On Shabbat day, Saturday, when we are on the base for the weekend it is permissible to have visitors. They aren't allowed to enter the base, but there is a large visiting area just outside the gate. A few of the guys live very closeby, so of course their parents come, but even those that have to drive an hour or two tend to show up. All throughout the day guys are disappearing for a couple hours and returning with insane amounts of food. We stuff our faces with the feast from the civilian world.
Along with their Iraqi and Moroccan dishes, sugary candy, potato chips, and soda, my squadmates return with something less tangible. They return with a certain rejuvenation, a certain moralization from seeing their family and friends. All week we are at the mercy of a few soldiers who have only been in the army for a year or so more than us, which inevitably dampens the spirit, and so to finally be a full human again - they seem to be on top of the world.
I, however, don't have my parents visiting. My family lives 7,000 miles away. They can't just come for a couple hours and give me a much needed hug. They can't just say, "You're doing great! Keep it up!" I sit around and watch the guys come back with smiles on their faces and I can't help but feel jealous. I can't help but feel a loneliness by comparison.
The first Shabbat with visitors was tough, but I'm used to it now. I've lived far from my loved ones for well over a year now, so I'm accustomed to the distance. I take solace in knowing that I'm here on a mission, an ideological journey. I just don't let it get to me. I eat their delicious food, ask them how everyone is doing, read my book for a minute, and go back to sleep.
Nothing in this world worth doing is easy, they say.