Monday, January 15, 2007

Your in the Army now!

I am fairly certain January 14th was the worst day of my life. Saying goodbye to Rachael and Chester . . . well, it’s a pain I won’t ever forget. Rachael and Chester stayed at home, and I drove to my parent’s house to say goodbye to them. I am glad Rache stayed, because I didn’t want her to see me sob like a bitch the entire way to my parents. I was also nervous about her driving back home since she wasn’t exactly emotionally stable. My parents and siblings were great - we had sandwiches and BS'd, Kevin (my brother-in-law) and my mom fought over dogpoop, and Patrick played PSP - it was a typical day in my house and I loved it. My dad drove me to the airport, hugged me, and I was off.

On the way to the terminal I met a guy who was also an IRR captain going to Ft. Jackson. I was glad to meet someone else, because I had that 1st day in a new school type feeling. After we got to the airport in Columbus, we were greeted by an angry looking man with a smoky bear type round hat (otherwise known as a drill sgt), who kindly told us to get our shit, go outside and get on the buses. It was about a 30 minute bus ride, and we didn’t actually stay on Fort Jackson. It was dark once we got to our little outpost, but I could see the layout - long rows of barracks-style buildings. We signed in to the main building/trailer, received several meaningless briefs that we would get about 4 more times over the next 3 days, and drew our linen. I was assigned to an open barracks building, completely separate from the one guy I knew. I made my bed in the dark, stumbled to the bathroom (which was also open-style), and got into my bed. At least I found a bottom bunk.

That night is why I will classify January 14th as one of my worst days ever. I laid in that bunk under an itchy Army-issue wool blanket, thinking about how that morning I woke up next to my beautiful wife in the most comfortable bed ever with my dog who adored me. Now I was in a sagging, blood-stained mattress with 30 of my closest friends that I never met before and I had 544 more days until I could resume the life I just left. I never felt so alone, or filled with as much despair, as I did that night. Not even in Afghanistan. To make matters worse, there was a steady stream of new arrivals that night, so people were banging lockers and scuffling around my bed until about 2am. I think I finally fell asleep around 3am, so 0430 came pretty quick. I was thankful for the light though. As long as I was up and moving around, I wouldn’t have to lie alone in that bed. I prayed for the strength to accept my circumstances and the maturity to keep a positive attitude, and I started my 1st day back in the Army.

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