Every morning on my way the the Dining Hall, and many other times during the day, I walk through The Camel Campus. The Camel is our open air common area that has a large open air pavilion and several smaller sunshade canopies. The campus is filled with tables and chairs, the large pavilion has a stage where we host concerts and all sorts of programs and events. This time of year it is lovely outside. The mornings are cool and a bit damp, days warm with a breeze…not hot at all, and evenings are pleasantly cool. Even in the hotter earlier months of my deployment, people are out at The Camel. (It’s actually cool enough under the pavilion and sunshade because there are these “Big Ass Fans”….that is exactly what they are called….40 ft diameter ceiling fans that really do cool things down.)
The Camel is the place where folks cluster in groups chatting…night shift workers having a beer at 7am before heading off to bed. Lunch time groups of people are sharing a meal and evenings are filled with board and card games and many out socializing over a few beverages (a maximum of 3 only though!). It’s where you go…to be together or to be alone….or to be somewhere else.
Walking through the Camel Campus is like walking through many lives and worlds. People are on the phone doing FaceTime Audio or video or Skype talking to loved ones and friends. In a two minute stroller, I hear parents talking with kids about homework or how “mommy ran the 5K today”…spouses talking about bank accounts and explaining a charge on their credit card…someone negotiating their new lawn contract and another saying the cost to repair the car is too much. And you always catch someone sharing how many days they have left here and what they want to do when they get home. All of these lives…independently connecting back to the world outside of where we are deployed. Friendships maintained, relationships strained and strengthen…all connected by Wi-Fi but none connected with each other, at least not in that moment, or minute, or 1/2 hour.
And then they hang up, or close their iPad or laptop. You always see that “pause.” That delay that helps you reflect on the moment and person you just left. That pregnant moment when you realize that you’re still here, that you can share and exchange information and words and love, but not the experience of being here.
I cherish my walk through The Camel and I always feel that wonder and amazement of how a short stroll takes me through so many lives and worlds of so many people.