As the World Turns
On the whole, there aren’t too many positive aspects about a deployment. I can’t think of anybody who’s like, “This is fun!” or “I’m glad I’m here.” Sure, there’s a few of us who are rather ambivalent. They could take it or leave it, or it’s not really that bad. These are mostly “glass is half full” people, insane people who could find something positive about being punched in the face.
For the rest of us, or maybe just me, we could come up with a laundry list on what sucks about deployment. Some things are worse than others, though. Sure, it’s ghastly we’re corralled in pens the same as any illegal immigrant awaiting deportation. The food sucks. It’s hotter than two rats in a sock. The living conditions are sub-standard and inhumane. We’re treated like recalcitrant toddlers. We have less freedoms than inmates. I could go on and on. These things suck, but you know what sucks the most about deployment?
Life goes on.
That’s what sucks. Everywhere the world is still turning, but you’re stuck here in this same spot and there’s nothing you can do about it. Back home, life is continuing. It would be easier if you could just press pause on your life, come here for a year and then press play when you get back home. I guess it’s a good thing that nobody can control time, or we might get stuck here in an infinite loop of subhuman horrors. Everything you left behind has continued and when you get back, you’re in this mad rush to try to get into the swing of things again. You might find that everything has changed. Everyone has changed. People you know, you don’t know anymore. Things you love, you don’t love anymore and maybe vice-versa.
I do not know which is worse: nowadays or back then. Nowadays you can always stay in touch with the rest of the universe with every modern convenience like email, Facebook, Skype. But then you hear about everything that is going on that you can’t take part in. Back then, maybe you got a letter in the mail with a brief outline of what’s been happening, only for you to return home to find out that everything has changed. So which is worse: finding out now or finding out later?
Someone remarked to me the other day that he didn’t want another deployment because he was afraid the few friends he had would disappear. He said something to the effect that his friends were friends as long as he was around but they weren’t the type to keep up a “long-distance relationship.” That’s sad, and I think quite a few of us are in that same situation. You’re close pals with someone, but when you’ve been gone a whole year, your close pal might be close pals with someone else. What’s even worse is if you have a husband/wife/BF/GF and you discover they’ve lost that loving feeling. Deployments seem to exacerbate all the things that are already wrong in any given relationship. You might be on the rocks, but you were trying to hold it together, and a deployment just killed that shit deader than dead. Or you’re trying so hard to keep it going, but it’s hard to be romantic 10,000 miles away.
Then you have all those people who just do not understand. You either came here because you were ordered or you stupidly volunteered thinking that you were going to do something important. Whatever the case may be, other people don’t get it. They like to send you invitations to things you know you won’t be able to attend, or they’ll go on for hours about whatever they just did that was so much fun and sorry you couldn’t be there.
“When are you coming home?” “What are you guys still doing there?” “I thought the war was over.” “President Obama said….”
You know what, I don’t know anymore than you do. I just know that as the world turns, I’m still here.