Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On Going Back

This particular blogpost requires some backstory. 

In September of 2003, I arrived at my first duty station – Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Fifteen (HM-15) which was located at the time onboard Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (it has since moved to Norfolk.)

This is when I was a Yeoman Third Class. HM-15 admin office.

I would spend a total of three years at this squadron.  The first two, I resided in the barracks on NAS. The last year I spent in an apartment alone off-base.

Those three years were the most formative of my life.  I’ll explain.

For one, I met my husband while I was there. He was not assigned to HM-15, but to base security there on NAS.  I blogged about our beginning earlier this year. You can find that story here.

I also joined the Catholic Church while I was there. (Again, I’ve blogged about this experience before too. Link for that one is here. )

I worked with and for the best Sailors one could ask to work with.  The friends that I worked with, and shared barracks with, became like my family – there was a bond, and a trust, there that was unparalleled to any other friendships I’d known.  Those friendships were like something out of a corny coming-to-age movie or something. A mix-up of 'Real World' meets ‘Friends’ on steroids, Navy style.  We were all in our early twenties . . . well, almost all of us (calling you out now, Dennis) and we could have fun doing anything.
My Navy girls. We're at the beach in Corpus here.

We often spent weekends at country bars in Corpus (I even sang some pretty terrible karaoke a few times), organized occasional bonfire parties at the beach, but most frequently – we just sat outside of our barracks rooms, joking all night about our work and the Navy, our pasts and our relationships.  We drank beer together, ate the unhealthiest foods, played Twister.  We laughed.  A LOT.  More than normal people, I think.
Halloween 2004. We're outside of our barracks here.

We knew then, as it was happening, that it was good.  We also knew that it was temporary.  We knew we would all eventually transfer and be separated.  But I’m not sure we allowed ourselves to process that thought at the time.  I can speak for myself, anyway, when I say that I’m glad I didn’t. If I focused too much on the temporary, perhaps then I would have held back a bit, shielded myself from becoming too close to those I’d have to say good-bye to.  I’m truly glad that I allowed this group of Sailors to become my family.

If I’m being honest – when I allow myself to look back at that time, looking through old photos and such – it’s bittersweet.  Sometimes it aches a bit because I know I can’t have that magical time back.


I kind of did go back. Well, not exactly. I wasn’t in the physical location.  However . . . there was an Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) reunion this past weekend in Panama City Beach, Florida.  I attended with three of my best Navy girls.  We all live in different areas now, but met up in Houston and road-tripped it all the way there.

We hadn’t all been together in a decade. Yep. A decade.  And you know the honest truth? It was as if we hadn’t skipped a beat.  Oh, you should have seen us at first, all four crying tears of joy as we saw each other.  I’m smiling thinking of it now.
My Navy girls, together and acting as if no time had passed.

We went on our trip and met up with past Sailors of the AMCM community and it felt just like the old days.  The laughter, the reminiscing, the drinking (as Sailors do, of course) – in a strange way it felt like I was back in 2004 again. It really did.  I had a blast, we all did.  It was incredible. I’ll remember this weekend forever.
The full group from the AMCM reunion, 2017

In a flash the reunion was over and we parted ways again.  I was sad to leave my girls but happy, and ready, to get home to my husband and kids.  This life of wife+mom is my adventure now. It’s one I know is fleeing fast as well, as all of our time does.

All I can say after this weekend is that I’m filled with gratitude for those times. And I’m filled with gratitude for my current times. Life is a gift, such a sweet gift.  And sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you can go back and revisit some of those sweet times.

Until next time . . .

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