I was terrified when we got here...
When my husband was "voluntold" that he would be doing a stint as a recruiter, we were lucky enough to select the location where we would spend the next 3 years of our lives- in the military this is a ONE TIME opportunity. We spent hours weighing the options, imagining our lives in every town and city we could think of in the U.S. For a number of reasons we chose Philadelphia.
It was clearly the best choice- close to my sister and her fiance, a great place to find a job, a new exciting adventure- but when the movers cleared out, and the boxes were unpacked, I realized one thing- this city was huge. Was selecting the 6th largest city in the U.S. a smart move for two introverts who had lived their entire lives living in rural towns and military bases? Could two people who had been supported by a military community for the ENTIRETY of their marriage thrive in a space this busy and disconnected?
That was August. I learned in September that I was DEAD WRONG. Philly is a family.
The 2016 NFL Season started on September 8th with the Broncos taking the Panthers by just one point. I had to look that up just a second ago, because to be honest with you- I'm not a huge football fan. I like the game, I've watched and even cheered for my college team (Go Engineers!)- but I don't keep up with stats, I don't have a jersey, and I don't have a team... or at least I didn't.
You see, there's this amazing thing that happens in the fall in Philadelphia- the Eagles fans come out. I know, they're here all year long- but when that season starts the city is wrapped in Eagles-Green. From windows, flags fly in support of the Eagles- Philadelphians wearing jerseys as far as the eye can see- menus here even change to support The Birds. It's inspiring, it's exciting, and (most important to me) it's completely NOT exclusive.
That's right- if you move to Philadelphia, you are ASSUMED to be an Eagles fan. You're part of the family.
With not a STITCH of Eagles gear on either of us, my husband and I are high-fived, celebrated with, and included in the party. Nobody asks how long we've been fans of the Eagles (uuumm... five minutes?) or whether we know the history of coaches who have led the team (that's the guy who gets the Gatorade bath, right?). It has nothing to do with our football knowledge or Philly history- we have been embraced by this city, and embraced by this team- and for a Military Spouse and her Soldier-Husband that is simply incredible.
For anyone not connected to the Military, it can be hard to imagine moving every few years. You're in a new place, with new people, and the only thing that stays the same is the camo. The Military is your home- so moving to a place with no military presence can be terrifying. You never get to identify with a city, or a particular culture- you're a visitor, and while you may get really into good barbecue while you're stationed at Fort Bragg, the reality is- you're not actually a Carolinian and you never will be.
Not. So. With. Philly. I couldn't have imagined a city so willing to share itself with us, and I see it reflected in the way that Eagles Fans have made this military family feel welcomed to be a part of their joy as the Philadelphia Eagles prepare for their first Super Bowl since 2005. My brother-in-law, an Eagles Super Fan since birth, has invited us to every tailgate at The Linc since we arrived in Philly. Even though we have only made it once- he never stops inviting.
His father- who can only be described as THE Eagles Mega Fan- has a basement filled floor to ceiling with hundreds of pieces of signed Eagles gear. Their extended family and friends are all die-hard fans too- and they welcome us with open arms to celebrate. We haven't been here long, and won't be here forever, and still there is not a single person who has kept us at arms length. They've shared their excitement, shared their team, and even shared their Eagles-green jello shots (thanks!).
In bars, restaurants and coffee shops, the game is always on, and whether you're there to watch or there just to eat- you get to be a part of the victory... no questions asked. If you're happy to be here, Eagles Fans are happy to have you- and, to be honest, it makes me feel like I'm at home in a way that I haven't since we started this Army journey.
So, I'm here to say- THANK YOU PHILLY for letting my family be a part of this special moment. Thank you for letting me cheer with you until my voice is gone. Thank you for sharing your love for this team, and letting me get wrapped up in it. The military has made us visitors in this beautiful city, but you have made us feel like family... and for that, my heart will always be a little green.
<3 GO BIRDS!
Becky is the founder of Brave Crate- the Deployment Care Package for Military Spouses! They're launching soon and are so happy to be starting out in the City of Brotherly Love!