The melancholy before going to the field

Sundays before a week in the field never really get any easier. There’s a strange thing in the air; the anticipation of being away, the forethought of separation.

I’ve been in the same relationship the entire time I was enlisted, through college afterwards, and now again in the Army this second time. Knowing that I’ll be away for a few days casts a heavy blanket of sadness over the day – especially the final hours before going to sleep.

We’ve recently found a way to fight it – we go out to the movies on Sunday evenings, instead of the usual Friday or Saturday evening we used to. We find that it’s better to go to a movie and escape into something else for the last few hours, rather than sit on the couch, shifting our eyes between the television and the clock, counting down the minutes before we go to sleep and say goodbye.

Worse, of course, is that same feeling before a deployment. It’s similar, but it starts earlier. Instead of the hours before the end of the weekend, it starts weeks earlier and only intensifies as the day gets closer. Moments are magnified and take on unnatural significance. There’s a sudden urge to be sentimental.

It’s not all that different, I imagine, to what regular couples experience when one goes on a business trip. Yet, there’s something more intense about it when the goodbye is coupled to military service. Even if it’s just to slip away into the woods for a week.

Having something to look forward to at the end helps – a trip, a romantic night out, or a party. Something special and unusual to make the time away feel like it was worth it.

I’ve read somewhere, on some blog or maybe I saw it in a movie, that this feeling is something that’s best shed as soon as possible. That the feeling is poisonous and might make you soft. Maybe.

I’m not sure that this is a bad or unnatural feeling to have, though. Leaving is unnatural. Feeling a little sad or depressed before going away is natural. Worse, I think, would be to completely look forward to getting away. Getting away to escape whatever is at home. That would be saddest of all.

And truthfully, it’s really not that bad. I’ve always had a knack for reminding myself that things can always be worse. And I look forward to going out and doing Army things – the things I signed up to do, whether it is in the field or forward. But I know that typically if I’m thinking or feeling something, then others are too. Talking about it and writing about it helps to address it. And that, after all, is the point of this blog anyway.

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