I recently read in a friend’s blog, “It scares me that sometimes I wonder if the deployment is my only reality and everything else is just a dream.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. The problem with the deployment is that every time you let your mind wander into thoughts about the future, all you see is more Army and future deployments, motor pool followed by stop-loss. It’s not so much that you dread this experience or the here and now. It’s that while you are here, now, the rest of your life is on hold, and it seems never ending. What gets people through experiences like this are thoughts of the future, but when all you see in the future is another deployment, the mind game gets a little tricky.
So you stop thinking of the future, and you focus on the now. Your 6 x 10 corner of life becomes your home. Your friends and coworkers become your family. Your job becomes your life, your reason for being. And everything else–family, home, all the comforts and beauty of the world accross the ocean–it all becomes a distant dream. The scary part is when it’s no longer a dream you even miss really. And I guess that’s all part of the survival mechanism. Some people begin to look for love here instead of longing for it over there. You find fun in the simplest of things, rather than missing the old forms of entertainment. The most fun you need is a friend who makes you laugh, and after a while, you don’t even miss the movies and bars and restaurants. Good food becomes a relative term, and after a while, you forget what really, really good food tastes like.
And I guess in a way, that’s not such a bad thing. It’s a sort of Zen-Bhudist state of mind. When you were once dreaming of the big house with the wrap-around porch, you now find that a 6 x 10 space is all you really need. When people come and go every six weeks, and you realize that sometimes you enjoyed knowing them for those six weeks more than you ever enjoyed the company of some friends you once had, it gives you a new perspective of human relationships and what it means to really know somebody. And you definately learn to be more forgiving because you have to be–we are, after all, stuck with each other over here, and under the circumstances, we’re all gonna get a chance to see the uglier sides of each other every once in a while.
So I guess in some ways, the deployment becoming your reality isn’t necesarily a bad thing. But deep down inside, somewhere, there’s always that voice that tells you there’s another life you could be living. And it’s not the material comforts or relative safety of that life that’s calling to you. It’s the love and the family that you either have, or wish you had, over there. Because no matter what you experience in life, if you have a partner who’s going through it with you, it changes everything.