It’s that time of year again: No, not wedding season; birthday season! (Though technically, yes, I think it’s wedding season too. The seasons don’t matter as much in constantly-cloudy Monterey, so I’m having a hard time tracking them.) On June 14, the U.S. Army turned 239 years old. If only we could all look so good after two centuries and some change.
(Between you and me, I think the Army’s had a little work done.)
And while the Army barreled tumultuously through another year of its second century, Jonathan and I barreled into our second Army ball.
It’s stereotypically difficult to believe that a year has passed since the Army’s 238th birthday. It has somehow been a year since my first Army ball. It’s been a year since I quit my job and moved to Fort Campbell. It’s been a year since Jonathan returned home safely from his second deployment in Afghanistan. It’s been a year since I charged haphazardly into military life, armed with humility, hope, and a tea kettle shaped like a giraffe.
And, a year later, I’m still holding fast to all three of those things. Also to the same bottle of hairspray I’ve had for at least four years.
Loxley had some jealousy issues with my beautiful Carlos Miele “Magenta Orchid Gown,” leased from Rent the Runway. And Jonathan had some jealousy issues with his bourbon.
The Army ball at DLI was a completely different party than the Army ball at Fort Campbell. They both contained the same traditional elements (a nice hotel ballroom, a pricey cocktail hour, a series of toasts, a guest speaker, and a few silly traditions), but the atmospheres contrasted each other starkly. In Fort Campbell, there was a party vibe: boisterous shouts and cheers, plunging necklines, flasks flying.
In Monterey, the gowns were sophisticated, the cocktail hour subdued, and the entertainment even included service members who had volunteered to sing (highlights were a “Frozen” parody called “Do You Want to Learn a Language?” and a “Mulan” parody that began, “Let’s get down to business…to pass the DLPT*). I spent much of the evening gawking at all the beautiful women in beautiful dresses, and marveling at the talent buried in the DLI soldiers.
Though most of my friends here did not attend the ball–many of them have husbands who are away–I was able to find familiar faces flitted through the ballroom.
By the time the Army turns 240, our time in Monterey will be rapidly disappearing. Jonathan will be nearly fluent in a foreign language, and my giraffe tea kettle will be stained with another year’s worth of darjeeling. The risk of an Afghanistan deployment will be significantly lower, but the Army will have changed in countless other ways.
And my goal for the next Army year remains mostly unchanged: Stay humble; have hope; eat gouda. Lots and lots of gouda.
How have you changed since a year ago today?
*The DLPT is the Defense Language Proficiency Test that all DLI students take after their language classes have concluded. Which honestly sounds about as difficult as when Mulan was training to be a man.