You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your relations
We have all heard that saying. Mostly said in disgust when dealing with something uncomprehenislble with parents or siblings or offspring, but also in those cases where you shake your head at the behavior of some distant aunt, uncle or cousin.
Or, you are leaning back smug in your knowledge that your family is fine, normal and will not cause you major embarresment in front of your friends. Of course, these are famous last words. In contrast – you pick your friends, or perhaps they pick you. In either case, there is a certain amount of choice in the matter.
And then there is the military. More so in the reserve or National Guard, your fellow unit members become family. Working, training and potentially deploying together, the relationships last years.
Deploying with others, you eat, work and live closely for months on end. You see each other at best and worst. As I mentioned yesterday, you may well be sharing a tent with 11 of your “best friends/assigned siblings” for months on end – if not a warehouse or B-hut. If you are Air Force, then it might just be called a dorm, but it all amounts to the same thing. These are team mates who know you perhaps better than you would wish; roomies who you also know quite well.
So well in fact that when you and your family make a visit to one of them and their family it smacks you in the face. There I am, standing in a kitchen in Oslo fixing coffee for the four adults and I draw a blank. Carrying out three cups, I put down mine then hand a cup to my husband and my Norwegian friend. Turning to his wife, I appologize for not knowing how she takes her coffee. She looks at me and asks how I know her husband’s preferences.
Astonished, I look at her. I had breakfast with him almost every morning for six months, of course I know how he takes his coffee….
With having more rank, I don’t usually share living quarters except while on the road, like here in Kandahar. But I am getting to know my office mates more than well. There are several with whom I have deployed before. There maybe one or two who will become family over the long term.
Right now, I am just hoping that none of my “new cousins” snore.