So, I was watching the 2 hour Glee episode from a week ago. First and foremost, I have to admit that the story is hokey and corny and generally ridiculous. However, the musical performances are outrageous and downright professional. It is kind of like a porno in a way. The story line serves no purpose except to tie together the action. I know that's awful, but I couldn't resist. I digress.
It was the episode where, after three or four years, they finally won the national championship and weren't ridiculed for the first time. Their teacher is honored with teacher of the year and many of them are just about to graduate. They are all together for one of the last times, as a family, riding high on the amazing times before parting. Emotions are riding high and, presumably, not all contrived, acted tears as I'm sure many won't be returning for next season.
Amidst the ridiculous cheesiness I found myself feeling slightly mushy, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the show. I have been known to forward through the DVR'd story line until I see a stage and just listen to the music. I'm not invested in the characters. Truth be told, I started watching while laid up after a surgery. The concept that evoked the emotion in me could just as easily been another show with another plot and all different characters.
It was about the sense of belonging. That family. Being near people that mean that much to you and having to say goodbye. I know that feeling. I felt it almost nine years ago when I drove off in a government car for the last time to Fort Dix and raised my hand before donning the uniform for what was meant to be 4 years and what would become a decade. I remember my friends and family gathering together for one last hurrah. I remember the uncertainty of what my life would hold when my parents' house disappeared in the rearview mirror for what was not the last time overall, but the last time as also my own home.
If this episode was three years ago, I may not have noticed at all, but with my impending return on the horizon, reflection of my choices, experiences, and events since July 14th, 2003 has been as nearly consistent as the daily devotions of the habitually faithful and religious. While the singing high schoolers and this tone deaf pseudo-fan have little in common; we share, either by plot or in earnest, the feeling of leaving it all behind. The difference between us being they are beginning their separation as mine comes to a close. I am about to return to all that was.
The military has given me many things and my time apart has taught me many things. I have learned love and appreciation as well as a level of humility and work ethic. I have fixed my financial standing (albeit not as much as I would have liked) making my return somewhat prodigal. My completion of college can be counted in weeks at this point. However, I did not get one thing I thought I would get and that is my second family. Everyone has heard terms like "Army buddies" used in the movies. I was under the impression that my fellow service members would be like family and remain lifelong. I thought we all shared in each other's triumphs and supported each other during tribulations. I thought the uniformity of the uniform bound us together.
I have some close friends and some who will remain as such forever. The military gave us the chance to meet, but it is not what made us close. Our personalities did that trick. There is certainly little credit given to the military specifically and the constant ebb and flow of people in our lives almost makes the military to blame for the felt isolation on many occasions. There are things I've done and accomplished during my days in camouflage and I have had handshakes and toasts with beers amongst "the guys" on many of those occasions, but categorically without deeper connections. The movement between locations may preclude roots from taking hold in the way I am used to and came to expect.
I don't blame the military truly, as it is just a function of the mission and its requirements. Blame, to me, holds a certain purposeful approach to hurt rather than simply causing it collaterally. There is no intentionality on the part of the military to limit relationships. I also do not fit the average mold of a uniformed service member. Either way, it is almost done. I mention it often as I grow more impatient each day.
I suppose that part of the feeling I experienced was not just remembering the loss as I left or feeling the ache to return, but also the pure level of disappointment in most people around me. The lack of deeper connection to the people who wear the same pattern as I in support of a grateful nation. We number less than 1% of the US population. We are kindred in that way, but treat each other like acquaintances.
So as I watched the poignant scenes of hugs and tears and people saying goodbye; I once again yearned to never have to say goodbye to the most important people in my life and then I realized that the empty days are almost over and my wish comes true in the not too distant future. And the day I get home marks the beginning of a new life... one I'll never leave again - no matter what.