Sunday, April 26, 2009

Soldier Boy

He's happy, our soldier man-boy. He goes off to the base, comes home in general one night of the week and is generally around, eating us out of house and home on weekends. He says he has learned how to sleep anywhere (not that sleep was every really a problem) and tells me he can get in a bout 1.5 hours on the bus without a problem. (Natan describes his trip sort of like Uncle Charlie's trip to NYC from Merrick years ago. 3 buses - one in the bus, one to J'lem and one to our house. Charlie had a similiar sort of travel but he used to add the elevator in his building which was frustratingly slow and annoying.)

He advises newbies - a whole bunch of his local harem (he doesn't think of them quite this way but they tend to arrive en masse to pick him up on Shabbat afternoons) just went in during Pesach vacation and he spoke to a few, fielded a couple of phone calls and generally sounded the voice of calm experience. I mentioned to him how scared he was back in October and he said, 'Oh, I wasn't that scared really.' I said, 'You've forgotten.' He admitted this may be true.

Even I am an old hand. I saw a friend who's 2 girls went in recently (she has triplets) and she told me that the girls seemed okay but that she was a wreck. I inquired how long the basic training is for them - '3 weeks,' she said. I told her it will go by so fast they'll barely have time to register it. And thank goodness for it. Basic training isn't easy - emotionally, mostly - and it's good to on to a course, or a job or whatever.

Someone else asked Natan recently what his job is. When he told them that he's doing office work and some teaching English, the person said, 'Oh, what a shame.' I felt like throttling them. Could Natan have done some fancier job in intelligence or with computers or who knows what? Yea, maybe, had he gotten someone to help get him there when he was in the application process. But he's doing, he's serving and he's learning Hebrew, meeting different kinds of people and it's a good thing. There is nothing bad about it. At all.

He's upstairs tonight. Came home tonight because he offered to be in the office on Tuesday morning, Remembrance Day for soldiers killed in wars. He could have gone with Gabe to school, or shown up at Akiva's ceremony in his school and been Akiva's show and tell, or he could have shown up at another ceremony - soldiers are welcome everywhere on that day. Natan felt uncomfortable. He said to me, 'I'm not a combat soldier, I don't have the history that everyone else's important to me but I'm okay being in the office.' I told him that I understood but that he should be proud of doing service to his country - to any country, to any cause. It's a good thing to be a service minded individual and that he's an important symbol to many here because of that. It's a big army - not everyone is a fighter. It takes admin and logistics and many other 'jobniks' to keep the army moving. Nothing to be ashamed of - nothing.

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