Shipmates and friends

USS George Washington, Japan

When I was in the Navy, I spent too much time being angry about the handful of crappy people I met. I was angry when someone’s word meant more than mine because of their rank–not their knowledge, argument, or even their reputation for sound judgment. I was angry when some people were ruined just by an accusation, while others walked around practically flaunting their ability to get away with anything. Sometimes it’s who you know. Sometimes it’s who you’ve offended. Sometimes it’s luck, perhaps.

There’s certainly a measure of unfairness in the Navy. Also, I hate donning an SCBA! But my point is that I spent so much time being angry and feeling wronged by some bad eggs that I not only acted pretty rotten myself, but I also made a fool of myself in front of some very good eggs that I also met along the way. I met many wonderful people in the Navy, one of whom I even married, and honestly I feel embarrassed by how emotional and rash I sometimes often was in front of them in those days.

Only now I am starting to miss them and appreciate them more, and to realize how much time I wasted in their company, not enjoying their company, but being miserable about my idiot Chief or why do people have to gossip? or other things.

Monday I got together with a woman I knew close to five years ago. We met a few months before I left for Japan, became friends, and then didn’t see each other for all those years. We had a lot to talk about, neither has a complete picture of what the other has been busy with–but that’s okay. I felt like we clicked again just like we did all those years ago, back when my hair was dyed black–as she remembered aloud. I laughed. It’s ridiculous.

Then yesterday or the day before, I posted to Facebook, asking if anyone had done time in the Selected Reserve because I’m thinking about joining before my IRR time is up. A woman I used to work for, who has since been rightfully promoted, and is also a recruiter now, asked me what information I needed. I messaged her, and just started to remember all she had done for me. She hadn’t just directly helped me, like when she nominated me for Sailor of the Quarter. She also helped me because she was reasonable and fair and hard-working, and the example she set made me want to be better. She motivated me to get lots of qualifications and to help others get them too. She showed me what leadership is. That’s not to say I always appreciated her in those days, but mostly I did. And now? It can’t even benefit her to help me, but she still is.

I am so grateful for the people I’ve met in the Navy. I have met people to show me what friendship, leadership, teamwork, hope, and commitment really look like. I’ve met people who brought out the worst in me–and people who helped me overcome that. I love so many of them, and really, I’m sure they have no idea. That’s alright. I’m just so grateful.


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