I dreamed I reenlisted. It was all at once unbelievable yet wholly satisfying. I was the only one smiling on the buys full of recruits as we made our way to Goodfellow Air Force Base. I was downright giddy. I was ready for this. This change, this return to the familiar. I was surprised that I was willing to do it again to be sure, but it felt like it would be a marvelously fulfilling endeavor.
I was sitting on the porch swing with my father, entirely content, when I made the decision.
We arrived late at night, the barracks were like a mostly deserted airport terminal - desks with brochures, vending machines, soldiers and airman lounging around in fatigues. I made my way to a lady behind a desk marked, "INFORMATION" and cheerfully asked where I was supposed to go next. She was very discouraging and rude so I asked her why. She explained that while all this was obviously new to me and I was excited, she did the same thing day in and day out and we all just looked alike to her.
Undaunted I found my room at the end of a lime-green painted cinderblock hallway - I was at the end on the left - and met two of my three roommates for the night; we'd be separated into our flights once in-processing was concluded tomorrow morning. I wasn't at all sleepy though I found out we were to get up and ready for formation at 0445 despite the bus not arriving until well after midnight, so I wandered the halls, taking it all in. The excitement, the challenges, the rewards.
Then I started freaking out.
I didn't have my duffle bag. I didn't have my uniform. I remember moving my wife and baby son into my folks house, but I didn't remember telling them I was going to enlist. I decided to call her, but was so excited about heading out I'd forgotten to pack my cell phone. That was really unusual. Then I remembered where I got my cell phone - my employer! I'D FORGOTTEN TO TELL MY EMPLOYER I WAS ENLISTING AGAIN!
I was going to lose my paycheck and start making...$800 a month again. A sinking feeling hit me as I desperately tried to find a bank of AT&T overseas phones to call my wife. My swearing-in ceremony was in just a few hours and was completely panicked about how to proceed. At least I had my wallet. I did run into Jim Worley, my old neighbor and coworker, who was a Master Sergeant, dressed in blues, doing early-morning administrative work there.
I went outside and was in Korea again.
I was standing on the same corner I traverse in all my dreams of Korea, and was aware this might not be real, rather a dream. The word, "surreal" came to mind and I marveled at the knowledge that I was where I was and how I got here and how it felt being here knowing I was only dreaming. I was going to take a picture for my livejournal friends with my fisheye lens so I could show them once and for all everything I see and feel when I discuss being in Korea. Not the real Korea perhaps, but the subconscious facsimile as I create it. It was overwhelming and magnificent.
And it was real. A visceral experience I alone was able to relish. Not just a place, but a construct. Like opening my mind to fantastic destinations without having to travel.