Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Past-Revisited

I lived a different life, much different than the one I live now, back in the 80's. First, I was young and a hottie! Well, I was young, anyway. When I think back, it seems like it was a secret life, a life few of my friends know about and a life that, while etched in my memory, I don't always like to recall.

I married an Air Force Academy cadet. I have to admit that it wasn't the best plan I could have come up with. I was young, too young. And, dumb. Yet,that didn't stop me from moving from wonderful Colorado, to steaming hot Texas. I remember my apartment, new and crawling with scorpions. One day, I came home and found a gray, furry tarantula on my front door. After I got in the door, there was a scorpion on my couch. Nice. That is nothing compared to what I was considered, an Air Force wife. Not just any Air Force wife, but one whose husband was in Undergraduate Pilot Training(UPT). There were a barrage of parties, mixers, get togethers and what have you, that I had to attend. There was no choice in the matter, none. I went where I was summoned. Granted, I wasn't summoned by the commander, just his wife, and in some cases, it was just as bad. The Air Force looks at the "wife" as the posession of the husband. Those that know me, know that isn't the way I operate, but back then, I did. If we were to go to the O Club, we went. If we were supposed to go to a dinner, we went. We edged our lawn, parked our cars, mingled with friends, had sex, all by the book of the Air Force. Failure to do so... It just didn't happen, at least with myself and former spouse.

UPT is a program that lasts 1 year. It is grueling for the pilots. It is grueling for their wives. There are the 4am flight weeks, the 8pm flight weeks. There was the chamber, egress training and memorizing countless things about flying and the plane. Failed check rides and failed marriages occured frequently, too frequently. While the husband's are dutifully flying around, the wives are left on the ground, to commiserate with their forced friends about how they miss their families, miss their friends, miss their jobs, all to fulfill their husband's dreams. It is admirable but stressful enough for miscarriages and falling apart marriages. In esscence, you gave up everything and UPT is now your life, as well. You remember little acronyms for things, you sew patches on new flightsuits, you are able to recognize and name the entire inventory of Air Force planes. You and your spouse are owned by the Air Force and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.

But, there is light at the end of the tunnel! Graduation from UPT approaches and the Air Force has decided your husband is worthy of flying one of their multi-milion dollar planes. Maybe you will escape this hellhole called Del Rio, maybe not. We didn't, not for 4 years. I lived through 4 years of hot as hell conditions, very few places to get a decent meal and absolutely no shopping! And, tell me what did I do it for, a divorce. Apparently. My former spouse loved flying and was a great instructor, but his love for me couldn't/didn't have any priority for him. I, was in fact, his mistress, his first love, the Air Force and flying.

I don't regret those times, they have shaped me into the person that I am today, not that that is saying a bunch. I made friends that I think of today. Occasionally, I Google them, hoping to find that someone I knew, is having the life they dreamt of, something that they took away from that time in the 80's in Del Rio, Texas.

My last Google forway was today and what I found, hurt me. A guy that was an instructor pilot with us in Texas, was killed on 30 July at Nellis AFB, NV. He had been flying in an exercise and crashed, he died on site. He had been married to the same girl I met, way back in 1990. They had childen, they have a mom, but no dad. Reading the obituary, I saw that he was an accomplished pilot, with many missions, with many aircraft. Many, that at the time I knew him, he only dreamt about.

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