Exit, stage left

The air is electric as you stand on softly creaking floorboards waiting backstage with bated breath for the lead actors to deliver the final few lines of the show.  The heat from the stage lights having been on for so long is stifling as floating particles and the faint aroma of sweat lingers upstage and wafts into the wings as a whisper of the scenes that have already been performed. You hardly notice the chill bumps that cover your body like a Braille dictionary or your staccato heartbeat, let alone dust or smells because once the last word is spoken the spotlight will go out, the curtain will close, the costumes and masks will return to the trunk and the magic of suspended reality will end.
That same feeling is no different for many of the members of the 316th as our play has progressed into the final act.  Some seem to have a Pavlovian grin triggered by key phrases such as “our replacements will be here soon” or “we’ll be home in a month”, while others have rumors of tears in their eyes.  Whatever the sentiment, our expressions more frequently betray an internal dialogue with each passing day. For many, leaving brings a sense of excitement as well as relief to get some personal space, still others are filled with anxiety as their thoughts shift to job searches, college enrollment and fitting back into a family who has been functioning without them for nearly a year. It has been a long and arduous 11 months to endure being away from home,  but the months and years to come will eventually prove in retrospect that it was a brief period of time in our individual lives. Maybe the question we should ask ourselves is: What role did I play in the telling of this story?
Perhaps you mentored your subordinates, peers and even superiors from time to time; or you made sure to volunteer for additional duties that would likely get you recognition; maybe you stayed in your room and had as little interaction as possible with anyone from this unit or anybody else. Regardless of how subtle, we all jotted notes in the margins of each other’s minds that will likely be revisited at various points in the future due to the shrinking Army. An aspect particularly unique to the Army Reserve is that many Soldiers have civilian jobs, which means a supervisor in the military today can become a subordinate or applicant as a civilian tomorrow.  References, evaluations, and reputations bear more weight today than they did ten or fifteen years ago in a job market that is slowly gaining momentum. Another question may come to mind: Did I seek out professional development opportunities to boost my resume?
As we look ahead to the date circled on our calendar marking our return and beyond to reintegrating back into our lives at home we are reminded that this was a once in a lifetime performance.  This same assemblage of people will likely never again come together under the same conditions. Junior enlisted Soldiers will move in the Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) ranks, enlisted Soldiers will become officers and others will leave the military.  There are some we hope to never see again, others we hope to meet under different circumstances, and others we will deeply miss and promise to keep in contact with.  Whether a leading player or a support role, we all had a part in this production and when the exit music is cued and house lights come, the ovation will be for all of us.
Staff Sgt. Kristin Walker is a 27D, Paralegal, in the US Army Reserve and writes for the 316th ESC from Kuwait on a regular basis.​

1 comment on this blog post

  1. Well said. This was an easy read I really enjoyed.

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