It’s been awhile since Hagar’s been deployed on ops, and as I prepare for it’s coming I think back to the challenges we have previously faced. The thing about the war in Afgahnistan is that it is a violent, feudal battlefield but life is ordered and structured. Hagar goes to war and he can focus solely on the job at hand. They eat, sleep, plan, brief, execute, de-brief, eat, sleep, maybe they’ll work out, read, shoot the shit with each other. Life is laid out for them in a structured, co-ordinated manner. Hagar walks into a room to give a brief. The room is silent and listens to what he has to say until he has finished speaking.
He takes with him photos of us, his family, in still, poised poses. Good pictures, where we are happy, beautiful statues of perfections. He pines and aches for us as he remembers fondly the moments he played dinosaur battles on the living room floor with The Grenade, our 6 year old son. He imagines me cooking up a warm homely, veritable feast like a domestic goddess, keeping the home fires burning, laughing gayly as he speaks and celebrating the Utopian banter of our perfect marriage.
And when he returns home, all suntanned, dusty and crunchy from the sand and the initial moments of euphoria of being re-united are over and normal life kicks. The memories of his fantasy family are shattered and he is faced with his real family. The Grenade is whinging, ear drum shattering wines because something that he deemed essential to his very being has been denied to him, the house is chaotic, strewn with toys, dinner is not served and the bubba is screaming. He starts to talk to me about something that barely interests me maybe something mechanical and military like. I start thinking about something else distracted. He looks at me and says, ‘I am talking to you and you are not listening,’ and I reply, ‘yes, I know but it’s not that interesting and I am your wife, not one of your crew and I reserve the right, to be bored, switch off, interrupt and think about something else, entirely irrelevant and disconnected to your conversation.’
Sometimes it’s easy and simpler to go to war. Hagar knows where he is at war. Home is messy, noisy, chaotic and full of hormonal, evolving people who don’t follow the rules. I know he loves us, and we love him, but there is more than just distance between war and home. This is why the re-integration back in is always complicated as we all learn how to be around each other again.