One thing about deployed life that is difficult for the many single people here to understand is that it is, ironically, an unbelievable selfish time. Our military is a volunteer service, and we all know that being sent away to one shithole or another is part of the job - the part that feels less voluntary, and indeed is almost entirely involuntary, is the particular shithole to which one is sent, and, of course, the time, length and particulars of internment to said shithole; not to mention the politics and obscured path to righteousness among many of the more recent military forays.
I digress; the point at hand is that when you are on your deployment, your primary, and near solitary non-work focus is upon yourself. Surely, some deployments are more mission intensive than others; the mission consumes all of the waking time for some of our forward deployed troops. Away from the front lines, there is time away from work, and it is not spent cooking, cleaning, caring for children or parents, and commuting from one place to another. Commuting, at least for me, and the majority of the 20 thousand people here, involves a negligible period of time, and usually serves the added advantage of loosening up my legs for the self-indulgent body sculpting which is soon to ensue. The clothes are washed for free by a service provided by the government - they even fold your socks - and the food is hot and cooked 4 times a day.
After work in the morning, I go to the gym, and have nearly broken 20 minutes for a 5k run - the fastest I have run since high school - and the spare tire is gone. I have read several novels. Daily, I complete my (near daily) blog, play guitar, and spend time writing letters or emailing my family. I have watched nearly 4 seasons of the Sopranos, both seasons of Rome, all episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, all three seasons of Californication (all of which I recommend), and about 30 movies. [I have commented previously on the volume of digital media here, and it really is dumbfounding the amount of digital media is made available to us, whether purposely, as designed by Uncle Sam to keep the masses docile and sane, or via an accident perpetrated by the ease and infectivity of digital media sharing].
And not all of this is on my time off, as such would be impossible. On slow nights at work - as is the nature of trauma, we wax and wane between frenetic and comotose - I accomplish a grand majority of the movie watching (see Man Cave from March blog), blogging, and guitar playing. Now, quixotically, and very ironically due to the consolidation on base, I have a larger office, and a 'man cave' of my very own (see forthcoming blog: Man Cave III).
When I tell my wife these things (maybe I shouldn't?), she sometimes rolls her eyes, and this reminds me of how she, as did I prior to coming here, has very little time that is her own and for her own enrichment. Parenting is its own joy and reward, do not mistake me, but raising 3 boys leaves little time to play guitar, go to the gym or wax poetic.
So, in my final stage of grief [see blog Being here (and too much philosophy)] - acceptance - I am "looking at the bright side." And so the irony of an act of patriotism - selflessness, embodied - has rewarded me with a sabbatical from selflessness. This is a free pass to do the introspection many middle-aged (am I really that, now?) American men need to a divorce and a Porsche to accomplish. Ok, it is dangerous, uncomfortable (often, though not always), and most importantly, a previously unperceivable sacrifice to miss the lives of my wife and children. But... ...the glass is half full.