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U2: My Sanity

July 10, 2012

Years ago my husband told me, “I’m joining the Air Force so we can get married.”  I was quite shocked because he vowed he would never join the military.  He had to delay his enlistment though because he had a torn rotator cuff, probably from his previous job.  He ended up going to basic training two months after we got married.  Until then, we lived with my parents and he worked at a cabinet making company for $6.50 an hour.

His basic training lasted about 7 weeks I think and then family was allowed to come down during graduation week.  He wrote me a letter telling me that he wanted to cry when he found out he wasn’t allowed to hold my hand while he was in uniform because PDA was a disgrace to it.  This made no sense.  What about all of the news footage of soldiers coming home from war and hugging and kissing their wives?  Was that a disgrace too?

They told us to come on Monday, but what was to stop me from going to church with him on Sunday?  He joined the military.  I didn’t.  So I stood on the church steps watching every guy coming towards me.  They all looked the same and wore the same glasses too.  Finally I saw one of them smiling at me and I knew it was him.  He took me behind a corner and we kissed like rebellious teenagers.  We also held hands during church because they had no jurisdiction over him there.  I know, weren’t we bad?

I really resented the no PDA thing.  It was even sadder to see a very pregnant woman whose husband couldn’t hold her hand either.  To me, it was a disgrace to the uniform not to hold her hand.  Even better, graduation was on Valentine’s Day and we had the choice between going to a Spurs vs. Nuggets came in San Antonio or the guys could go back to their rooms alone.  We went to the game and wandered around looking for a place to make out.  Darn the elevator attendant to heck!  The next day they got a day pass on Saturday, but were told not to go to hotels.  Of course, we went to a hotel.

So that was my wonderful introduction to military life.  After basic training, my husband was sent to a different base to train for his job and they had to go through phases before they were free.  Phase I, they had to wear their uniform all day.  Phase II, they could change out of their uniform after work.  Phase III, they could have a weekend pass.  I don’t remember exactly how it went, but it seemed ridiculous to treat a grown man that way.  He made the adult decision to join the mililtary and the adult decision to get married.  To tell him where he is allowed to go after his shift was really irritating.

The only thing we could really do together was hang out at the food court where we could hardly hear each other over the booming bass of the crappy music people listened to on the jukebox.  It drove me crazy.  When my birthday came, he still wasn’t allowed to leave base.  We couldn’t go to a restaurant, couldn’t hold hands, couldn’t kiss, and definitely couldn’t do other things newlyweds like to do.  *wink wink*

The only thing I could do to make my birthday somewhat bearable was to take total control of the jukebox and I ordered $10 worth of U2 songs.  I watched a guy put some money in to order one song and I avoided eye contact as he waited to hear his selection.  I giggled in my head.  He had to leave after five or so glorious U2 songs and I would have ordered more if I had more money.

Sometime after that, our friends got married by a judge and when they went to McDonald’s afterwards, some guy yelled at them for holding hands.  Unreal.  Good thing he didn’t know what else they did in random places.  My husband and I hid in dark movie theaters so we could again commit the heinous act of holding hands, even if it meant watching movies we had no interest in.

And that’s just one reason he didn’t stay in the military.  I was just listening to one of those U2 songs and remembering the 30 or so minutes of sweet relief I felt during a time I felt like we were being controlled.  After his four years was up, we said buy bye.

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