There’s something about being at home. Something about returning to a familiar front door, wiping your feet on the mat and about seeing things about you that are yours. The pictures on the wall, the table, the photos on the mantelpiece.
They all add up to making you feel like you are in a place that is right for you. Making you feel at home. Going away, no matter for how long…well, it’s all in the coming home that lifts you. When you are in the arse end of a crap hole somewhere, soaking wet, stinking, filthy, all you want is to be home.
I have done my time of going away when I was in the service, to nice places (hey! I’m the first one to admit 6 weeks in Vegas wasn’t hell…) as well as less nice (a check point in Afghan where I was crapping in a bag held up by the uprights of a ladder for instance), and the one thing that guides you on…that lifts you to carry on doing it, over and over again is the going home at the end of it.
And tonight, as I write this at 10:21 on New Years Eve, I am glad to be home. My poor wife, is ensconced next door (nearer to the bathroom!) in the spare room feeling absolutely shite. We’ve been away, visiting her mother and the day we arrived she fell ill, with sickness and diarrhoea. With a history – a bad history – of a particular hospital in Liverpool and her condition deteriorating we made a run for home.
And even though I felt bloody awful after spending two nights listening to MrsF retch and vomit my mood was lifted from miserable to content just by entering the front door. And then to make things better…family.
My brother and sister-in-law who live just 30 minutes away then descended after just one quick phone call to help. Help by entertaining my daughter, Lily, and then taking her to their house for the night so I could look after MrsF and get some sleep.
And you realise even more the value of home. The value of family. The worth that people who are important and enrich your life are.
Sod being heroic. Sod all the fighting and the struggling and the service and the duty. Sod all that. All a serviceman who is away thinks of is being home…and the people who are there. Well, all I thought of when I was away, was going home, arriving home, being at home.
The last three months since I stopped working, and the last 20-odd days since I stopped being in the RAF have been strange. I’ve been home. All the time. No thoughts of going away, no sword of Damocles over our heads spelling impending separation, the rest of our lives at home together. And it’s not been easy. Not simple; when you have spent time away from each other it can be difficult being together all the time, and it’s taken time to adjust to a different pace of life.
But it’s also been brilliant. It’s not been the end of something. Yes, my service career has finished and I have left things behind, but that’s not the way I want to be. Instead it’s become the beginning.
I liked being a serviceman, I loved it, but hell, I like being a civvy. And even though I am still not working full time yet, and am awaiting the comfort of a proper pay check coming in, I don’t mind. I might be a little mental still, and have things I still need to work through and adjust to, but I like not having to be in the service any more. I like being me. Not being a Sergeant. Not calling anyone ‘Sir’. Not having to bite my tongue at the inane bullshit of certain Squadron Leaders who clearly only wanted to further their own careers. Of making my own choices of being the master of my own destiny.
And at this time of year when we naturally look back and forward, and make judgements about the past and resolutions for the future I resolve to keep this positivity that all of a sudden has swung over me. To remember the service that I did, and yet to enjoy the life that I have now. The future that I have…the beginning.
Not of a great adventure this time, but of a steady journey. Of a life as a civilian. Of being me.