I think about my friends all the time here.
Usually, when I was back in the States, I would think about them as well. I’d say, “Oh, I wish Jens was here. He’d like this table.” “Oh, I bet Jason knows this musician.”, “Oh, there’s a barber. I wish Jon Huckins was here.” A lot of my friends names start with “J”.
But I miss my friends for a lot of wrong reasons. I wish I could see them so I could feel better, so I could talk with them on a level I’m used to. I don’t have any rich relationships here; I thought I lived an aestethic life before. Oh no. I live with surface relationships here.
I have hardly anyone to talk to in regards to books or theology, friendship or the issues of the soul. Or Lost.
Now that I’m traveling from base to base, it’s like I’m the new kid at the school. “Hey, where’s the DFAC? Where’s the MWR? The gym?” Granted, people are friendly, but you don’t have the opportunity to talk and get to know people. The guys I live with are alright. One is a loner. One keeps his distance and the other treats me like an 11 year old. My choices are not great.
Because of our schedules, we just can’t see people “regularly”.
It’s like I’m living my life in an airport. Everyone is either coming or going. Even if they are staying for awhile, I’m on the move.
For example, I’m at this base for another couple of days (a 4 star in my book) and then I’m home for a couple of days. Then I go to a 1 star base for a bit. Then another base a couple of days later.
I’m not complaining. I enjoy the teaching (it is rote, though, same slides, same topic, same thing. A bit Groundhog day.) and I enjoy the travel .
But here’s the key: time goes by much, much quicker. The countdown on the left hand side moves much faster for me when I’m on the move.
I’m only missing my friends right now because I want to be taken care of, loved and appreciated. I want to talk to them about their lives, and tell them about this place, the desolation.
Like I’ve said in earlier entries, this journey is taking the crutches I’ve depended on and throwing them in the furnace. Not one by one. These crutches have been pulled out all at once and I’ve fallen hard.
Here’s just a list of what I depend on to be liked (by friends, family and God.)
My humor—it is just not relevant here. I’ve noticed I don’t really get in to my humor-mode with people who have tough exteriors. I’m a bit intimidated.
My education—Doesn’t mean anything. I’m here to train on radiation, safety and using technical equipment. I live and die by that. Had a strong win today, but I’m still struggling.
My spiritual background—No one cares.
All my accumulated experience at 39 isn’t really worth much here. I mean, I have the teaching thing down. That gets me respect. I know the science, but all the self esteem builders have been shorted out and taken away.
I now have to actually face the insecure Ryan.
This is not pleasing at all.
All the shields and masks have been taken away. I have no clout, no backup plan and nowhere, I mean nowhere to run.
And I want to run to my friends. I need to be reminded how funny I am and special. I want to have some pizza and beer and make someone laugh. “Oh, Ryan. You are so clever. Where have you been?”
“Afghanistan!” Ha ha ha.
So I’m drawing and dwelling on my faith. I’m reminding myself that my self-esteem does not fluctuate based on how I land a joke, but on God views me. The laughter is like a short snort of cocaine to my value. But the value God has placed on me never runs out and I don’t have to chase it or earn it. That sounds so cheesy and trite. I know. I can’t articulate it well without it sounding small.
But I think the key to my freedom, to love freely, without needing something reciprocated is in that value, in who I actually am.
A big part of this Afghanistan journey is that right there: stripping away all the fake Ryan from the true Ryan.
I called this a “reboot” of my life, but instead it’s an overhaul, a gutting, a transformation, an upheaval.
And I have to tell you—-it’s really hard.