Last night I was fortunate enough to be able to meet up with a friend I hadn’t seen, talked to, or hung out with in over a decade. One of my other friends who met up with us last night I hadn’t seen in just over nine years prior to a Veteran’s Day ceremony we both attended the Friday before. Both of these individuals, along with my husband and I, had gone to Tech School together just after Basic Military Training to learn what was to become our profession – Meteorology. After that, we all ended up at the same first duty station and spent a couple years together there as well.
When the stars finally aligned and we were able to meet once again, all by coincidence I might add, it was as if no time had gone by. We immediately fell into conversations that were eerily reminiscent of those we had with each other before. Though we had grown as individuals, our core personalities had stayed the same – but much had changed as well. My husband and I had left the service, both of them had remained. One is now a squadron commander, the other a pilot. Both gained their commissions as officers while we discharged as enlisted. A couple of us have kids. And beyond any of that, we all share an unbreakable bond that unites every one of us forever – we all served.
We spoke of our many friends and acquaintances that we shared. Had we kept up with any of them? How are they doing? Some were doing well with families, some enjoying the single life, and others didn’t make it. These others caused us all to pause as we remembered them.
We also debated, in retrospect, several of our own decisions while serving or those of others that affected us. We were all kids, really. I was 19 when I joined, and 20 when I married my husband. They were all around the same age. We all did stupid things that stupid kids tend to do when they get an ounce of freedom. The difference was we were entrusted not to be stupid kids. As individuals that signed that contract and raised our hands and took our oaths, we were entrusted by the government to uphold that oath and serve our country. We did, and we did it with great pride.
As we all talked, and laughed, and remembered, we all commented on how that was such a strange time in our lives. A time when teens and young adults are almost expected to do dumb things, and here we were trying to uphold the constitution. It was a lot of pressure, while still dealing with the social mentality of high school or college among our peers. Some people couldn’t handle that pressure, and got kicked out or worse. It’s an experience you really can’t describe in words. And it’s something that we all can respect from one another – what bonds us. The fact that we all served. The fact that we stood up to the challenge to lead. The fact that we all made it through and grew from it, whether still serving or not.
We resolved to meet again before one of them has to go back to their home base and deploy. I’m hoping that we get that chance. But, if it takes another decade for us to see each other again, I know that we will feel as if there’s been no time passed at all.