With the arrival of KFOR 9, things have changed. A lot. Without them we knew we were approaching the end of this deployment, but with them we can feel it. Their presence has created a spark in the air and a renewed sense of awe at all the things we’ve accomplished. KFOR 8 is all smiles, folks.
Since KFOR 9 arrived, we’ve been smiling more, laughing more, and whistling our way through the hallways. We’ve started to get that wistful look in our eye, sighing to our friends as we marvel at how fast it all went by and how excited we are to return home.
We’ve started asking each other questions too.
The most frequent question asked of a KFOR 8 Soldier nearing the end of his or her time on Camp Bondsteel:
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home?
It came out of nowhere really. We didn’t ask this question until KFOR 9 got here, but as soon as they hit the ground, and indeed, even before they all touched down, this question was asked.
Our responses are varied. Some of us want a nice dinner: a good steak, cooked to perfection, and a cold beer to go with it. Others wish for sloppy kisses from their pets, hugs and kisses from spouses they’ve missed for nearly 18 months, a game of catch or dress up with their children, to hold the babies that have been born in their absence, or shopping sprees deemed necessary after 18 months of missed trends. Others look forward to lounging, or sleeping in every day, or returning to college to finish up that degree. We’re an assorted group with different lives back home, different backgrounds, different goals, different hopes, but now, at the end, we’re all starting to get caught up on one thing: home.
We laugh (in a good way) as we watch KFOR 9 arrive, sleepy and confused, wandering around Camp Bondsteel and asking where a building is as they stand just to the right of it. Some of us remember when we first got here, sleepy and confused as well, lost half the time and confused the other half. We tell the newcomers of how when we first got here it was like this, or like that and we try and share what we’ve learned. We scrunch our eyebrows when they do things differently, maybe judging them for their newness, or maybe just wondering about their different techniques.
We ask each other about KFOR 9, wondering how they’ll do, what they’re like and if they’ll be as wonderful as us, because, you know, we’re awesome and right and the best.
All I really have left to say at the end of exhausting workweek is this: KFOR 9 is different, just like we were different from KFOR 7 and just like they’ll be different from KFOR 10. But, they’re fun to watch. They make me feel like an old woman, sitting on my porch fondly remembering my earlier days as I watch them wander around. This, the end of KFOR 8 and the beginning of KFOR 9, feels great.