The Season of Pain

Yeah, that’s what they call it. Once Monday rolls around after the New Years weekend, everyone’s looking out across that featureless expanse of time to that point in February when they get to climb on that Herc and go home. The excitement of the new season is gone. The holidays have gone. The last of the two-day weekends have gone. There’s nothing to look forward to but the promise of trees, and a warm breeze, and sunsets. And real. Long. Showers.

I sat down across from Zach in the galley over breakfast.

“G’morning, Zach!”

“Forty one days.”


“Forty one days until I redeploy.”

“And how many hours?” – Zach’s methodical; I knew he would have calculated that too.

As one of the old-timers explained, there are unspoken rules of behavior during the Season of Pain. You are allowed to be pissed off at people for arbitrary reasons. They can inquire about the reasons, but they are under no obligation to do anything about it. And of course, they are entitled to be pissed off at you for equally capricious reasons. I gather that the rules of engagement are not unlike those of a late-night, overtired lovers spat: you’re going to say angry, baseless, stupid things you’ll later regret, and expect have the same thrown back at you. And when you’ve recovered, sitting there in CHC on the back patio of Dux de Lux with this person you’ve reviled, you’re going to put your arm around them and say “Oh man, remember the day I went ape on you for taking two soup spoons in the galley? What the hell was I thinking – I can’t even remember what that was about.” And they’ll laugh and say “I know what you were thinking – you were thinking that you were an [expletive deleted].” Then you’ll laugh too.

Or so I’ve been led to believe. Remember, I’m new here, and as Herodotus is fond of saying, I can’t tell you it’s the truth; I can only tell you that it’s what I’ve been told.

Personally though, I’m not feeling the Season of Pain coming on (recent medical events notwithstanding, that is). With some exceptions, it still feels so shiny and new here – I’m not ready to let it go. Maybe it’s just the life of a charmed Fingy. Or maybe I’m just oblivious. No, must be the charmed life.

But there has been a change. The traverse has come and gone again, the Cubies are winding down, and the flights in are tankered full of fuel and supplies to get the station through the long, upcoming winter. Over the tables, everyone’s talking about redeployment. Daniel’s going to Indonesia, Russ and David are hoping to land a job working in Afghanistan. Christina’s not sure yet – she’s got someone waiting for her in NH, but misses Colorado. Elissa? Well, it’s a big world out there.

Anyhow, that’s where we’re standing at the moment, as we roll into the Season of Pain. Stay tuned for updates :)

One response to “The Season of Pain

  1. If you're looking for warm breezes on your return I hope you're planning to stop in Hawaii on your way back. There was very visible frost on the plants and lawn in my back yard this morning. Maybe by the time you get back in Feb. it will be warmer, but it has definitely not been feeling "warm" recently. It may be California and our seasons may be milder, but it is still winter here!


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