I have a collection of letters my grandfather wrote when he was a young man serving in WWII. "In the army," he said in one letter, "nothing is definite until it happens." I thought that was kind of silly, since nothing in life is definite until it happens. Then I forgot his words, until I found myself involved with an army officer and am learning just how right my Pop-pop was.
My fiancé and I have known for a few months that we'll be moving to Oahu, eventually. Exactly when we will move has always been unclear. My real life G.I. Joe has been training in Oklahoma, so here we have resided. We anxiously awaited finding out his post-training duty station. The big reveal was at a formal gala, where I clutched his camouflage-patterned arm tightly as we walked into the banquet room and looked for his name. There it was, next to his new unit patch. Which, of course, meant nothing to me, but his jaw dropped. My heart raced remembering all the possibilities, desirable and not. Suddenly he started laughing and looked me in the eyes. "Hawaii," he said. Now my jaw was on the floor. "Are you sure?" He nodded, and we couldn't stop laughing all night.
So then we knew where we would be going, but we wouldn't find out when we would be going for months. Joe had to finish his course in Oklahoma and also see if he qualified for any follow-up training. Additionally, he has been in a pre-ranger course, hoping to qualify for one of the elite slots at ranger school. We calculated all the various possibilities. If he goes straight from here to Hawaii, we could be living in paradise before Thanksgiving. If he does follow-up training in Oklahoma, that could put us in Hawaii before the New Year. If he is selected for ranger school, we'll be apart for the months of intense training, communicating mainly through letters, and head to Hawaii together around February or March of next year, maybe. We couldn't stop fantasizing about every option and grew more and more excited for the training to wind down and orders to arrive.
Some news came when Joe made the cut for ranger school. His class would be from November through January. Option three, we realized. Once official orders came, they'd probably have us going to Hawaii around the time ranger school ends.
And then the government shut down. Military moves were halted. Orders were not being delivered. The guys here with ranger slots were told that their slots might disappear because of the delay in their orders. Two weeks of rumors went by as the ranger guys questioned their futures. I searched online for any news about the government shutdown effect on incoming candidates for ranger school. Mostly, I got a bunch of articles about park rangers. I went on the Go Army website and asked the virtual SGT Star if the government shutdown would affect ranger school. He replied, "I'm not here to discuss politics." Oy gevalt. I realized I couldn't get any information because nobody really had any information. It was unknown to everybody what would happen.
Joe graduated from his training here amid the government shutdown. The next day, the government reopened. The graduates received their orders at an afternoon formation. Except the ranger guys. They were told that their branch manager had all of their orders, sending them to ranger school, sitting on his desk. But he was waiting to hear whether those orders were still valid. Whether ranger school would be able to take on these men, or if the slots did indeed disappear.
Joe is at a formation now. Maybe he'll come back with his orders. More likely, we'll hang out in Oklahoma for a couple more weeks until everything is reorganized. And who knows what the orders will say. In the army, nothing is definite until it happens.