This weekend I ran into a battle buddy from Basic Training. Eleven years ago. From South Carolina to Iowa. Four deployments between us. She wasn’t just some girl in my platoon. No. Amy was the girl I dug a fox-hole with. Amy and I slept head to toe under our shelter halves during our bivouacs and woke to fire-ants crawling up our arms. We fought like sisters. Sometimes we fought like enemies. By the end of our eleven weeks together we couldn’t stand each other and made no attempt to keep in touch after graduation.

More than ten years later none of that mattered. We drank. We caught up. It was lovely. However, when I went to dig up old pictures, I couldn’t find one of Amy (if you’ll remember the aforementioned fighting).

All I found was this:

Those four girls were the girls I missed. Those were the girls I worried about when the war in Iraq started. Not Amy. I basked in those memories and then I noticed Robbins sitting there in background – just there to the right. Crying and looking at whatever she just blew into her handkerchief. She is crying because she did not graduate Basic Training. She never did more than four consecutive pushups and she never learned how to march. She was not meant to be a soldier. As far as I know she never became one.

Her misery is not how I remember that day, nor how I remember that time. I feel bad for Robbins but I am grateful that my memories of that time have evolved into a warmness in my chest, that I can drink a beer with a girl I once screamed at to stop talking to me and see these old pictures in a new way.