January, 2004:
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.

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