Separate, Yet Equal



I’ve never cared to play “Who Has It Worse?” with anyone. When it comes to Clyde, I don’t even try. Despite the fact that we are two halves of the same situation, the experiences and perceptions we have are highly disparate. Neither one of us has it any better than the other, no matter what we may think sometimes.

I have the advantage of familiarity, choice, and stability: I am in my own home, surrounded by the friends and family I have always had. I have the same job, sitting at a desk, answering phones and typing. I have the freedom to come and go as I please. If I decide that I don’t want to be wherever anymore, I can just leave. If I decide I don’t want to keep my job, I can quit. If I don’t want to deal with someone anymore, I stop dealing with them. If I decide that I’m hungry or tired, I don’t have to take into account the actions or opinions of anyone else. I can have my wine with dinner. I wear clothing that I chose and that I am comfortable in. I have a very stable Internet connection. I can talk on the phone whenever I want, for as long as I want, as often as I’d like. Seeing my family and friends is as simple as taking a walk, calling a taxi or buying a plane ticket. If I hear a loud “boom”, it means my drunk roommates fell down the stairs and I can just continue on with whatever I’m doing, no investigation needed (Well, it may be needed, but it’s not happening). No one shoots at me. The people who want me dead don’t want to go to jail, so I’m pretty safe, provided I don’t go wandering the wrong streets at night. Oh, and can you say “No sand in sight”?

Then again, he has the upper ground when it comes to knowledge, support, and simplicity. He knows what’s going on over there, and can adjust his worries accordingly. He is surrounded by people that know what he is going through, and can relate to his reactions. He controls almost all of our contact. The details of daily life have been left behind – His grandfather is handling his finances, and his mother and I are managing his legal matters. Someone does his laundry, cooks his meals, makes his coffee. Someone else is paying for his electricity, his water, his food. Someone else makes his decisions. Here at home, I try to make sure he has enough toothpaste, and send him movies, books, and computer games. I try to keep as much stress from him as possible, and, at the same time, try to freeze myself and my life in time, so that he doesn’t feel left behind.

But, we are both lonely. We are both basically dating our computers, since IM is our most-used form of contact. We are words on a laptop screen, fuzzy pictures from digital cameras, and vague memories of what it was like to physically be in one another’s presence. We are both living on faith, faith in each other, faith in us, and, most importantly, faith in the Army and his training. While he is living in a desolate place without his friends and family, just as his country has ordered him to, I remain in that country, surround by people who are screaming their opinions on wars and politics, without any real knowledge of what is going on or concern for those they have deemed “murderers” and “government-issued terrorists”. We are both afraid – Will our faith be enough? Will we stand by our commitments to one another? Will we continue to grow as friends, despite the distance? We are outside of our lives — Clyde, because he is deployed, and me, because my thoughts and concerns are of things that those around me don’t even notice. We are isolated by our positions, and we know that there are very few who truly understand.

I don’t want to be in Clyde’s shoes, and he doesn’t want to be in mine. Neither one of us has it any better than the other, when you look at the whole picture. We are going through the same thing, but living it differently. We feel the same things, but for different reasons, and we want the same things, but because of different opinions born of different perspectives. I am not a Guardsman, and he is not in “The Silent Ranks”. But, we are both deployed, he in body and I in heart. Neither of us has won anything, not until the day he comes home, and we are no longer living with the ticking of the clock constantly in the background, counting down to something that we dread. We have never had that, not for a moment. There has always been a deadline, a time limit, or no time at all. We are both in situations we don’t want to be in, and we are both doing what we can to get through them. Neither of us is luckier than the other in this. We live distinctly separate, but equally difficult, lives.


3 Responses to “Separate, Yet Equal”

  1. Very well said. It’s difficult to imagine what they’re going through and yet we left at home have a long road ahead as well. So true that while he is deployed physically we are deployed through the heart. God bless.

  2. Obviously I’ve replied to this several months after it has been written. I was givin a graphic and I wanted to know the root of the page I had received it from. And it brought me to you. I’m glad it did though. I see we’re going through the same thing. Being in the silent ranks. You’ve said it all. And it’s so true. I don’t know how often you write on here. Or how often you check it. But if you do it would be greatly appreciated if you could keep in contact with me. I would enjoy having someone to talk to that understands the situation. And me saying that makes me feel juvenile. But there are so many people, friends, family, that don’t grasp the situation. Tell your Guardsman thank you. And to you, Thank you. God Bless.


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