Sunday, November 26, 2006

Army Brat

Off to the army I went. First stop: 10 days of Basic Training. Normally, Basic Training for girls is two full weeks, but for girls who are also doing a training course immediately before or after BT, there is a shortened version. Ten full days, including Shabbat.

My boyfriend – oh, did I not mention him before? OK, so my boyfriend, we’ll call him Tom – stayed at my aunt’s house with me the night before my call-up. He came with me that morning to see me off. It’s been a while, guys, so I don’t really remember exactly how things happened, but we got uniforms, tried them on, got other stuff – bags, coats, the black purse girls have to carry if they don’t have a weapon – got loaded on buses and got whisked away to our camp.

Imagine the crappiest place you have ever slept. Like, the worst, seediest motel, or the yuckiest campsite, whatever it was, our barracks were worse.

Also, I was the ONLY girl who did not know enough to bring sheets from home, so I had to sleep on the crappy army regulation sheets. It was mentioned several times that you could get scabies from them. SCABIES!!

The one thing I remember really clearly was how different Hebrew sounded from the mouths of these girls. I was used to hearing the broken Hebrew of my uplan classmates or the softspoken, patiently explained Hebrew of my deaf boyfriend or the other people I spoke with on the kibbutz. These girls were neither softspoken nor patient.

They were also, for the most part, not from the parts of society I had frequented in America.

I struggled to understand everything that was taught in the lessons. It was a lot of, “Here is an Uzi. Please do not shoot anyone.”

And ten days later, I had completed BT and was sent home to the kibbutz to rest and recuperate for the weekend. Then it was off to my specialized training course.

I worked for the greatest unit in the IDF. Truly. Let me try to describe my unit. Candy and flowers, rainbows, cotton candy – these don’t come close. I was basically a tour guide for foreign volunteers. This meant that I went from base to base, meeting new people, all the time. I toured the country. I ate a LOT of free food. (Seriously, a lot. I gained like 20 pounds in the army.) I was always the new girl – and as such, always in demand with the boys. I had an enormous amount of responsibility, but I had a great time.

My training course, in keeping with the theme of the greatest unit in the IDF, was awesome. We are, I am sure, the only training course that featured a schedule with TWO separate 90-minute breaks daily. Plus, after 6 p.m., we could put on civvies and do the rest of our classes that way. We also had NO running, NO exercise of any kind, and cable TV.

Tom used to send me letters all the time. It was cool. I was having a blast.

Towards the end of our course, we were each sent out to spend a few days helping a more experienced group leader – to learn the ropes out in the field. My mentor was, um, lazy. And it showed. My unit commander came by for a visit, talked to the group, then pulled me aside. “Yeah, Sharon’s not going to stay here,” he said. “You are. Congratulations.”

I was pretty psyched and came home in a great mood. Then Tom broke up with me, and I spent the weekend crying in the bathtub.

Back to the base I went, come Sunday morning, heart broken, head down. And did I mention that this group was actually a French-speaking group? Oui. And I sat there, in my misery, planning my group’s day trip to Jerusalem. My base liaison introduced me to G., who would be guarding my group on our trip. (Translation: He had an M16. It’s a better shot than my Uzi.)

“Hey,” he said. “What’s up?”

“Nothing,” I muttered.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. I’m just depressed. My boyfriend just dumped me.”

“Really? My girlfriend just dumped me, too.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

We hung out the entire Jerusalem trip and bonded over our broken hearts. He told me all the reasons why his ex was the only one for him, and I did the same. We drowned our sorrows in making fun of my French volunteers and wailing about the unfairness of the world.

Good times.

By the end of my first group, G. and I were solid friends. And I still hadn’t even met Mr. WG yet. Stay tuned!

2 comments:

3MGA mom said...

I'm hooked!

Looking forward to when you actually meet Mr WG :)

lisa said...

Wow, the army sounds kind of fun! Did I just say that?t