Since I have absolutely no idea when the next time I’ll have the chance to write, I thought I’d throw a small little post together before going back to base. And, yes, it appears as though Life on the Line will be more than a three-part series.
We’re in the army. We smell and we know it. It comes with the territory. Just do the math: If we’re on base for three weeks at a time and we have four uniforms total, how often do we wear clean clothes? The answer is: not often enough. But, in training, it was different. When going through training, you always had an idea, at least a rough one, as to when your next shower would be. “We’re in the field for three days? Great. I’ll shower on Wednesday.” While on the line, “we’re in the field for three days” can very easily turn into “I have no idea when we’ll be back.” Though I can’t put any specifics down, last week was one of those weeks for me.
“Klazmer, get your gear. We’re back Tuesday.” So I threw enough stuff in a bag until Tuesday, grabbed my vest and stood in line with the others. Nobody thought anything of it. To us, Tuesday meant Tuesday. Very quickly, Tuesday turned into Wednesday, Wednesday into Thursday morning and, finally, Thursday morning into Thursday night. Two more days, not a big deal. Simply put, shit happens. And then it rained. It rained day and night. Then the Sun poked through, giving us hope that everything would dry up. But, just as quickly as it had appeared, the Sun left, taking our sliver of hope with it. Then it rained more. But we had our job to do, rain or shine. So we did what we had to do through rain and mud. I’m not even going to bother trying to describe the amount of mud. Just check out the pictures.
After finally being switched, it had been nine days since my last shower. Nine fucking days of sweat and rain and mud and dirt caked into my skin. Needless to say, it was difficult for everyone to stomach my stench, myself included. Back on base, I ran for the shower. I scrubbed what I could in that short amount of time but, immediately after, I was going home. So I ran back to my room and saw my Alef (Israeli equivalent to the American Class A) hanging neatly, as if it were waiting for me. Forgetting for a minute that wearing your alef means that you’re going home, it was just such a relief. A shower. Deodorant. Dry socks. Clean uniform. It was like I was in heaven.
Even to describe the feeling is difficult. Imagine being a little kid. It’s winter. The ground is covered in snow. You just came in from sledding and you’re absolutely freezing. You have to strip down all your wet clothes in the garage, something you’ve been dreading all day. That eight and a half seconds that you’re in your underwear and not yet in the house is awful. But then you step inside. The heat is on. You feel it immediately in your nose. Your mom takes a sweatshirt fresh out of the dryer for you and then, with a smile, hands you a mug of hot chocolate.
That’s the best description that I can provide (Raxxess). In reality, coming back to a sweatshirt and hot chocolate would have been far more pleasant but having your dreams of a shower and fresh uniform come true at the end of nine long days was more than sufficient for me.