Wednesday, October 31, 2007
It's Raining Men
It's been 15 months since the last of the Humvees, last of the Bradleys were driven off the Barracks. 15 months since the first wave of spouses said goodbye to their loved ones, fought back tears as they watched the bus pull away. 15 months since wives promised to lose weight, be better wives and parents, be sexier. And now, over 450 days after the group of mostly men left - over 3,000 of them - they're back. Well, about 20 percent of them anyway. And already, the difference is astounding. What might usually take 10 minutes - paying the phone bill, buying a plane ticket, buying a bottle of wine - can now take upwards to 30; especially the phone bill part, what with newly redeployed stocking up on phone minutes and all. But it doesn't annoy me. Now the spouses that left for 15 months are a different story. Not that I'm not glad to have them back, or think that I am any better than them for staying, I just think those who havve been here the whole time should get a badge or SoMETHING that lets us cut to the front of the line so that those of us who suffered through the crap with no husband AND no family members get a chance to buy the last turkeys the commissary has because they forgot to buy extras. Oh. Sorry. Got sidetracked.
Anyway. I wasn't sure how this day would feel when it came around. I'd braced myself. Got myself ready for the time when part of the men - sorry, the soldiers - would come back and mine would still be gone. I worked on maintaining a nondescript facial expression for when I saw wives canoodling with their newly returned husbands; made sure I kept my voice measured when other spouses told, how, "Oh my god, it's so great, he'll be here on (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday ...), and oh my god, what am I going to wear and should I wear this with these shoes and this" and oh, you get the point.
But it's been two weeks, minus the guys and gals who got sent home for drinking/selling/doing drugs, and I actually feel happy for them. I smile, seeing my friends exit briefings with their husbands. Seeing their faces light up when discussing the aforementioned outfit, and the smiles of contentment when I actually see them with their spouse.
"Welcome back," I call out cheerily to the guys. "Have a good time," I say to their wives, my friends.
15 months is a long time to go without anything, especially a husband or wife. And despite what seems to be the overwhelming public opinion, I do have the ability to empathize with others. And to those who are welcoming their husbands back, I extend a warm and hearty welcome, and just as I have said to my other friends, enjoy yourselves.
And I mean that.