Sunday, August 06, 2006

Introspection?

Some Sundays'll do this. Give you plenty of time to think. I did my mopping and trash picking bullshit for another day, this being done during the day on weekends. Got to watch a handful of new guys run around most likely drinking underage. Damn near everyone I know either gone out of the barracks or drinking or both. Fuck it, I've got two months to go. It hasn't been as hard to say no as people would suspect, or the way people make it sound. I've seen guys leave while on restriction only to get caught and end up with more extra duty.

In fact, I think that night I was the only extra duty guy that stayed back in the rear. I slept. Same thing I did this weekend, worked and slept. Missed out on some action last night apparently. Or was it Friday? Who knows, its all the same these days. These dudes were drunk, that dude wanted to fight that dude, this dude was running his mouth to that group of guys, this dude hooked up with that random ugly girl.

Why the fuck did I enlist? And why would I be no better off had I not enlisted? Hell, I don't know where I'd be. Would I have even attempted college by now? Or would I still be procrastinating, minimum wage jobs here and there, living in limbo? Who knows. I imagine it wouldn't be anything special. This gig isn't so bad. Its just.....hell I don't know how to describe it.

Its a workplace. Its a fraternity. Its a distraction. Its Peter Pan and his boys in Neverland. The hell with fast food or data processing. We don't have to grow up. Its like a neverending summer camp or something. In the infantry, its just the guys. Yeah, you've got your senior enlisted, the guys who've been in for a good minute, but then there's all of us joes. Some of us still 17, 18 years old. Some in mid to late twenties. We don't pay rent (those of us in the barracks). Our meals are provided for us. We pay cable and cell phone bills. Maybe the whole car thing if you went that route as well. We only have bills that we choose to have. Our livelihood is handed to us. Plus the meager pay we bitch about.

This life isn't that hard. As long as you can tolerate living a fixed schedule and listening to superiors, you're pretty much good to go. Wake up in the morning for first formation and PT. Later on, BDU/ACU uniform. There's all kinds of things they can have you do. Go to some bullshit class, go to the rifle range, you could get tasked out on some cleaning detail, you could just be cleaning the barracks, they could have you square your Class A uniform away, or you could be going to the field for some real training. Thats rare, as you can tell by my posts, but it all adds up.

People ask me what we do from day to day and I seriously can't even answer. I mean hell, I don't know where the time goes. That's one benefit of the army. The days become weeks. Even Yakima. The one thing that never seems to leave though, is the uncertainty. I have no clue what's going on hardly ever. That's partially my fault for not following the (tentative) training schedule, and also for not really caring.

When I was younger, I'd work toward the weekend. Go to your bullshit classes, do your thing, and after five days you get yourself a break. These days I don't really work towards anything. I guess I've grown indifferent or complacent. I find myself saying, "God I can't wait to ETS (Estimated Time of Seperation, its when your contract with the army is more or less up and you're released)", but how the hell can you just walk away from something like this? This is a year and a half of my life already. Three more to go. For a young moron like myself, that's a decent chunk. Everyone else is off doing the college thing or in some way getting their life together, and I'm on vacation in a way. Don't get me wrong, I'll almost definitely NOT re-enlist, but its weird thinking about not being in the army anymore. Ever quit a job, then drive by a few months later and sort of want to go back in? Or want to go behind the counter of a place you used to work? I don't suppose this'll be any different. I'll see soldiers on TV and I'll try to relate and feel like I'm still one of them, but it'll be like it is now, the way I look at veterans. I don't get it, you'd say. They were in the "Old Army" and this is the "New Army". I'll get out, and I'll be from the Old Army. Then again, once a soldier, always a soldier, that's another sentiment of mine, but its just those little differences that I anticipate when I daydream about shit like this. I don't mean to say that vets don't matter or anything like that, far from it. I'm just trying to imagine how I'll feel when I get out. Instead of "I'm in the Army," it'll be "I was in the Army." Does it seem worlds different to anyone else?

A phrase to describe this temporary existence of mine: Someday the dream will end. Its the title of some song from a video game I had on my computer, and the phrase just stuck with me. What the hell am I going to write about when I get out? I'll be damned if I 'blog' about a normal life.

Its thoughts like this that I have from time to time that permeate my mindset and really make me wonder. What's next? Where do I go from here? What happens when this is over? What am I going to be doing five years from now when the wars are in my living room and not on my itinerary?

It blows my mind every time I think about it, and its like the realization never fully hits you. I'm in the army. Sounds surreal. "Nah, hahaha, quit messing around man. This isn't the army. This is like some replication, a poor one at best. You're just away for a while."

And in the back of your mind is that logical voice you never listen to. Your pal denial keeps him backed in a corner where he can't do much damage. But the voice still chimes in. "Dude....you ARE aware that you put your entire life on hold for four years, right?"

Damn. Feel the gravity of that one. Here's my little adventure that no one is going to care about in fall 2009. And then I'll disappear into the crowd of Americans just trying to make their way doing whatever the hell they're doing. iPods won't even be a big deal. Holy shit. These thoughts never really get me down, but its just crazy to think about. There's just so much waiting and downtime and uncertainty that you can't help but wonder.

Being in the army is like a Tom Clancy book. Its overcomplicated in some ways when it isn't necessary, and tends to drag along, then out of nowhere the action picks up and its over before you know it, and it drags again until the next adrenaline rush. But all in all, we're just Peter Pan's Lost Boys.

2 comments:

Breezy said...

Interesting perspective.


*note to self, Joe doesn't like pointless details and redundant tasks*

jentard said...

Ryan,
This is a heavy post, but it really made me think, and you explained what you were thinking unbelievably well. :)