In the spring of 2014, I traveled to central Georgia to visit my birthplace. Having moved away when I was just six months old, I had no memories of a place that was seemingly significant in my life. When you apply for credit, loans, marriage licenses, and passports, the applications always ask for the city of your birth; my birthplace had only been two words on legal forms, devoid of any attachment.
Like many writers, I use my craft to help share significant (and sometimes insignificant) experiences in my life with a lesson applicable for more general audiences, and I also write to work things out on my own. What I realized, in journeying back to my birthplace, is that I had spent a lifetime putting stock into a place to which I had no attachment — and that’s okay! The result of my writing was an essay that was almost 10,000 words long, until I worked with the amazing Estelle Erasmus, trimming, honing, and solidifying my message. In the essay, I discuss my Georgia trip, as well as the afflictions of a transient childhood, which so many military dependents and third culture kids attempt to reconcile in adulthood.
I am extremely happy to announce that my essay, “Georgia On My Mind,” was named the winner of the Missouri Humanities Council Warriors Anthology Writing Competition, and is published in Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors, volume 7 (South East Missouri University Press, December 2018). I’m also tickled to have my essay start the book, especially since it offers a perspective other than that of a veteran.
Since 2014, I’ve been trying to give a voice to the estimated 15 million current and former military dependents in the United States, bringing aspects of our unique childhoods to the greater civilian community. What makes Georgia On My Mind so significant is that it is a sampling of a larger, book-length project, in which I revisit my childhood haunts and discuss the historical and political contexts surrounding my father’s stations while serving in the United States Air Force, as well as the impact of a mobile childhood lived abroad.
In the spring I’ll travel to England and Germany with my little family, visiting the areas where I spent eight of my childhood years. I hope to test whether my memories match places, something difficult to determine when you live a continent away. My trip to Europe will also allow me to share the places behind my childhood memories with my husband and son, and give my kiddo a taste of what it was like to experience different cultures at a young age. We’ll visit places rooted in history — some ancient, some medieval — with stories that make the States seem like a toddler in comparison. Most of all, I’ll have two weeks to just be, take in, and take note. It’s a research trip, to be certain, but I plan to enjoy myself at leisure.
All of this is to say that Georgia On My Mind, is, in my opinion, the greatest piece I’ve written to date — it’s definitely the one of which I’m most proud — and you can read it by buying a copy of Proud to Be through SEMO Press, or via Amazon (especially if you’re a Prime member).* Give it to yourself, gift it to a veteran or a fellow military brat, just be sure to grab a copy, okay?
*Please note that I have included my Amazon affiliate link which means that I will receive a few cents from each copy of the book that’s purchased.