So, on June 1st, 1985, I found myself in uncharted waters. I had escaped the fate of my mother and my grandmother and many of my numerous cousins. I was not married to a coal miner; I would not awaken long before dawn to make coffee and sandwiches six days a week. I would not send my man off into some pit or onto some mountain top all sparkly clean just to have him come home some 10 or 12 hours later, hands and face coated with coal dust, so that the whites of his eyes popped out at me.
No, I was a soldier's wife. I would awaken before dawn, squint, and fall back to sleep. I'd wake up around mid morning and wonder what I was going to do to fill my day. Sheer boredom granted me the cleanest rented mobile home I have ever stepped foot in (and I've been in some that have never even been lived in). You could eat off my floors and drink out of my sparkling white toilet bowl. I kid you not.
At some point, I got a job I could walk to. I worked at a dry cleaner's, where I learned how to sew the little tags on the Army guys' uniforms. I learned exactly where everything went on the shirts and on the Army Class A's. There's an Air Force base near Ft. Bragg so I would occasionally get one of those. It wasn't much and it didn't pay much but there was almost no pressure, no stress. I'd give it a B- as far as unskilled labor goes.
But things started happening in my little love nest. My man started not coming home. Checks started bouncing. There were bills I couldn't pay. My roller rink honey had always loved some decent weed and I thought being in the Army would cure him of that. But it's funny how all the pot heads can find each other, even in the Army. And that's exactly what happened to my honey. He apparently hooked up with every pot head in the 82nd Airborne sometime between Christmas 1984 and June 1985.
I can remember being at the mobile homes of other Army wives on Saturday nights. All of his buddies had newborns, it seemed like. We'd be playing cards and someone would light a joint. Pot has always just immobilized me; I'd get the giggles and crave Doritos but I just couldn't move. I'd watch in amazement as the Army wives changed diapers and made bottles and fed babies; I knew I would never be able to do that. I knew I couldn't bring a baby into this situation, knew that my roller rink honey wasn't going to pull it together, knew that I was going to have to find a way to pull us out of this.
So, in February 1986, I joined the Army. We desperately needed the money. I desperately needed to have a life with more in it than what we'd seen thus far. I really only meant to join the reserves. You know, maybe be a medic and be gone for 8 weeks for basic training and a couple months for medic training. Then I'd be back and we'd have this extra income every month.
But recruiters are slick, you know? I got kick ass scores on their tests; I could choose any profession I wanted, almost. So I picked pharmacy technician, I think because some girl I knew in school and could never stand was going to be a pharmacist. How's THAT for a way to choose a career path?? I'd be working in a pharmacy and she'd still be in her second year of college. So there! Hah!!
But there was a hitch, you know? If I wanted to be a pharmacy technician, I had to join the real Army. For four years. And I'd have a life long trade when I got out. And I'd have a full time job with a full time pay check. And I could come back to Ft. Bragg, once I finished training and signed a waiver saying I didn't want to go to Germany like my orders would say I was going. And I would be gone for about 6 to 8 months but that's not SO long, really, you know?
Oh, my man was PISSED!! I thought the top of his head was going to explode. But then he lit a joint and I knew I'd made the right decision.
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