When we talk about deployment, the images we see are of joyful reunions at redeployment ceremonies and public displays of reconnection. But that isn't always straight truth. And it's not just because Hollywood isn't real life.
Some of the reasons are just practical. If you're a short Army wife like me, trying to spot your camo-clad spouse among 80 other similarly dressed individuals and straining to see over-anxious families (often several generations deep) can provide more frustration than elation. And even when you do see your loved one in the crowd, it's not actually in slow-motion with patriotic music in the background and running, flinging yourselves each other's arms.
Nonetheless, it's the most relieved you've both been in the past six to 12 months.
Still, the moments that lead up to that non-Hollywood moment of your dreams have been building anticipation, and nothing can put a damper on it.
You're exhausted from the months on edge. Any news story from the region in which your service member had been serving froze your heart until confirmation that your loved one was not involved. The home front Murphy's Law incidents, and the once shared day-to-day upkeep of home life that has been carried by only you. And even before that starts you have the anticipation of the deployment, its duration, and all the other details about the training requirements prior to “wheels-up."
As soon as the word "deployment" hits the household, it's game on.
As a spouse of an active duty member, I've had the luxury of the best military post for the past year and a half. In that time there's been no deployments for my husband. There have been trips, exceeding three months at a time, but always in the states.
But today my service member left on a short mission to Europe. It sounds like no big deal, and in anticipation of the trip I did not feel anxious. But right now, as he's been away for a full 12 hours, I've remembered how sending off the one you love feels. You'd think after being married into this lifestyle for six years, it would be standard operating procedure at this point.
But honestly at the moment, it's a big deal to me going to go to bed alone, save for two sleeping dogs, knowing that my husband is crossing the Atlantic right now.
Maybe it's my Army-wife muscle not having been flexed recently enough. Or maybe I'm just a human missing her best friend. But when he comes back he'll be in civilian clothes, no cameras or extended family. Just us, two people who love each other, embracing at Arrivals with no short Army wife problems.
Maybe then I'll have that real Hollywood moment.
Azia Salbego currently resides in a small historic town outside of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Azia and her husband share their home with a small pack of rescues, who they consider family. After graduating from Oregon State University and starting to climb the corporate ladder, she and her husband met and fell in love in the Pacific Northwest. Now, she spends her time supporting her family, volunteering at a local children's hospital and exploring and writing about it all through this unique lens. You can follow Azia on Instagram.