As most people who know me know, I thrive on human interaction. It seems like I’m in the minority nowadays in that regard, as a majority of people would rather avoid human contact and keep to themselves like the little hermits they are. Staying at home, reading some guy’s blog about his life, trying to understand how they got to such a low point in life. I, on the other hand, lose my mind if I’m by myself for too long. I’m probably undiagnosed with something but that’s a subject for another post, or a conversation with a psychiatrist if I was smart. All that being said, one of the greatest aspects of military life is the sheer amount of people readily available for my need of their company. It isn’t just a quantity thing either, it’s quality too.I have faith that my friends are not reading this with the mentality that they’re decent people, they’re not. Using the word “Quality” to describe the company I keep might not be the correct word. They are exactly my brand of jackasses though and in that regard, that makes them quality to me. And if not for the military, they would never have the pleasure of me plowing into their lives with reckless abandon. Other than the crippling depression, an ability to down a fifth of tequila, and complete disregard for any fraction of happiness in my life by people in charge of me, the relationships I’ve made is the greatest thing the military has given me.
The title of this post is not for nothing; there is a bittersweetness to this facet of the loveliness that is being apart of the world’s greatest air force. It has almost seemed that with every beautiful soul the military has gifted me, there has been an equal amount that have been removed from my life. Maybe not removed completely, but just to the point where it hurts a bit. Throughout my career, this balance has been maintained to a T. From the start of joining the USAF, you leave all you know from back home and start brand new. For most people, myself included, that’s 90% of all relationships you currently have that are reduced if not completely removed. The universe balances this out with a whole population of brand new airmen in similar situations during Basic Training and Tech School. You’re given months of living with, or in close proximity to, all these other people. This creates a very wide inclusive range of neighbors that span from your new best friends to those that make bleach sound delicious.
Then you get sent to your first duty station. Some are fortunate and travel with people they’ve now known for months, people that bring comfort and a small familiarity with them to their new adventure. For those who have never left their home town, nonetheless traveled to a different part of the country/world, this can be pretty helpful. I did not have that pleasure. Instead I once again had the bulk of the meaningful connections in life taken from me for the second time in a year.
It calmed down for the most part after that. I’ve been stationed at this base now for almost three years. Those three years has felt like a lifetime by military standards, and has given ample opportunity to form and evolve some of the closest relationships I’ve ever made in my life. And while I haven’t experienced the destruction and reconstruction of the foundation of my life since then, that doesn’t mean the Air Force doesn’t chip away at the walls. For every person that I grow close with, making memories and enjoying a unique friendship, the military also takes one away. Maybe they PCS to another base, or they use their brain for more than 11 seconds and realizing that signing your life away to the government isn’t all that fun and get out. Either way, they’re gone.
I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, it’s not like they’ve died. I’m also lucky enough to live in a day and age where communication with them is instant and I can be constantly update at what is going on in their lives. That doesn’t mean it’ll ever be the same for me though. For the ones that led me to writing this post in the first place, they were my best friends. People I became close and attached to, that changed my life for the good and whose absence has left a permanent gap. I’m forever grateful for their companionship, and I’d never trade what away what was made with them. All the memories and jokes that have been made with people who brought happiness into my life is far beyond the small bit of sadness that was made when they moved onto other things.
Hence the title. This aspect of the military can impact all differently. For someone like me, I live for human interaction and the experiences that come with it, therefor it kind of blows. Others may not care very much, and that’s fine. If you’re reading this and you seem to fall under the latter category, I understand but also I hate you and I’m sensitive and I wish you would quit making fun of me already. For those under the former, just know that there’s at least one other person out there that knows how you feel. I hope those who have left, that are out living their best lives, think of me as fondly as I do of them. It can be rough sometimes but I know they’re just a quick snap, phone call, or flight away. Until I see them again, I know the one’s I’m talking about know this is about them, and I hope they always remember the positive impression they left in my life.