thirty years after
It was thirty years ago this month that I enlisted (or was drafted - exactly
what happened isn't completely clear, though it doesn't really matter) in the
Israeli army. I served my final stint of reserve duty about eight years ago, meaning
that for the majority of my life in Israel, and for most of my adult life, the
army has been a defining experience. For over twenty years at least a month of
each year was spent in uniform.
Not all of this was
particularly stressful. More than three months were served in Lebanon (the last
of which earned its own site), and a couple of months
were spent in the occupied territories, but more often than not I was able to
bring a duffle bag of books with me, and relax on the Syrian border, getting more
reading done than I might at home.
I never brought a uniform home with
me, and always preferred travelling back and forth from my reserve stints in civilian
clothing. I was happy to finish with army service, and it's only when I encounter
someone from the past that I actually start wondering about the members of my
unit with whom I spent many a month. But many items accumulated just the same,
and they've remained in a couple of plastic bags - part mementos, part reminders,
primarily excess baggage of what was most certainly a central part of my life.