-Isle-Seat-Seat-Seat-Window

I was in the middle section of that row in the middle seat.  I am strictly a window seat flyer.  I feel like I will physically be ill if I do not sit near the window...even if it is a night flight.  Something about the comfort of being able to look out the window and knowing I will see the earth before we crash that keeps me calm.  That and my creative juices start flowing and I cannot even begin to count the number of poems that I have written while flying because of something I saw in the clouds or the mountains or the Midwest plains.  I need to be able to see out.

We arrive in Philly and are directed to the USO where we line up and get shipped off in buses to Cape May.  We pull through the gates at TRACEN (Training Center) Cape May and weave around until we pull up to the indoc hall.  A Company Commander (CC) boards the bus and proceeds to yell something at us.  All I can think about is how my recruiter told me this would happen and that they were going to tell us we had ten seconds to get off the bus, grab our bag and get in formation.  All of this was said by the CC.

I was on the first set of buses to arrive.  That meant I sat on a hard bench at a cafeteria style table for hours with my hands on my knees and my eyes on my Helmsman reading over: a) How to stand at the Position of Attention or b) The phonetic alphabet.  We were expected to know that even inside we were required to "sound-off" which is just their fancy term for yelling...and everything that came out of our mouth was supposed to follow this:  "SIR/MA'AM, SEAMAN RECRUIT (insert last name), REQUEST TO (insert request), SIR/MA'AM!"  We were also supposed to know the military terms for things like the bathroom and the drinking fountain (head and scuttlebutt...just so you know).

Over the next eight weeks I went through hell.  I had some good times and some not so good times which I will definitely have to post about.  I will try to remember everything I can from those weeks...a little teaser you ask?  My whole company was evicted from our Squad bays...Position of Attention and goose poop...do I have your attention?  I promise this post will come soon!

The day of graduation came.  October 11, 2002.  Standing in formation during the ceremony, which had to be held inside because the weather was nasty, I remember thinking about how proud I was.  I made it.  The moment I swore the oath I was in the military but it was not until I graduated that I was able to really call myself a Coastie.  I was proud of myself to making this decision and I was proud of my shipmates who made it through and I missed those who had left us.  I felt more pride and felt that I had accomplished more in those eight weeks than I had in the 12 years of school that I had just completed a few months prior to enlisting.

I have had proud moments since then but none that gave me that beaming pride!  I think a close second would have to be my decision to divorce my husband and move back home.  I only say that because in the almost year that I have been home, I have become alive and feel more like myself than I have felt in years!  I finally feel like I am me!  I think the third would be becoming a Zumba Fitness instructor and continuing to further my education with Zumba to help people and help them change their lives!  I have helped inspire students to become instructors and I cannot help but smile when I hear how much fun someone had (especially if it was their first class...and yes...there are still Zumba virgins out there...GASP...I know!) or how they love my energy and can see my passion which I always want to shine through in my moves!

Well, I still have one more post to catch up on so...

Until next time!