Poetry

Airman Alone

 Airman Alone

My husband is just a lowly A1C on the totem pole of the Air Force. Because of
that low position I have found that he is regularly volunteered without his
knowledge for duties that take him away from myself and our little girl. Now he
is a member of the security forces but at Malmstrom AFB that means six months,
guaranteed, out of every year spent away from home, not counting appointments,
training, and "volunteer" work. All in all there isn't much time left over for
family.

For the first two years of our marriage I worked out of the home only and found
that I turned to our extended family for support. Being so far away from home,
that family was actually our friends (as I am sure so many military families
understand). The only problem is that we didn't have any friends. Granted I
knew our neighbors by sight and name but didn't bond with any of them. My
husband found that the majority of his coworkers keep themselves occupied with
their own families or their family of alcohol. (If you didn't know that was the
favorite past time of airmen or at least airmen here, it's time you found out.)
I found myself kind of aloof and alone most of the time with only an infant to
keep me company. After months and months of talking to only my husband and
daughter with an occasional brush with a neighbor, I started knocking on doors.
We live in a large housing group of townhomes. Each set of homes faces another,
causing mini-neighborhoods.

In our mini is where I started knocking. I found a wife, fresh out of the air
force with two infants of her own. She had not met anyone. (I at least had met
the wives though not set up friendships with many, actually just one). The
couple next to me doesn't have kids but consider their pets to be all the
family they can handle right now. She is the most adorable, sweet and humorous
person. A newlywed who is so fresh out of high school that she still has that
youthful energy and so new to the base that she didn't even own a broom much
less the furniture to sweep around. I find myself remembering from just a few
years ago having that same energy, you know before the baby. Another pair of
newlyweds, with a baby that they didn't even know was on the way until it
arrived. A family who has been here for almost five years. They have the most
precious four year old, they find her so precious that the wife actually quit
her job to stay home with her, replacing the income only with small Mary-Kay
profits. A few more couples who find their entertainment in each other and
their work. A wife whose son is only two days younger than my own child. Next,
the cutest one year old who drags his dad and stay at home student of a mom
along for the ride, both adoring every minute. Of all of these couples I find
each wife with some quality I want in a friend, though most of the time the
total package is lacking. Now there are other wives but I don't really talk to
them because of how busy they are. I truly thought that by finally meeting
people that I would be happy. I was starting to lose my pregnancy weight,
starting a new job, and beginning friendships that I hoped would last the
extent of our stay here.

The more I talked with these women, the more I found little quirks that I
didn't know existed in most women and yet everyone of these had them. By
talking to our families back home I discovered that these traits seemed to be
more prominent in military wives than any others. I believe that it starts as a
defense mechanism due to loneliness most wives feel when moved to a new place
that they probably didn't want to go to. However, after a while it is a habit
that tends to make them feel better about themselves. As odd as it sounds these
quirks are hate, bullying, and gossip. Now I am not saying that gossip is bad
because I know that no matter who you are, you participate in some way shape or
form. But these women decided for some reason or another that after months and
months of being friendly to me to let their colors show. I felt frankly blown
away. I had no idea that there was anything wrong until little things started
to show themselves.

One started making sarcastic comments about what I said or did. If that wasn't
the case then she flat out ignored me to the point of making others
uncomfortable. Another was still friendly but there was a distance to
everything she said to me unless it benefited her. In fact she actually took a
generous gesture we extended to her (lending her furniture) and said she'd just
as well leave on my porch. To others it may have just been a piece of furniture
but to me it was the time and love I had invested in our "friendship". Other
wives without actually becoming unfriendly made it very obvious that they had
chosen not to be mine.

Honestly I have no idea what I did to make these women so angry with me. But
the incidents piled up day after day. To telling me how to dress my child on a
rainy day. Talking about me while I was within hearing distance. Laughing when
I came outside. Stopping their conversations when I walked up to them or by
them. Etc. I have never experienced this isolation in my life from people I
thought were close to me. Even go through the horrendous high school time, I
never felt ostrisized.

I guess that this story is starting to sound depressing except for the fact
that out of the mud of our neighborhood relations came some of the best times.
I learned that the new parents loved my sense of humor and the way I deal with
life in the best light possible. Another expressed her pleasure with my
honesty, though not always tactful. I found everyone of the "unneighborlies"
fading into the background.

I guess that this isn't the typical story that you receive but I wanted to
express somethings. Even when the people around you, the ones you want most to
impress, start to push you down remember that there is always someone standing
right beside you noticing that you need a hand up. The women that made me so
miserable for months became this source of amusement for us. Though a sore
spot, I realized that if hating me so much made them happy that at they were
happy with something.

My very best friends have become the people I knew all along. How weird is it I
didn't notice them in the first place?


contributed by Christin Neal [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]
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