Monday morning meant getting on a plane. A plane that was headed back to Arizona. I was sad, to say the least. The weekend went by way too quickly — just as I had expected.
Saying goodbye to my mom is always the hardest. There’s usually long hugs, tears and choked up, “Bye, bye, I’ll see you soon!” and then forced smiles. If you’ve ever had to say goodbye to someone (who is leaving you for an extended period), you know what I’m talking about. It’s hard.
Once I was on the plane, I was fine. I’m so used to leaving — returning — leaving again. I know that I’ll be the kind of person that is great at traveling for work, leaving at a moment’s notice and just being away from home, often. Once I was in the air I started thinking about everything. Airplanes are always a moment of transition for me. Headphones blaring and just looking out the window. It’s a calming experience. I realized how refreshed I felt. It was great to see everyone back in California. I felt happy and ready to take on the next 9 weeks.
I realized how much I have to look forward to: More weekends in Tucson, 2 weeks until San Diego, Tucson rodeo this weekend, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Dianna’s wedding. 9 weeks? Bring it.
Visiting home helped me rejuvenate and feel ready to conquer the remainder of my training.
Once Dave landed, we decided it was way too soon to drive back to Sierra Vista. In true Hayley/Dave (minus Carl) fashion, we roamed Tucson for the rest of the evening. Tea at a local cafe (beer/lemonade for Dave), new running shoes for me (I’ll leave out the gross toe story which explains the NEED for new shoes), dinner at Wilko – but of course! A girls’ gotta have her wine. And a trip to Costco where we mostly purchased liquids.
At 7:45 we decided it was finally time to return to the much dreaded Ft. Huachuca. When we got to the main gate, the gate guard asked, “Why are you guys so happy all the time?” I replied with one word, “Tucson.”
Experience while visiting home this weekend helped me solidify my identity in the Army. I’m definitely a soldier. That’s not even a question. But I don’t allow it to take over my life. When I first got home from boot camp, I was really bitter and angry with certain type’s of people. As I’ve matured and further developed my career in the Army, I’ve noticed that being that way doesn’t make me any happier. Instead, I actually have to be the complete oposite. I have to appreciate people for NOT being in the military. I have to understand that not everyone made the choice that I did. And I can’t be mad about that. I can’t judge them just because they don’t understand what soldiers go through. There are PLENTY of things, much harder, that I’ve never experienced — most likely I never will. And that’s OK.
The Army is part of my identity. But it doesn’t define me. And for that, I am grateful — for being able to make the distinction. I can’t expect everyone to think, act and BE just like me. I can’t expect them to act a certain way. The only thing I can do is appreciate them.