Just in for a few days
You step off that plane and want everything to be like home. It’s supposed to be like some baptism or something. But is isn’t.
People have moved on. Lives are different. You’ve stayed the same–the civilian you, not the warrior made to go off for months and months.
People marry, people divorce. Scenes shift. There’s still the hugs and the enthusiasm, but there’s a distance in every conversation. There’s a year gone–a year of fun and frustration, laughs and cries–stuff you’ll never see.
I guess that’s why they spend so much time preparing you to visit home. “Go back to your friends,” they say, “but remember that they’ve continued to change.” They tell you not to put expectations on any visits. They say to try not to be disappointed.
I know a group of 20-somethings is hardly as dramatic as, say, a single mother who has just missed out on 1/3 of her child’s life during an Iraq year, but I don’t have much “home” apart from my family and friends, so it’s a tricky thing for me to feel so out of place with people I used to vibe with so well.
It’s a bummer to hear about all these plans and projects going on, knowing you can’t be in the loop–that you’re just a tourist, stopping by for a few days of polite toleration, before life here recommences. I suppose it was a little presumptuous to think I was a part of things here, even if in spirit.
Soon it will be back to the Army and the soul-crushing weight of routine and bureaucracy.