Weekly Update - June 24, 2022
This past weekend I spent some time on a military base. I went to the commissary and the PX. I ate in the food court. I went to an on post recreation area. I was surrounded by the sights, sounds and rhythms of a military base on a long weekend. It was the longest I had been on a military base since Fort Bragg.
It was simultaneously comforting and surreal.
It was familiar. It was like returning home after some time away. I just knew where things would be, how to carry myself, what the expectations were. Things were as it feels like they have always been. I feel like you could put me on any American military base anywhere around the world anytime in our history and I will feel comfortable. The contours and context may change, but the essence of the place remains. And it is in the essential that we are able to move most easily, and with the greatest surety.
And. Two things can be true at the same time.
While the base was comfortable and familiar, it also caused me anxiety and felt vaguely menacing. Like the feeling you have when you are worried someone is going to open that door at exactly the wrong time. Not that you are (necessarily) doing anything wrong. Just the anxiety that comes with someone suddenly being in a space you thought of as private, and then you have no control over it. The feeling that something is hiding around the corner. Something scary.
Being there was surreal because it felt like home and felt nothing like home at the same time. Emotionally, being on base felt simultaneously comfortable and unsafe.
As I get older, I am increasingly realizing that this is what being an adult actually is - constantly living in the liminal space between things. It is hard to give yourself fully to the moment as an adult. You have to worry about the mortgage payment and whether or not the kids’ camps got paid for and remember whether you took your meds. We are bombarded by both worry and messages telling us to “live, laugh, love.”
It’s crazy making.